You Need a Little Moe Wilensky in Your Life

When the man at the end of the bar grumbled, “They put this place on TV and now it’s too damn popular,” guess what? I did NOT pipe up and explain the reason we were there: Mind of a Chef Season 1, Episode 2.

(Thank you Netflix).

Yes, I watched David Chang, David McMillan, Frederic Morin, and Aziz Ansari clutching fried bologna sandwiches at Wilensky’s in Montreal, and I thought to myself, “I want to do that too!”

So while we were there, Dana and I ventured into Mile End and found “Wilensky’s Light Lunch,” a small diner established in 1932 by Moe Wilensky (and probably last updated in 1933).

From the hand-painted signage to the pounded tin roof, it’s obvious they are loyal to tradition. And hilariously, they seem genuinely annoyed that everyone finds that so charming.

The small shop has a long countertop bar with wobbly-topped barstools drilled into the floor. Behind it stands a man who mixes sodas to order from the soda fountain, a very amiable woman who served us, the stern looking owner (Asher Wilensky), and the grill man (Paul Scheffer).

He kept stacks and stacks of all-beef salami and bologna piping hot on the grill, each ready to be tucked into a soft, pre-mustarded roll. In case we were wondering whether mustard was optional, there were plenty of signs around the shop to remind us otherwise.

Other rules: absolutely no tipping (all extra change is donated to the Heart and Stroke Foundation), pickles are sold in twos and you can order sour or extra sour (never one of each), and sandwiches are not cut in half. Never. Not EVER.

We ordered two Wilensky Specials (with cheese), pickles, and a mixed-to-order cherry cola, then ate quietly and casually in an attempt not to seem like two Netflix-watching tourists.

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We were hungry, and they were incredibly satisfying. If you’re willing to navigate a few Soup Nazi-esque rules, we’d highly recommend a visit!

Later on, we explored the Montreal Biodome and Planetarium, though that was on the advice of the internet, not David Chang.

The Biodome exists within the enormous velodrome built for the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Today, it houses four distinct ecosystems: a tropical forest, a Laurentian forest (a replica of a North American wilderness), an estuary habitat modeled on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and a polar area that’s divided into the Arctic and Antarctic.

It felt pretty crazy to go from the humidity of the tropical forest (complete with sloths, snakes, an alligator, and parrots) to the cool temperatures of the Laurentian Forest with its napping sea otters and wrestling raccoons.

It’s a great place to take kids! Here are more pics from our visit (and check back in soon for our next post, it’s about a little something we like to call the Pastry Park Pub Poutine Crawl…..)

-LA


“Hambar”: a Bar in Which One Eats Ham

You know how some words just stick?  Hambar is a restaurant opened by Philippe Poitras, a sommelier with an appreciation for the simple combination of cured ham and wine; he also chose a name for his restaurant that has stayed with us since we first passed it during our last visit to Montréal.