For our 3rd anniversary, my parents gave us some money to go on a short trip – we try to see a band we like play live at least once a year, so we opted to take a trip to Montreal this time. After much research, we decided to go to Garage Beirut before going to see The Killers play at Centre Bell.
We may or may not have gotten lost on the way to the restaurant, but we got there in one piece. Garage Beirut is located on Mackay Street in a more residential area, just off of Sainte Catherine Street. Google Maps accurately describes this little spot as “compact eatery” – the dining room houses only 6 tables and could not have been much bigger than our living room here at home. They also have a little patio with probably 4-5 tables. The patio was already full, so we sat inside. The decor is simple with sort of an “unfinished” look – one wall has a few photos hanging, and the other has exposed brick – some painted and some not. I had the feeling that we were in someone’s home dining room – in a good way!
We started with the Fattoush salad, which was maybe the best salad we’ve had out. Crispy romaine, chunks of tomato and cucumber, tossed with a tangy dressing (with sumac, I think) and fresh pomegranate seeds. There were a few toasted pita bits tossed in, like Lebanese croutons. The whole thing was delicious. Just a small salad was plenty for us to share as a starter. Unfortunately, there is no picture of this salad, since we were famished – you’ll have to take my word for its deliciousness.
For our main course, we split the Mixed Grill for 2 (shown at top of post) – there was grilled chicken, grilled beef and kafta (ground meat shaped like a sausage). The Mixed Grill came with hummus and pita, but the highlight of the dish was the garlic aioli – it was killer. The kafta could have used a little more seasoning, but all was forgiven when we dipped it into the aioli.
The only downfall to our visit was the so-so service. For a restaurant of 10-ish tables on a Thursday night, there was only one waitress (and a very sweet waitress-in-training). While our food came out quickly initially, she never stopped back to see how it was, or if we needed anything else. I desperately needed a water refill and we couldn’t get her attention. They were also getting take-out orders, and the staff seemed overwhelmed in general.
We wanted to have dessert before the concert, and when my husband went up to the cash register to inquire about the options, we were told there were only two out of three available. We love baklava, so he asked for one. We sat and waited nearly half an hour, and then the waitress seemed to realize that we hadn’t gotten it. She rushed into the kitchen and then rushed back out, apologizing that they were out of that, too.
We were on a schedule, so we were definitely irritated that we wasted that time sitting there, when we could have easily walked to another cafe for dessert if there had been better communication.
Overall, while we would give the food an A, the service was sub-par, which left a bad taste in our mouths. This place is definitely worth a visit if you’ve got time to burn or you don’t go during peak hours.
1238 Mackay St, Montreal, QC H3G 2H4, Canada