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McKiernan Luncheonette

20 Feb

Small rant first if I may: Working as a physiotherapist in the West Island sucks in terms of lunch options. First off, my job doesn’t really allow for the time necessary to go out for lunch so even if I wished to splurge on a special occasion for fun, it really isn’t possible outside of a takeout/delivery option. And secondly, the West Island is a weird dead zone of high end restaurants for the most part. So, as an actual resident of the Sud-Ouest, when I heard that the Joe Beef guys and the Maison Publique guys – two of my favourite restaurants in the city – were opening up a weekday breakfast and lunch option in Ville Émard, I was insanely jealous and sad that I wouldn’t be able to try them under normal circumstances. (Now… they just announced last week that they are now open for dinner Thursdays and Fridays but I needed a narrative hook to start this post so please work with me.) Due to some legal matters that required my wife and I to take our afternoons off on a random weekday (yay home renos plans!), I took advantage and we decided to make our way to McKiernan for a late lunch and see if all the wonderful stuff I was seeing online was as great as I hoped.

Located off St-Patrick in the Dompark complex, McKiernan is a very different project from Joe Beef and Maison Publique. It is essentially a fancy canteen. The space is huge compared to their other restaurants and more sparse in terms of look and decor. The room is filled with long tables and benches that you share with others. They utilize the original flooring and wooden support beams of the space. The all white walls with the large windows overlooking the Canal makes the space very bright and open. I love the use of the string lights as extra lighting. There is a beautiful counter and bar area in the back as a focal point to the space. There is still the definite Canadiana touches you expect from Derek, Dave and Fred – such as the use of a canoe in decor and the local artwork.

The menu is a interesting mix of options for lunch fare. First up, we tried the McKiernan chowder – a very generous portion of potato and lardon chowder topped with potato chips and chives. An excellent chowder – not too heavy but very flavourful. Buttery and rich with lots of lardons and some potato chunks providing some fattiness and some consistency to the soup. I loved the additional crunch of the chips with the soup.

On top of the regular menu, McKiernan also has daily and weekly specials that change. I went with one of those: their “Beigne Pressé” of porchetta, rapini, pesto and cheese. A supercharged panini and a very good at that. Any combination of rich porchetta, cheese and pesto is good with me – especially in a great buttery bun! I really loved the touch of acidity that they added with the vinegar on the greens that topped the sandwich. It added a nice lighter dimension.

My wife decided on their pasta of the day – Casarecce with boudin blanc and chou de Savoy. Another excellent dish – the rich creamy sauce clung nicely to the fresh tender pasta with the notes of the boudin and the cabbage mixing within the dish. Very well done and delicious.

Lastly, to go, because I couldn’t say no to having one of the many baked goods they had at the counter, we got one of their 70% Chocolate and sea salt cookies. A perfect mixture of gooey rich chocolate with a salty kick to it. The cookie was super tender with a nice initial crunch.

McKiernan is exactly what I was hoping – what would happen if Joe Beef and Maison Publique did lunch and breakfast. The food is excellent and super interesting outside of the usual lunch fare. The space is nice and welcoming – there is ping pong and baby foot if you have some extra free time. The space is also available for renting for events and it also allows them to offer catering services – very welcomed services given the quality of the work they do. Thankfully, now that McKiernan is open for dinner 2 nights a week, they become more of a option for me to try. Otherwise, I would need to find more excuses to be “stuck” at home for work! Regardless, McKiernan is a must-try for anyone.

Cheers!

McKiernan Luncheonette
5524 Rue Saint-Patrick #200
514 759 6677

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Bête à Pain Griffintown (Brunch Edition)

12 Feb

I love a good bakery. You walk in and the smell of fresh baked goods just hits you like a wave. It is both pleasant and mouth watering. It is hard to enter a bakery and not leave without a few good items – much to the dismay of my scale. In my neighbourhood of Pointe St-Charles, we still lack a true great bakery but luckily I am close enough to a few wonderful ones in St-Henri, Little Burgundy and Griffintown. Bête à Pain in Griffintown is one such place. I had been in a few times to try some bread but hadn’t found the occasion to try their sit-down services as they offer breakfast, lunch and apero until 7pm. That changed recently as it became the perfect place to meet up with our Architect friend to discuss some life stuff for the wife and I (yay home reno plans!) and have brunch at the same time.

First off, La Bête à Pain is a beautiful bakery. Attached to the MUST société store off of Peel St., it definitely goes the extra mile in creating a visually stunning space. There is a great use of the industrial traits of the building – the brick walls, the high ceilings – and then adding some softer touches to play off of it. The use of an all glass wall at the entrance to get lots of natural light, hanging plants, the use of old wooden tables, wood lats covering the ceiling, etc. The focal point of the space is the open baking area itself with a beautiful display counter for the goods. Very appealing when you walk in!

We arrived early enough that we had the breakfast options to choose from. The menu is smallish but still has good variety and naturally uses fresh baked goods they produce on hand. My wife went with the pain perdu – served with ricotta mousse, pear compote, mint, caramelized pecans and a caramel sauce. A decadent dish to be sure for breakfast/brunch but hey why not? My wife loved the pecans, the sauce and the pear compote but something about the ricotta didn’t pair well with her. I enjoyed it more than she did but yes there was something off a bit with it – the ricotta tastes like nothing really so it just added richness but in a fad way that really lingered more than the other great elements of the dish.

I went with the smoked salmon croissant served with dill, capers, red onions and creme fraiche. Huge hit for both of us. The croissant was buttery flaky perfection – tender and soft but firm on the outside. Pairing that with smoked salmon is no brainer and the addition elements worked great as a whole. An excellent breakfast sandwich.

In the end, the meal was not perfect but definitely enough to entice us to return again. Bête à Pain is worth a visit alone for their wonderful bread and baked goods. If you are a little more hungry than that, it is definitely a good option to consider.

Cheers!

Bête à Pain Griffintown
195 Young
514 509 8937

La Bête à Pain Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beauty’s Luncheonette

21 Oct

Certain restaurants in Montreal are what one would call institutions. As a local Montrealer, these are places that you should get to at some point because to miss them is to miss out on experiences that are part of what makes Montreal special when it comes to food. Schwartz’s, Moishes (eventually in my case), Laurier BBQ before the Ramsey fiasco, St-Viateur and/or Fairmount bagels (depending on where you side on that debate but that’s a story for another day), etc…. In the end, you may leave slightly underwhelmed because your experience couldn’t possibly match up to the hype but regardless, they are places that you must experience for yourself.

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Beauty’s is such a place. A staple of Montreal since 1942, they have been owned by the same family the whole time and have been serving up breakfast in Mile End ever since. Any day of the week you pass by, you will see a line-up outside. On this beautiful thanksgiving weekend, before heading to watch the Alouettes sadly get beat at Molson Stadium, I finally got my chance to visit Beauty’s with some friends for a little late breakfast.

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Beauty’s is known for their special – cream cheese, smoked salmon and onion on a bagel. However, I am not much of a fan of smoked salmon so I chose to go with the Beauty’s basic – two eggs, home fries, one meat with a bagel. A simple dish but one that must be spot on if you are worth your salt as a breakfast place. Very good overall. The home fries in particular were quite delicious.

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To that, we originally ordered some latkes and I took a Classico Beauty’s smoothie. However, they had run out of latkes by the way we got our order in. So just the smoothie would have to do. Strawberry, banana and orange juice – simple but classic. A nice thick consistency and very delicious. The perfect complement to a nice breakfast.

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Is it a earth shattering breakfast? Not exactly. But it is a Montreal landmark that serves a very good breakfast. The place looks exactly like what you think it would – a diner that has been going since 1942. It has a wonderful old fashion feel that I absolutely love – right down to the owner greeting you at the door and joking with you as you wait for your table. You may want something more unique or different for breakfast but that’s not Beauty’s and that’s fine. They simply do a damn fine breakfast as they have been doing since 1942. For that reason alone, you need to check it out. I waited way too long. You don’t have to make that same mistake.

Cheers!

Beauty’s Luncheonette
93 Mont-Royal West
514 849 8883

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