This is a revisited post for Frite Alors! Click HERE for the original post.
Bus: STM 15, 30, 125, 427, 715, 747
Visit: March 20, 2013
In 2009, I embarked on a course that would take me to places that I never thought I would ever see. Now, over 180 burgers later, there was that one place that I just had to return to. Before any one of us can move forward, we always have to give our dues to the past. Without the past, the future doesn’t have a chance. While the Burger Search officially started with an iconic place, the real path began at Frite Alors!
It was September of 2009 and 2 burgers were already consumed. Those burgers were consumed before the tried and true process of having another each week. When I made the decision to go weekly, the first place that started a list that has now lasted 4 years was Frite Alors!
In life, some of us live with regrets and then, there are those who try to think that they don’t. One of the visits I was never really happy with was the one for Burger 3. When I started revisiting places, this particular burger was always high up on that list. This time around, I wanted to give it the 2013 treatment and naturally, see where this restaurant is 4 years after it opened.
Now, before I get into the heart of the matter, there was another reason why Frite Alors! just happened to be where it was in the 2013 calendar. Recently, I received a very interesting request from a journalism student at Concordia. Their task was to write a feature article for their course. I’ve actually been on the radio twice and taped for television, but this request was a lot more flattering because it didn’t seem like one that just filled a space. For this reason, this student journalist wanted to accompany me on one of my visits. Now, since our schedules were tight and hectic, the only good central option was at Frite Alors!
The fact that I was being interviewed during the visit didn’t take away from what I usually do. It kept me on my toes and reminded me why I go on with this search. Then again, I’m going to leave that behind and move forward with what I’m best at, eating burgers.
Frite Alors! is now considered to be a successful local chain. In recent years, they’ve managed to expand to Quebec City and Mont Saint-Sauveur. Most recently, you’ll find them right across the street from the Eaton Center. The chain was established in 1991 on Parc Avenue and they haven’t looked back ever since. This particular location opened up in 2009, which coincidentally coincides with the same year this search began.
Frite Alors!, in my almost 4 years of doing this, has one of the nicer layouts around. The room is inviting and doesn’t seem overly pretentious. You can easily sit down for a meal with friends without feeling like you don’t belong. That’s one of the few things other places don’t quite have. While you might be packed in like sardines in other places, here, you actually have room to breathe.
What’s also interesting are the items that you can find on the tables, some of which weren’t around during my initial visit. For one, you could see that there was a cup of crayons. I’m not sure how crayons became standard here, but it brought me back to another milestone place in my search, La Paryse, where they were the signature decor item.
Another item that I found interesting was this rather large cylinder. On it, you could see the entire drinks menu. This item also wasn’t around during my first visit and it certainly made the second time around more interesting. It has got to be one of the more unique menus I’ve seen over the last 4 years.
I arrived to the restaurant just after opening. At that time, you could see that things were still quite quiet. We were allowed to sit where we wanted and the corner near the window seemed like the best option, thinking about daylight mostly. In this position, I could see most of the restaurant and more importantly, I could see the seat I had three and a half years ago.
The service was actually on par with the last time around. What actually impressed me was the consideration given by the server to our table’s needs. When it came apparent that a French menu wasn’t going to suffice, it was no issue at all to offer the English version. So, we were presented with a copy of each and things were under way as orders were given in both official languages.
The menu at Frite Alors! offers a wide variety of options, mostly centering around fries and burgers. What you’ll also notice is that the list of dips for the fries is much longer than the list of poutine options. Either way, considering how money plays a factor in most of our eating choices, you can get away with a reasonable bill over here.
Even though I was revisiting this restaurant, one of the slight changes I wanted to make was in the side dish department. Choosing a poutine here served two major purposes. The first purpose was that I always love trying poutines I haven’t had before. The second purpose was more in a logistical way of thinking. Ordering a poutine would require the kitchen to place my burger on a plate, which makes taking pictures so much easier. I’ll clarify what I mean by that a little later.
The calling card of Frite Alors! is the magical French fry. The restaurant touts their Belgian methods of cooking their fries and it shows. I can’t count all the fries I’ve had in the last 4 years, let alone nearly 3 decades of life. While I had fries that were insanely superior to these, I’ve had some that just didn’t measure up either.
When you have this poutine, you quickly see how the different fries just change the whole game. Sometimes, the start of the poutine is the cheese or the sauce, but in this case, it was definitely the fries. The fries shine bright and created a taste that makes this poutine one that I really liked. I might be going out on a limb with this one, but it was one of the better ones I had this calendar year, only behind one particular poutine in Verdun.
What’s just as good here is the portion size. When you order a burger, you have the option of taking an extra poutine. Normally, some of those extra poutines you get come in a bowl the size of a KFC bucket and you immediately regret having lunch prior to visiting. Here, with a much more reasonable size, you’re able to finish everything and not worry about eating in the future.
Frite Alors! Burger (Circa 2009)
Before I get to the current day version of this burger, I just wanted to show you all what this burger looked like in 2009. Yes, I’ll be the first one to admit that the person who took this picture had no idea what he was doing. This brings back the importance of ordering that poutine, just to eliminate me having to work around the dreaded basket.
Frite Alors! Burger
This burger contains onions, peppers, mushrooms, mayo, lettuce, and bacon.
As you can see, the burger is much more pleasing to look at in 2013. Upon initial inspection, you can see some very unique attributes. The bun is what hits you right off the bat. This is a foccacia bun, which can be topped with literally anything during baking. I remember writing how unique this bun was back in 2009 and still to this day, it is still quite different than any other I’ve seen.
In the list of ingredients, what you’ll notice is that there isn’t any cheese listed whatsoever. That may seem like a real detriment, but it really wasn’t. There was enough of the other elements to really make up for that. The fact that there was a strong use of mayo allowed the taste to carry through.
Compared to other burgers, the placement of ingredients is done in a very different way. For example, if you were to get something like onions on a burger, most places would give you larger pieces. Here, you get the diced variety, alongside similarly cut peppers. It might make it easier to eat, but only if you’re scooping them off the plate with a fork. It’s probably one of the aspects of the burger that leaves me with some questions.
In all, it’s a decent burger. The unique bun makes for something that could set it apart from the competition. The range of ingredients found in this particular burger is nice, but some of the major elements don’t deliver enough. I would probably come back to have a burger at a Frite Alors!, but I would want to see what the others on the extensive list taste like.
Frite Alors! is a place that has a wide variety of burgers. While you come here to be fed at a reasonable price, you should keep your expectations on that level. The fries are what truly bring this restaurant to the forefront.