While living in one of the food capitals of North America means the foodie in all of us lives a very spoiled life, it can also be difficult to sift for the hidden gems of Montreal.
Two such gems are the lip smacking Rockaberry, the famous café, and the lesser known but equally mouth watering Tourtière Australienne (Ta or Aussie slang for “thanks a lot”), a cozy diner specializing in gourmet meat pies.
Now between the two, where would a Concordia student prefer to crash after a hard day’s homework?
Rockaberry is of course an iconic landmark of Montreal, boasting sinfully sweet-toothed pies that do not disappoint despite their hype. Priced at an average of $5 per generous piece, the desserts tend to be divided between cheesecakes, fruit pies, and cream pies. Without a doubt, the smallest bite of any
of their pies sends the taste buds swooning, but if we’re going to be picky eaters then we must sharpen our critiquing knives.
The strawberry rhubarb, our choice from the fruit pies, “[satisfied] the desire for tang but was lacking texture,” said creative writing and philosophy student Alexa Rochford. Depending on the mood, however, it is nicely fresh and the pie you’re most likely to scarf down in one sitting.
The mochamisu cream pie layer’s fluffy fillings of coffee and tiramisu peaked atop a white cake. The cake definitely cuts what would otherwise be overwhelming sweetness, and manages to perfectly blend flavours and consistency for a delectable indulgence.
The winner of the three, however, has to be the caramel fudge cheesecake. The cheese filling melts in your mouth while the caramel, half-seeped into the thick fudge bottom, makes each forkful undiluted decadence. Though it gets flaked for being too rich, this pie will bring a foodie to their knees.
Carrying on to our next savoury shop, Ta, the decision between favourite flavours gets even harder.
Unlike the loud and crowded experience at Rockaberry, the relaxed atmosphere of the four-tabled Ta diner is almost a relief. It offers a wide selection of Australian and New Zealand meat and vegetarian pies good enough for anyone missing Down Under or wanting to try something new and delicious. The menu ranges from classics like steak and mushroom to butter chicken and
curried vegetable sweet potato.
“We tried to elevate the concept of the simple meat pie,” said co-owner Melanie Des Lauriers, who started Ta with her New Zealand-born husband, Don Hudson in 2009. The result was a colourful array of cheerful gourmet pies, sold either hot, cold, or frozen (for those who want to bring the love home), and in both personal portions and family-sized meals.
Although common consensus is that the traditional steak and mushroom is best, the butter chicken’s satisfying saucy filling with tender bite-sized meat pieces makes it a close runner up. It seems strange at first to eat a flaky butter pie shell rather than with a side of rice, but the butter chicken is spiced to perfection to achieve a brilliant balance between cultural dishes. The vegetarian sweet potato pie also is also very tasty—simultaneously peppery, zesty, and creamy, it is a surprise to the taste buds and worth every penny.
“What a great deal for five bucks,” said communications student Max Bianchi. “The quality of the food far surpassed the price.”
For an extra $3.95, however, you can order the standout plate combining your choice of pie with mashed potatoes and mushy peas (both buttery and fluffy), topped with gravy. It is a meal made to satiate the biggest of appetites.
Des Lauriers mentioned Ta is starting delivery as of this week on Wednesdays and Fridays for both hot and frozen food—an exciting prospect for all.
It is difficult to compare both Ta and Rockaberry in order to choose a winner. But while Rockaberry rocks your socks off, it’s hard to finish their generous portions and the clamorous ambiance can make basic conversation a struggle. Ta is an easygoing treat that leaves you craving second helpings. And with that being said, Ta takes the cake—or pie in this case.
Tourtière Australienne :
4520 Parc Ave.
4275 St-Denis St. (near the SGW campus)
or 5557 Monkland Ave. (near the Loyola campus)