La Binerie: An introduction to Quebecois cuisine

Whenever we visit a new city, we focus our efforts on getting to know the local cuisine, as well as finding those unique eats that mean something to the locals. It somehow gives us an idea of what the city tastes like and its cultural mix. Montréal was no exception, of course. We were lucky to find the coziest diner in the Le Plateau borough that’s been serving up a beautiful sampler of Quebecois dishes since 1938: La Binerie Mont-Royal.

It was our very first meal in the city and was a total hit. We quickly checked off a bunch of delicious classics, not to mention having the opportunity to experience the warmest welcome we could’ve asked for from the owners and staff.

Not much has changed on their menu since they opened. La Binerie focuses on hearty meals for the working man. Among their specialties, you’ll find a version of shepherd’s pie called pâté chinois, homemade cretons or toast with pork spread and of course, the famous tourtière meat pie.

I had my eyes set on their traditional Quebec plate, which includes pea soup, meatball ragout, tortière, mashed potatoes, veggies, fèves au lard (baked beans cooked with lard) and a delightful pudding chômeur. It’s a gigantic plate! At least, I was struggling to finish.

Nabol, on the other hand, ordered a breakfast plate that included maple smoked ham and sausages, and an extra side of pain doré, French toast with pure maple syrup.

Quebecois Cuisine is heavily influenced by French, Irish, British and Canadian aboriginal cuisine, among other European countries. Historical circumstance made this fusion of flavors inevitable. The classic tortière, for instance, is a British dish likely brought to Quebec by French settlers living in the early American colonies. It was filling and versatile so it stuck. 

Similarly, the pâté chinois was introduced to Canadian railway workers by Chinese cooks during the building of the North American railroads in the late 19th century. They prepared it under the instruction of their English superiors as a cheaper version of the English cottage pie.

The beauty of Montréal is that beyond being French-Canadian, it is truly a crossroad of the old and new world. Today its cuisine continues to evolve with the new generation of immigrants coming into the country and yet, the traditional dishes are very close to everyone’s heart. How beautiful it is that you can go to a Portuguese chicken shack or a Doner kebab shop to enjoy the flavors of Piri-Piri or Za’atar with a side of delicious poutine?

If you’re planning a trip to this city, we highly recommend you start at a place like La Binerie. But, of course, don’t stop there. Walk the streets and follow your taste buds. Eat whatever smells good. There’s a lot to try.

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