Originally, an ice-cream shop opened all the way back in 1968, this definitely appears to be the place for a midnight snack in Montreal.
The yellow painted brick building contributed to the sunny mood, and same goes with the orange awning on which the restaurant name was written on. The wordmark was quirky, messy and playful, one can even say amature, but its child-like feel worked to the advantage of the story here.
The restaurant is generally very unassuming, but humming with people all day (and night) long. Although most tables seemed to be occupied, we were seated in no time on Monday at around midnight.
SWIRL & NOSE
Red walls, yellow ceiling, blue details - these bold, primary colours gave it a bit of a Mexican feel and also set the mood for a lively attitude. Plates with massive amount of food floated around us, as we explained we are not one of the many couples picking up their midnight meals to-go. We noticed a majority of youthful demographic dining inside at this time of the day, we thought may be university students. With driftwood branches suspended from the yellow ceiling, warm brick walls around and black and white framed photos, we settled in the chaos at our bright green and red painted table.
We ordered their La Rachel (with feta cheese) and La Reggae from the bright menu, consistent with the high energy exterior façade. We decided to enjoy our poutines with their Banquise Golden Pilsner Ale. Remixed hip hop tunes in the background added to the clutter of this lively place.
The dishes themselves were nothing to rave home about, the impressive part was the amount of toppings one can add to a poutine, as well as the accommodation of goat cheese, non-dairy cheese, and vegetarian poutine all together.
La Reggae was not a dish we would recommend. It combined tacos with a poutine - oily minced meat, tomatoes, some jalapenos topped with guacamole. Flavour-wise, it was quite a mess when together with gravy and cheese.
To La Rachel we added feta cheese, while the main topping to the poutine were peppers, mushrooms, and onions. The addition of feta was really not our best idea here, as for the veggies: they were all fried and hard to differentiate.
Our tip/learned lesson from ordering dishes - less toppings is more flavour.
We were asked to settle our bill after ordering, which was done very politely by our waitress, who felt bad her English was not sufficient. It was an understandable move, considering all the commotion here.
Montreal was very quiet at this late hour and La Banquise was the centre of attention for the whole block, it filled the neighbourhood with life, became a gathering place. We enjoyed our experience more for the vibe and general atmosphere than for the actual food. At the same time, we are not huge poutine enthusiasts, the few times we have enjoyed this dish, it was for its classic flavours and crispy fries. This didn’t seem to be the priority here.
One thing is for sure, after all that heavy food we sure came out warm and energized.