What do you know about food from the Congo? I know as much about Congolese food as I do about the Franco-Prussian war of 1870; I know nothing about the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. Obviously I was pumped to try a new food I’ve never had before. I told myself, “Jason, forget everything you know about Congolese food”, so I did. I’m not going to sit here and tell you some contrived story and gush about “how much I love African food and this is now my new favourite place” because I literally have nothing to compare it to. Not that I would be so trite anyways. So when I was invited by Le Uptown to try their Congolese grilled chicken, I was excited to see what it was all about.
Does anyone else remember 49 cent pizza on Saint-Mathieu and de Maisoneuve? Many Fridays of my youth were spent taking the 165 bus down Cote des Neiges to cop the best deal on pizza in the city. For $2, you got two slices of the shadiest pizza and a drink. The food was questionable at best but the risk was part of the experience. It was one of the few places you can go eat fully knowing you’d probably get sick…and you were ok with that. There was a time where you could get a slice almost anywhere in Montreal until these slice shops slowly dried up. Recently, there has been a literal boom in by-the-slice shops, but not just ordinary pizza; New York-style pizza to be exact. I checked out the newest spot slinging slices, Pizza Toni.
When I say “mile-end”, what do you think of? Bagels? Smoked meat? Italian cafes? Cocktail bars and brewpubs? Money hungry landlords awaiting commercial gentrification? Yes to all that, but what if I told you now you can associate the neighbourhood with a viable and legitimate destination for Vietnamese food? I recently stopped by the newish Vietnamese hot spot Le Bay Cà Phê for what I thought was going to be a low key lunch which turned into an impressive experience that caught me by surprise.