A business lunch in Montreal

May 8, 2009

After a lengthy and useful meeting with our advertising firm in Montreal, we ended up going for lunch with one of the partners to continue our discussions.

After a short detour, walking around the “under construction” neighbourhood in downtown Montreal, he brought us to Nyk’s Bistro-Pub on de Bleury.

Nyk’s is quite popular – the place was packed, even though it was already 12:30 PM.  The hostess welcomed us and charmingly informed us that we would be seated in two minutes, the time needed to clean a table.  Alas, it was two minutes Montreal-style, and the four of us finally sat down 10 minutes later.

The place is very warm – mostly wood, some red brick, it is meant to look like an old-time Inn, but branché.  Quite a nice spot, on a prime location, they do squeeze a lot of people in here, enhancing the coziness feeling one gets when walking in.

Nyk’s menu is not very elaborate – an appetizers section, which we all skipped, a salad section with only three choices, a bistro side – pasta dishes, fish, steak, duck, etc… and a pub side – burgers and sandwiches.  They also offer a menu du jour, but we simply ignored it and zeroed in on the pub side.

Nicolas-Dominic went for a classic burger with cheddar, Carl went for the same but with brie. You have to give Nyk’s thumbs up for the cheese options offered – I counted 6!!  – no processed slices here.  Nammi picked the vegeterian burger – what else – with a pattie made from chick peas, carrots, onions and celery.  It looked better than the ingredients make it sound.

For my part, I went with the Philly steak.  The  description made it very tempting:  Marinated and minced steak, deglazed in a mushroom sauce, havarti cheese, sauted onions, lettuce and tomatoes on a kaiser.

So I went for it. Nyk’s has the good idea to serve its sandwiches with half fries, half salad – permitting us to indulge and feel good at the same time.

I felt there was a tad bit too much dressing on the salad, so I moved my tomatoes and lettuce from the kaiser and added it to the salad.  It gave it more substance.

The fries were very good – typical Montreal french fries, of a nice dark golden colour, crispy on the outside yet tender and warm inside.  The portion was a bit small – mostly because they were soooo good.

The sandwich was a bit underwhelming.  The havarti’s presence was a sad cameo. A good Philly cheesesteak has plenty of gooey cheese – of course, Nyk’s was listing its version as Philly steak – perhaps an indication that they go (very) light on the cheese.  The meat was tender, and the mushroom flavor from the deglazing was present, but subtle.  The sauted onions were also reduced to a minimal, there should have been more.  The bun was slightly grilled, giving it a nice texture and an added flavor.  Not a bad sandwich overall but it read more promising then what it gave.

I chased it down with a McAuslan Cream Ale.  Nyk’s has a good selection on tap, focussed on micro-breweries (Cheval Blanc, Belle Gueule), some imports (Guiness) and a House Beer.

The Cream Ale is a rarity – it not available in bottles, and when you see it on the menu, you should go for it.  If you like Cream Ale, you will rank this one pretty much at the top of your list.  It gives another meaning to the word cream.  The secret?  Nitrogen.  Most draft beer are pressurized with carbon dioxide, but McAuslan decided to go with Nitrogen for this tap-exclusive brew.  The results are great – you end up with a very smooth beer with a full-bodied texture, with a thick and long-lasting head.  This is truly a fantastic beer.

Nyk’s is a neat place – the beer is cheap, and goes even lower for their Happy Hour “4 à 7″,  when the pints go down to 4.75$ on selected brands.  They also have live music, mostly jazz, and the atmosphere is usually quite pleasant.

Nyks Pub & Grill on Urbanspoon

May 6, 2009

Pork BBQ? BBQ? BBQ???

As promised, I supported Canada’s pork industry today in the East Block Courtyard.
I showed up early in order to scout the location and chat with the reporters who were on site to cover the event – CBC had a live truck, RDI was also doing live hits; TVA, CTV, OMNI, CP, Maclean’s and the Hill Times were also on the spot.
It seemed a bit disorganized at first – I showed up at 11:30 sharp, and they didn’t seem to be ready.   They were moving stuff around, setting up a sound system.  Worse, the BBQs weren’t blazing!
Two long tables were set up with non-pork items – cookies, brownies, vegetables, cheese.  No sign of pork.  I started to get a little worried – did they forget to bring some hog along?
A few minutes of waiting around and talking to politicos and media-types, and finally they brought the buns and trays of  steaming pulled pork.
I was disappointed – I was expecting something with more bang – like sausages, pork chop sandwiches, or some bacon explosion, but the Canadian Pork Council wanted to stay classy and low key.
But I was here for the right reason – supporting our pork producers.
So I lined up, ignored the cameras zooming in and got myself a pulled pork sandwich.
This pulled pork was “Au Naturel” – no BBQ sauce, no sloppiness.  Just pulled pork, in its own juice.  Big chunks too, which made it hard to fill the bun properly.  No worries, I added some cheese to stabilize it all.  The pork was quite tender, but I would have liked some sauce with it. I mean, here we has a BBQ with no barbecueing and no BBQ sauce.  Was it really a BBQ, or was I had?
Nevertheless, my sandwich was pretty good, and as the Agriculture Minister was using the event as a photo-op, and Iggy was jumping the queue, others started to get worried they wouldn’t get any.

After lunch, guests were certainly not happy to learn about the WHO latest warning about pork, despite the reassurance of the government.  Meanwhile, China is wondering why the infected herd hasn’t been killed yet.  After all, Egypt is moving forward.


May 5, 2009

To the rescue of Canada’s pork producers

Collateral damage of the outbreak of swine influenza has been Canada’s pork industry –  they are worried about the short and long term impact especially since China has imposed a ban on Canadian pork.

Canada exports over $2.7 billion of pork, from bacon to smoked ham. Pleasently, studies have estimated that Canada’s 13 million pigs produce enough waste to fill Toronto’s SkyDome every 25 days.

That is probably why staffers and politicians on Parliament Hill just received this timely invite :


Canadian Pork Producers

Invite you to a

“Pork BBQ”

Wednesday, May 6, 2009 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

East Block Courtyard,

For additional information

Phone: (613) 236-9239 ext 232 E-mail: info@cpc-ccp.com

Come show your support



UPDATE 2009-05-06 9:47:57
I guess they are worried about people not showing up because of the weather. I just received a reminder:

“We have a tent.”



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