This is a revisited post for La Paryse. Click HERE for the original post.
LOCATION CLOSED (October 27, 2012)
302 Ontario E.
Bus: STM 15, 24, 30, 125, 427, 715, 747
Visit: October 17, 2012
Whenever you think about the question of who has the best burger in the city of Montreal, one name always comes to mind. Regardless of any type of cuisine you like or follow, you cannot ignore what this particular place has done for the Montreal landscape. That place is affectionately known as La Paryse.
La Paryse, opened in 1980, got its name from its owner. (check out this in-depth YouTube video interview with the owner). Since that time, they have been serving up what’s been arguably Montreal’s top burgers. It has found itself on top of many polls, some chosen by readers, others by critics. Regardless of what you want to say, La Paryse is a staple in the burger world of Montreal, that is, until 2012.
During the late stages of Summer 2012, we all were saddened to hear about the impending closing of the Montreal institution known as La Paryse. Unlike other closings in 2012, there would be a grace period where people could go a pay final homage to a place that has served out burgers for a period of time longer than I have been on this planet.
This post is being published days before its closing. By that time, if you haven’t been, the memories will be the only things you’ll have left to remember La Paryse. For me, I just had to make one last pilgrimage to the place that started the Great Burger Search. While I’ve seen many past locations of my search go by the wayside without ever making a second visit, I couldn’t let this one go by.
La Paryse holds a special place in my life, even though I’ve only been there once. In 2009, I was at a serious crossroads in my short life and I was in a process of deep reflection. It was a day where I was on a job interview and I decided to cap things off with a place to eat outside of the usual fast food places I went to at the time. The first place was an iconic poutine location known as La Banquise. For this second time, I went to a place where burgers were king, pardon the pun. That place happened to be La Paryse. At the time, little did I know that the burger you see above would be the launching point for something that would literally change my life. Nearly 4 years later, I can say that the dark clouds are behind me and only better things are ahead. La Paryse, being the first burger, is a part of that climb uphill for me.
With time running out, I finally decided to make my way to La Paryse on a unusually warm October day. With about 10 days left at the Ontario street location, I was hoping to get Burger 1 all over again.
I entered a little bit before dinner rush to make sure to avoid the throngs of people who would normally line up for a long time just to get a burger. I stood by the counter and took a good look at the place while I waited for the server to get the table ready. At that particular time, the restaurant wasn’t particularly full, so it was a quaint site to see.
The menu for La Paryse has, for the most part, been quite simple. Outside of the burgers, you’ll have your soup, salad, and sandwiches. Ordering wasn’t going to be a very difficult thing for me to do. For the most part, I was going to order the same exact thing that I had the last time, but I saw things now that I didn’t know back then. Of course, my tastes have changed and La Paryse had a burger available to take full advantage of that.
La Paryse isn’t the biggest place to eat burgers that you’ll find in Montreal. On top of that, it’s quite the interesting place too. When you look at your table, you’ll notice that something isn’t quite right.
Yes, that’s a glass full of crayons. This has always been one of the things that stuck with me since my original visit 3 years ago. It’s the one thing that makes a customer talk. When customers tell others of that one interesting thing they saw, it’s sure to make others want to come and see it for themselves. For La Paryse, that glass of crayons is that hook that made it so successful for 32 years.
I couldn’t help but take this picture. This was the table I was sitting at 3 years ago right next to the wall in the corner. When I came in on this day, it was occupied and it was a bit of a disappointment that I couldn’t sit in the same seat that I did years ago to mark the last time I was here.
With that being said, it was time to order and close a chapter in the book that is Montreal and La Paryse. With that being said, it would only be right to see what was being offered on this day.
When I ordered the iced tea, the second server, who has been working there for quite the while, went to this ice box, which was in plain view. There, they took out this weird container and proceeded to pour the contents into a glass. I felt the need to mention that because I’ve never seen where any of the non-can iced tea came from.
This iced tea is unlike any of the name brands you can get elsewhere. The taste actually brought me back to the last time I was here.
This is La Paryse’s interpretation of a poutine. Unlike my last visit, I decided to have a poutine instead of fries. This way, I could say that I tried another Montreal poutine.
On first inspection, it looks unlike most poutines in this fair city. The cheese is grated rather than in curd form. The cheese on the side of the dish don’t have the lathering of sauce that melted the other pieces. The fries are the same type of fries that I had years ago.
The sauce is something quite simple and doesn’t overtake the rest of the poutine. It mixes well with the rest of the poutine and allows you time to really take in the cheese. When you eat the cheese, you get the chance to pull at it, which can be fun and bothersome all at the same time. Once you put down the generous portion, the feeling is that of satisfaction.
This burger contains lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, mayo, mustard, cream cheese, and bacon.
For a split second, I was debating whether or not to make this Burger 164 or just make it a revisit one. Compared to Burger 1, this burger has cream cheese. It’s really the only real discernible difference. Back then, I was so naive with my burgering that I honestly thought there was cream cheese in that one. So, this time around, I went towards my favorite burger cheese out there. Even though it won’t be Burger 164, it will still have a place in the Great Burger Search.
Compared to the last time, something changed. This time, there was a piece of fruit included with the burger. This, for me, is something that I find quite refreshing. In the early days, I was taken aback by this, like it was a shot. But, having something like a pineapple is something that just adds to the experience.
The burger itself was actually a lot better than the last time I had it. Last time, I was left with the feeling that there had to be something better out there. This time, I managed to finally understand why so many Montrealers would tout this as one of the best burgers in the city. All of the ingredients played their role just fine and nothing was redundant.
One of the issues I had the last time was the extreme use of napkins, which made things quite unpleasant. This time around ,the use of napkins was slightly less prominent. I did have to use the napkin quite a bit, but not enough to really lose any enjoyment from what I was having.
The inclusion of cream cheese in this particular burger was quite a welcoming one. While, I don’t remember the taste of the last burger so much anymore, this one was on par with some of the better burgers I’ve had since.
With that being said, at the later stages of burger consumption, I made it to a point where I started to reflect quite a bit. You can see that a piece of bacon attempted to escape its fate, but I rectified that. I tried to hold off that final bite for as long as I could, but sadly, it just had to go down the gullet.
After that last bite, we’re left with a plate that’s nearly empty. You can only imagine the number of plates that have looked like this over the last 32 years.
It was around this point of the visit where I actually spotted Paryse, the owner of the aptly named restaurant. As I was finishing off my meal, I couldn’t help but overhear some of the discussion that was going on. On top of that, there were customers passing through the front, where she was sitting, and wishing her the very best. That just shows how much this place meant to Montreal.
So far, this post seems like it’s the final nail in the coffin, but the hope for a rebirth is still strong. One day, La Paryse will relocate and we will be talking about it once again. I walked out of this venerable Montreal institution looking for that day. Until then, we will all forge ahead and do our best to find burgers that will do justice to a standard bearer.
"MERCI à notre fidèle clientèle pour ces 32 ans de générosité, d’échanges et de plaisirs partagés, de files d’attente, d’hivers un peu trop glacés, d’étés suffocants, de sourires, de stress et de maladresses parfois, mais si rarement, « Avec ou sans mayonnaise ? » La fauleuse armoire à bonbons des tout débuts relayée par le non moins populaire plat de gommes au comptoir - « la jaune c’est la meilleure ! » Puis la casse-tête des places - « fumeurs ou non-fumeurs ? - Eh non, le coke n’est plus en bouteille ! » Les traditionnelles vacances d’été qui vous laissaient complètement désarçonné, tout comme les retardataires de fin de soirée - « vous êtes fermés ? » avec un trémolo dans la voix et un gâteau aux carottes pour emporter. Et maintenant, l’aventure se poursuit dans nos coeurs et dans nos mémoires. Au plaisir de vous revoir au hasard des rencontres, ici, ailleurs, quelque part.”
Normally, this is where I sum things up and I couldn’t think of any other way than to publically thank the Paryse Taillefer and her wonderful staff for their contribution to Montreal and its thriving restaurant scene.
À La Paryse, merci d’être le burger première fois de ma recherche de Great Burger. Sans vous, nous serions nombreux à ne pas savoir comment un hamburger devrait vraiment être.