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Postcard of Dominion Square in Montreal, Quebe...

Dominion Square

The Dominion Square Tavern is a wonderful Montreal restaurant that is steeped in history. The Dominion’s recent incarnation as a restaurant has only been open for just over a year, however the place has been around since the late 1920’s.

Situated in the heart of the Golden Square Mile (once Canada’s richest neighbourhood), the Tavern was originally adjoined to the Dominion Hotel. The hotel burned down in the 1930’s, but thankfully the Tavern survived the blaze. The Dominion had been Montreal’s first Gay Bar during the 1970’s. Only in 1988 were women allowed past its doors due to a new law.

Thankfully, throughout the years the owners and managers of the space have maintained the charming décor in true Roaring Twenties style. Much of the décor seems to be either original or actual period work. The terrazzo floors are bordered by porcelain-tile wainscoting, and some of the ornate brass lamps hanging from the ceiling still have pull-chains hanging from their bases. The walls testify to the  ‘Dominion'; the coat-of-arms for each province hang there. Somehow the soft leather winged chairs are curved to perfectly coddle your kidneys. This comes in useful after sampling the cocktails. There is so much more to sit back and take in. The Dominion is perfect for pondering.

Tuesday's lunch plate: seared trout

Besides the decor, history, the charming clientele and the pleasantness of the wait staff, there is the food. A winning idea in the Dominion is the daily lunch special: The Dish of The Day. One main dish, with a side salad or soup is $20. A glass of wine or pint of beer is an additional $6. The lunch special of seared trout is light and satisfying.  Perfect for a Tuesday! On Thursday, the Duck Confit is simply amazing. In this one leg of duck, there are about five distinct attributes. It is rich, succulent and meaty. There is an indescribable divine tenderness in the meat, fat and skin that is just all-out flavour. A few little thinly crisped potato pieces add a crunchy treat, and the hollandaise sauce that surrounds the duck could not be any more appropriate.

pulled pork sandwich; delicately flavoured yet hearty. Very hot fries.

Starter salad and side salads are fresh, made from watercress, with bits of herbs such as dill and fennel added. The dressing is light and tasty, smoothing the path for the healthy greens to be digested.

I happily ordered the Pulled Pork sandwich on two separate occasions. This sandwich is lightly flavoured with a tangy mustard and fennel sauce. The bread is a house-baked bun, large but not overwhelming. A very generous pile of steaming hot fries accompanies the sandwich, and an overflowing, marvellous bowl of house mayonnaise accompanies the fries. The fries stay hot for a good long time, as fries in good restaurants tend to; I am quite certain that they are cooked in duckfat. A starter salad is a good idea if you order this, to try to fill up on greens before diving into the huge pile of delicious fries and sauce.

ploughman's plate: a chance to try headcheese

Except for the micro-brewery beers, the drinks at the Dominion are all made in-house. This goes for the syrups as well as the filtered water. The house even makes its own tonic water. In the case of the latter, the gin and tonics are quite simply the best in town. Not only is there a good choice of gins for the mix, no other G&T tastes quite like theirs. There is absolutely no harm in establishing a cocktails budget to make the round of the Dominion cocktail menu.

All of the above are served in excellent glassware. Beer pints are, simply, adorable in their roundness. Beer just tastes better when it is served in a large, rounded glass! Perhaps this aids in the appreciation of the beer’s bouquet.

celebrating a birthday with sticky toffee pudding and homemade coffee ice cream



If you still have room, finish off your meal with a sticky toffee pudding, a nutmeg donut, or anything that suits your fancy from the dessert menu. You will not be disappointed.

Dominion Square Tavern, 1243 Metcalfe Street Montreal. Monday-Friday 11:30 to midnight, Saturday 5pm to midnight. 514-564-5056 Reservations welcome.

This is what we found one day on our way to buy some wool to make felted soaps.
Les Délires du Terroir – bières, fromages et gourmandises du Québec.
It is at 6406 rue St. Hubert, just below Beaubien.
The cheese and gifts looked nice and so did the beer.
We had no idea that there were so many microbreweries in Quebec!

The shop is rustic, yet tastefully decorated, the clerk was very friendly and helpful, it was a pleasant little shop. We thought to sample a couple of beers each in order to offer up a little review… but… (see illustration below).

... when the clerk pointed out this sign, we got three each.

And now what you have all been waiting for… beer reviews!

The “Rousse Whisky” from Les Brasseurs du Hameau is a ‘strong beer’ that avoids all the evils of usual ‘strong beers’, which are lagers that taste malty, hopsy, sweet and heavy. Having none of that, this is a pale ale whose ‘strength’ derives from the addition of Scotch Whiskey.  Its a perfect winter beer.  I think the best description for the taste is the old skating trick of ‘cracking the whip.’ The medium-bodied beer comes around, and the whiskey cleans up with a final kick. Delicious.

La Marie Framboise from Microbrasserie Saint-Arnould is fresh and light with a distinctly raspberry flavour.  I really like it! I must admit this is the perfect beer for people who prefer a nice, refreshing drink. It’s not too unlike Hoegaarden, except with a raspberry touch.

La Carrotte Du Lievre is a carrot beer (yes! Finally! Carrot beer!) by the Microbrasserie du Lievre. I found the beer to have a gentle yet snappy smell of fresh carrots. As I drank it, the carotty bouquet seemed to dissipate, so that I just enjoyed the beer as a beer, rather than a novelty. I quite liked it. It was a good, round taste that settled over the centre of my tongue. Not bitter at all, but not too sweet, I would say it would work well with fried foods or an autumn/winter soup. Oh, yes, it would add a fantastic kick mixed into a stew! Interestingly, not everyone has so enjoyed this beer… as with all things in life, a lot depends on your personal taste.

DhamNation is a sexy-looking beer. A black label, with spare red lettering, it is “strong” (7%) so I thought I’d be in for something really special. As it stood, I was a bit disappointed. By the Brasseurs du Hameau, it was an average-style of beer. Just a beer. Granted, I am a little spoiled in my beers, as there are dozens of fine local brews available. It wasn’t Coors, no, but it didn’t measure up to my dear St Ambroise line of beers. Worthy of drinking, certainly, but not what I’d hoped for.

Folie Douce Biere au Bleuets is by Les Brasseurs RJ, one of my favorite micro breweries. They make the infamous Cheval Blanc. Mmm. Well, this blueberry beer is quite surprisingly bitter. The blueberry scent and flavour is not strong, nor is it sweet. The colour is a distinct red, and is very cool-looking. Serve it in a clear glass! Upon further reflection, the blueberry taste is present, but it is subtle, something that builds. The taste is similar to slightly tart, unripe blueberries. I enjoyed this one, but feel it is mostly suitable for summertime. Does remind me a bit of a crisp, fruity cider.

Lastly is the Black Watch Scottish ale. I was attracted to it by the big, furry eyebrows on the label. As it turns out, eyebrows are something of a fetish for the beers from Les Brasseurs de Montreal. This beer makes my eyebrows shiver and curl! The first sensation is incredibly tart.  This is followed by a brief flicker of sweet that is washed away by another wave of tartness. The taste is precise, tight and frugal like a staunch Presbyterian. Perhaps that’s why it’s a Scottish beer!

Teas and painted chocolates, deluxe and beautiful, are available too.

Experience Deux: La Bistro Sur La Rivière.

by Natasha Henderson, Montreal

Le Bistro Sur La Rivière… it is a small bistro. It is a bistro that takes pride in its meats, in its generously overflowing presentations of food. It is a bistro that is on Larivière, the street that is behind my massive studio building.

The Quebec Flag

My first experience eating here was on the eve of the first La Virree des Ateliers event. I was new to the Grover Building, I was one of the rare anglophone artists who rented there. I felt a little foreign, and that these open-studios could be an opportunity to break into the new culture in which I felt myself surrounded. I’d have a chance to make new friends, new connections, and learn new things very soon. I was right, in certain respects, on all accounts.

Anyhow, on that eve in May, I went in for a delicious sandwich and frites with accompanying salad and beer to celebrate the future. Since that date, I’ve been back twice, once because I’d recently sold three paintings, another time just because I was hungry. As a semi-vegetarian, I received upon my first visit a sandwich with a bit of ham in it, when I’d thought I’d ordered a simple tomato and cheese sandwich. I didn’t kick up a fuss. I am “semi”-vegetarian, and I knew that my Francais was pretty rusty… so I was willing to bend. Since going back two more times, though, I’ve found the wait staff to be supremely giving and forgiving. It is a predominantly Francophone neighbourhood, complete with the de rigueur fleur-de-lis on the front door of the place. It’s one of those places that, as I enter, I couldn’t help but put up my guard, just a little. They might all stare at me if I try to talk! However, upon further experience, I’ve had some very nice chats in a blend of Franglais with the people who work there.

Sandwich of My Dreams

Oh, and the sandwich that I order… it’s good. It is very, very good. I don’t know how certain restaurants are able to make a sandwich into such a special experience. For me, at home, when I make a sandwich it is a utilitarian expression. I have bread, and I have something to put in between two slices of that bread. A good restaurant’s sandwich, that becomes something of a capital “E” Experience.

So, the sandwich to order at Le Bistro Sur La Rivière is the tomato and brie and pesto on Baguette. Please order that, when you go there. It is divine, a perfect blend of tastes and textures. The house salad and frites with mayonnaise that come with it are just the icing on the cake. Cake? Who needs cake after such an incredible, fresh, fantastic meal? No, no cake. This will do. Perhaps an Oatmeal Stout beer to go along with… or a coffee after. The wait staff is always keen to refill your water-glass, and they always check in to see how you are enjoying your meal.

This Bistro has an extensive menu, and, upon discussion with the workers there, they do have a vegetarian plate for Supper-time, too. The stuffed pasta… does look pretty good! Some day, perhaps, I will order it. But the tomato/brie/pesto sandwich… oo la-la!!!

Find Le Bistro Sur La Rivière at 2263, rue Larivière, Montreal, QC. Find Natasha eating there soon.

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