The Green Spot (AKA Greenspot) is a Saint Henri institution, a legendary greasy spoon with leatherette booths and green shingled roof. It takes me back to my undergrad years in Montreal. Saint Henri in the mid-1990s offered little more than seedy bars, 50-cent hot-dogs, tanning salons, and the highest proportion of welfare recipients per capita in the country. It also had furnished 2 bedroom apartments at $450/month, which was ideal for cheap students. The Green Spot was the most charming restaurant on an otherwise grim strip. The neighbourhood has since gentrified and become more ethnically diverse, though some old institutions and seedy characters remain.
The old-school atmosphere is the main reason to come here, not the food. The food is quite average. Nevertheless, the same 30-year-old laminated newspaper articles praising the food are still there as you enter. One of the articles is a feature on Quebec actress Marina Orsini, who claimed it was the best place for fries and hot dogs back in her 1980s glory days as Suzie Lambert, sister of fictional hockey legend Pierre Lambert in the original Lance et Compte television series. This unlikely praise for the Green Spot provided us with fodder for conversation during our meal. Three hypotheses to explain Orsini’s outrageous claim were proposed and mulled over:
1) The fries are worse than they were in 1986.
Although this would explain Orsini’s claim in the eighties, this is improbable. My poutine looked exactly the same the last time I went to the Green Spot in 1995, so it is unlikely that the fries have changed much.
2) The standard for fries in Montreal has improved since the eighties
There may be some truth to this, since I remember that there were more soggy burnt fries back in the 1990s, but I don’t remember the Green Spot’s fries being any better than they are now.
3) Marina Orsini has bad taste
The most plausible hypothesis, especially since further research has confirmed that Marina Orsini was still raving about the Green Spot in 2010.
The Green Spot takes its name from adjacent Greene street, a street so inexplicably remarkable that it also inspired the nearby Fleuriste Coin Vert and the defunct Restaurant Greene (now Restaurant Kam Wing).
Most booths are equipped with broken jukeboxes that stopped working around 1999. The repertoire is a time warp of songs by N’Sync, Boyz II Men, and Elton John’s rendition of “Candle in the Wind” sung for Princess Diana.
The ice water served in Nagano 1998 glasses is also a pleasant blast from the past.
The poutine, with its pitch black sauce, also looks exactly like it did in the 1990s, which is a shame since it was one of the worst in Montreal even then.
Fries: Homemade fries, slightly sweet, lacking crispiness outside and fluffiness inside. They’re not bad, but Marina Orsini can certainly do better. 23/30.
Gravy: Tastes like salty beef bouillon mixed with corn starch, giving it a dark mucus-like texture and a rather average taste. Lumpy. Far too much gravy, which leads to a soupy mess at the bottom. Temperature is too hot, melting the cheese. 24/50.
Cheese: The curds have a better size than the Montreal average but unfortunately they are cold, fresh out of the fridge, which is a cardinal sin. The lack of squeak means they’ve been sitting in the fridge far too long. There’s not enough cheese, and the hot “gravy” causes it to melt too fast. 8/20.
TOTAL SCORE: 55/100
Verdict: Come here for the atmosphere, not the poutine.
Value: Slightly better than average – $5.92 taxes included for a proper size poutine.
Location: 3041 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, corner of Greene, Metro Lionel-Groulx.