Returning after last year's successful run, First Fridays, an event that spotlights the city's food trucks each first Friday of the month, brings together all that is good when it comes to chowing down. Taking place at the Olympic Stadium's Esplanade Financière Sun Life, this year's festivities started in May and will run until October.
The rain didn't get the crowd down during this month's June gathering as many flocked to the foot of the Stadium to sample what the city's street food scene had to offer. While balancing an umbrella and a lobster roll isn't always an ideal situation, nothing gets in the way of Montrealers and good cuisine. These aren't your typical hot dog and fries kind of eateries; expect to see a mix of unique flavours and ingredients. Live music as well as wine and beer are also available on-site.
Now that the city has lifted its ban on food trucks, despite various regulations, you will certainly see more mobile kitchens around and about. We can't wait until our favourites hit the streets.
Here is a compilation of my top 10 First Fridays highlights:
Route 27 You may recognize Route 27 as it belongs to restaurant Marché 27. The tartare truck specializes in raw beef, salmon, and tuna. Well-seasoned truffled beef tartare is served with Parmesan and arugula on sesame buns in the form of two sliders – perfect for sharing.
Pas d'cochon dans mon salon This kitchen dishes out large portions of protein. The BBQ pulled pork sandwich is made of overflowing tender and juicy meat on a bun. Admittedly, the sandwich is quite difficult to maneuver at a festival, but well worth the mess. So grab a seat – you'll need both your hands.
Super Truck Serving up a cornet de verdures composed of smoked duck breast, amaretto, apples, and almonds, the delicious blend of flavours is wrapped up in a toasted tortilla. One of the rare veggie dishes at the event, the smokiness of the bread pairs well with the lightness of the salad.
Nomade So6 Its presentation as appealing as its taste, the lightly crisped sausage Pogo accompanied by homemade yellow beet ketchup, which adds the right amount of sweetness to complement the protein, is a hit.
While I haven't had the chance to try their restaurant, which recently re-opened on Monkland, I was happy to find that the oyster dive had a food cart. Serving two items, ribs and lobster rolls, I gleefully opted for the latter. It's all you ever wanted in a roll: Creamy lobster topped on a buttery bun. It's messy of course, but again, worth it.
Boîte à Fromages Not quite sure what to expect here, any vehicle specializing in cheese was one I had to try – and I'm glad I did. The assiette raclette made up of apples, potatoes, and butter pecans topped with cheese, looks similar to a poutine and the taste suggests a mix of comfort and warmth.
Grumman '78 Offering little choice compared to their usual menu, I was happy to see that they kept my favourite: the Banh Mi pork taco. Grumman's dishes always include bursts of flavour and colour with their unique take on tacos; however, one grievance I always have is size vis-à-vis price.
P.A. & Gargantua
Taking the ultimate comfort fare and kicking it up a notch is street food done right – even the classic grilled cheese option is a testament to that. The perfect amount of buttery and cheesy goodness is just what you need on a rainy evening. Again, portions are quite small, leaving you longing for more.
This cart, belonging to restaurant Pastaga, is evocative of an ice cream truck your inner child would love to chase. For dessert, an ice cream sundae-style coupe glacée with brownie bits and a hint of coconut hits the spot.
Reminiscent of a Belgian gaufre straight out of Europe, the chocolate chip waffle with warm chocolate sauce drizzled on top is the best way to end any food-tasting adventure.