Metro: Peel, Bonaventure
Train: Gare Centrale, Lucien-L’Allier
Bus: STM 15, 24, 61, 74, 75, 107, 150, 168, 178, 410, 420, 427, 430, 435, 715, 747, 935
Visit: February 4, 2012
Little over 6 months ago, I came across something over Facebook that stated that the Deville Dinerbar would be opening soon in Montreal. Not knowing more than that, I put in the back of my mind. It wasn’t until the few months that the Deville Dinerbar shot out and was everywhere. They were part of a recent Dishcrawl and the focus of many blog posts. Their Twitter account was quite active and the pictures of their food all over the various tweets I could keep up with. Well, on February 4, 2012, it was my turn to see what the whole fuss was about and I wouldn’t be alone. After all, I called this Mr. Lew’s Burger Night.
I’ve been putting off coming to Deville Dinerbar for quite some time. After an experience with a relatively new restaurant, I didn’t really want to show up within the first days of a place. I wanted to see things when they were really rolling. I don’t know how it really began, but someone tipped off their Twitter account to what I was doing. They bluntly asked me, over Twitter of course, when I’d be showing up to try their burger. So, me being the one who likes to take advantage of a keen opportunity, decided to use that to gain a few followers. So, if it wasn’t for my 500 follower proposition, I wouldn’t have scheduled a night at this restaurant.
With my 500th follower reached on Twitter, it was official, I would be making my way to the Deville Dinerbar to try their burger. I wasn’t about to go by myself for this unique opportunity. So, I put out the call on Twitter and 4 followers answered the call. Those people were @billrusnak, @sandman5, @stephohanley, and @foodchick101. I can’t forget to mention @gluttoners and @thriftytable who were very much interested to come, but were there in spirit.
With the participants set, there was only 1 thing left to do, make a legitimate reservation. For the purpose of this evening, I wasn’t about to take this one to Twitter. I actually picked up the phone and made the all important phone call to make the reservation. I actually wanted to reserve for 7p.m., but they bluntly told me that they do not take reservations between 6p.m. and 8p.m. So, I was, in a way, forced to take a time I didn’t want any part of. I didn’t think it would really change things, but when we got there, it did, more on that later. I was more than relieved when my dining partners were more than accommodating on the time change.
That morning, I was thinking about the upcoming evening when my phone rang. It was the Deville Dinerbar calling to make sure we were still coming. Now, I’ll have to admit, it was my first ever phone reservation I made in my life, so I didn’t think very much of it. It’s when you add the pieces of the puzzle together where you really start to wonder why they did that.
I did my best to arrive at the Deville Dinerbar about 15 minutes ahead of our 8p.m. reservation. I get to the door and I’m told that my party arrived and they are at the bar. Here I am, standing near the doorway, looking at only half the bar and I didn’t recognize anybody. I was also in the metro looking at people and trying to figure out if they were who I thought they were. Luckily, one of the party was a familiar face to me, as Sandman5 was part of Mr. Lew’s Greek Night back in October. A few DMs and a lucky guess later, we are all present and accounted for and it we were all there right on time. That’s where the fun began.
We were watching as people came in and were seated. Personally, I was thinking that the restaurant didn’t know we were there. We went and asked the poor hostess about our table status. It turned out that the party that were at our table paid and were lingering. So, this gave us a very good opportunity to study the bar, the flat screen playing the Maple Laughs game, and the two very tiny tables at the window. We got to note the high amount of pink with the logo all over the place. We kept on inquiring about our table and the poor hostess was so frazzled because she had no authority over the situation. We were watching as the managers were running around furiously trying to keep up, They were slammed.
So, for those keeping score at home, I got there at 7:45p.m., the reservation was at 8:00p.m., and it was approaching an hour for some of us since it was 8:45p.m. If it wasn’t for the kind of night we had planned, most of us would probably be at McDonald’s by now. We were, at that time, given the 5 minute countdown. I took that with a grain of salt as we were told that quite a bit. So, 7 minutes later, we were finally seated. It begs the question, how long is too long, especially with a reservation?
We were taken upstairs where we shown our table. When I saw the table, I was taken aback a bit. We were 5 people and there was a huge separation in the middle. At first, I was really uncomfortable by the whole thing. I didn’t really know how that would affect the evening. But, as one of the members of the party noted, the separation became a decent arm rest.
Looking around, like I like doing, I noticed that the place is dark, has loud music, and rather large mirrors on one side of the wall. The fact that I was hungry distorted my vision and I honestly thought, for a second, that the room was bigger. Silly me. I will say, the restaurant was packed. To my right was a window where you could see the alleyway. My frontal view was also quite nice as I got to see the bright signage on Stanley at night.
Since we were seated late, the server indicated that our food would be rushed so that we would be on our way a little faster. The manager came over and we managed to get them to send over dessert for our wait. Things were starting to look up, but we were far from the end of the evening.
After over an hour of anticipation and waiting, it was the time to order. My research beforehand gave me a pretty good idea of what was available on the menu. The one thing I heard from others was the prices on the menu were a little steep. I looked at the menu before entering and I confirmed the speculation on prices. The average appetizer in this place is about 12 dollars, where the average burger is 16 dollars. I was pretty sure, even in advance, that this night was going to cost me. We even discussed it while waiting and again at the table, as to why things were so expensive. We couldn’t come up with a very good reason.
For the purpose of our appetizers, we tried to order as many different ones as possible. We managed to get three different ones. So, what we did when we got them was to share what we ordered. That way, we all got to try everything, appetizer-wise.
Ahi Tuna Tacos
These are fried wonton shells with Asian slaw topped with seared sushi grade tuna slices and wasabi grade aioli.
Out of all the appetizers, this seemed to be the one that everyone favored. For me, picking this up was a bit of a challenge. The shells broke a little easily, which is to be expected with tacos of any kind. I made the stupid mistake of trying to push the tuna slices back in which made things a little worse. However, for what it was, it tasted really good.
Philly Cheesesteak Springrolls
BBQ beef short-rib, caramelized onions, red cheddar, and aged Quebec cheddar cheese.
Of the three appetizers I tried, this one had the edge for me. It doesn’t really taste like your traditional Philly cheesesteak. What it tastes like is really unique because of the amount of cheese. Even though the cheese taste is a little overwhelming, it’s just perfect.
Crispy Mac and Cheese Stuffed Wontons
These are deep fried with a side of Diablo marinara sauce.
This was my contribution to the table. I was either this or the bacon wrapped dog sliders. I went with this because there was interest at the table. At $11.50, it’s also quite pricey for what you get. The container, which I found really neat, came with a set of chopsticks and 5 pieces of the appetizer. So, there was enough to go around for the entire table.
I’m not a big fan of mac and cheese. I was worried that the strong taste of mac and cheese would be too much to take. I was really pleasantly surprised when the taste wasn’t as strong as I would’ve thought. The size was small, which just helped get us back in game shape for the main course.
Before I get to the main courses, I have to mention these. While we were waiting, I saw these going around. These got to be one of the most unique containers I’ve ever seen that are used to present a dish.
THE MAIN COURSES
The Customary Mayo/Ketchup Combo
Fat Cat Burger (billrusnak)
This burger contains pulled BBQ beef ribs, aged white cheddar, shredded iceberg, tomatoes, grilled red onions, and root beer BBQ mayo on a toasted brioche bun.
Cirque Burger (foodchick101 and Sandman5)
This burger contains caramelized onions, a bourbon-poached pear, arugula, melted brie cheese, and bacon on a brioche bun with red onion marmalade.
Dinerbar Club (stephohanley)
This sandwich contains free range rotisserie chicken, bacon, tomatoes, arugula, avocado, and maple dijon sauce stacked between brioche bread.
This burger contains lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions, pickles, Dinerbar signature sauce, cheddar cheese, and bacon on a brioche bun.
Before I get into this burger, I want to address why I didn’t take the big ticket item. There are three main reasons why you won’t see the Big Guy Burger on this blog yet. The first reason was that Burger 128 at G-Spot was very similar. Even if that burger was sub-par, it was just to see what it was like. The second reason is that the Big Guy goes for a whopping 35 dollars. I’m not made of money, so that leads to the final reason. Lastly, I wanted to see how the regular burger stacked up so I could make it a contender for Burger 200 in July 2013.
If you put your name on a burger, it’s like putting your reputation on the line. I wouldn’t ever put my name on something unless I had faith in it. So, it was only fitting that I’d be the one who would go try the one burger with the restaurant’s name on it.
As you see from the picture above, the branding is also in the pick you get with your burger. It’s clever because I would never have thought to put the restaurant’s name there. I only realized later that the name also appears on the hidden part of the pick as well.
The first thing that has to be said is that the burger is absolutely huge. Other than the fact that there are 2 four ounce patties stacked in here, there are loads of ingredients. It made for an interesting consumption period. I tried to employ most of my strategies to eat this thing, but the burger beat me in that regard. Some of the ingredients had to be pulled out to make it more feasible, while others fell out on its own. It was only towards the end of the burger where I was able to hold it properly, after a Mr. Lew rebuild, of course.
Now, for those wondering, bacon was not originally included on the list for this burger or any other you see above. As a matter of fact, bacon is only really a part of the Big Guy Burger. Luckily, asking for a bacon upgrade is easy. However, it wasn’t until I started writing this that I noticed that this bacon is worth 3 dollars. They really go out of their way to see that their black forest bacon is Quebec raised. I’m guessing that it is the top kind of bacon you can get. So, the 3 dollars is forgivable, especially after putting it in your mouth and trying it. I got to try a piece outside the burger and I have to admit, it’s special.
The combination of chose ingredients, especially with the bacon and the cheese, were just great. I might of had issues keeping this behemoth together, but the taste surely made up for it. From beginning to end, the taste remained consistent. It’s only February and I think I already have 2 burger candidates for the end of year review. The burger itself may not make up for the waiting, but it satisfied my hunger and my criteria on this evening.
I’m including this picture of an empty French fry container because I wanted to highlight the sheer amount included in this portion. There were times where I doubted whether or not I’d finish all the fries.
I also want to note that the Mr. Lew Golden Rule of eating all that I order applied here once again. No matter how big they are, they will fall eventually. I think I was the only one who finished everything, fries and burger, that night. It’s also why I didn’t go for the Big Guy burger. There’s no way on Earth I could finish that.
The Big Easy Beignets
As a show of concern, we were sent beignets on the house by the management. It was one of the reasons why I’m not at all disappointment by my experience at Deville Dinerbar. The beignets easily go for 10 dollars and that saved us some money for sure.
The beignets, themselves, look a lot like something you could get at your big name doughnut chains. The taste were fine, for what they were, but didn’t really work for me. It’s not that they weren’t great, because our batch were, it was that I know what kind of desserts I like.
We got two batches of beignets and we noticed an obvious difference. One of the batches were made later. The batch I had was the first one out. So, since we were taking them home, the server put them all in one container.
Nutella Bourbon Dip
I decided to include this picture because we figured out how they paid for the decor and the fancy website. They have advertising in their bill holders! I’ve never seen anything like this before. Definitely something we were talking about at the table.
I rarely make such an overt mention of the person who served me or us. In this case, I can’t go on without making mention of Penny, which is why I saved her for last. A restaurant is nothing without their wait staff. I sometimes leave disgusted after seeing sub-par servers. This was not the case.
By now, you all know that we waited a tremendously long time for our reservations. We were taken upstairs, and like a whirlwind, told by Penny that she would take good care of us. She would put in a rush on our order. Because of her, the food came at a furious rate. We didn’t have much time between appetizers and burger to really rest. The close to 2 hours we were there, was tremendous, in her hands.
We actually found out that the table that was holding us back was her relatives. But, her, being the pro that she was, got them to leave quickly when the management staff sensed our discomfort. Now, come to think of it, I feel a little bad about that.
We actually got to know her pretty well, for a diner-waitress relationship, during this meal. We found out about her credentials, her favorite restaurants, and her love for her job. That’s not something you see or encounter every day. Her name alone created enough banter to get us through. We upgraded her to a toonie by the end of the night. The fact that she balanced another table that had to wait just as long was priceless.
The food might of made up part of the disappointment, but the service provided by Penny made this night one that I won’t forget for a very long time. She has to be the best server I’ve ever encountered in my 2.5 years of doing the GBS. If only there were more pennies in the world.
You can say what you want about the customer service experience at Deville Dinerbar. We didn’t really appreciate waiting an hour for our reservations. It should be noted that the wait wasn’t really their fault. It’s a sign that they are really the place to be. But, once that disappointment melted away, with help from the exemplary service from our waitress, Penny, things were the way we wanted it to be.
The food was quite pricey. The GBS record was shattered on this evening by a good 5 dollars. The question is whether or not the price is worth the quality of the food. For some, it might be, but I know a lot of people who would never walk in to this place. The website doesn’t list prices and that’s wise. But, if you’re not against spending a pretty penny (pardon the pun) or two, you’ll get your money’s worth.
With the lows and the many highs of the evening, I am hoping to return one day. The Deville Dinerbar should really be proud of the performance they put out on that very night.