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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.

The décor is always festive.

One of the joys of living in a cosmopolitan city such as Montreal is the grand variety of restaurants. We recently enjoyed a couple of meals at El Chalateco, an El Salvadoran restaurant located steps away from the Beaubien metro.

A full, nourishing meal.

Pupusas, the national dish of El Salvador, are a specialty of the house. They are served as a street-food in El Salvador, and here in Montreal at El Chalateco they are served on a plate with accompanying house-fermented cole slaw. A pupusa is a filled, fried corn tortilla. They come with a tasty tomato sauce and a spicy hot sauce on the side.  One of our favourites is Queso y loroco, which is filled with cheese and an asparagus-flavoured flower called loroco. At $2.25 a piece, one pupusa is insanely inexpensive, so it’s only polite to order at least two or three of them.  If you come as a large group, you have the option of ordering large amounts to be served family-style.

The Queso y loroco pupusa is a must-eat.

Besides pupusas, there are many other dishes to be tasted at El Chalateco. Vegetarians will be happy here; there are not only veggie-based pupusas but a healthy handful of other meatless choices. Vegans can enjoy a bean pupusa with the fermented cole slaw, and there is a delicious-looking plate of beans, rice, and vegetables.  Flexibility is an option because the kitchen is small.  About three people make the food as it is ordered.

Layers: Fried tortilla, beans, cucumber, cole slaw, guacamole, egg, sweet onions. Delicious and refreshing.

For meat-eaters, this restaurant provides many satisfying choices. Among the appetizers are traditionally-cooked tamales. The masa is infused with other flavours because it is wrapped into a plantain leaf along with other ingredients such as olives and chicken. The tacos Salvadorenos are crunchy rolled-up meat-filled tortillas, served with veggies and a very hot sauce. With a pupusa they are a plentiful good lunch, or they can indeed be eaten as the appetizers that they claim to be. Another specialty of the house is the El Salvadoran version of the Québécois “Hot Chicken” sandwich, the Pan con pollo y escavechi. It is enormous and full of not only chicken and flavours, but vegetables too. The sauce is rich (but not overly so) and delicious. Pastelitos de carne are hot, crunchy packets of spicy goodness.  Definitely give them a try.

In a word, the food here tastes of nourishment.  The dishes are made with care, served hot and are nicely filling.

Pastelitos de carne are the "petits cousins latins de la tourtière."

Even though our visit was in the dead of winter, the ultimate summer drink had to be tested. El Salvadorians call it ‘Michelada‘, which is a mixture of lager, salsa juice and lime served in a mug with a spiced and salted rim. One sip led to dreams of relaxing in the shade with the good company of several drinks shared with many friends.

There are some good dessert options.  Bite into a Torreja.  It is a warm and delicious french toast-like dessert.  It has a depth of sweetness that makes my heart race.  Chocolate caliente is a rich, full-tasting and lightly spiced experience. Although my mug stayed very hot for a full half hour, my hot chocolate was always easily drinkable. Chilate is the choice for a ‘super-sized’ dessert or a meal all in itself. ‘Chilate’ is a warm and filling drink thickened with corn flour and spiked with a sprig of lightly crushed cocoa seeds. Drinking Chilate is thought to strengthen someone and it is often served to the convalescing.  It seems like a good meal for this time of the year.  The drink is served inside a calabash gourd, accompanied by a dish filled with slices of fried sweet-potato and a plantain; these are garnished with a sweet, cinnamon sauce of cooked plums. Each taken in turn makes for a delightfully filling combination.

Chilate!!!

The atmosphere in El Chalateco is relaxed, family friendly, yet quietly festive.  There are always seasonal decorations suspended from the ceilings, it looks like the place is ready for a party. It is clean, inexpensive, friendly, and welcoming.  It is easily a go-to place in the Beaubien area!

(El Chalateco, 520 Beaubien Est, 514.272.5585)

El Chalateco is licensed, so if you do not want coffee, water, or Horchata, you could have a glass of wine or beer to go with your meal.

Tammy Schmidt and Natasha Henderson, Montreal

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