Snack Bar Fromago proves great grilled cheesiness is next to godliness
Snack Bar Fromago, a contemporary take on the classic Montreal snack bar on a leafy part of Wellington St. in Verdun, is a fantastic idea in a part of town that is starting to accumulate good eating. A recent lunchtime visit on a rainy weekday afternoon felt like we were stealing an hour from the everyday in favour of comfort food and a mini-vacation from downtown. The place can only get better too, as plans are afoot to take the place from good to great.
Vincent Joseph, known mostly to Plateau barflies as a long-time bartender at Bily Kun, lovingly renovated a snack bar that had been owned by the same family for decades. "What initially attracted me to the space was that we’re the only restaurant on the block – and also this big, beautiful bar," he says, his barman’s hands caressing the long U-shaped bar that dominates the light, airy space.
Joseph had the bar refinished with smooth blond maple, and bolstered the knee-bump area underneath (and the bathroom walls) with corrugated metal he salvaged from a barn roof from Rigaud. However, the stools are new and the raised step that used to mount the old stools has been knocked out for more legroom. (Indeed, the only customer in the place when we arrived was a regular who, Joseph whispered, was 6-foot-7, and appeared very comfortably ensconced at the bar.)
The menu is, as the snack bar’s name suggests, a homage to cheese. Quebec cheese. Joseph and his staff have composed around a dozen specialty grilled cheeses, each one involving a signature union between cheese, bread and other trimmings. The Fromago, their signature sandwich, is made with sourdough and douanier (similar to the French Morbier), a semi-soft washed-rind cheese with a heartbeat of blue pulsing through its centre. The composition is filled out with housemade meatloaf and cranberry chutney, and mustard. A sandwich that makes you think. My pal had a more standard sourdough on unidentified blue, with roast beef, grilled veg and onion confit. There’s even a dessert grilled-cheese made with brie and warm apples.
Apparently Fromago’s gimmick is that they’ve isolated the exact sandwich-making aplomb to result in the perfect grilled cheese – melty is the key since many of their sandwiches involve raclette. At lunchtime, there’s a plat du jour (it was the meatloaf that day), or a sandwich-and-soup special (a bowl of carrot purée that hit the spot).
While I perched at the bar, Joseph told me about his plans to expand Fromago’s reach. Though it’s a sweet spot for lunch, it’s a bit out of the way for anyone who works weekdays, but it has a proud spot near the Canal de l’Aqueduc, and it’s also a great spot (with outside seating) for a lazy 5-à-7. As of last week, Fromago opened in the evenings, for degustations and tipples of local liqueurs (Sortilège, Ricaneux, Chicoutai) well as some tippling.
Snack Bar Fromago
3341 Wellington, Verdun; (514) 564-6609
Lunch for two, before soda and tax: $17