Address: 55 Montréal Rd, Vanier
Hours: 7am – 2pm (daily)
It took a while for me to make it to this Vanier institution, but I figured that since it’s been open since 1960 (!!), it probably wasn’t leaving any time soon.
My first time there came on a pre-holiday morning in December, just after the morning rush, so I didn’t have to wait too long for a table. In classic diner style, the customers were a broad cross section of society – young and old, Francophone and Anglo, and groups of friends, family, and coworkers.
Feeling hungry, I went for the Ultimate Breakfast Platter ($18). Breakfast platters aren’t as cheap as they used to be, and while I can swallow that, these inflationary times have likely been tough on many in the neighbourhood. You do get a lot of food, though – two pieces of bacon and breakfast sausage, a big ol’ slice of ham, two eggs, two pieces of toast, two pancakes and some fresh fruit.
My food came out very quickly considering how busy it was.
I enjoyed the grilled potatoes, with their mix of soft and crunchy bits. My sunny-side-up eggs were a nice medium doneness, such that they were good for dipping but weren’t making a huge mess of the plate.
The bacon was crisp, and the sausages weren’t overcooked like some places where they’re dried out from sitting at the back of the flat top all morning. Fontenelle’s pancake game was strong – the moderately-thick pancakes had lightly crisp exteriors and fluffy interiors. There were dangerous levels of syrup absorption capacity here (and I fully took advantage)!
Service was easy going and I was promptly offered coffee top-ups, and my plates were swiftly taken away when emptied of their hearty contents.
On a return visit, I was entertaining my sister-in-law until my wife got off work. Naturally, I took her to a local greasy spoon. The diner was much quieter post-holidays, mid-week, and after the lunch rush.
My SIL chose the smoked meat platter ($13.95). It came thickly stacked with layers of the Montreal classic. The meat was juicy and tender, with lots of flavour, and although not traditional, I enjoyed the pieces that had crispy edges from their reheat on the grill. A tart vinegar-based coleslaw helped balance out the big, rich flavours of the smoked meat.
A cheeseburger ($11.95) is always a good barometer of a diner’s kitchen, and Fontenelle passed with flying colours. The fries were on the thick side and hand-cut, which isn’t common in diners. They had a good crispness to them, and they weren’t overly browned from excess starch/oxidation – Fontenelle knows how to make a fry!
The burger itself was solid – the patty had a good char from the grill, the bacon was crisp, the cheese melty, and the fresh red onion added a sharp bite for contrast. It’s just the kind of burger you’d want at a diner!
Fontenelle is doing old school diners proud and if they keep this up, they’ll be open for another 60 years.