Mon.-Thur. 11:30 a.m.-11p.m. Fri. 11:30 a.m.-Midnight Sat-Sun 5 p.m.-Midnight Licensed, major cards 844-4733
Went to Mysore on Friday evening. We were a little bit tardytardy, in my case means "after seven", even though we customarily dine at about eleven around hereyou know, X-Files on SHO etc. (even though I don't like X-Files) but when I called to reserve, the guy assured me that they were "very busy."
Yeah, right. A somewhat no-name Indian resto smack-dab in the middle of the Main being "busy." Unheard of! So I thought.
The restaurant was packed. We must have arrived just at the peak, because no one came in after us. The place is a two-storied, glass-fronted structure, with the traditional gleaming bar dominating the entire swank, white-and burgundy table-cloth-covered dining area. We were seated immediately, ostensibly in a no-smoking area (I'd called ahead on this, but inexplicably, the person didn't ask my name. Also, after we got there, weirdly, someone at the table behind us was smoking, but we couldn't smell it. Excellent ventilation system?).
It was a bit crampedthe people next to us were only three feet awaybut they were lost in their conversation and we were practically in our own cubicle.
Indian Restos in Montreal pretty much all have the same repertoirejust like Indian restos the world over. For me, the true test is their Seekh Kebaba kind of ground beef sausage usually served on a bed of lettuce with a house-produced sauce. Once I've assimilated that, (no, I am not a Borg) it's pretty easy to gauge what's to come.
The Seekh Kebab was excellentmouth-wateringly tender and grease-free, warm but not too hot, the sauce an amazingly sweet concoction that I swore had vanilla in it but couldn't persuade my tastebuds to reject. It was the kind of sauce that you keep saying "If I knew what was in it, I wouldn't be eating it." It passed muster for an Indian resto in Montreal.
I ordered Chicken Jalfreizi, just to get off the tandoori/tikka track, and I was rewarded with an excellently fragrant curry seved with a perfect bed of basmati rice (also a true test of a good Indian resto.) I had requested that the heat be turned up to "Bangalore Phal" levelsin Montreal, a sign of "As Hot As You Can Make It"and they obliged. It was deliciously, searingly hotonly the cold sweat and the constant sucking-in of breath betrayed me to my friend, who gushed over her vegetarian curry and rattled on about how much she loved the pappadums. (Speaking of which: the complimentary pappadums come with an extraordinary carrot dip which I shall not soon forget and which I will have been known to kill certain chefs for the recipe.)
We ordered a half-carafe of red wine, which was under $10, and generally had a great meal, including my indulgence of a Hennessy and coffee, for less than $60. That's $40 for you U.S. folks.
Only caveat: service was glacial. Get the service going and this could be the new "Nick's Best Indian." I highly recommend at least one visit to MysoreI'll definitely be going again, though not on a Friday night. By the way, the co-owner (I think he was the co-owner) personally walked the tables and made sure everything was correct.
Everything was correct for Mysore except possibly the snail's pace of the service. Rating: 6.5 out of ten.
Went to Mysore again and was struck by the difference since the last time I was there on February 21st, 1998.
This time, on a rainy evening, the place was a windless oasis with only one other table occupied at 7 o'clock, and without the distraction of hordes of diners and a harried staff, it was easier to concentrate on dinner.
I've seen 'em all, peopleyou're talking to a jaded Indian aficionado. From London to San Francisco to Calcutta to Osaka . . . through koftas and keemas and pakoras and jellabees, five chilies, ten chilies, Bangalore surprise and Kerala gulab jamun . . . I've dined at every kind of Indian resto known to man. Madhur Jaffrey would be in awe.
So I'm going to lay it on the line and say that Mysore is the best, if not easily the best Indian place in Montreal.
The space itself is inviting, with two floors, the upper accessible by a somewhat royal-looking staircase, the lower with large floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking an admittedly rather drab section of the Main. The burgundy-draped tables are close together, but that doesn't matter when there's no one else there.
The waiter actually remembered us from Februaryhe pointed out the table where we sat. (I'm furiously wondering if I could have been dancing on it at the time.) It was very busy that night, he explained, and there were only three wait-staff for the whole restaurant for some unnamed reason. (I think it could have been a Hydro blackout.)
At Mysore, instead of the usual lackluster Montreal Indo-resto indifference, the amenities are greatthe greaseless pappadums come with an extraordinary carrot chutney and were refilled the moment we greedily finished them, and a bottle of spring water was provided, unopened, of course (unlike at the hotel in a visit to Calcutta, where we had to check each bottle seal by seal to make sure they had not been cracked.)
Mysore has an entire selection called "Specialties," which offers completely different dishes from the usual Montreal Vindaloos and Madrases. There's Shahi Rejala, a "special spicy curry prepared with cubes of lean beef marinated in a special spice blend, slow-cooked and garnished with green chili," or Samber Lamb, "A speciality of South India cooked in a mix of curry spices, chili oil and sweet garlic, with a spicy lentil base," among others. Very refreshing.
The pilao (or palao, or pulao) was weirdly incredibleit seemed to me that the chef had somehow sat down and carved each individual grain in half for my dining pleasure. The result was steamy, delectable tiny-grained basmati rice flecked with fragrant onion and cardamom (extremely annoying, as my own effort in the kitchen is always a disaster.) My only complaint is there wasn't enough of it.
During the conversation with the waiter it came out that his cousin had something to do with Star of India, our other favorite Indian, so perhaps this explains the superior dining experience. Rating for this visit to Mysore: 7 out of ten. You owe it to yourself to visit this place Reviewed by Nick Robinson