I can almost see the confused look on your face gentle reader. Mish-mash city, what the hell is Bob talking about this time? Well let me put it in terms we all can understand, Montreal is a city of contrast. Old and new, English and French, white, black, brown with enough old world charm and new world sizzle to make it all stick together and work surprisingly well.
I stole the term from a menu item at Beautys Lunchonette, the mish-mash is an omelette containing Egg, hot dog, salami, green pepper, onion and apparently what ever else it close to the cook’s hand. It’s a strange concoction but seeing that it’s been on the menu at Beautys for decades it must somehow work. That’s the way I found Montreal on my first visit.
My partner and sometimes editor Darlene has been in Montreal on business for the last few weeks and with access to free hotel room. I was able to roam the city to my heart’s content during the day. I did not over plan this trip as I am accustomed to doing. Instead I tried to focus on a different part of the city each day and just wander the area in search of adventure and of course food.
After flying in from Winnipeg our first stop was a grand Montreal landmark and home to some of the finest hot dogs in la belle province. Of course I am speaking of Gibeau Orange Julep, it’s impossible to miss as you drive past, just look for the giant orange-shaped building with masses of people milling about in the parking lot. Established in 1928 the business centers around quality fast foods including hot dogs, hamburgers, crispy french fries and the obligatory whipped orange beverage. Similar to an Orange Julius but less sweet and made from fresh squeezed oranges.
Contrast this with our first dinner in Montreal’s Old City and hopefully the Mish-Mash idea becomes a bit clearer. Dining at Vieux Port Steakhouse is a treat for the carnivore that lurks in all of us. First of all the dining area is fabulously old school and when I say old school I mean 1700’s. The interior walls are still the original rock and mortar construction, dark wood accents fill the room giving it that proper non-hipster seriously stylish feel.
The menu is meat centric of course, ranging from the 8 oz flat iron steak ($23) and topping out at the truly massive 22 oz porterhouse ($47). But that is not to say that beef is the only option on the menu; bison, lamb, and a reasonable selection of fish also make stand out appearances.
After dinner strolling through the street of Old Montreal I was already beginning to form an opinion on this city. Separated by only scant blocks the gleaming glass and steel office towers give way to cobblestone, hand laid stone and mortar buildings and horse-drawn carriages clip clopping down the narrow passageways with romantic couples cuddled up in blankets. It was like stepping into another world entirely.
Montreal did not bulldoze the past to make way for the present, it’s embraced, cherished and honored. Much like the truly multicultural city it is today. More on that in my coming posts.