Bus: STM 24, 63, 90, 104, 138
Visit: February 12, 2014
Westmount is one of the nicest and most affluent neighborhoods on the entire island of Montréal. Part of the reason for that reputation is the storied past that is such a vibrant part of today’s culture. Included in the city of Westmount is a restaurant that lays claim to being the oldest on the entire island. Since 1920, Chez Nick has been a vital part of all that is Montréal.
Having just recently completed 230 burgers, it still amazes me that there are some places that I haven’t been to yet. You would think that I would have had the time to get to them all, but some things aren’t that easy. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to cross out some big names off my wishlist and Chez Nick has always been one of them.
One of the first things that I want to note is the fact that Greene is quite the avenue. The western part of Westmount Square is on this street and from that complex, you have a long, yet direct tunnel to the Atwater métro station. That’s one of the concerns I always have when going to any location. I thought the walk from the station would be long and boring, but the tunnel provided me with something different.
I entered the restaurant in the middle of the afternoon. At the time, there were a few tables seated having something to eat. So, with that particular time, I was guaranteed to not be turned away, something that is another concern I always have. I was greeted kindly and graciously allowed to take up residence in any empty booth I liked.
Part of the reason why I made a visit to Chez Nick a priority was something I saw after looking at their Facebook page. There, I saw evidence of camaraderie that always makes a staff much more effective. Here, there were 2 servers working the floor and the owner. You could see, just by watching, that the experience between the 2 servers led to no one waiting longer than they had to and everyone feeling at home.
When you’re at the neighborhood restaurant, one of the things that keeps it going is the fact that you have a lot of returning customers. That’s one of the things that I couldn’t help but notice. Nearly every customer that walked in had some sort of past experience, which was most likely positive, with the restaurant. The servers were able to converse with most of the clients like it was part of their normal day. That’s a special quality to a place.
It was at this point where I noticed the owner or manager enter the game. This individual was also just as comfortable with the clientele as the servers were. This was obvious because there were quite a few customers who engaged this person in more chatting. This shows that the ownership cares about the people they are feeding and that it’s a whole lot more than just money.
Chez Nick is the type of place that I like to seek out. Its rich history is one that makes going on another visit interesting. If you’re in business for over 90 years, you must be doing something right. The location also plays into the outcome a bit too. Greene is such a nice street with a bunch of office towers that feeds into business. Plus, you don’t have as many restaurants like a Crescent or a Saint-Denis.
Greek Salad ($9)
Yet again, I went the way of the Greek salad. They might be getting harder to describe, but they’re not getting dull when it comes to eating them. Here, I noticed a few things that are of note for me. First of all, the cubed pieces of feta were a really nice touch to have. Also, since I’m counting olives, there were only 3, one more than in my last. So, in my next Greek salad, I’m looking for 4 pieces.
When you go into the aesthetic portion of the salad, you can’t go wrong. What some people might see as overuse of certain garnishes might be the appropriate touch up needed for others. I actually liked the way the salad looked, despite the fact that I’ve seen many in recent weeks.
Bacon Cheeseburger ($8.75)
This burger contains tomatoes, onions, coleslaw, cheese, and bacon.
Usually, when I have a burger, there isn’t much to say when you get the basic choice on the menu. At Chez Nick, there was another deluxe sounding choice in the earlier pages, but I felt like going the bacon cheeseburger route was best of all. I was quickly rewarded with that choice, as noticed something quite different with this one.
The Québec style of burger, for the most part, contains coleslaw or sauerkraut. They’re both rather similar and play the same role when they’re in a burger or a hot dog. I know people who can’t stand their inclusion, but I like them a great deal. This burger was unique because the coleslaw wasn’t just your average cabbage, but it was a step higher. The best way that I can describe it was if I went to a real authentic deli and took their coleslaw, only to place it in a burger.
The inclusion of that coleslaw led to quite the unique eating experience. It was a tad bit cool, but that wasn’t a problem since the rest of the burger was a whole lot warmer. The taste that coleslaw brings adds another dimension to the simple bacon cheeseburger, one that I really think stole the show here.
When you combine all that with the average burger ingredients, you have a burger that packs quite the punch. Even though you have simple cheese and bacon, the addition of the coleslaw makes the burger a notch above average.
There’s one more thing to note in this burger that is quite unique. The bacon that was being used wasn’t your average slice, but something that was covering the entire distance of the meat patty. The bacon’s shape ensured that you had some of it in every bite. It might have been too crunchy, but that’s a small price to pay when the rest of the burger did a great job.
In all, I was quite pleased with my burger experience at Chez Nick. I came into this visit not knowing exactly what to expect in my burger or even if there was actually one on the menu. I came out with the realization that you can still keep things simple with slight tweaks that will make things interesting.
Chocolate Cake ($6.25)
Throughout my meal, I was staring at the cake display, which was right in front of me. I’ll be honest, the cake didn’t look like much. As a matter of fact, the cakes looked like they were sitting there since 1920. Alright, I might have taken a little too much liberty with that joke, but you get the picture. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I just wanted dessert, so I didn’t really think twice about it.
When it came time to taking a bite, I was a bit hesitant. I’ve had similar cakes in the past that made me regret waking up in the morning. They were too heavy and really, quite honestly, stale. After taking my first bite of this chocolate cake, I was shocked with the realization I was about to have.
That first bite was probably one of the best of chocolate cake I’ve had in almost 5 years. Regardless of which part you took your bite from, the piece was moist and light. You’re never weighed down by the whole cake at all. The cake might not look like a majestic piece of art, but it tasted like one.
My visit to Chez Nick was everything that I wanted it to be. Not only does it have name value, but it has that rapport with their customers that you can’t deny. The food might be simple on paper, but it does the trick.