59 Beaubien E.
Bus: STM 18, 31, 55, 160
Visit: November 9, 2012
In Montreal, the search for brunch places is one that probably has just as much interest as anything I can ever search for myself. What surprises me the most is the number of these brunch specialists that offer something that interests me more, the burger. Just off The Main, on Beaubien, lies a small place known as Le Vieux Vélo.
Be careful, if you are walking fast, you might just miss this tiny place. The stretch of Beaubien, west of the metro station, is one that doesn’t really have much that sticks to your attention. Usually, we go straight to Boulevard Saint-Laurent and take our chances there. This two room restaurant is located where a two others places use to sit, a Mexican place and a pizza place. The Mexican place, Itacate, moved a few doors down, allowing Le Vieux Vélo to come in and set up shop.
I entered the restaurant on a Friday morning and wasn’t expecting to see it so full. One of the dining rooms was completely full and there was only one table left in the front room. It’s a tiny space, even with two former restaurants merged into one. From where I was sitting, I could see the counter space, which was a front for the kitchen area. The kitchen was mostly visible from my vantage point.
On the walls were something that really hit home for me a bit. I wanted to get a picture of these things, but I didn’t really have the time. What was on the walls were pieces of wood with artwork on them. That artwork were all pictures of various cameras through time. It’s a bit touching because this location would be the first to be tested out by a new camera, the third in the history of the GBS. I just found this sighting to be a nice coincidence.
The most noticeable thing that you can get from sitting here for a bit of time is the type of clientele that passes through a place like this. On one table, there was a woman, sitting and working on her laptop, all the while having breakfast. The table right at the window by the door housed a couple of sorts. They were discussing various events in a less than talked about part of Montreal. The woman seemed to be a lot more secure than the what seemed to be dodgy male companion. These are the kinds of things you don’t ever get to notice in other big time Montreal restaurants.
The service at this establishment was more than acceptable. All interactions with my server were more than courteous and I couldn’t really ask for more. There were two servers working the floor. The other server seemed to be the one handling the monotonous duties of keeping everything in check. Between busy points in the service, they kept themselves busy with the familiar faces that kept the bar area full.
The menu at Le Vieux Vélo is quite simple. You’re handed a plasticized menu with two simple sides. The first side contains all the brunch items and the reverse sides offer a nice selections of sandwiches. The best part of it is that a lot of the options are affordable. I managed to get a drink, soup, and burger for a very reasonable $11, minus taxes and tips.
I very rarely get soup with my burger, but lately it has become a more appealing option to me. It’s something that’s not so heavy and works perfectly as a lunch option. While it’s not something that I immediately think of when it comes to eating with a burger, it’s something that I wouldn’t deny.
The soup itself hit the spot nicely. Now, I’m not too handy when it comes to identifying unknown soups, so I had to ask what this was. My guess was actually far off. The consistency of the soup says vegetables, but it is really a lentil soup. There were tiny pieces in the soup, which was a plus for me. All I really was craving for was a pack of saltines to crush into the soup.
This burger contains spinach, tomatoes, red onions, cheese, and bacon.
Ordering a burger from a brunch place is really a toss-up. You really don’t know what’s going to show up at your table and you don’t know exactly what kind of quality of burger you’re going to get. So, when the burger was set down on the table, I couldn’t help but notice how tiny it was. I guess times must be tough for me and I couldn’t really afford a real sized burger. Either way, regardless of how big or small a burger is, I was ready to see if it stood up to the quality of other burgers in the past.
The first real interesting thing to note about this burger is the bread. The bread has this distinct taste that really fits in with the whole notion of having brunch. For me, it really reminds of me of the Sundays I spent eating toast, which was heavily lathered in margarine. For this burger, it was a real plus and something that kept the eating simple.
The next two items really didn’t live up to what I would expect in a burger. First, the cheese looked a tad bit hideous on that slab of meat. It did not look that appealing to me. When it came time to tasting the cheese, it felt like there was none on the burger a all. That was a sore disappointment for something that should be something that’s supposed to hit hard.
The second component that left me wanting more was the bacon. First of all, in my humble opinion, if you’re a brunch place, you have no excuses when it comes to bacon. The piece looked like it was folded over to fit the tiny burger. There’s no issue there, as long as it is cooked to justice. Well, that piece was way too crunchy and took away from the burger.
Finally, there was the meat, which, in a way, saved the burger somewhat. The combination of the meat and the tasty bread were the two shining lights in the tiny burger. The burger patty delivered and actually had some taste. Even though I was left with wanting more, it was enough to satisfy me at the moment.
I just wanted to share this picture of the interesting plates used by the restaurant.
Le Vieux Vélo is one of those small hole in the wall spaces that you look for when it comes to having brunch. It’s that kind of place that you can hang around for a little bit without worrying about hurrying back into your daily grind. While the burger left me wanting a little bit more, the service was friendly enough to hopefully make me forget all about it.