4177 St-Laurent | Tel.: (514) 844-0216
his is tiny at its best. It's an open kitchen, two guys making fresh, tiny food, in a clean, tiny place. Red onions for your salad are sliced once the rest of the greens (and red and yellow peppers, and grated carrot) are already on your plate. That onion is sliced now. Not 10 minutes ago, not yesterday. The salad dressings are homemade: sundried tomato coriander balsamic or creamy basil.
It’s a burger joint, but more than that. You can get eggs, and freshly carved roast beef (that’s the special this week), and poutine, and fish fillet burgers (and tofu, if you must). You can get breakfast all day. It’s hard to imagine this restaurant being anywhere other than here. At least, nowhere else in Canada. Not only is it tiny, with every seat being a good seat (around the perimeter against the windows, or along the bar). The staff who works here seem incredibly cheerful. They know all the regular clients, speaking English and French. The two guys behind the counter are ... well, they’re happy and chatty.
Not only the space is tiny. But the burgers are also tiny, about 4 inches in diameter. The first time I ate here last year I ordered two baby burgers and a side of fries. The next time (that would be today, at lunch) I ordered one burger with fries and salad. I like the Mediterranean burger with feta mint tzatziki, lettuce, tomato. But you can have a regular burger, and cheese and bacon. Or a club house. The prices are tiny, too. My burger was $2.25.
Mediterranean burger with salad and tons of fries
Club sandwich with a side of poutine
A freshly cooked right-in-front of you burger for a couple of bucks, really it’s hard to imagine how this place exists. Imagine you’re sitting around with your friends, planning to open a new restaurant. "Let’s make fabulous food, diner style but not greasy, cook it fresh to order, and ... umm, let’s only have 13 chairs in the entire place. And let’s make Shelley’s lunch cost $6.83 for burger, salad, fries, and coke."
Shelley leaves a $2 tip, because ... well, she felt she needed to pay more.
And as I’m leaving, the head cook is meticulously chopping dill pickles into tiny bits that must now be qualified as relish. It tastes better than the jarred version of relish, obviously. He’s working, bent over at the waist, folding his 6-foot-tall self in half so that he can give the immaculate cutting board, his sharp knife, and the lined up pickles his entire attention. A new client comes in, seats herself at the counter. The sous chef takes her order. He then asks her if she wants a nice glass of beer with her burger. She says she’ll have a nice glass of water. He says oh come on, it’s Friday. "It’s Tuesday," she says. We all think he’s hilarious. -- Reviewed by Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu
[Shelley's on loan to MontrealFood from her new home at www.oneroastchicken.com]