Estrella’s. 200th st. Langley.
If I hadn’t heard about this place, I never would have found it. Sandwiched between a muffler store and the appropriately named Industrial avenue, it’s not a location I would have expected to find an authentic Montreal Deli and café but if it can survive here, there must be something to it.
Since I spent most of the day still sick, I didn’t get out for lunch until 3. But that meant I had the place more or less to myself. From the outside, it’s a simple café. No neon lights. No fancy stained glass. No twisted cutlery above the door.
Inside, it was equally unremarkable with simple but clean chairs and tables, and a wall set aside for the owner’s pictures. Once again, here was someone proud of their business, my favourite picture being him holding up a meat-filled sandwich that was so huge, it was about the size of his head.
An exaggeration, surely.
Anyway, I shuffled up to the counter and ordered two things that one should always try at a good Montreal deli. Montreal Meat and a side order of poutine.
Now what is poutine? If you showed a picture of it to your doctor, he would reach inside his desk drawer, pull out a gun and hand it to you, saying, “if you want to kill yourself, you stupid m*therf*cker, you may as well do it right.” At least that’s what my doctor would say. It’s basically fries and squeaky cheese curds smothered in thick gravy. So very, very good when done right. So hideous when done wrong (hello, DQ, I’m talking to you.)
But that’s what I ordered. Artery-hardening poutine and a the ‘Canadian’, a large portion of Montreal smoked beef brisket stacked and I do mean STACKED on light Rye with Dijon mustard, and a kosher pickle.
First off, the kosher pickle was fantastic. Best pickle ever. Try one. It’s almost a meal itself.
Next, the poutine was exactly what the cold needed. The fries were perfectly done, the gravy seasoned with peppercorn and the cheese curds authentically curdy and cheesy. So good. The sandwich, though, well, look at the picture. It was freaking huge!
I honestly don’t think I’ve even seen so much meat on a sandwich. Ever. Now, I’m a meaty guy, (some say fat but I say meaty, dammit), and that was too much even for me. Had I gone with just the sandwich, I may have been fine but with the poutine and pickle, I simply could not eat the whole sandwich.
But taste-wise, the rye and Dijon and smoked montreal beef brisket was fantastic. Maybe the prefect sandwich.
So to answer the question, is there such a thing as too much meat? No but you better be prepared to take half of it home.
Says a lot, though, that when they give you a sandwich, they REALLY give you a meal. Next time I’ll know.
So if you’re on the hunt for an authentic deli, the type you would see in say, Montreal, or NY, then give this place a try. Everything here is homemade as well and if you like to be full, I mean, stuffed full, then dare to try the Canadian.
Deli … a subject as close to my heart as my probably clogged arteries. Being a New Yawker by birth, my deli crave is corned beef. Montreal smoked, all very nice. But REAL hot corned beef on rye … and I do NOT mean the pickly stuff you get here, even at pretty good delis … is a comfort food beyond compare. Kosher, of course. And don’t order the lean. It tastes better with a nice marbling of fat. Doctors, and Mark Bittman, cover your ears. In NY, the pickles go without saying. A side of good cole slaw is always provided. If you need another side (no one does, but who can resist), it’s the potato latkes with apple sauce. Sorry, don’t ask for cheese. Not kosher.
I believe that there can be too much meat, but your meal did look good!
Oops, just took another look. That poutine does NOTHING for me. I immediately think clogged arteries & intestines.