Where: 1886 Notre-Dame West
Kind of food: Smokehouse
Usual Suspects: Business crowd (lunch), rowdy groups for sports events, couples, etc.
Why I love it: It’s delicious, fun, and the terrace is one of a kind
Why you’ll love it: The atmosphere speaks for itself – a dare you to say you didn’t love it
Who to take: Friends, second or third date
I ordered: Chicken salad ($14) and a pint of Rickards Blonde ($7)
Sitting at the three-way intersection between lower downtown, Little Burgundy and what is quickly becoming a hotbed for development, Griffintown, lies a gem of a restaurant called Le Boucan.
It seems as though everyone in the city has caught on to the pulled pork craze, from small cafés serving up pulled pork paninis or salads – hell, even Subway added the delicious shoulder meat to their menu. I remember chowing down on some a couple years back, not knowing what I was in for… but it was like love at first bite.
Despite the abundance of competition, Le Boucan is right up there as one of the best. Making its claim to fame as a smokehouse, this restaurant serves everything up with a hint of charcoal flavour, leaving your senses tingling with that smoky wood, summer BBQ feeling. No matter what you get – from the (obvious choice of) pulled pork to expertly glazed baby back ribs or grilled Atlantic salmon, there’s something for everyone on the menu. Next time I’m definitely gonna start things off with the pulled pork poutine – I just have to find someone daring enough to split it with me, because there’s no way one person can walk away from that battle alive.
As it was my second visit, I ordered the chicken salad (don’t judge me…), which was served in a large bowl with everything from fried onions and grilled zucchini to diced carrots, green shallots, and red, orange, and a yellow peppers. It was fantastic. The chicken was prepared in the same fashion as pulled pork, served stripped and braised in an amazingly juicy sauce. I ordered an ice-cold Rickards Blonde to wash it down, and set myself up in arguably the most beautiful terrace this fine city has to offer. With four tables shadowed under the overhanging trees and lined up alongside the fence, another elevated table has eight bar stools is perfect for any event. The whole atmosphere has a rustic feel to it and adds even more flavour to that southern, Texan swag.
Head down for a savoury lunch or dinner, but just make sure to give them a call if you’re planning on eating during peak hours. This place is slammed day and night, and there are good reasons why. And if you’re looking for something to do afterwards, there are a couple cafés and antique shops nearby that would round up that date nicely. Be warned though: bring your big wallet – it’s not the cheapest place in the city.