Disclaimer: This meal was comped.
Due to France's colonial past, the "French bread" has left its mark on the cuisine of many former colonies. From this have emerged a number of iconic sandwiches throughout the world which combine indigenous ingredients with some variant of French bread.
Vietnam has its banh mi, Côte d'Ivoire has its pain brochette and Lebanon has its franji sandwich. Luckily for Montreal, we now have a sandwicherie dedicated to the latter and conspicuously named after it. Hailing from the Middle East myself, I could not turn down the invitation from Franji's owners on this late-summer Sunday night.
tagged: SUNDAY NIGHT
Sandwiches of all sorts occupy a dear place for Middle Easterners, be it as a quick lunch in between classes or a late-night bite after hanging out with friends. In Beirut, hole-in-the-wall sandwich stands draw constellations of hungry patrons gathered around their favorite spots, the most popular of which line up the street facing the city's most prestigious academic institution, the American University of Beirut (AUB).
Franji could not have recreated these iconic shops more closely by opening up across from Concordia University and drawing a full house of savvy and clearly-satisfied Lebanese diners.
tagged: COMMUNITY PICK
A franji bread is essentially a long, soft French-inspired bun – either plain or sprinkled with sesame – which is then stuffed and toasted in a press. At both Franji here and back in Beirut, the fillings will vary from Middle Eastern such as taouk and basterma to Western such as fajitas and roast beef.
We wanted something closer to home, so opted for a traditional chicken sandwich with pickles and garlic sauce followed by a sujuk sammie with tomatoes, mayo, mustard and more pickles.
The bread was perfectly crisped outside while maintaining its airy center, while the stuffings were a pure delight, balancing sharp garlic sauce with sour pickles and spicy sujuk with tangy mustard. This is street food at its purest and finest.
Moving on to a Lebanese burger (yes, that's a thing), which is a classic burger with pickle and tomato but adds cocktail sauce, coleslaw and fries between the buns, I found this less successful.
For starters, the beef could have used more seasoning to boost its flavour. I also found the sauce excessive to the point of masking everything else and causing a bit of a mess. Great on paper, just needs a couple of touch-ups.
As for sides, we were treated to some meaty potato wedges and cheesy/crunchy mozzarella sticks, which went really well with Franji's assortment of five homemade dipping sauces.
Franji Sandwich's landing in Montreal came at the right time for me. During my vacation in Lebanon earlier this summer, I had the pleasure of trying Basterma Mano, one of Beirut's oldest and most celebrated sandwich shops.
With its own franji sandwiches, Franji comes as close as possible to replicating the real thing right here for us. To the duo of Lebanese immigrants who have transplanted themselves in Canada and given us a taste of their home, I say: thank you!
Price per person: $14.65
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.