Metro: Rosemont, Beaubien
Bus: STM 13, 18, 25, 30, 31, 160, 161, 197
Visit: September 15, 2012
Montreal’s Saint-Hubert street is home to some of the more memorable moments and burgers in the past 3 years of doing this. While most common citizens come to this area to find that key ingredient for their wedded bliss, I come here to find the next step in a search for burger greatness. Even though it is situated just south of the sheltered portion of the street, La Bétise is another key component in the progression of the Great Burger Search.
Since starting the fourth year of the Burger Search in July, I’ve been on a losing streak. I’ve been trying to seek out burgers that would do a lot to impress anyone, but I’ve been coming up short. This is why I’ve lined up another place that I’ve been looking very much forward to stepping into. On this occasion, it was a new monthly family commitment that compelled me to put La Bétise forward as a suggestion. A reservation to this place wasn’t so easy, as I was told to wait for a phone call to see if there was room available. As we would come to see later, there was a reason why.
Before I even set foot in the restaurant, there was something that really caught my eye. I know that this has absolutely nothing to do with the restaurant, but I just had to share this. On a cool Saturday night, I was walking towards the restaurant to see if I was the first one there. Seeing that I was first, I walked back towards the corner of Bellechasse and Saint-Hubert. This is where I saw a line-up of books. Now, I was about to make up some really astounding explanation of why they were there, but one of our party came up with something more realistic. Apparently, it’s pick up a book and leave a book. It’s just something that I love about the city of Montreal.
La Bétise isn’t the biggest place in the world. Outside the three tables set up for large groups, there was only one other small table. If you came in when the place was full, you’d be pointed towards the bar. In the over 200 restaurants I’ve set foot into during the last 3 years, this has got to be the smallest one I’ve ever seen. The most unique thing about the restaurant is the fact that you see everything. Nothing is hidden to the eye. The grill and the “kitchen” is in plain sight. So, watching as the giant scoops of French fries were being lumped onto a plate was a great sight to see.
The service was top notch. The fact that it was a small room didn’t seem to sway the half a dozen members of the staff. Water was promptly refilled when needed by at least 3 different individuals. The plates was removed almost as quickly as we finished to ensure our comfort on the table. Our server’s patience was also quite great, as we did make them wait a bit, especially when I was trying to figure out what angle to capture my burger from.
In this search, just about anything that is out of the ordinary is something worthy to mention. Case in point, attaching the menu to blocks of wood is indeed a point to mention. Plus, how many jokes can a person come up with just by looking at this?
For the purpose of our evening, we decided to start with appetizers. The restaurant has a wide variety of tapas options that make it all the more appealing. There was even a moment where we were counting up how much it would cost to order one of everything. So, for about $200, you could seriously have one of everything. Every time I settled on something worth having, I found myself landing on another more appealing option. If it wasn’t for the last few days of over-stuffing and the impending eating, I would have seriously ordered more than one.
Just a reminder, the pictures I’m not commenting on are the items ordered by the rest of the party. It would not be fair of me to say anything since I didn’t taste them, so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Grilled Cheese Bête-Tease
These are small versions of grilled cheese sandwiches comprised of smoked salmon and green apples.
I’ll be the first one to say that the choice wasn’t an easy one. It was when I saw the inclusion of apples where my mind settled. Outside of having bacon, anything apple is a huge selling point for me.
One wouldn’t quite think that apples would go with cheese and salmon, but it did. The taste wasn’t awkward at all. I found that the salmon wasn’t quite strong enough. Despite that, it was quite pleasant and a good way to start this meal.
For the main dishes, I was quite happy that we managed to cover a wide variety of the menu. The best part of it was the fact that I got to see some of the things I would’ve ordered if it wasn’t for the fact that I was there for a burger.
This burger contains lettuce, tomatoes, fried carrots, and spicy mayo over a grilled mushroom patty.
This burger contains lettuce, tomatoes, fried carrots, and dried tomato mayo over a tofu patty.
This sandwich contains lettuce, tomatoes, dried tomato mayo, bacon, and soft-shelled crab.
General Tao Poutine
This is a poutine with General Tao chicken and cheese curds where the sauce is also inspired by General Tao chicken.
This burger contains cheddar, onions, mushrooms, lettuce, tomatoes, fried carrots, mayo, and caviar.
For a burger with the word ‘phat’ in it, you have to stuff it with a great deal of ingredients. The most notable item found in the burger was the main reason that La Betise was catapulted to the front of the list for places to try and that was the caviar. I’ve only had caviar one other time in my entire life and it wasn’t in a burger. I’ve had a great deal of things in a burger, but most of them were normal items. Caviar would completely change the game.
These days, I bite into new burgers with a great deal of hesitation. I’ll remind you that I’m currently on a burger losing streak, so it’s pretty obvious that I’m putting way too much pressure on the next burger on the list. With the first bite, I was a little bit relieved, there was actual taste. It was a beef patty that wasn’t bland at all and pretty much stayed that way until the end. Though, it was a little more overcooked than I would of liked. Despite that, it was one less concern off my list of worries.
Probably the biggest concern came from the size of the bun. The bun was much larger than the meat. It wasn’t so much an issue as the beginning of the meal, but at the end, it became hard to forget. As I started to run out of meat, I had to readjust to make sure I wasn’t going to finish with an air burger. Luckily, I was able to even things out to finish nicely.
The most notable part of the burger was probably the caviar. I made sure to take a picture to document the fact that I was having caviar on the burger. The other notable elements like the carrot and mushrooms were more or less lost, but the caviar was not. When you tasted the mayo, you could easily tell that you were having caviar and that’s what I really was looking for.
I’m sitting here nearly a day later wondering if the losing streak is over. That question is still up for debate in my mind. While the meat did far better than the last few burgers I had, some structural issues took away from that. The caviar was a definite plus and it’s something that I can see myself having in a burger again. So, I have to make a decision regarding the streak now because I don’t want to be thinking about this for another week. The losing streak is over. This burger delivered in most of the categories and I didn’t regret having this one whatsoever. On top of that, it made great use of an ingredient you would not really think belongs in a burger.
La Bétise is one of the those hole in the wall type establishment that makes this city so great to explore. While you won’t be seeing more than 20 customers in this place at once, it’s something that adds to the charm of the restaurant. You can definitely see the Asian influences in the list of tapas. For that alone, you can spend an entire meal sampling the tapas. When you think of the unique selections on the menu and the top notch service, you can’t go wrong discovering another small diamond in the rough.
After out trek to La Betise, we decided to finish things in style at Rockberry on Saint-Denis. Having been there more times than I can remember, I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves. Though, I will say that the pie I had, Double Chocolate Cheese, was well worth it. I can honestly say that chocolate and cheese go hand in hand.
Double Chocolate Cheese Pie
Toblerone Cheese Pie