124 St. Paul E.
Metro: Place D’Armes, Champ-de-Mars
Bus: STM 14, 55, 129, 715
Visit: October 30, 2013
When it comes to the most unique part of the island of Montréal, one could only go as far as the Old Port. There, you have some of the most interesting architectural buildings the city has to offer. They’ve been around for ages and it is interesting to see what occupies those places in 2013. This is where Pub St. Paul comes in.
In my eating crusades, I have a number of groups that I use to visit various places on the island. One of the groups that I don’t get to see that often is the one that I dubbed ‘The Fat Squirrel Society.’ As a matter of fact, it’s been just over a year since we’ve been in the same place together. So, after weeks of trying to synchronize schedules, we managed to get a date in late October.
Planning an outing with anyone requires us to agree on all factors. With the date out of the way, it was time to look at what we wanted to eat. I managed to select a Japanese restaurant that I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while. However, the squirrel member of our trio wasn’t too keen on it. So, we had to come up with another option. I had a few options in the Old Port area that might have been acceptable alternatives to the squirrel. But, this is where he mentioned how much he wanted a burger. Who was I to complain since I had to reschedule the previous night’s burger.
We met up downtown and walked to the Old Port section of the city. Along the way, we actually stopped by a few restaurants along McGill street to see what they had to offer. The squirrel mentioned how much he wanted that burger. For me, it really didn’t bother me so much, as I could get a burger anytime I wanted. We passed by some really big names in the city, but either they weren’t open yet or they didn’t meet the squirrel’s lofty standards.
At this point, we made our way to the cobblestone portion of Saint-Paul street, which just happens to be one of my favorites in the city. This is where we noticed the eponymous pub. Somehow, in my mind, I had a feeling we would end up here. Pub St. Paul is on my burger list and I’ve been looking for a time to visit. With the half pound burgers on the menu, I just knew that the squirrel would be overly excited.
The first thing that someone should note is that when you enter the door, there is a long flight of stairs that you must conquer before reaching the actual pub. It’s like if you managed to climb this proverbial mountain, you’d be worthy enough to eat and drink at this majestic location. For me, it’s just a pain to climb anything, much less stairs. We love the architecture, but there are prices we pay to keep things authentic as we would soon find out.
We made it upstairs and went set our sights on the room that would be the home of our next eating conquest. There was a buzz of activity as the squirrel was curiously attracted to the flight of stairs right by the entrance. I didn’t go up myself, as more stairs would have meant more ‘pain.’ It turns out that the kitchen is up there. At this point, we were greeted by the server and allowed to sit where we wanted.
As we walked to our table, it was hard to not notice the old time architecture of the building we were in. It was literally an uphill climb to our table. Alright, it wasn’t that steep, but there was a noticeable slant. I was hoping that the food was going to be able to sit on the table normally. Luckily, I have nothing to report, as far as broken dishes are concerned.
The atmosphere of a place like this is quite interesting. While the normal dart boards and pool tables, you had a series of screens playing various stations. Behind me were highlights of the last Habs victory against the Dallas Stars. In front of me was even better. There was that V Télé show where someone cooks for four other people, all the while those very same guests are slowly picking apart every single aspect of the host’s home. Since the sound wasn’t on, I think it would be fun to do some dubbing.
The server who was working the floor was actually quite good. They knew just about everything about the menu and had the more important knowledge about the various drinks. The squirrel asked a number of questions about the various beers and they were answered with ease.
What was more interesting was the ordering process. Once again, it was the squirrel who provided me more fodder for this post. He didn’t want the bacon that came with the burger he ordered, so he asked if he could replace it with guacamole. The kitchen was willing to do it, which is a great characteristic of a restaurant. I, on the other hand, wanted to add bacon on my burger choice. So, in a lucky twist, I wasn’t charged for my extra bacon because the squirrel’s slice jumped from his burger to mine. However, he had to pay for the extra guacamole.
I won’t even start with how the squirrel is strange with his taste of food. Ordering guacamole on his burger didn’t really surprised me, as he was the person responsible for the work of art at Abie’s last year. He even did the same thing with the ketchup and mayo on the table. He has interesting standards and an eager taste for bison burgers.
This is the large portion of nachos. Along with various peppers and onions, you get salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.
For three people, this was a pretty decent portion of nachos. This was only the third time I’ve ordered nachos in a restaurant so I don’t have much to compare them with. Most of the nachos here were quite good, as we all complimented the quality of the chips used. The only thing we noticed was the fact there was a melted cheese side and one where the cheese wasn’t that much. However, we managed to get rid of most of it. I actually liked dipping the nachos in the guacamole.
Ribs (Half Rack - $15, Full Rack - $21)
I feel bad that I haven’t quite mentioned the member of our group, Mello. She was probably the one who lost the most because of the squirrel’s indecision. She was a patient sport by following us both into this place. She ended up ordering the ribs and we all had the chance to take a bite. They were alright, but the sauce overpowered it all somewhat.
Before I get to the burger, I have to mention the upgrade I chose to get. I swapped my fries with a poutine. For the life of me, I can’t remember the charge on the upgrade, but it couldn’t have been more than two or three dollars.
The poutine itself wasn’t that bad. The curds held their own and allowed me to eat the fries in peace. The sauce wasn’t overpowering at all, as it complimented the rest of the poutine well. The only concern I had was all the food I would be consuming and if I would be able to finish the burger.
Le Gourmet ($13)
This burger contains lettuce, tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms, cream cheese, and bacon.
With the fact that my usual bacon upgrade was free because of the aforementioned trade, I was really happy to be once again faced with a burger with cream cheese. They can be quite messy, but if done right, they can taste really nice. The other feature that has to be noted was that the burger was a half pound of meat. In the past, I would be thrilled to take on a big burger. These days, I just dread eating that much.
One of the more unique components of this burger was the fact that it came with some peppers, which is quite unusual for a burger. If you call it the Gourmet, I guess you can add some things like that. I actually like the inclusion of those peppers because they added another dimension to an already loaded burger.
The other really big thing that you can’t avoid with a half pound burger was how well it would be cooked. I found that the burger was cooked towards the well done range. For a large burger like this, it would make it so much harder to finish it. Plus, as it sits on your plate, it dries out even more. Despite the fact that it was a little dry, you could taste the meat really well and I can’t complain about that aspect.
In all, the burger was huge and contained a lot of interesting components. Nothing really fell out so much and that was a plus. For a big burger, structure becomes an issue and I can’t say that I had too much trouble holding it together. The extra bacon added another flair that I really liked. As the squirrel stated during the meal that I agree with, I wouldn’t mind having it again.
Pub St. Paul is an interesting place to have a meal. The decor is interesting and that’s the way I like it. The service was top notch as we were guided to making the right decisions. In all, we liked our experience on this dreary night.