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Aug 3, 2010 09:49 AM

Nickels Cote des Neiges

Look, I've never pretended to be a foodie, even though I've run for over ten years now. So when it's comfort I'm looking for, I don't zoom to Bronte or Toqué or L'Express.

I go to my local Nickels in Cote Des Neiges. I know, the foodie laughs and says "THAT's not FOOD" but believe it or not, after all the years I've been going, IT IS FOOD. I have no relation with anyone there but they are all, to a man or a woman, the kindest and most accommodating souls on this planet.

George is the owner, so ask for him for anything, but every single server and food creator is a darling and you just can't go wrong.

I know . . . . huh? Nickels???? But in this case, and take it from someone who has written food articles for the Gazette, I KNOW.

L'Express Restaurant
3927 Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC H2W2M4, CA

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  1. What do you order there?

    1. I've eaten at the Atwater Nickels once while in Cegep and... it was not food.

      How any kitchen focused on American bistro style family fare can do a simple cheeseburger so wrong, is seriously questionable. Every other side ordered was equally terrible and not just int he generic chain resto bland sense, but actually disgusting as in, why would anybody come here.

      Unless the CdN location exists as some magical exception, I would never ever go back. Why blow $15 on a meal at Nickel's when there are SO many local restaurant options serving the exact same comfort food at the exact same prices that are executed a gazillion times better?

      I just don't understand why anybody eats at these shopping mall family places with so many other equally convenient options (that's what these restos are supposed to be about, right?)...

      4 Replies
      1. re: OliverB

        Agreed....its like those pizza hut ads Ive been seeing on tv lately for pasta- makes me want to throw up

        1. re: OliverB

          Well, I suppose it is food ... dreadful food. I wouldn't head to Bronte, Toqué or probably even L'Express (although the latter is pretty traditional Parisian bistro food) for comfort food, but there are a lot of restos in CDN that serve fairly economical, family-style food from different cultures. Many have been reviewed here that are not more, or much more, expensive than Nickels, and just as family-friendly, if you are taking children.

          L'Express Restaurant
          3927 Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC H2W2M4, CA

          1. re: lagatta

            I can understand the OP point of view, in terms of comfort food and convenience. For certain a Pho or Portugese chicken is not comfort food, a burger and fries is, and driving across the city is not an option (or simply don’t want to) at certain times.

            I personnally don’t like nickels, I used to go to the one on ste-catherine at 2-3 am after a night of drinking when I was in cegep, but never thought of it as a nice place to have a meal.

            1. re: westaust

              Well, I certainly won't argue with the OP's taste preferences - though does anyone still think of Portuguese rôtisserie chicken as even vaguely "exotic"? - but Nickels is not a place I would choose even for a burger and fries.

              Lots of places walkable from there.

        2. If in CDN I would head to Jolee's for comfort food... I've tried this resto (Nickel's) and am sorry to say I totally disagree with the OP....

          1. Interesting confession...;-)

            FWIW I not too long ago had to eat at the Nickels across from Eaton Centre (in a pinch) but I also recall being pleasantly surprised. Granted, my expectations going in could not have been lower, but in the end it seemed better than your typical chain place. It didn't hurt that the server was extremely nice and attentive.

            Funny how tangential things like connecting with the people who work at a restaurant can make the food seem better (or worse). It's the Halo effect at work - your mind latches on to something positive or negative and it colors the rest of the experience, either making you more critical or more forgiving.

            14 Replies
            1. re: anachemia

              Nice, anachemia..I have been reading all the negative comments don't get me wrong, I appreciate "fine" dining/cuisine in such a fabulous place, Montreal! But often what we need is tender loving care .. fairly recently I moved here from the West after my husband's death...sleepless nights led me one early morning to Nickels on Cote de Neiges...I must say that the lovely early morning staff were exceptional, it was as if they sensed my grief...the breakfast was great/standard bacon & eggs, extra coffee,not Olympica style but comforting.... a newspaper was provided and also an assurance that I could linger as long as I was comforting, felt like home. I get very irritated with the supposedly sophisticated foodies remarks on this site...I wonder what their secret sinful obessions are? Just spotted a site where confessions were made by "top-notch" chefs, Dr. Pepper, McDonald's fish fillet, etc!!

              1. re: eatwell

                Isn't a good restaurant one where you like to go?

                A high profile Montreal artist once told me "if you don't know shit about art then you choose art based on what you like and not what or who you think will have value in years to come". So good food is subjective and personal.

                I know good food is food I like. I would never be able to do a Hell's Kitchen ingredient taste test that's for sure (cum to think of it neither can the contestants...)

                How many times I have loved a dish that my guest has hated.

                1. re: eatwell

                  eatwell, nobody on this thread was nasty to the original poster. As long as we are polite and respectful, we have every right to disagree with his assessment of the food at Nickels. Nobody suggested that OP should have gone to an expensive restaurant with sophisticated food. All I said was that there were many family-friendly, modestly-priced restaurants with better food in that neighbourhood (I studied for years at UdM so I am somewhat familiar with it). This does all come down to opinion, after all, no?

                  I'm glad the staff were nice to you when you needed TLC, eatwell, and to the OP.

                  1. re: lagatta

                    I used to go to Moe's often when it existed near the Bell Center and while I never considered it a good restaurant by any means, I did enjoy their chicken, ribs and burgers. It was typical American comfort food in a large family dining room setting with lots to chose from. I would go for breakfast sometimes too after a long and hungover night and it was the perfect fix. Doesn't mean there weren't better food or value options, but back then Moe's was convenient and "good enough". It offered a pretty common menu where anyone could essentially find anything. I think they even had asian salads and something they tried to pass off as teriyaki. In other words, something for everyone, just not especially good. But not so bad as to question why you would visit such a place. Nickels however, is so bad. There's just nothign redeeming about it at all. If food for you is simply something to fill your stomach and satiate an appetite than I guess it doesn't really matter... but there isn't a single thing on their menu that I would ever for a moment in time, pause to think about with any inkling of desire. It's just not good food.

                    There are local neighborhood eateries such as B&M or Pasta Casareccia in NDG, neither of which I'd consider very good (perhaps years back a different story) that both serve rather bland and generic cuisine. Yet if I'm hungry and nearby (ie. convenience) either would do as there are some tasty if unremarkable menu items. When I think of Nickel's, I don't think "unspectacular"... I think absolutely disgusting! Personally, I'd rather eat at Harvey's, Dunn's, A&W or any other bland chain resto. Even East Side Mario's!

                    Thankfully, I never really feel the need to resort to any of the above options, out of convenience or otherwise, as there's just too many GOOD restaurant options (even cheap dives) in every neighborhood in this city where you could get a quick meal fix. I'd rather walk into any dirty greasy spoon in St-Henri for isntance, than be treated to a meal at Burgers & Benedicts on Atwater a few minutes away. There are just too many options in this city to ever have to go to a place like Nickel's.

                    I always imagine their clientelle must be 99% cegep kids, unknowing tourists or people who are generally clueless and undiscerning about food. That's okay... I know several people who simply don't care about where they eat!

                    1. re: OliverB

                      Moe's is still there and in fine Moesy form! The jukeboxes don't work, sadly, and appear to have been frozen when the Baha Men were popular. Eek.

                      1. re: Claire Ann

                        not same moe's- he's talking about the chain, moe's deli & bar.

                        1. re: C70

                          Does this chain still exist?

                          I remember it used to be a pretty popular and crowded chain with restaurants in St-Sauveur and all around the island. Not that I would ever go out of my way to return, but I can't recall seeing any Moe's chains around for some time. Maybe it's just that I don't frequent these kind of restos anymore? The one near the Bell Center used to have a giant bathtub full of peanuts that I always found strange since peanut allergies are fairly common enough to ward away customers. Anyways, did this chain bite the dust or simply downsize it's franchises on the island? I wonder what did it as it always seemed like a bustling atmosphere at every single location I've ever visited, even if the food was pretty typical and nothing to write home about.

                          1. re: OliverB

                            Celine Dion owned it until 1997
                            I think people have better palates than for it to be bustling these days....

                            1. re: kpaxonite

                              I thnk you're a bit confused, kpaxonite. Céline Dion was a part owner of Nickels not Moe's. Moe's is and has always been owned by the very lovely Peter Morentzos.

                              1. re: kpaxonite

                                I think you mean that Celine Dion owned Nickels... not Moe's, unless I'm mistaken. I don't believe she owned that franchise as well.

                                I was referring to Moe's in my above post - they seem to have disappeared from the city, but perhaps I say that as someone who's out of the loop and would never bother visiting one these days... I did used to see them all over town though and haven't noticed them around at all lately.

                                1. re: OliverB

                                  Yes thats what I meant sorry for the confusion.

                    2. re: eatwell

                      Thanks EW...and very sorry to hear about your husband. Not sure if you're settled in to the city yet, but if you need any tips or anything, feel free to pm me!

                      I chuckled at reading your comment about sophisticated foodies...could not agree more. When I first moved back to Montreal from the states in '02 I could not get over how good my local A&W was - the food was always a notch better than it needed to be, like they actually cared about it while preparing it. It's subtle but I can totally tell when this is the case versus places where they're just slopping it out or using sub-par ingredients. I don't care if it's a $3 burger or a $75 piece of fish - if there's some element of caring, it comes through.

                      In fact, here's a good counterexample: Milos uses top-notch ingredients that are well-prepared, but during my single experience there, it was completely evident that none of the servers gave the slightest crap about the diners. It detracted so much from the entire experience that the food didn't even really matter. This place is permanently off my list as a result and I would never recommend it to anyone much less fellow chowhounds, all because it's missing this key element. But I would not hesitate to recommend that A&W (on St. Jacques west) or even a Nickels if they have that intangible thing going for them. It's not just about the food - it's about restauration in the true sense of the word.

                      1. re: anachemia

                        Oliver, unfortunately there's still a Moe's in the West Island and possibly the one in Laval is still around.

                  2. next time you are going for Nickels call me up I'll show you some CdN joints!