For a Montrealer, casse-croutes are as essential to the spirit of the city’s food culture as bagels or smoked meat. Years ago, as a newcomer to the city, I was (and still am!) endlessly fascinated by these tiny restaurants serving up hot dogs, rotisserie chicken and poutines. Montrealers defend their favorites with the same fervour as people in New Orleans would debate the best po’ boy, or Miami’s ultimate Cuban sandwich.
Meanwhile, chef Yann Turcotte has opened what could redefine the genre. The former chef at Impasto, along with co-owners Michele Forgione and Stefano Faita, created Chez Tousignant. With spiffy retro-cool design by the ubiquitous Zebulon Perron, Chez Tousignant eschews the kitsch and instead channels a classic diner feel. First, a red neon Tousignant sign invites you in. Then, high top tables and patterned flooring instantly bring an nostalgic tone, while the sparkling-clean kitchen reminds me I’m not in my old Sud-Ouest hangouts (as much as I still love them, you turn a blind eye to some things.)
This rue Drolet spot (just south of Bélanger) keeps the menu simple and familiar. Hot dogs, rotisserie chicken and burgers are the mainstays. While the prices won’t bring in the 99-cent steamie crowd, you can feel the love in every part of the menu as nearly everything (save for the Heinz and French’s) is made in-house.
Purists might object to the lack of steamies, but the hot dogs are made from scratch with 100% Quebec beef and a great buttery toasted potato bun. The burgers here are a real standout. The eponymous Tousignant burger, with its jambon a l’erable, is one of the best I’ve had recently. While the french fries ordered alone are forgettable, they go very well in the poutine. Squeaky cheese curds and a classic brown sauce make a very good poutine and is priced very well – no powdered sauce to be found! Milkshakes, pies, and doughnuts round out the menu. It’s counter service here, but it’s quick and friendly, with partial table service during the weekend for coffees.
6956 rue Drolet
About Teg Graham
Teg sometimes cooks things in restaurants. He likes music, hockey, painting and reading Gael Green’s restaurant review archives.