For convenience, I shall reference this food-serving entity as a diner, though it differs in a variety of ways from the beloved Place Milton and McGill Pizza I frequented during my undergrad. Meet The Northern Quebec Diner (NQD). Themes and commonalities:
- There is always pizza at an NQD; the extensiveness of the offerings are restaurant-dependent. Details from my three pizza experiences thus far:
- Pizzeria Amos – good; met my expectations for a diner’s pizza. All dressed, lots of meat, lots of cheese. Quintessential Quebec-style pizza, with the meat under the cheese. The fries are good too (actually, I haven’t met a disappointing fry during this season yet).
- Cadillac’s Routier 117 – subpar, although the boy (who’s eaten their on a few occasions before me) says it’s variable. The kitchen staff must have been rotating through their B-list when we went together: although the crust was done, it was just done and on the soggy side; the all dressed featured pepper-pieces too large (which only just cooked through); and the cheese was just melted, and not at all coloured/broiled/etc.
- OPC Deli in Lebel sur Quévillon – in theory, the OPC special was extremely tasty: ground beef, olives, onions, bacon. The crust was well done, though my taste buds craved more salt (the boy believes I have an odd salt threshold: my usual tendency is to enjoy things less sodium-ridden than the average Canadian, but he’s been slowly adjusting the salt content in his bread baking to above and beyond the recommended amounts for me), and the toppings would have been perfect if the beef was (more?) seasoned and drained. It’s not as fun to have a well-done pizza that ends up soggy due to the meat juices on one’s plate.
- Extending beyond pizza, the Italian section on the menu also offers spaghetti & sauce / lasagna / etc.
- Misc. “Canadian” fare on the menu. Sandwiches, fish and chips, sometimes (often times) a chicken section on the menu (see below re: Restaurant O’Poulet).
- Poutine is present. From your plain old poutine with beef gravy and cheese curds, to Italian poutine served with spaghetti sauce. Of course, you can always order just fries too.
- Les mets chinoise sont aussi sur le menu. It’s been an unspoken tradition for the boy and I to check out the Chinese restaurants during days off. If we’re lucky, we make friends with the owner/chef in Cantonese, and order off the back menu. In northern Ontario, we’ve managed to discover a few gems in Timmins and Kapuskasing, and even went to the restaurant serving Robert Munch’s favourite chicken balls in Hearst. We’ve been unable to find proper Chinese restaurants outside of The (Chinese) Buffet (to be discussed in an upcoming post). Looks like Northern Quebec opted for all-you-can-eat. The only Asian face I’ve seen at anywhere was the lady serving us at Restaurant Viet-Nam in Amos (yes! “Vietnamese” food in Amos! The food was even good, despite its questionable authenticity. And very lacking of pho. More on this in a future post), so there was no ordering off the back menu for us. The Chinese restaurant in Rouyn–Noranda is actually the diner that bills themselves as a chicken joint (Restaurant O’Poulet). I was trying to find an exception to the Chinese-food-at-the-NQD-rule, but one lone menu item at the OPC cafe has convinced me that there is no exception. Their menu was extensive in every other respect, but on the bottom of the second last page, an “assorted Chinese plate” advertised itself.
I shall remain vigilant and on the lookout to fine-tune the definition of an NDQ. This job certainly shows a city girl handfuls of small towns. I’d never be able to survive up here, food-wise.