Chez ma tante
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to head up to Saint-Michel. Specifically, 3180 Fleury (almost at the corner of Blvd. St-Michel.). There is the casse-est croute-est casse croute I have seen in a very long time. The menu is short: Steamés, Fries, Soda, Water, Coffee and the attendant variations, Fries with gravy and Poutine.
For those of you who are old enough to remember the Montreal Pool Room when it wasn't owned by Russians, or the Henri Richard Tavern, or any of the many other pieces of local culture that have been gone for 30+ years you'll instantaneously recognize the spirit. From a short discussion I had with the son of the owner. The place initially started as a chip wagon, back when there was street food allowed in Montreal - we're talking the 30s. As those were made illegal, they started making fries out of the front window of their house. As time passed, they renovated the house, so that what would have been the front porch became the restaurant. For all I know they still might live there.
As for the details, they use Shopsy hot dogs (or at least I assume they are Shopsy, because the Shopsy sign is larger than the Chez ma tante sign). The chou is generously added to the hot dog. It has the smallest of small vinegar tastes, just enough so that they become supple, not rigid. A perfect accompaniment to the hot dog and bun. It supplies just the right amount of crunch to the bun's pillow softness and the hot dog's meatiness. I would guess that the bun is an industrially made bun from processed white flour, but in order to be able to withstand the steaming, sometimes having additives helps. Also, I can't imagine a Steamé on anything else - can you? And the hot dog itself, what needs to be said? Also industrially produced, I haven't quite developed a preference of Hygrade or Shopsy, and having never really done a blind taste test would be hard pressed to identify any differences. But again if you're going for Steamés, you don't want a sausage, or a saucisse, you want a hot dog. I'll leave it up to folk like Martin Picard or Martin Juneau to come up with 21st century variations that make you pause. At Chez ma tante, you're getting them like they've been served for the past 70 years, I would guess.
The fries are, as would be expected, perfect. I had them in a poutine, and both with and without gravy they were spectacular. Adding the cheese curds made them like the 76/77 Canadiens invincible. They weren't greasy, they had just the right amount of crust and the taste of the potato shone through as bright as the Stanley Cup. I can't comment about the beverages because I did not partake of any.
If I were to make any complaints about the place, it would be that they are too far away from where I live, so I am unable to eat there as often as I would like. I might just have to start attending services at Notre-Dame-de-Pompéi so I can get my fix. Over an hour for a hot dog seems a little bit excessive, if I could combine it with something else, less so.
I love finding places like this, oozing with inherent nostalgia.
I like Lafleurs as their dogs and fries are kinda what you describe (granted their gravy sucks), but its a whole different experience from an old-time mom & pop place.
We keep an eye open for such places, especially when driving through small towns outside the city.
I used to love Ma tante 15 years ago but then their fries weren't that good anymore. They have a very good hot dog.
How was the fries? we're they big and undercooked or sweet tasting like long time ago?
With the Lesage disaster changing their fries, I would give ma tante another chance.
Yes! I interned in Montreal in college and rented an appartment right in front of Chez Ma Tante. Those hot dogs were incredible and I probably gained 10 pounds that summer. Loved the casing on the Shopsy's, had a tad more bite than your traditional 'steame'. Fries were excellent, not sloppy at all.
One of these days the old casse-croutes will be gone and we'll truly miss them. Thanks for making me remember my younger years. :D