Bus: STM 201, 205, 207, 218, 470, 485
Visit: August 14, 2012
The debate for Montreal’s best smoked meat is always a heated one. There are many contenders when thinking about that fierce question. Well, today, I’m not going to add any fuel to that fire. What I will do is add something that’s a whole lot more appealing to me, a burger. It’s not often that I get to have smoked meat on a burger and this was the perfect opportunity to make the trek to the West Island to do just that.
For this occasion, Abie’s Smoked Meat & Steaks was the intended location for another venture into smoked meat. I’ve only had 2 smoked meat burger experiences and I can’t quite say that I’ve been too lucky. The most ridiculous situation came a year and a half ago at Dunn’s. It was my second burger at that location and for that opportunity, I decided to mix their signature smoked meat with my burger. Well, within something like 2.5 seconds after picking up my burger, it fell to pieces. It was the only burger I ever had to eat with a fork. That’s the past and I was hoping that it wouldn’t repeat itself.
Abie’s is more or less a delivery/pick-up smoked meat place. When you enter, the dining room floor pretty much looks like any other fast food place on the planet. You don’t quite get the unique feel from a visit to any other smoked meat place in the city. Plus, when you take a look at the brownish colour adorning the walls, it makes you wonder.
The menu you’re presented with is quite simple. On the menu, there are your various smoked meat incarnations and a good amount of signature Jewish dishes. You even have a good list of lunch specials if you’re looking for something in the budget range.
Before going into this location, like I do with every place I try, I did some research. What was said about Abie’s was that the food was good, but the service would leave something to be desired. The comment that stayed with me the most was that servers would frown upon people who would order non-smoked meat dishes. We would be prancing around that line on this visit and wondering to see how many comments were justified.
Our first interaction with the sole server on the floor came with the menu. The person who accompanied me, Jacob, asked a very simple question about the available condiments for a hamburger. What ensued was someone who seemed taken aback that the question was even asked. Then, asking if a pickle could be added to a burger yielded even more resistance. Me, being the neutral observer, didn’t want to get involved, but I’ve never seen so much hostility when it came to ordering food.
The next thing that caught my attention involved the table next to ours. It was a family of four individuals, which included a father, his mother, and a set of small children. At the end of their meal, the man brings the kids out to their vehicle. The elderly woman remained and told the server that she would be going to the car because the man would return to pay. Well, we’re lucky we live in a decent society. The bills and leftovers were sitting on the table as the entire groups was outside at their car. They could have easily taken off and driven away. If that happened, which it didn’t, I’m pretty sure that the serve wouldn’t be able to chase them down. This is what goes through my mind while in public.
What I will say is that the delivery of the food was rather quick. We weren’t too thrilled with the distance we had with the server, but that would have been quickly remedied by decent food. After all, most of us are willing to put with any kind of abuse to get really good food. Have you heard of that hot dog place in Chicago? Look it up and you’ll know what I mean.
Jacob ordered the regular hamburger. Now, he was more or less satisfied with what he had. The thing I wanted to point out is what he did with his French fries. The first thing he mentioned was that the texture of the fries seemed off. Regardless of that, he continued eating. What he did next, in a way, really shocked me.
There, as you can see, he preceded to redecorate his plate. For some people, it might be normal to see something like this. Me, in my nearly 30 years on this soon-to-be bacon scarce planet, have never seen condiments used to this extent. So, when it comes crashing down and it hurts inside, you got to take a stand, it don’t hurt to over-condiment. What you gonna do when Hulkamania gets in your head and runs your ketchup packets all over you?
Jacob then went on to decorate his burger with the same condiments he used to hulk up his fries. Then again, I learned a lot about Jacob on this day. He goes nuts for free refills and liberally uses condiments. These are the kinds of people who like burgers, go figure. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming to find out what the smoked meat burger fared.
Smoked Meat Burger
This burger contains lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheese, and smoked meat.
Like I mentioned before, I had one fear going into a burger of this magnitude. I was hoping that the thing would stick together. As you can see in this picture, the placement of the smoked meat was actually done with great care. It wasn’t just slapped on and left to fend for itself. The majority of the meat was melted under the cheese and the remained was left right on top. That boded well for the eating process as the cheese would act as a harness, keeping things in place.
The next huge point for the burger’s success that we both noted was the bun. It wasn’t your normal run of the mill burger bun. This looked like something that was created on the spot, though I won’t speculate. The only drawback from having this out of the ordinary bun was the fact that it was a tad bit too big for the components inside the burger.
By far, the best part of the burger was the smoked meat. Now, I’m not going to compare it to other places, since it would be out of the context of smoked meat sandwiches. What I will say is that it really meshed well with the cheese melted right on top of it. You combine all that with the lettuce and tomatoes, you have something worth trying. The only thing that dragged down this particular smoked meat was the fact that it was a hair too dry for my liking. The taste was good, but something a little less dry would have pushed it over the top.
Now, after all, this is a burger search and I’m here for the burger. While the house’s specialty is smoked meat, what they chose to put it on was a burger, thus meaning it’s fair game to me. The most important aspect of any burger is the meat patty. You can have any great ingredient on top of that meat patty, but if it isn’t cooked accordingly, it sinks. What we had here was a good build-up, but a slumping home stretch. The burger patty was overdone. It’s disappointing because I really like how the smoked meat was done and if it wasn’t for the patty, I would have really enjoyed the burger thoroughly.
In the end, what I’ll tell you is that you should give the smoked meat a chance here. It is there specialty and definitely their strong suit. You can’t judge an entire restaurant of the merits of a burger, which isn’t even the main attraction, that’s what I do. If you’re willing to make the long haul to the West Island and put up with spotty service in your own personal quest for smoked meat, you might be surprised.