‘Tis the Season – and some restaurants are taking advantage of it to offer a traditional Christmas fare to their clientèle.
It is the case of the Mayflower on Elgin street, an English-Style Pub which opened in the ’70s. And it just happened to be where Marc-André and George, despite being off work, decided it was a worthy place to have a Christmas lunch with their favorite manager.
The place was not as busy as I expected – to be fair, the dining room was full but we were in the more cozy and warm atmosphere of the pub section, which is located at the back of the establishment. Some would qualify the decor as old and outdated – I would say it is typical and traditional.
We sat down and peered at the menu, waiting for the pint of Guinness we each had ordered, the main motivator for all of us being the free Guinness Glass we were getting to bring home. No matter that they have close to 20 types of beer on tap.
The Mayflower Seasons Satinés include a Roast Turkey Dinner, served with dressing, vegetables and mashed potatoes and accompanied by a rich gravy and cranberry sauce. Classic ($16.95). Or you could go with the Baked Ham, with a bourbon and molasses glaze and served with mashed potatoes and vegetables ($13.45).
I elected to have the Tourtière – an old fashioned homemade meat pie (beef and pork), topped with gravy and served with french fries or a garden salad ($12.95). Now, the purist will point out that a real tourtière is not a simple meat pie – and they might have a point. A traditional part of the French-Canadian réveillons, every family has its own “original” recipe, passed down through the generations – my mother’s recipe was ground beef and pork with potatoes, onions and secret seasoning. But in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area, the North Shore and Eastern Quebec, a tourtière would never be confused with a meat pie - we are talking here about a slow-cooked deep-dish made with vegetables and various animals cut into small cubes as opposed to groud meats.
Anyway, here we had a more simple dish – but still solid-looking comfort food I was willingly going to try. I ordered mashed potatoes and salad with it – but despite assurances that it was ok, my tourtière came with fries and salad. I didn’t object – after all, I *tried* to be good.
The tourtière was simple, but well done. The portion occupied a little less than a third of the plate – reasonable. The crust was flaky, golden, and held together nicely despite the rich beefy gravy that was topping it. A nice touch, it was garnished with fresh parsley, making it even more appealing.
Thankfully, there was not too much gravy - this is more of an anglo thing I think – we traditionally used ketchup as a condiment to accompany the pie. The filing had a nice seasoning, not too salty, some onions and a hit of garlic. It could have used some more texture, but it was compact and yet juicy.
On the side, the hand-cut french fries were good, golden and crisp outside and fluffy inside. Correct. The salad could have been more appealing, the lettuce was passable, there were some carrots, cabbaage and a lonely piece of cucumber. It came with a commercial red pepper dressing.
George didn’t feel as Festive – none of the Satinés were appealing enough to his vegeterian eye – yet he too decided that comfort food was the way to go. The daily special was Mac and Cheese with a salad – and a luncher at the next table warmly and loudly recommended it. George ordered it, grinning clumsily to our waitress.
The Mac and Cheese seemed to have been made quite simply – no bechamel sauce, no bread crumbs. Just some pasta with very melty and stringy white cheddar and fresh parsly garnish – it looked good enough.
George ate slowly, savouring each bite as a Christmas wonder, no doubt - unless the truth was that he had more interest in his Guinness and his salad.
Marc-André didn’t feel Festive at all – unless Philadelphia is a Festive City – as he decided that the Philly Steak Sandwich was the way to go.
The sizeable sandwich included a healthy serving of beef, topped with sauteed green and red peppers, onions, and cheese. On the side, the same garden salad.
Marc-André complained about some beef dryness on the edges – probably caused by the time spent in the oven to melt the cheese. In the middle, however, the beef was juicy enough.
Without being spectacular, the Mayflower usually delivers where it matters – and nobody left unhappy about their meal – and everyone left with their promised free Guinness glass.
By the way, the Mayflower is also offering other Holiday Classics if you are so inclined : Egg Nog with Dark Rum and a Mincemeat Pie! I didn’t indulge however – I had to go back to work after all!
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