I was in Montreal for a conference and had a bit of a lunch break. I’m not much for the generic cafeteria food that fills the convention centre, so I decided to talk a stroll into old Montreal to see what kind of lunch options there were. I had a few glasses of wine the night before, so some grease and a little hair of the dog was on the menu.
So I found it rather ironic when I stumbled across Brit and Chips. I mean, as an anglophone with a pedigree from the British Isles, I felt rather naughty seeking out such an ethnocentric joint in Old Montreal. At the same time, I knew nothing would appease my needs better than a greasy piece of fish and some kind of ale to wash it down.
The place was small and was extremely crowded although it was at the tail end of lunch hour (part of me highly suspects that lunch is rarely limited to only an hour in Quebec) but luckily there was a table available in the make shift patio which was set up outside the front door. I was quickly greeted by a server was quick to take my beer order. I opted for a Fuller’s London Pride ($7.50) to further flex my anglo chest muscles amongst those who may otherwise opt for a Kronenbourg or something like that.
The menu is simple. You choose a fish and whether you want fries or not (all the choices are $10 and $12 respectively). What’s interesting is that each fish is matched with a particular batter so it’s the first time I had to weigh the type of fish against the batter and decide which I wanted more. I’m not sure to this day if you can mix and match, so maybe my dilemma was a moot point. I was torn between the cod and the maple syrup batter on the haddock. In the end, I chose the latter and went with the batter. For a downtown Montreal restaurant, it was pretty good…at least enough to forgive the fake newspaper which lined the serving vessel. The batter was crisp enough and was well proportioned to the moist fish within. I thought the tartar sauce, which is often overlooked, was a solid companion to the main.
Going along with the theme of the the British pub, there are also pasties, pies, sausage rolls and even some Indian influenced tandoori popcorn shrimp and curry fish cakes. I couldn’t help but order up a sausage roll and pork pie as my colleague shook his head at the amount of grease that was put in front of me. Both the roll and pie were authentic, even down to the nasty (in a good way) mustard. I could only “mustard” up the courage to eat about a quarter each as my colleague watched in utter horror.
When I went inside to pay, I noticed a soft serve ice cream machine promising an authentic chunk of a Cadbury Flake if you ordered one. I couldn’t resist and found it a nice end to a decent meal.
If I ever chose to film “An Anglophone in Montreal”, I would definitely film a scene here. The fish and chips and even the environment rival any chipper in English Canada. From the fish to the mustard to the greasy yet flaky crust of the pork pie, the place screams authentic even when they infuse a little maple syrup into the mix. There is no shortage of chic cafes, adorable bistros and fine dining in this fantastic city but if you want to be a limey for an hour, this is the place to go. Not only is the food good, there is little risk of getting a sabot in the back of the head for ordering fish instead of poisson.