To see my post about my previous visit to the old Laurier BBQ, click HERE.
381 Laurier O.
Bus: STM 46, 51, 80, 129, 435, 935
Visit: October 5, 2011
Earlier in 2011, we were all interested by the news of Gordon Ramsay’s involvement in Laurier BBQ. We were all discussing how his magical touch would turn the old dilapidated establishment and turn it into something of valor. There was so much discussion, that my family decided to take an outing last March to see what the place was like before they closed their doors. What I saw that night was something of a large disappointment. The food, the decor, and the general ambiance was sorely lacking. It was no wonder why the place was so empty for so long.
If we fast forward to August of 2011, after the whirlwind visit from the man himself, the “new” Laurier now sits prime in the middle of the Montreal restaurant scene. The biggest thing I was curious about was when I heard that the new menu was going to include a burger. I bided my time and sifted through blog post after blog post, waiting for the right time to make my second entrance. Even Eva Avila, former Canadian Idol winner, over Twitter, was gushing over the results of the newly revamped Laurier. The anticipation was too much to take. So, I was lucky to be accompanied by a close member of the family on this latest excursion to the much talked about location. This was fitting since we were both there the last time the family had an outing.
The one thing I was the most curious about on this day was the amount of people we’d find in the restaurant at 1:00 p.m. Well, much to our delight, the place was packed from the time we entered at 1:00 p.m., until the time we left at around 2:30 p.m. So, a month after re-opening, it seems like the new menu is sticking and making an impact. I was worried because of all the mixed reviews from the normal population, but nothing speaks louder than a jam packed dining room. It was so jam packed that there was about a 5 minute wait for a table.
After having a seat, I took some time trying to look over the place. The first thing I noticed wasn’t the decor, but the sheer amount of staff working the floor. In different color t-shirts, there were people for each and every task imaginable. I remember that the people in black t-shirts took orders and served drinks. The ones in white brought orders and cleared tables. Even though they all seemed busy, the floor was pretty crowded at times.
The decor was radically different from the last time I stepped into the establishment. Now, the last time, I only got to see one part of the restaurant. This time, I got a better look at the rest of the place. The banquettes were comfortable and more than enough room for the two of us. I got a glimpse of a few flat screen televisions at the back of the main dining room. The most interesting thing we saw was on our way out. It was a make-shift fireplace that is just asking for it to be touched, which one of us tried to do.
My visit to Laurier Gordon Ramsay had three tests as entertainment while waiting for food. The first test was the presence of the man himself, which as you know, he has better things to do then to wait for me in Montreal. Unfortunantely, mini-Gordon wasn’t available because he was devoured by a badger. I’m not making that up, by the way. I heard the kid Ramsay look-a-like doesn’t do this kind of stuff either. So, I was hoping that the restaurant could’ve hired someone who looked like him to greet customers, but my hopes were dashed when no one swore at me once.
All kidding aside, I had some real tests in mind. The second test involved whether or not I could talk my way into getting bacon in my burger. That didn’t work, though I’ll deal with the lack of bacon later on. The last test wasn’t really my idea, but we wanted to see if the staff were on the level. After they cleared the appetizer salad, we wanted to know if they would come back with another utensil. Wouldn’t you know it, within seconds, the new utensil made its debut on the table. That was impressive if you ask me.
The “Famous” Pickle Jar
I don’t get it.
My Ice Tea
Regardless of how the service was, is, or will be, I was more concerned about what people come to restaurants for, the food. The menu was revamped and there were a lot of things to choose from. For the purpose of this post, I’ll start with the dishes I did not have.
This salad was interesting as the presentation looked quite nice. I’m not going to go over a grocery list of items in the salad, but what I will say is that we made a nice count of things to be had. For some reason, if there was a carrot, there were only two of them. If there were red peppers, there were only two of them. If we spotted tomatoes, there were only two of them. I think you get the drift by now. The only thing there wasn’t two of was the chicory.
Chicory is something completely new to me. I haven’t heard of or had any in my entire life. Luckily, since this wasn’t my salad, none of it went into my mouth. When the salad was finished, what was left was the chicory. It’s an overpowering taste that really defined this salad and made finishing it not so easy.
The “Old” Menu
At this point, I noticed a piece of paper under the salad. Well, it’s cut up pieces of the old menu from the pre-Ramsay days. You’ll also notice the price of ice tea. Mine was $3.75. Think what you may about that.
Rotisserie Chicken Sandwich
You’ll notice the inclusion of kettle-style chips with each of the main dishes. They were a little harder than your normal chip. To me, they really didn’t add anything by being there.
These sandwiches include emmenthal cheese, dijonnaise, caramelized onions and arugula.
Since the sandwich was sliced in half, I got to watch this in two different ways. The first way was how it was meant to be eaten. The arugula’s inclusion was too overpowering and completely overshadowed the chicken.
The second half was completely stripped of arugula. But, it you’d look at the insides of the sandwich, you’d have a hard time really finding the chicken. The good part was that the lack of arugula during the second half really was a big improvement.
Lemon Meringue Pie
For this dessert, I was offered half of it and I obliged. This, was my first ever lemon meringue pie in my life. Having stated that, I have no reference point of which to compare this pie. I really don’t want to compare it to the lackluster apple pie I had back in March.
After taking a bite, you can really feel the lemony taste. The meringue was cool in the generous amounts. All the components really delivered, making the apple pie debacle a thing of the past. But, you’d could also call this a meringue lemon pie since the creaminess was everywhere. Despite that, it was a good pie, though not my favorite kind.
I decided to add this picture here, mostly because I found this interesting. I know you’re questioning my sanity now.
Mac ‘N Cheese w/Smoked Meat
This was my chosen side dish for my burger. Now, the thing that bothered me a bit was the fact that sides were not included with the plate. I think this was the first time I ever had this particularity pointed out in my Burger Search. For 6 dollars, you can have an upscale macaroni and cheese with the inclusion of a Montreal staple, smoked meat.
Now, I chose this side dish out of sheer curiosity. It wasn’t for the mac or for the cheese, but for the additional guest star. As a kid, I grew up with everyone’s favorite boxed product and it never ranked up there as my kind of comfort food. That’s funny because it’s a dish that so many people are ranting and raving about in restaurants.
The first thing I noticed was the size of the dish. For a side dish, it looked a bit small. However, after taking bites from the interesting plating choice, I realized that it was the perfect size. The finely grated cheese and color made this look interesting.
As for the taste, it was nothing really out of the ordinary. It just reminded me why I wasn’t a Mac ‘N Cheese person. However, for that dish, it was as good as can be. The thing I was really looking for was how the smoked meat was going to play a role in the consumption. For one, they were cubed pieces of meat. But, the distinct smell of smoked meat made you forget their shape real fast. The meat blended well with the cheese, as it never got in the way of the rest of the dish.
All Beef 8 oz. Burger
This burger contains Romaine lettuce, caramelized onions, and sharp cheddar cheese on a brioche bun.
Coming into this, I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that the sliders were getting good reviews from the people I keep in contact with. But, ladies and gentlemen, this is not Mr. Lew’s Great Slider Search, it’s all about the big dogs, burgers. So, my first look at this thing was strange because all I could see was orange. Normally, orange is a great color that I love to see. On a burger, it’s a different thing. That meant that I couldn’t really see the beef at all. It’s like the burger was wrapped in a cheesy coating, not that I’d ever complain about too much cheese.
My first bite into the burger met and exceeded expectations. The meat was thick and cooked properly. On its own, the meat didn’t really taste like much. It really needed the other components to really make it shine. There was an appropriate amount of dripping coming from the burger, which to me, is a good sign. So far, I saw the great potential in the burger.
The superstar components of the burger were the caramelized onions and the cheese. The sweetness of the onions complimented the burger meat so well. Even if the meat fell short, the onions were there to keep the game going. The cheese, in its very generous amount, just reinforced the onions’ job. The fact that the meat didn’t fare so well on its own was forgotten because it was in combination with the two main stars.
I wish I could say the same thing about the lettuce. I rarely ever have issues with lettuce on its own, but this time just was too obvious to ignore. When I tried to bite the lettuce, I had a very hard time separating it. It’s like the onions, cheese and beef all wanted to join my stomach club, but the lettuce was having second thoughts. Near the end, I decided to pull the lettuce all out. By itself, the lettuce was the way I enjoy it, drenched with juices, but I know that’s not as good inside the burger. It was the reason why when biting it, the burger followed and forced me to reposition the whole thing to get a better grip.
Overall, I didn’t really miss bacon whatsoever. The burger stands well on its own without any other tools of the burger trade. When biting your burger with all the ingredients together, you have a solid product. Even if there are glitches, they can easily be forgiven when the onions and cheese show up. While it may not be one of my absolute favorite burgers in Montreal, it was enough to show me that the new Laurier was well ahead of its predecessors.