Metro: Bonaventure, Peel
Train: Gare Centrale, Lucien L’Allier
Bus: STM 15, 24, 36, 74, 75, 107, 150, 178, 410, 420, 427, 430, 435, 715, 747, AMT Terminus Centre-ville
Visit: April 17, 2012
Downtown Montreal has a lot to choose from. If you’re anything like me, the sheer amount of choices will leave you for a tizzy. Despite that, for no matter what you’re craving, there’s something for you. One of the central parts of the downtown core is Peel, a street that can probably lay claim to the busiest pedestrian intersections in the entire city of Montreal. Just as busy as it can be walking-wise, you’ll find an also crowded restaurant scene.
My Burger Search has taken me to this vicinity many times before. I can even say that I could probably do an entire season worth of burgers within walking distance of my main bus terminal, there’s that much choice. On Peel alone, to the left, from Rene-Levesque going up to Sainte-Catherine, there are no less than 5 burgers you can have, and that’s in a row. Suffice it to say that there is no shortage of competition and in case I needed a back-up plan, I was more than covered.
In a way, I wish I had thought that up as the back-up plan thing last year when I originally wanted to come to the Peel Pub. Almost 1 year ago, to the very day, I was planning on making Peel Pub the 92nd burger in my search. However, when I showed up on that rainy day, in a foul mood and very little patience (long story), I wasn’t about to wait around when I saw the place jam packed. I decided to shuffle down to Gare Centrale and have the only sleeper burger in GBS history at Deli Planet.
Since that faithful day, almost 50 burgers have past and I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to come by to try the burger at a place that has been a vital part of Peel. The Peel Pub also played a minor role in my family, as my very own grandfather spent a very short cup of coffee in the kitchen many, many moons ago. It being 2012, the past is now irrelevant and I was ready to add the Peel Pub to my own legacy.
Another vital reason that the Peel Pub was jettisoned to the next burger on my list was because of some good word of mouth I received days prior. One of my loyal Burger Search fans made the trek to the Peel Pub before I did and told me in his words that the burger was to die for. Now, that has 2 meanings if you really want to think about it and I was hoping to not end my day in a body bag.
On this day, I did it on purpose to come in right after the lunch rush. I managed to make it down to the pub a little bit after 1 p.m. So, when I entered the restaurant, I saw that there was more than enough affordable seating. Even though it was late in the lunch period, there was still a fair amount of people still in the midst of theirs. Since there wasn’t any clear indication of what the seating procedure was, I decided to plant myself at the table right next to the door. It wasn’t like anyone was going to tell me to go away.
It took a few minutes for someone to come over, but when that started, things started rolling. The service was top notch, in my own humble opinion. The server was more than able to converse in both official languages. Even though they were trying to slip in some English, I held my course and kept us in French, even though we both knew it would’ve been easier.
The server passed my ‘coming back to check on me’ test, where I asked for an extra napkin. Me, being so caught up in burger eating, didn’t see another one sitting on my table. I also have to note the patience shown when I got to paying the bill and there wasn’t quite enough change to be given back. For those keeping score at home, I always pay in cash and on this visit, I only had twenties on me. It’s kind of hard to ask for fifteen dollars of change when so many other people are paying with debit cards these days. Anyways, I was more than satisfied with the way I was handled.
The menu at the Peel Pub is vast. One of the more unique features in places like this is daily specials. When my father was running a similar type of kitchen in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, he would go on forever about what specials he would have and on what days they would be on. As a matter of fact, he still goes on about them whenever he wants to criticize a restaurant.
You’re probably wondering why there’s a picture of a glass with a logo of Labatt on it. Well, I’m wondering how many people think there’s beer in this glass. If you ignore the lemon and the straw, can this iced tea pass off as beer? I don’t drink at all, so I’m glad it was actually iced tea, though the smell of beer around me was hard to avoid.
Jumbo Peel Pub Burger
This burger contains lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, mustard, relish, cheese, and bacon. The unique feature of this burger is the fact that it is 16 ounces of meat, making it nearly a full pound. The burger is presented with 2 patties.
The bacon add-on option isn’t quite listed on the menu. A while ago, I made it a point to ask the Peel Pub Twitter account whether or not I could get bacon as an add-on and I received the very welcomed confirmation. Remember, ordering something and receiving it are two very different things. So, I was extremely pleased to receive my jumbo bacon cheeseburger.
This was the coleslaw that came with the platter. It was more or less your average coleslaw. I’m really just including this picture here because I liked the way it turned out.
The side dish that I chose to complete the platter were mashed potatoes. It’s been quite a while since the last time I had mashed potatoes. There’s really not much to say about this other than the fact that they were a real nice compliment to have with the heavy burger. If done right, mashed potatoes really hit the spot.
The first thing that hit me about this burger was the smell. I rarely write about anything I smell because that’s the one sense I have that isn’t so effective for me. I couldn’t quite put two and two together right off the bat until I thought about where I was geographically. There’s a Harvey’s a few doors up the block and this burger’s smell reminded me of what I used to order at my local Brossard location of that fast food restaurant.
Now, I have to make this clear, I’m not trying to put down the burger. In my opinion, Harvey’s is the top fast food burger chain in Canada. It would choose them over any of the other so-called giants of burgers. A burger reminded me of Harvey’s is a positive thing to me, no matter how much some people would like to make you think otherwise. The only thing I was hoping was that they didn’t go get take-out. Luckily, my mouth would’ve been a great judge of that.
In turn, the explanation to the smell was the fact that a lot of the ingredients used in the burger are standard Harvey’s all-dressed components. If you’re worried, I have to tell you that was the point where the similarities ended.
For this burger, there were two things, outside the sheer size that I noticed. One of those things was not quite up there and the other really impressed me. Before I get to that, despite the fact that I keep telling myself that I would stop going for huge burgers, I keep on breaking my word to myself. I guess you can say that I’m not that good at making promises, no matter how much others would like me to. I was expecting a struggle to finish, but it wasn’t until the end where I had to slow down and pace myself.
The thing that left me wanting more was the beef patties. The problem with having so much meat is the consistency of the product you’re going to get. In this meal, the beef started off tasting fine and dandy. As we moved on, after the onslaught of ingredients went by the wayside, the beef was left out to dry. At that point, you notice the shortcomings a little more. It explains why there was a whole pile of diced onions, which is too messy for my own taste. It explains why there was a pool of mustard, which just forces me to reiterate that it doesn’t belong on my burger, ever. I know my first napkin would like a restraining order from mustard. It’s fine if the ingredients stick through until the end, but when they don’t, it’s a battle between you and the burger.
The highlight, for me, of this burger, was the added bacon. I really didn’t taste it at first with all the toppings, but when I got down to it near the end, I got the real value of bacon. The way they cooked it and the way it tasted, really saved the burger for me. When people wonder about my ‘obsession’ with bacon, all I have to do is tell them that bacon makes everything better. Seriously, it’s probably the only 2 slices of bacon I’ll have all week.
For me, the burger was acceptable for the kind of establishment it is. If the burger was more focused on the real stars like the beef, cheese, and bacon, you’d probably have an all-star on your hands. Sometimes, the supporting players are just there to mask the real center of what a really great burger should be. With that being said, you can see that I managed to finish another burger and in the end, it’s all that really counts.
The Peel Pub has the perfect location for anyone in the midst of downtown looking for a decently priced meal. The burger might not be the main drawing factor, but it’s a solid enough reason to stay there once you’ve settled in to watch whatever is on the screens. Combined with the great service I witnessed, there’s no reason why you can’t spend a little time at the pub named after the street.
While I was writing this post, Mr. Lew’s Great Burger Search’s fan page reached its 500th overall follower. I would like to thank all the people who take the time to read what I post and put up with my almost daily diatribes about bacon. While some might see me counting down all these minor achievements as overdoing it, I see it as me trying to show my appreciate to those who genuinely care. That’s priceless to me.
My next goal that I’ll be working on is to reach my 750th follower on Twitter. I have about 85 more followers to reach before Burger 150 on July 9, 2012. Much like the Facebook page, Twitter is another great way to interact with me and share your suggestions/comments/complaints (like some people tend to like doing, I’m always all ears). Thank you, stay tuned because the best is always yet to come!