I don't get to Montreal often, but when I do, I'm going to have one of three things
- Chicken Wings (because I get those where ever I go)
- Montreal Smoked Meat
- Montreal Style Bagels
I was only in the city for a quick night, but it turned out that I was going to get 2 of those three. Tres exciting.
LJ had to go to Montreal for business and I tagged along for the ride. We got into the city late in the evening on a Sunday night, checked into our hotel downtown, and were exhausted and hungry. We didn't want to have to go far or get dressed up or spend a ton of money. Where to eat, where to eat? Fortunately I found one of the better ranked smoked meat places just down the block; Reuben's.
I was a little bit confused because two Reuben's with slightly different name's kept coming up in my search: Reuben's Deli & Steakhouse and Reuben's Restaurant Deli. The former is a bit pricey, the latter not so much. We ended up at the latter, which was great because I was more in the mood for low-key deli. But it turned out both were started by the same people, so it was going to work out one way or another.
The dinner locale has a small entrance off of the busy street and was the original location built in 1976. The actual restaurant is below street level, so you take a big staircase down to the lower level. Just outside is a large menu and special for people to see. Downstairs was much nicer than I expected - dark paneling and booths are brightened up by custom crafted Tiffany lights in the ceiling. The crowd was varied, but I suspect that it is mainly a tourist crowd. English and French is spoken here.
At the street entrance, below the menu displayed, is their Smoked Meat Sandwich Special - for $13.49 it's smoked meat sandwich with fries, coleslaw, pickle and a small drink. We both got the special although I did upgrade my fries to a poutine. When in Montreal, eh?
They serve Pepsi products, and the drink that came with the combo was pretty small. It was hot out and I was thirsty and I guzzled my Diet Pepsi down pretty quick. When I asked for a refill I got one, but it was $0.60 to upgrade to "Super Size" and get what was not super size but a normal sized glass between a large and a small size.
LJ got the standard platter - same as mine but with regular fries. The fries are thin and crispy, perfect for vinegar, salt and ketchup in my opinion. What it was actually served with was individual containers of mayonnaise which is really good if you haven't had, but usually I avoid because outside of Quebec it seems socially unacceptable.
My platter with the poutine - old school and simple - I was pretty happy with it.
My poutine was packed with curds and gravy. I added a bit of pepper. The fries, as I already mentioned, were crispy and held up to the grazy or poutine sauce. Poutine gravy/sauce is thin, light and golden. The curds were squeeky and fresh. This was simple but good poutine.
The coleslaw was vinegar based, and was actually pretty good. I watched an episode of Family Guy the other day and they made a joke about making the side of coleslaw no one ever eats, and when I looked at theirs, I assumed I was going to ignore it. But it was actually pretty good - sweet, tangy, vinegary. There was also the standard kosher dill pickle. It was alright - sour but not that sour, but soft, no crunch to it.
The smoked meat sandwich here was pretty classic - rye bread, smeared with ball park yellow mustard, piled high in the middle with smoked meat and cut in half. The size in the Special is a good size, but they do serve a Super sized one which is larger.
You get a choice of what cut of meat you want - lean, medium, fatty. We both went with the fatty. We both cringed ordering fatty, but it's the way to go. Montreal Smoked Meat is in the same family as pastrami, but has more spiced flavour (not heat). Reuben's fatty meat is nice and moist, but still had a great texture to it. The fatty just adds to that and the flavour.
It is so simple, so iconic, and just so good. This platter's pickle and coleslaw adds a nice balance of tang to the spiced beef and mustard. And poutine is just always great.
We also decided to go all out and have dessert too. Their servings are huge and they looked good going by to other tables. LJ went with the Colossal Carrot Cake which was layered with cream cheese frosting. It was moist and very fresh and carroty. I went with their Famous Homemade Cheesecake, which came topped with strawberries and stood over 15 cm tall I estimate. The cheesecake was good, but not as dense as I prefer in my cheesecake. This wasn't NY style, so there was no graham cracker base/crust, but there was these sugary little crispy balls on the outside (not shown) that were really good. The strawberries came with a strawberry sauce that was a little too sweet and artificial tasting for my liking.
|photo from years ago ...|
Reuben's Restaurant Deli
888 Sainte-Catherine St, Montreal QC