Tonight a friend of mine and I did the unthinkable: we ate out… at a restaurant!
We initially had the idea of takeout at a park, something folks have been engaging in lately during the COVID-19 lockdown. After scouring out our options along the Saint-Henri stretch of Notre-Dame Street, the idea of buying our own booze and poking food out of takeout containers while sitting on an uncomfortable picnic bench quickly turned us off.
After all, I have never been the type to eat purely for sustenance. Dining out also entails taking in an ambiance while engaging with my party, staff and perhaps other patrons. With that in mind, we decided to ditch the lineups outside of restaurants on Notre-Dame, and instead head to Grumman 78 around the corner for some much-needed terrace action.
tagged: CATCH SOME SUN
The Grumman brand has played a pivotal role in the Montreal dining scene. What started as the city's first food truck a decade ago saw its garage/kitchen space converted into a permanent restaurant, and a very popular one at that.
Stepping onto the premises – a parking lot in reality – we quickly learned this Thursday evening marked the eatery's first day back in business since the city allowed restaurants to reopen.
The atmosphere was warm and festive, with only the patio at the front open to customers. There was a clear sense of relief and release shared between diners and owners – who were on site – after months of confinement.
tagged: CHATTERBOX CORNER
Grumman 78 is known for its Mexican/Tex-Mex fusion. The reopening menu listed all of – count them – six items, conveying more of a street-food menu; which made sense, given the food was actually served out of the truck parked out front. A much longer take-home/kit list was also available.
Short as it was, the menu stuck to what this taqueria-plus does best: playful, inventive bites to go with bountiful drinks. A michelada – beer with spicy tomato juice – boosted by mezcal really delivered along with ground chicken and guacamole-topped tacos. Side dishes – tomato and potato salads – were equally fun if less accomplished.
tagged: IS THERE ANOTHER MENU?
The setup for the evening managed to respect "deconfinement" safety measures without feeling overly sterilized and devoid of human interaction. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about masked waiters and plexiglass-separated tables!
Instead, Grumman used their interior as an ordering station where drinks are made then carried outside by patrons, who get to pick up their own food from the truck once ready. On the patio, tables were decently spaced out; the staff later adding a couple more to accommodate some surplus clientele.
My past experiences with Grumman 78 were varied. On one hand, I've had the best taco ever – a lamb curry rendition – from their truck years ago. On the other, a past dinner at their restaurant was just OK. Either way, a good time is guaranteed; the unique "open garage" setup is perfect for sharing casual bites accompanied by drinks.
Although I have been running, biking and playing tennis since the warm season started, nothing heralds the arrival of summer until a drink is consumed on a terrace. Three months and a half after my last restaurant outing, it was about time!
Price per person: $17
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.