Ruffling Feathers in Montreal: Gordon Ramsay's Canadian Rotisserie

When news came that Gordon Ramsay planned to take over a 75-year-old rotisserie chicken restaurant in Montreal, local food fans were divided. Laurier BBQ, as it was known until it shut down for renovations last spring, was loved by generations of Montrealers for its dependable (if lackluster) favourites like the hot chicken sandwich and a microwaved mocha cake. There were those who cried foul (or is it fowl?), demanding the Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen star not change a thing, while others welcomed the change, to give the old spot new life.

 

Chicken 

 
Post-extensive makeover, Laurier Gordon Ramsay is looking bright and modern, but still cozy. Young chef Guillermo Russo, a native Montrealer, is at the helm, having worked at Toronto’s Black Hoof and Aroma in Ottawa. With a new black-and-white colour scheme, bar area and glass-enclosed wine cellar, the old dame is suddenly stylish, but the original banquettes and lots of homey touches (jars of pickles and painted wood paneled walls) soften the look.

 

Many of the old standbys remain on the menu–the rotisserie chicken plates with bun, fries and coleslaw; the hot chicken sandwich; even the mocha cake. Except now the fries are fresh-cut and the new mocha cake will under no circumstances be microwaved. Steak-frites and sliders are also on order now, alongside nods to Ramsay’s UK roots such as fish and chips and potted beef.

 
On a recent visit, we arrived early, having heard of two-hour waits during the dinner rush. Sure enough, by 5:30 pm the only place they had for two was at the bar (which we actually preferred). By six the place was packed and buzzing with an after-work crowd. Since it was cocktail hour, we ordered a couple while scouting the menu and munching on complementary spiced popcorn: classic, old fashioned, and a house-invented pear collins (Poire Williams, tarragon, soda), which came in a mason jar.

 

Sliders 

 
To begin with: the sliders. A trio of juicy cuties on brioche mini buns, with shredded romaine, melted cheddar and caramelized onions. They arrived on a cheese board sporting little hats made of gherkins and pickled onions. Yum.

 

Ribs 

 

Following we had the ribs, which came smothered in sauce and stacked like a vertical, Jenga-esque meat puzzle, and the dependable quarter-chicken (breast) meal with the crunchy, seasoned hand-cut fries. The half-bun was toasted brioche, the meat was moist enough and well-flavoured, and the gravy was thyme-infused and not super dense nor too salty. Sides of creamed spinach and green beans with Parmesan arrived in cute little cast iron Staub pans.

 

To finish, we went both ways: one British comfort classic (the butterscotch bread pudding, with brittle and whiskey cream) and one prototypical, down-home Quebecois treat, the sugar pie. The pudding had big chunks of bread melded together like a mashed up French toast, while the pie was just right in its familiar, delicious tooth-curdling sweetness. Two modern takes on old favourites, and a fitting end to a meal at the French-Canadian outpost of a Scottish bad boy chef’s empire.

Genevieve Paiement is a freelance writer and editor, writing about food and travel for Canadian and Internationale lifestyle publications. Genevieve lives in Montreal. 
 

 

Back to School Meals: Stepping Up Lunch with Steak

Red meat is packed with iron and protein and as hunger pangs set in, these are two key factors I look for to help me get over that midday hump. What I love about lettuce wraps is that they are a cheap and easy way to use up leftover odds and ends in the fridge, and are packed with fresh crunchy flavours! In this particular recipe, we are demonstrating how simple it is to turn boring leftover steak into an energizing and healthy lunch that kids and adults will love.

 

Beef Wraps
 
I love this recipe so much, I find myself even making an extra serving of meat the night before just so I have leftovers. Think, do it yourself fajitas without the refined flour wrap. To make sure that this is a balanced meal that will keep you going through the afternoon, we like to pair it with whole grain rice. This recipe works perfectly with leftover tofu, shrimp, chicken, etc.
 
Beef Lettuce Wraps
Yield: makes 8 lettuce wraps

Prep Time: 15 minutes, Marinating Time: overnight

Ingredients

• 1-1/2 cups sliced cooked steak
• 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
• 1 tsp granulated sugar
• 1 lime
• 1 head Boston lettuce, washed under cold water and dried
• 2 scallions, root discarded and white and light green thinly sliced
• kosher salt
• 2 cups cooked whole grain rice

Optional garnishes

• Bean sprouts
• Sliced red pepper
• Sliced red onion
• Shredded carrot
• Crunched cashews

Directions:

1. Combine the hoisin, granulated sugar, juice of 1/2 a lime and pinch of salt in a bowl large enough to fit the sliced steak. Add the leftover steak and toss with the marinade. Place in the refrigerator to let the meat absorb the flavours overnight or for 4 hours.
2. The next morning, prep lunches by dividing the lettuce, marinated steak and garnishes between four sealable containers. Add a slice of lime to each container.
3. Divide the rice between each lunch in a separate small container to avoid it spilling . At lunchtime simply heat up the whole grain rice and wrap and roll your very own lettuce wraps!
  
Amanda Garbutt is the host of The Hot Plate, a free online cooking show dedicated to inspiring culinary confidence in new cooks. When she isn’t cooking she is exploring Toronto for new food ideas.