When one thinks of Montreal's Jewish restaurant scene, landmarks such as Schwartz's, Wilensky's & Snowdon undoubtedly come to mind. As much as these icons have popularized the deli angle – smoked meat, pickles, lox, etc. – there is much more to the Eastern European flavor of this cuisine that feels underrepresented in these establishments.
Enter Arthurs, a self-described Jewish nosh bar open since last summer on Saint-Henri's restaurant-heavy stretch of Notre-Dame Street West. The daytime-only, no-reservations bruncheonette recently appeared in a Tourisme Montréal feature of restaurants serving weekday brunches; so we naturally thought of it on this rainy late Wednesday morning.
tagged: CAN'T RESERVE
The bright, contemporary interior with its white walls and matching floor tiles, tabletops and handsome bar – all the way to the see-through kitchen – makes you forget how small the space actually is. A modest, early crowd was quickly replaced by a packed dining room around lunchtime; with the oldies blues/rock soundtrack creating a sort of smart, retro vibe.
tagged: SIT AT THE BAR
Arthur's placemat menu consists of an all-day breakfast section followed by salads, noshes and sandwiches; with Ashkenazi staples such as smoked salmon, kosher salami, latkes and challah bread making several appearances throughout.
We got things rolling with a comforting matzah ball soup – the quintessential Passover dish – brightened up by fresh dill. Next came a fabulous sandwich made up of chicken schnitzel with crunchy iceberg slaw served on challah. As sides, we opted for masterfully-creamy though steep – $15 for 5 bites! – potato/cheese perogies and deliciously-crispy malt vinegar fries.
Our waitress for the morning was friendly and inviting, although a tad too chummy and a bit of a close-talker. Drinks and dishes arrived at a steady pace, albeit various items – coffee, fries, ketchup – were forgotten and required a reminder from our part.
Arthurs is clearly succeeding at making Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine fun and hip; the same way nearby, wildly-popular Sumac has done with the Mizrahi variation. The comfort food is simple yet tasty, elevated and a shtickle on the pricey side considering the portions. We may need to sample more of the menu before giving our final score; but this is one good bet for Passover noshing during this holiday period.
tagged: DESERVES A RETRY
Price per person: $23
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.