Bus: STM 92, 160, 165, 435
Visit: February 21, 2012
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot of one of the first burgers I ever had in my entire life. I relate it a lot to that episode of How I Met Your Mother, where Marshall scours New York to find that one place where he had that one epic burger. For me, the only difference was that I knew exactly where it was, but I didn’t know whether or not it still existed.
You see, about 20 years ago, my family would make regular stops at Plaza Cote-des-Neiges. Being from the South Shore of Montreal, it was quite the trek for us to make just to go shopping. We got our clothes, purchased our toys, and got our meals at this shopping center. It was a very important part of my childhood. For that reason alone, I held that building in the highest of esteems.
At the end of the 90s, with things being the way they were, my relationship with this mall abruptly ended. Gone were the many great movies I saw here. Gone was the time I saw the mock Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles perform. Gone was some of the most enjoyable and most traumatic moments of my life. From the parking garage, to the Consumer Distributors, to the Zellers, it was all a major part of what I was missing. You can say that this post is a tribute to what the mall used to be.
I have to stress that the mall used to mean something to me. You know, when you’re young, there are certain things that you look up to, things that can do no wrong. This was that mall, in my eyes. I’m a tremendous fan of shopping centers. I’ve seen many great ones, large ones, and decrepit ones. The fact is, I owe a lot to Plaza Cote-des-Neiges.
In 2008, I had some free time and I decided to return to the mall for a visit. It just wasn’t the same. While some of the pillars were still there, it didn’t seem like what I remembered. On that day in June of 2008, I went ahead and bought lunch at the food court. Back in the day, the food court’s lighting was a whole lot dimmer than what it is today. Being that I haven’t started the Burger Search yet, I went ahead and bought my standard Subways trio. Here I was, sitting in a bright food court, with a little too much yellow paint, missing the good old days.
If we fast forward to today, some of you might be thinking why I’d “waste” Burger 132 on a memory of the past. Well, the fact is that I’ll go nearly anywhere to have a burger. It goes back to Marshall chasing that elusive burger. In my childhood, my first real burger memory came from this food court, long before the golden arches. The only fleeting memory of the taste was something a kin to Burger King’s Whopper. That might not be truly epic to some, but to a 10 year old kid, that was everything. I only had the burger once and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. You can say it was the precursor to the Burger Search.
For Burger 132, knowing full well that I wouldn’t get that elusive burger, I decided to see what Plaza Cote-des-Neiges had to offer. What I found was Pita Burger. Found at the right-hand side of the food court, its colorful signs and bright advertising is really hard to miss. What’s interesting about it is trying to take a moment to sift through all the pictures and prices.
The reason Pita Burger gets counted as a normal burger is because it is one of a kind. As soon as you make your order, you can watch as the staff cooks your meal. Nothing seems to be hidden from your eyesight, unless you get distracted really easily. I got to watch as my burger was handled by at least 3 different people.
I had a good few minutes to wait for my order to come through. It’s funny when you have a chance to observe the kind of clientele you’ll get at a place like this. There was one couple with a forceful male partner. He came up many times to the counter, asking very poignant questions about the quality of the food. He asked about the steak and wasn’t satisfied with the answer. He moved away and huddled with his partner. He came back over and over again, trying to figure out what to do. He wasn’t going to settle for just anything. After all, when you’re paying 5 dollars for steak frites, food court style, you have all the rights to ask as many questions as humanly possible.
For what this place serves, the prices are absolutely wonderful. For those of you on a budget, paying $5.58 for a burger, small poutine, and a can of iced tea is a tremendous bargain. Mind you, most of the clientele belong to a less affluent neighborhood. As well, you have a large number of students coming in during their lunch hours. For that, the pricing is quite strategic.
This was the small poutine I decided to order. It really didn’t look like too much of a sample size, but at the end, it was good enough. The fries are nothing too special or unique, but they do the job. The sauce is a little bit above par, as it saves the poutine from being less than memorable. The cheese curbs, while decent, were not as fresh as they could have been. When you put it together, it makes an acceptable poutine for what you’re paying.
What I really want to note is the fact that this was the most normal poutine on the menu. You also get to choose from some more unusual poutine combinations. While there isn’t the millions options that some other so-called poutine outfits will give you, there are a few to keep you busy. The most interesting one is by far the one where they put pieces of steak. I’m going to go back just to try that.
This burger contains lettuce, tomatoes, onion, mayonnaise, and cheese. Since this location was Halal-based, I wasn’t about to push the bacon issue.
From my first glances and getting to watch my burger get prepared, I didn’t really have that many big time expectations. When you unwrap the burger, you’ll notice that it is of a decent size. So, at least, they’re not skimping on that. When you order a burger from a food court, all you want is something that tastes good. If you get that, you came out a winner.
My first bite was acceptable. It, by far, wasn’t the burger I had 20 years ago and that was a good thing. What I tasted was a little bit above your normal fast food location an slightly below your smaller burger joints.
The big overwhelming taste came from the mayonnaise. There is a great deal of mayo throughout the cheeseburger. For me, it doesn’t bother me so much, but it this case, it masked the cheese. I was looking to get a whole lot more from the cheese. After all, this is a cheeseburger.
The only other slight issue was the fact that the burger patty started slipping out of the buns. At first, it wasn’t an issue, but as you’re going, trying to use your napkins wisely, it get a little annoying. What I did was bite the protruding parts to even out the burger.
The big thing that surprised me was not so much the taste. The fact that a not so big burger, a small poutine, and an iced tea was able to fully satisfy me portion-wise. So, for those of you wondering, this would completely work as a filling trio.
After I completed the burger, I took a short walk around the food court to see what else there was. On the opposite side, there was another place offering a cheeseburger. The kicker is that the prices were equally as competitive. So, be sure to keep checking back, as that place will definitely be features on the GBS.
Other than that, I have to note the presence of Kam Shing. Somehow, by hook or by crook, I’ll eat in this establishment before the end of 2012. It’s supposed to be one of the best Chinese restaurants on the entire island. So, that’s another preview for you.
In all, I wasn’t really expecting to find what I had so long ago. What I wanted was a chance to see if you could get a decent burger in a food court. Pita Burger offers a large variety of food for extremely reasonable prices. For what you’re paying, your expectations will be met and might be exceeded somewhat.