Dunn’s Famous (I forgot to bring my camera. So these are iphone pics) -
The smoked meat sandwich that I had at Dunn’s Famous BC a week after it opened was so good that fireworks were going off in my head several hours after I had finished eating it. I’ve never been to one of the proper smoked meat deli’s in Montreal, so I was shocked at how truly amazing the smoked meat at Dunn’s Famous was. Compared to the pastrami and corned beef that I was used to having in Toronto, Boston, and even New York, the smoked meat at Dunn’s Famous was orders of magnitude tastier. And I felt this way just by eating at their Vancouver outpost. I couldn’t fathom how much better the smoked meat sandwiches would be if I were to eat at their original location in Montreal. I was very curious an almost booked a seat on the next available flight to Montreal.
The realities of daily life, of course, prevented me from actually going to Montreal on the spur of the moment to indulge in my curiosity. In fact, I was suitably occupied with the life of being a father of two young children that I had somehow completely forgotten about the amazing smoked meat I had at Dunn’s Famous. The restaurant didn’t even pop up in my mental searches whenever I was craving a sandwich. It was always bahn mi or porchetta, or porchetta and bahn mi. Even when I did get a craving for a deli sandwich, I would inevitably try to get my fix at the food service counter at Costco (admittedly, they do use the factory-produced frozen version Dunn’s Famous smoked meat). It was like someone had erased the memory of my first meal at Dunn’s Famous in my brain.
I was driving through downtown today on my way to lunch at Shuraku Sake Bar and Bistro today when my car stopped three car-lengths away from the front door of Dunn’s Famous on Seymour Street. Memories of my amazing first meal there starting rushing back into my head and I told my wife that we should really revisit the restaurant when we get a chance.
Well the chance presented itself immediately when a car that was parked right in front of the restaurant pulled out of it’s spot. The empty spot waved at me, winked at me, and beckoned me to pull into it. With such a warm welcome, I guided my vehicle straight into it’s wide open arms. It seemed that fate had intended for my wife and I to have lunch at Dunn’s Famous today. We accepted our fate.
Once we were seated, our server brought us our menus and asked if we wanted to order something to drink while we looked over the menu. Since we already knew what we wanted, we went ahead and placed our food orders along with an order for 2 diet Pepsi’s.
It took a long while before we were brought our beverages. The diet Pepsi at Dunn’s Famous had a soda/syrup ratio that was very odd the first time we came here and this time it was no different. There was way too much soda and way too little syrup. I could hardly taste any of the artificial sweeteners in the diet Pepsi.
After another few minutes, we got our smoked meat sandwich meals. My wife ordered the 6 oz. Super smoked meat (lean) sandwich with onion rings.
I ordered the 8 oz. Super Giant smoked meat (fatty) sandwich with poutine.
Both sandwich meals also came with some coleslaw and half a pickle. I wouldn’t normally complain about a pickle, but the one I got today tasted bland. It was like this half pickle was only pickled for half the time, resulting in it having only half the flavours of a normal pickle. The coleslaw was equally bland. It was like someone pressed the mute button on it’s flavours. Instead of the normal bright, cool, refreshing, and crunchy coleslaw, I got a dull, lukewarm, dry, and limp collection of julienned cabbage. The coleslaw felt like it was made days ago and left to frement on a random kitchen countertop.
My wife felt that her onion rings were also poorly executed. She felt that the batter was too thick, effectively making the onion rings batter rings instead of onion rings. She also questioned the freshness of the onions residing within the batter because she was unable to discern any naturally occurring aromas from the onions. The limp texture of the onions was also quite disappointing to my wife.
The poutine that I received fared a little better. I would say that they tasted on par with food court preparations such as those produced by New York Fries. The fries were effectively fried, with those that escaped the smothering of gravy retaining a nice crisp. The gravy was decent. It didn’t offend me in any way and certainly worked well when combined with the cheese curds and fries. The cheese curds I got were quite cold, like they were just taken out of the fridge. I’m not an expert enough in the art of the poutine to know if the curds were supposed to be cold, but it was definitely out of the ordinary for me. That being said, the cold curds neither hindered nor added to my enjoyment of the poutine. As to the question of whether the curds were squeaky. The answer is no. But this also did not hinder my enjoyment of the poutine. I wouldn’t say that this poutine was better than the average poutine, but I enjoyed it enough to finish all of it.
The part of the meal I enjoyed the most was my smoked meat sandwich. The fatty smoked meat was unctuous, tender, and flavourful. It was piled high and one bite into the pile of meat released an intensely smoky and supremely savory unctuousness that took me to my happy place. The soft bread and mild mustard complimented the great smoked meat, adding just the perfect minute doses of flavours and textures to push the really good smoked meat into greatness.
Although the smoked meat sandwich was great, it was not amazing. The smoked meat I had the first time I was at Dunn’s Famous was amazing. Along with all the superlatives I mentioned above, the smoked meat I had last time was also extremely juicy and straight-out-of-the-smoking-contraption hot. The one I had for lunch today looked and felt a little dry on the surface.
It seemed like it had been pre-sliced and was sitting out in room temperature for quite some time before it was assembled into a sandwich.
You know what was also dry? My wife’s order of lean smoked meat. It was so dry that the smoked meat resembled the mass-produced corned beef that I regularly ate at my neighbourhood deli in Toronto.
My wife was unable to stand the dryness after a few bites and asked our server for some tabasco sauce in an attempt to add some moisture to the smoked meat. A few squirts weren’t enough to counteract the dryness. She actually had to fully cover the surface of every piece of meat so that she could add the adequate amount of moisture. Needless to say, my wife was disappointed with her lean smoked meat sandwich.
This meal was a letdown in many ways. The coleslaw, pickle, and lean smoked meat were unacceptably bad. The poutine was okay, but I didn’t think that it was worth it’s $3.50 upcharge from regular fries. The only part of the meal that was truly good was my fatty smoked meat. But even that was not as good as the fatty smoked meat I had the first time that I ate at the restaurant. After a meal like this, I think I would be hesitant to dine at Dunn’s Famous again. I had such a great introduction to Montreal smoked meat at my first meal there and I want my memory of it to remain amazing. I do not want my opinions of it to be diminished by a string of progressively worse meals.