On a business trip to Montreal, we had limited time before our main meeting, but we had to have lunch. We were on Papineau, close to Mont-Royal, so I figured we’d go to a branchée eatery and have a quick bite, Plateau-style.
But Brad insisted, supported by Drew : poutine was the way to go.
We turned the corner, and the banner of one of the most classic fast-food eateries was shining a few blocks away. There was no turning back – we were going to La Belle Province.
The first Belle Pro was opened in the East End in 1970 by Peter Kivitos, a Greek native who had worked during the 60s in another restaurant located on Ste-Catherine, which was also called La Belle Province. Success came slowly, but steadily, and after opening a second restaurant in Saint-Hubert in 1976, the chain grew to about 200 franchises across Quebec. Kivitos’ still owns many of the locations.
Despite being lunch hour, the place was not really busy. I have however seen it humming and buzzing past midnight.
There was a half-dozen customers quietly eating, most of them watching the sports highlights on the tv at the far end of the restaurant. The other tv, near the entrance, instead featured a Bruce Lee movie. Bruce Lee, who once said wisely: “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”
My two colleagues both ordered a medium poutine, but I decided to go with the trio #1 – two steamies and a poutine. I was expecting a small poutine, but I also got a medium poutine. At least, Bruce Lee had good advice: “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done. ”
So I got it done.
I asked for my hot dogs to be all dressed, which at La Belle Province means mustard, relish, onions and cabbage.
The steamies here are really steamed: the Hygrade wieners themselves are steamed. The buns are steamed too, of course, so they’re very fluffy and moist and delicious.
The mustard-relish combo is a classic, and one of the best for dogs.
The crunch from the onions gave them a nice texture, and the dogs were loaded with cabbage on top, giving it a hint of sweetness while adding a lot of freshness.
Overall, the Belle Province hot dogs are solid, if not spectacular. Indeed, La Belle Province receives the approval of Montreal Mirror’s readers year after year, winning the Best Hot Dog in their 2010 Chowtime Best-of-Montreal.
As for the poutine, it is doing a good job at being what it is – ranking #2 on the Mirror’s 2010 Chowtime list. I wouldn’t list it that high, but it is still fairly good. The french fries are home-style, fresh, nicley golden, served hot. Crispy on the outside, very fluffy inside, one can tell that these bad boys are blanched thoroughly and then cooked at the last minute. The gravy is of the barbecue variety, with a hint of spice. There is plenty of it, but it is a tad watery. Nothing to call the police over, though. As for the cheese, well, sadly there was no “squeak-squeak” to be found. The cheese tasted alright, though, and there was a good quantity of the melting nuggets.
La Belle Province won’t throw you on the floor with it’s food, but it will achieve the minimal standard for you not to say no the next time your colleagues insist on going there.
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