New specialty bacon restaurant on Beaubien Street is better in theory than in practice
Ah, bacon: the food that transcends simple culinary appreciation. Bacon has become an internet and cultural phenomenon, with bacon bookmarks, bacon t-shirts and – at long last – bacon bars.
In theory, Bar Brutus’s local beer, good cocktails and bacon as far as the eye can see sound like a dream come true. Decorated as it is with a vibe devoted to old barber shops, and having a monopoly over Quebec’s bacon vodka supply, you’d think it would be hard to dislike Brutus.
But somehow, they managed to make it possible.
Walking in, the bar is absolutely beautiful. The ceiling is covered in stylized tin tiles, with exposed brick along one wall, hardwood floors and beautiful antique lamps hanging from the ceiling. The exposed vents give a touch of that modern, industrial look. Topped off with warm lighting and purple accents, Bar Brutus is a gorgeous establishment.
Unfortunately, that is where my appreciation ended.
If the first thing you notice is the stunning décor, then the second is the noise. I’m no amateur when it comes to bars, but last time I checked, blaring music was typically reserved for clubs. I don’t think I would have been so bothered if the music fit the bar’s gentlemanly vibe – Classical? Jazz? 1960s crooners? – but what I got instead was pop and club music. After we were seated, my companion and I each had to lean halfway over the thin table to hear each other – and even then, it was touch and go.
Know what made it even worse? Screaming. Apparently, Bar Brutus has private rooms in the back. I don’t know what was happening back there, but every couple of minutes a chorus of women would start to holler. Imagine what a drunken bachelorette party must sound like, and you have a reasonable approximation. In a small bar like that, the sound was impossible to escape. Why the management didn’t ask them to be quiet, I will never know.
Still, with bacon waiting for us, we were not to be deterred. We ordered three main courses for the two of us: the KD balls, the bacon sushi and their famous Jaegermeister poutine.
Unfortunately, I felt that all three could be summed up in a single word: average. The KD balls (made of deep fried macaroni and cheese) was simply what was advertised. The quality of the mac ‘n cheese wasn’t great, and made me wish they had used actual Kraft Dinner.
The bacon sushi was the dish I was particularly excited for, but I was disappointed to find the bacon was pink and nearly raw. In addition, none of the ingredients inside the sushi had been changed to complement the bacon: shockingly, raw bacon and traditional Japanese ingredients don’t go well together.
As for the poutine – well, I can think of many places in Montreal where you can get a better one. The sauce tasted a little too strongly of Jaegermeister for me, and the cheese curds were too sparse. I couldn’t even taste the bacon that was supposedly inside.
Each main course was $10, tax included, and the drinks were affordable (although a Coke will run you $5). With the exception of my waitress, the wait staff seemed extremely competent, and I often relied on them, flagging them down to take my order. I only met my waitress when she brought me the bill, and then she was surly and rude.
All in all, I was happy to stumble back outside onto Beaubien. I don’t think I will ever return to Bar Brutus – they, simply put, did not bring home the bacon.
Bar Brutus is located at 1290 Rue Beaubien E.