A stalwart of the Montreal deli scene
There are two, separately owned restaurants called Reuben’s on St. Cats: the old-fashioned diner in the basement of the building across from Place Montreal Trust, and the more modern-looking place between Stanley and Peel streets. This review is of the latter.
I recall first eating at the “fancy” Reuben’s before there was anything fancy about it. It used to sport a “classic” décor — grimy walls, Formica tables, jars of pickled cherry and banana peppers stacked high in the windows, etc. Then, a few years ago, the owners updated it with more of what you might call a generic steakhouse look — jars of peppers still adorn the windows, but now the banquettes are wood, and the colours are dark and rich, creating a more atmospheric ambiance.
Unsurprisingly, the menu also changed to reflect the new digs’ pseudo-deli look: instead of sticking to a narrow list of meat-heavy dishes, there are a variety of salads, seafood, pasta and pizza, as well as creative uses of smoked meat, including stuffed into spring rolls (served with plum sauce, mind you, not yellow mustard). This kind of “progress” may garner some frowns from die-hard deli fans, but for them, the other Reuben’s location is just a couple blocks away.
The dish I usually order is the restaurant’s eponymous sandwich, the Reuben: a half-pound of smoked meat, topped with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and “secret sauce” (I suspect Thousand Island salad dressing) between to thick slices of pumpernickel, duly slathered in margarine and laid on a hot griddle until the bread is crisp and the cheese melts. It’s a fatty, gooey mess to eat, but that’s part of the attraction — though, you may want to order something that requires less savagery to consume if you’re on a first date.
At my last visit, I figured it was time to try something other than smoked meat, so I ordered the Delmonico steak sandwich: rib steak, melted cheddar and Monterrey jack cheeses, grilled button mushrooms and crispy fried onion strips, served with fries, coleslaw and a dill pickle spear on the side.
My dining companion ordered the charbroiled chicken sandwich: a marinated half breast, with bacon, Swiss cheese, romaine lettuce, red onion, tomato and dijonnaise sauce on a Kaiser roll bun, with the same sides.
Both sandwiches were very tasty, the chicken being particularly plump and juicy. Readers should note that the steak in their steak sandwiches are cooked medium-well to well-done, since the meat is already sliced when cooked. That said, it’s preferable for a sandwich filler, since anything less would make it difficult to chew through.
The sides were a bit disappointing: the pickle was a bit limp and the fries were the thin, dry kind you’d find in a supermarket freezer section; the coleslaw was good, but I’m not a huge fan of the stuff anyway.
Fortunately, dessert more than made up for any lack of lustre. We shared the chocolate bomb, a piping hot chocolate brownie under a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream, piled high with whipped cream, crushed walnuts, chocolate sauce and, of course, a cherry on top. Suffice it to say, the bomb lived up to its name. I also ordered the key lime pie, but ended up taking it home, untouched (it made an unhealthy, but yummy breakfast the following day).
Service was prompt and professional, and contrary to what some web commentators have alleged, servers were at ease in both French and English.
Giancarlo La Giorgia is a freelance writer and citeeze.com’s resident foodie.