It’s hard to sit still in a city like Montreal. Each of our diverse neighbourhoods offers something unique to everyone who lives in or visits them. On Ontario Street East, you’ll find a heap of new restaurants, bars and services popping up almost daily. They continue to transform and gentrify the area creating yet another cool group of hotspots for us to checkout. The latest of these hotspots to recently open is Macbar et fromage (on Ontario corner Panet) and if you’re a mac & cheese lover, this is your heaven.
Macbar is a labour of love from a couple of brothers and their partner who know a thing or two about comfort food (they have their hands in the ultra-successful Poutineville restaurants). At Macbar they have taken the ultimate comfort food and dressed it up just a little and just enough to keep us coming back for more. Our first experience at Macbar was a huge sit-down media sampling late last week. We were well received by gracious hosts who thanked us over and over again for begin there. We were treated like kings and queens and ate as such.
We kicked the night off with a sampling of the cheeses that they use in their soon-to-be world famous mac & cheese recipes. We mingled and chatted amongst ourselves before taking to our seats for the rest of the evening. First up we sampled some deep fried mac & cheese squares. They were golden and crispy on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside. Not a bad start to the meal. To start we also tried some homemade meatballs in tomato sauce. I asked Costa, one of the owners, if I could have his recipe and he told me that he would have to ask his mom for it and it wasn’t likely she was going to give it up. I’ll accept dropping by every now and then instead of making them on my own. Leading into the mac & cheese extravaganza that we were not prepared for (despite the warning to come hungry) we tried the buttery grilled cheese mac & cheese. Trying to pace ourselves we divided each sandwich up into smaller bites but there’s only so much restrain one can have.
The sandwiches were barely gone when the mac & cheese started coming out. We first tried the cheeseburger mac & cheese. As you can guess there was hamburger meat mixed into the mac & cheese but the pickles and onions that topped it really had me sold. Even after tasting all the others, this one remained my favourite. We followed this up with a tomato and basil pesto infused mac & cheese, a sweet maple bacon mac & cheese and the classic. Then we took a breath and loosed our belts but the sampling was far from over. A giant six-person mac & cheeseburger was the next dish out of the kitchen and as you might have guessed, I welled up from joy. They sliced the burger into six wedges and the meat was deliciously spiced and the savoury mac & cheese that covered the burger was beyond good.
Last but not least came the desserts. I don’t know what I liked more, the deep fried cannoli or the oven warmed double chocolate cookie with ice cream. At this point, I am not going to pick sides. I ate and loved them both.
Macbar also features an excellent wine and cocktail list and the bar is set in the centre of the restaurant. There’s a small grocery section featuring candy for children of all ages and a waiting area for those who wish to devour their mac & cheese at home. By all means I encourage you to try Macbar et fromage but as I was warned before, come hungry because you will not be leaving on an empty stomach. Macbar is an excellent at eclectic addition to Ontario Street diverse variety of restaurants.