There’s another deli diner in town! Cheekily named Al’s Deli (after owner Aleks Lazic), you will enjoy real Montreal Canadian deli food at Cheapeats prices.
Al comes from a Montreal immigrant family with a tradition of food and hospitality. He has lived in New Zealand since 2007 and has put his professional chef training to good use in his new diner.
The promise of homemade smoked brisket, poutine and moose ears (more about that later!) drew me to Al’s recently. The menu is short but classic, and reflects Al’s Montreal roots. Most of the items on the menu have a Montreal-based name, and the flavour of maple occurs regularly. Al takes pride in making many of the items on the menu rather than buying in, including the bagels, the fries, the maple-smoked bacon and the maple-smoked salmon.
I just had to order the Smoked Brisket Poutine ($12.50), while my daughter tried the special of Coronation chicken salad on a bagel, accompanied by coleslaw, homemade fries and half a large Kosher pickle ($15.00). My artery-hardening main arrived promptly and was everything a person could want from the dish – tender slices of flavourful beef brisket adorning a mound of fries which had been covered with gravy and sprinkled with cheese curds. The brisket was fantastic and I would happily try it in The Main bagel ($11.50), which is 100 gms of brisket in a sourdough rye sandwich accompanied by French’s mustard (a favourite Canadian brand). The poutine ticked all the boxes but with visions of Christmas feasting approaching, I only sampled a portion of it.
My daughter probably would have preferred a plain filling on her bagel rather than the smoked chicken, toasted almonds, chutney, lettuce and tomato of her Coronation chicken salad bagel (but that’s the view of a younger person for you!) She gave the finely shredded coleslaw and fries a big thumbs-up. I devoured the Kosher pickle – it was the perfect accompaniment to the rich food of my dish.
We had wisely requested the Moose Ears ($5.50) to take away with us. No, this is not a strange Canadian meat dish, but rather thin, deep-fried pastry liberally sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and accompanied by a lemon wedge. The shape of the pastry is vaguely reminiscent of, well, Moose Ears! You can also request these with Nutella, banana, maple butter or even bacon.
As well as bagels, brisket and poutine, Al’s offers several main course salads ($16-$17.50) and a brunch menu ($11-$19.50).
There is a short beer and wine list which includes Canadian beers, a selection of spirits and also a Bloody Caesar cocktail ($11.50). This popular Canadian drink is made with Clamato juice and vodka – think of a Bloody Mary with a twist. I won’t tell you what is in the Clamato juice – just try it!
As we left we noticed a display of home-smoked salmon and home-smoked bacon. I purchased the Brown Sugar and Maple Smoked Bacon and can honestly say that it was the best bacon that I have enjoyed in a long time.
Al’s Deli is rather precariously located on the corner of Queen Street and City Road (entrance on steep City Road). There is parking on the street but I suggest using the carpark building opposite the restaurant entrance on City Road.
It may be a challenge to get there, but the effort is worth it. Enjoy!