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What: Québec’s take on baked beans, fèves au lard (pronounced “fev-o-lar”), makes for a rich, hearty dish first thing in the morning. That’s right, it’s popular at breakfast, as well as at the table at any cabane à sucre, or maple-syrup-making sugar shack, where it is usually infused with maple syrup in addition to the standard salt pork (Boston’s baked beans, on the other hand, are customarily made with molasses). Like some other Québécois comfort foods, it’s not super common in modern Montréal, but you can certainly find it if you know where to look.
Where: Our favorite spot for a little culinary time travel is La Binerie Mont-Royal (367, ave. du Mont-Royal Est, map), an old-school all-day-breakfast and lunch counter in the Plateau district dating to 1938. It’s changed hands a few times over the decades, but it’s never strayed from its proud desire to serve unfussy, homemade regional Québécois food.
When: Mon-Fri, 6:30am-8pm; Sat-Sun, 7:30am-3pm
Order: There is much to try here, but the fèves au lard are an absolute must. Fortunately, owner Philippe makes 30 tons of the stuff a year, and it figures prominently on the menu, showing up as a side dish; with various breakfast meats, toast, and coffee; alongside just about every egg dish; and as part of the terrific “Québec plate” ($13.50), which is how we tried ours (the plate also includes pea soup, ragoût de boulettes (meatballs), tourtière, pouding chômeur, plus mashed potatoes, vegetables, and coffee). The beans are excellent, made via a secret recipe though Philippe did share that he uses pork fat—which explains their glistening moistness—and no sugar or maple syrup. These are hearty, unadulterated beans. To drink? Try the spruce beer. If you haven’t unzipped your pants yet, be sure to finish your meal here with an impossibly sweet tarte au sucre, or sugar pie.
Alternatively: La Binerie (The Beanery) is the place to go for beans in Montréal proper. But if you’re here during Québec’s sugaring season—about February through April, when the area’s maple trees are tapped for their famous amber gold (see also: maple syrup)—you absolutely must eat this dish as part of a hearty (and heart-stopping) traditional Québécois feast served at the region’s many cabanes à sucre (sugar shacks). Two that are within 30 minutes or so of Montréal are La Branche (565 Rang Saint Simon, Saint-Isidore, map) and Domaine Choquet (2803, Chemin des sucreries, Varennes, map); a bit further but with the bonus of offering overnight accommodation is Sucrerie de la Montagne (300 Chemin St-Georges, Rigaud, map).
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