Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Brunching & Lunching it in Montreal Part 2: McKeirnan

McKiernan, the new-ish addition to the Joe Beef, Liverpool House, McMillan-Morin family on Notre Dame West is an incredible Montreal gem. This tiny lunch and-sometimes-supper spot has but 18 indoor seats in the winter, and a lively jamming terrace out-back when the spring-summer-fall weather permits. The vibe is sunny and cozy (love the four seater tables in the window banquettes), with a menu that boasts a wide range of items that are made with the restaurant's home-grown vegetables (from their patch out-back!). The more affordable McMillan owned spot brings the sud-ouest hipster crowd, Westmount lunching mommies & artsy business lunch crowd together for some of the best food the city has to offer. The decor is in theme with JB & LH, what seems to be a collection of mason jars, crates, collectibles, funky wall art and other rustic furnishings. The place is hopping at lunchtime but no matter how busy it is, chef Marc-Andre Leclerc, Curtis Vargo and his crew are bustling about, humming to the (great) music, and making it all look easy. It's casual, and it's styling.

Let's start with lunch. Everything on the menu is sublime. Everything. I have been hitting McKiernan for lunch for some time now - and it's the perfect lunch experience every time. Some of my favourites include: the Mckiernan Salad: beets, goat cheese, pine nuts, greens, radish & tomato. A mixed salad that's just filling enough. The pear and pecorino salad is perfectly executed, thinly sliced pear and coarsely grated pecorino cheese, pine nuts, arugula, and onion. Pear and pecorino have always been a favourite combo of mine, and I'm so glad it's there for the taking. The Chicken tikka sandwich was great too. And then there's the Cobb salad. Let's face it. Cobb salad is just the bomb - and that much better when it's done the McKiernan way. The club roll was good (served overflowing out of a toasted hot dog bun), but not exceptional, so maybe skip it when dining in a place with so many exceptional choices. The gnocchi special I had this past visit (today), was totally mind blowing. I didn't initially order it, but added it at the last second when I saw one being delivered to another table. Wow. Perfectly tender, with soft sun-dried tomatoes, greens, and lightly cheesed- it was rich but light. The pulled pork tacos were also amazing, and the turtle brownie made with pistachios was so good, I was still taking the last bites as I put my coat on and swearing I was too full for more. The menu is diverse and changes often, so you really have to go and see what makes your mouth water. It will definitely be an outstanding Montreal eating experience that will keep you coming back time and time again.

Pulled pork taco

Two girls, one brownie

In the summer they also make an amazing fruit lemonade. I can't wait for its return, but in the meantime, a lunchtime glass of vino will do fine.

About brunch... 3 important things: 1) it's only available Saturday; 2) it's heavy; and 3) it rocks. The lineup is about 30 minutes or so, but the hostess will call you when your table is ready, so you can peruse the antique stores nearby while you wait. If you can't handle the monster that is brunch at McKiernan, they always have the lunch menu (with salads) to fall back on. But the brunch is a not to be missed experience. The last time I ate there at 1pm, and I was not hungry again until about 9. The menu often changes, and is always imaginative and makes for a difficult ordering decision. The breakfast sandwich is colossal: it comes on a thin toasted (homemade) bun, with egg fritatta, lettuce, tomato, cheese, sausage, ham and of course bacon. 1 sandwich, 3 meats, no biggie right? wrong. I thought my friend (who can normally handle his breakfast meats) would have a heart attack just looking at the thing when it arrived at the table. But he polished it off an proceeded to move in on my grilled cheese (4 cheese & bacon grilled cheese= amazing). Lots of items on the McKiernan menu feature or include bacon in some way, and since everything in life is better with bacon, they get big points for that. Oh ya, the coffee is really awesome- my americano was first-rate.

Just like Olive & Gourmando, Mckiernan is tragically closed on Sundays & Mondays, but again, everyone needs time to relax and recharge. If you are visiting Montreal- I must reiterate, you cannot miss lunch at McKiernan (or dinner at Liverpool House for that matter) for a real authentic, original, and memorable Montreal meal.


  1. That looks like morgo in his happy place...

  2. I've lived in Montreal for a million years and OMG have never been to O&G. McKieenan's neither. WTF? Which is why I love this blog. I have to check these out!