McKiernan-anyone been lately?
The space is definitely small, but that's part of the charm of the place.
I have been several times and have never encountered anything but the friendliest waitstaff - I should also mention that the chefs are all extremely friendly - when seated at the bar, you are right up in their grillpieces. This is noteworthy when you consider that chefs tend to be a surly lot.
Food is always excellent - top quality ingredients for less than the neighboring Liverpool House (never been to Joe Beef).
The winelist is well-chosen although a little overpriced.
I would second the duck tacos and the chicken tikka sandy and add the hot smoked salmon plate and the johnny cakes for brunch -
mmmmm.... Johnny Cakes
Was there for brunch today and arrived when it opened, at 10 am. The food was not as delicious as I had first experienced. I ordered the crab benedict, but the crab cake was very greasy and the ham bits were tough as nails. The johnny cakes, the portion I tasted, was fine, but not exceptional. I won't be rushing back.
I have been to McKieran twice - once was for dinner where we had a lovely server, helpful, friendly, prompt. Was willing to talk wine and beer, arranged a special order for my vegetarian husband, etc. I left eager to try their sandwiches and to return for lunch - the meal I assumed was actually their specialty.
I returned one day in early summer for lunch with my husband. We sat outside - the space is at least twice as big as the inside and appears to be shared with one of their other restaurants. Beautiful space - their garden surrounds it - but understaffed. Took over an hour to get our food with no apology. Food arrived with cold potatoes and when I inquired as to whether that was the intention, the waitress told me she didn't know. Coffees we ordered before lunch took a half hour (no joke - we were timing things at this point). The waitress did indeed seem to be miserable.
I went because the first experience was so amazing (duck tacos!!) and because I had heard the chicken tikka sandwich was amazing, but the food was boring and cold, the service grouchy and slow (I'm all for grouchy and fast, by the way) and I will never go back again.
I should preface this by saying that I have always liked the Joe Beef consortium and their relatives (i.e. Chien Fumant), but my experience at McKiernan's was similar to that discussed above. A cold january day we phoned to find out about their table space for brunch that morning. We were told that if we came for noon we would likely get a spot (which knowing the size of the place seemed unlikely). This was obviously optimistic and when we arrived our name and phone # was added to a very long list... After walking around in the cold for 45 minutes we returned, and suffice it to say that within minutes both another diner and a waitress had both fled the restaurant in tears due to confusion over their seating procedure. Only the customer was to return during our eventual meal. The remainder of the service was, as a result, even slower than it might have been.
So the bottom line is that I really like the place, and I want to like it more... but it is almost too small. I feel that their understaffing me even be due to a lack of space instead of a lack of desire to pay more employees.. Perhaps things would be different in the summer when the JB terrace is available.
2491 Rue Notre-Dame W, Montreal, QC H3J1N6, CA