Caroline Ronalds and Barbara Moser
We vegetarians are always on the lookout for a new dining spot and we found one on my favourite street in Montreal, Westminster in Montreal West.
There’s something about Westminster with its mom-and-pop shops and restos, flower shops, pharmacies and fresh fruit and vegetables adorning the sidewalks — maybe it’s the friendliness of the business owners and even the Royal West students who frequent many of the restos. They are sure to like the new kid on the block, Pochiche, which offers them a sandwich for $4.39 and a hot chocolate or soft drink for 89 cents.
Owner Michel Massoud opened Pochiche, at 54 Westminster, six months ago. He’s been a vegetarian since he was 14, emigrating from Lebanon in 1983.
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When we walked in to the open, friendly, and relaxed space, we felt at home and welcome. The décor is modern and comfortable. There is a line of black booths that seat four and on the other side two higher, bigger tables with stools. A bar with stools faces the window, which is up a couple of steps.
We chose a booth and found it relaxing and cosy. It was 1pm on a Friday and we happened to be two of four customers. We approached the red-checkered bar to order from Michel himself, after having a look at the colourful board behind him.
We had the salads to start, a vegan Cesar salad with seasoned dried pita and homemade dressing, along with an excellent sumac salad with a dressing of parsley, mint and olive oil. Salads come in three sizes with prices to match at $3.90, $5.95, and $8.99) We wanted to try a bit of
everything so we both had the mixed plate ($13.99), with falafel, shitake kebab, and grilled eggplant. The shitake kebabs, made of soy protein and shitake mushrooms, had more of the texture of shawarma. This is a good way to get your protein in a texture that tastes and looks like chicken, but isn’t.
The large serving of humus was creamy and tangy with just the right amount of lemon. Other accompaniments to our plates were rice and lentils, cucumber and tomato salad, chick peas, artichokes with veggies, cabbage, and pickled turnips. Tahini is drizzled over everything.
The square and sturdy paper plates did the trick — better than plastic and less mess to clean.
“Many different kinds of dishes started out as the poor man’s food with the lowest of reputations,” said Massoud, “including poutine.”
We wish Michel the best of luck with his new vegetarian, Lebanese restaurant and we’re looking forward to dropping in one Saturday to see the magician who performs between noon and 1pm for children and those of us who still love being children.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story had the wrong address. The Senior Times regrets the error.