Bus: STM 17, 63, 103, 162
Visit: July 24, 2014
It would be hard to describe the city of Montréal without mentioning N.D.G. We all know people who live there, work there, and ultimately, have fun there. In the middle of all that, there’s Monkland, a street where you can find all you need, especially restaurants. One of the premier places on the street is Monkland Taverne.
During the summer months, my family found ways to make up for lost time. We might not all be together at all times, but we find ways to be present. This particular outing was initiated by two of us. As is the case with all our restaurant ideas, we open it up to the other members of the clan and we had a few interested to join us. The destination also happens to be in one of our backyards and a place that all of us were familiar with.
Monkland Taverne is one of the places that I had my eye on for quite a long time. Years ago, we all could remember the controversy in 2005 with that office that shall not be named. It was something about 1 letter in the name of the restaurant. It just shows you how a society that is so debt ridden can be wasting money on things that aren’t life or debt, but I digress. Before that and long after the incident, Monkland Taverne has been the staple of the street that bears the same name.
Over the last five years, I’ve kept my eyes on Monkland Taverne in the hopes that there was a burger. In the beginning, I couldn’t really confirm whether or not they had one. But, as time went by, I finally got confirmation and made it a destination for me. From what I know, the restaurant is also affiliated with another Westmount tavern that I’m hoping to get to in the months to come. Let’s just say that I was really excited to come here.
I was the first one to arrive on a beautiful Thursday afternoon. The first thing I noticed was how jam packed the place was at that moment. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so it’s first come, first served. Also, since I wasn’t 100% sure about how many we’d be, I couldn’t really move on the subject. Luckily, when more of us showed up, the wait for a table was marginal and we were seated rather quickly.
The evening progressed really well. The service was top notch and extremely professional. The server even offered to take a picture of our group when they noticed me with my camera. But, we all know that wasn’t going to happen. Either way, each question and request was met with an upbeat attitude. We felt really cozy in the place. I felt a little guilty that we next door for dessert, but it was nothing against Monkland Taverne.
Before I get to the food, I want to touch on something amusing that we witnessed right after our visit that still involved Monkland Taverne. To confess, we went right next door to get dessert at Rockaberry and we took a table right outside. From that vantage point, you could see a group of 20-somethings heading into the tavern. One of the group was holding a small dog. As we observed, it became obvious that they were trying to get a table inside the restaurant with the dog. At one point, the woman and the dog entered. I would’ve loved to have been inside at that moment to see that unfold. Right after, they also tried the same thing at Rockaberry to a resounding, but polite refusal.
Crispy Honey Ginger Shrimp ($15)
The overwhelming favorite for appetizers was shrimp. We’re all half Asian, so that’s a no brainer. So, we actually got two orders to take care of the five of us. The first thing I have to note is that I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the plating. We were lucky that the plating wasn’t a reflection of the taste of the dish because we would have been sunk right there and then. The pieces of shrimp were generous in size and the honey sauce was the real highlight. I just wish there was a little more effort in the presentation.
8oz Tavern Burger ($20)
This burger contains pickles and caramelized onions.
In probably one of the simplest burgers I had in a long time, there is one thing that clinched this visit and that was the server asking how I wanted the burger cooked. I rant often about this subject and I might be starting to sound like a broken record here. Monkland’s beef is ground in-house and that’s probably the reason that they could make the bold step of asking its customers how they want their burger done. If only certain other places with similar practices could do the same.
I normally have a set list of ingredients that I look for in my burger, but I wasn’t going to push it here. It’s a fancy place and the fact that they offer a burger is a victory enough. I was really impressed by the simplicity of it all. It’s very rare for me to have a burger have so little, but pack so much of a punch. It took one bite for me to claim victory here.
There are two factors that I really take out of this experience and the first one was the inclusion of pickles. I’m not really big on them, but they made the experience here. The pickles didn’t have that overwhelming taste that makes it hard to continue. Here, they complimented the burger quite well.
That brings us to the second element. I requested a medium burger and got what I wanted. Some people like it less done, but that’s my preferred temperature. The meat was tender and you didn’t have to fight it. That led to me hardly putting down the burger and finishing it rather quickly. As a matter of fact, there were two burgers at the table and the other one was finished a lot quicker than mine. For me, that’s a sign of a good burger.
Our experience at Monkland Taverne was extremely positive. Despite what I’ll call one little drawback, the bevy of positives makes it hard to forget your visit here. The burger was tremendous and one that I would recommend without any hesitation. Moreover, the service made that burger experience even better.