The Rubs name has had a tumultuous history over its existence in the Greater Montreal Area. The smokehouse's first Prince Arthur Street location opened in 2012, shut down due to a fire a couple years later, reopened eventually then finally succumbed to the COVID-19 pandemic for good.
Two Laval locations were added in the meantime; one in Sainte-Rose and the other in Laval-Ouest. Having never tried any of these, I gladly accepted a friend's suggestion to check out the Sainte-Rose branch. Yes, the drive was quite long during rush hour on a Wednesday evening; at least we were rewarded with ample parking space and a half-empty restaurant.
Billed as an "American BBQ" restaurant, Rubs' interior is dim and sports bars-y. The massive space is divided in two and features an assortment of seating arrangements, from stools by the bar and booths to regular and bar-height tables.
The soundtrack for the evening was loud, quite cheesy and included New Kids on the Block (gasp!), so I asked for a table outside. Alas, there was no avoiding the decibel level in the cramped patio with its awkward triangular layout.
The smokehouse menu seems to cover most of the United States' regional BBQ varieties: Texas, Memphis, Carolina, etc. Brisket, ribs and chicken can be ordered smoked, fried or grilled; and served in endless possibilities such as burgers, sandwiches, poutine, mac ‘n' cheese, tacos and others.
Fruity and refreshing but a little weak, this classic cocktail was served in a mason jar and garnished with a handful of maraschino cherries.
The only hit of the night came in the form of glorified onion rings in a cactus-like presentation. These were lightly battered and quite tasty.
The recent explosion in fried chicken has raised the bar for the popular item. This rendition, while incredibly moist and juicy, lacked any semblance of flavour or seasoning.
A standard mac dish was nicely gratiné, but I was hoping for the brisket to elevate it beyond ordinary height. Alas, the beef strips were totally neutralised and barely noticeable.
I was really hoping for the standalone brisket to come through but unfortunately it was not to be. Two thick slabs of beef were tough, completely dry and utterly tasteless: quite a sad spectacle.
I could tell a storm was brewing early on, as it took our waitress over ten minutes to come see us after being seated. Apologies and the term "understaffed" were thrown around on multiple occasions and would mark the evening, if not the entire summer at countless Montreal restaurants.
Many dishes were not available, our drinks arrived way after our food… The aggravations piled up, but at least our seasoned waitress explained the situation and was quite pleasant to chat with.
tagged: OVERWHELMED STAFF
For a restaurant banner around for nine years – seven for this specific location – I certainly had my hopes up for tonight's dinner. Regrettably, both food and service were disappointing; even the ambiance was lacking. To be fair, I can convince myself to write off this lacklustre exhibit due to staffing issues; but I doubt I will return anytime soon.
tagged: DESERVES A RETRY
Price per person: $37.50
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.