Great Montreal Restaurants: Ice House
We’re a bit late to the party on this one, our apologies. We’d been meaning to hit Ice House (which is in an area of the Plateau that’s seeing a ridiculous amont of condo construction, just a block away two massive buildings are going up) for quite a while now, but something always got in the way. Clearly, “something” sucks.
Ice House is the latest from the team behind Kitchenette, and it’s an inspired take on BBQ’ed Tex-Mex (created by a Texan-born chef, Nick Hodge. The name Ice House, by the way, comes from the term they use to describe open-air restaurants in Texas. Most often these are abandoned ice houses that are taken over and turned into BBQ bonanzas).
I’ve often wondered on trips down south why Tex-Mex is so a neglected up here in the frozen tundra we call Quebec, so this is a welcome addition. With 20 odd seats, Ice house isn’t big, but it makes up for its cramped quarters with a low-down old boy vibe, complete with wood panelling and tables, paper towel dispensers and an open kitchen. Yee Haw.
We started with their ice tea, which while refreshing, could have been a bit stronger. Our mistake for not trying their bourbon lemonade.
We then dove right in, ordering a bucket of chicken that arrived in a tin container and was gleefully dumped over a paper towel on our table. We took that as a hint to dive in like a bunch of unhinged, starving savages. I’m not even sure how we didn’t lose any fingers in the rush to stuff as much chicken in our fat mouths as humanly possible. It was delicious, in other words, with the chicken slightly crispy, its flavouring a nice mix of spices and honey (which meant that every bite was both sweet and spicy). This is what it looked like when we got it:
And this is what the bucket of chicken looked like minutes later:
Yeah, we’re a bunch of pigs. The bucket of chicken came with cole slaw and a smoked potato salad. The latter was not really to my taste, mostly because it was stone cold, but everyone else seemed to love it, so what do I know? The cole slaw, meanwhile, was side order heaven: creamy and flavourful but somehow still crisp and refreshing.
Tacos at Ice House Montreal
Our gluttony wasn’t over yet, though, as we also ordered three tacos: the pulled pork taco, the grilled chicken and the short rib. (I should mention that Ice House has become known for a Lobster burrito, but since we’d recently eaten our fill of burritos at Itacate, we opted to save that bad boy for a return visit.)
The tacos were fun and very flavourful. I don’t think we said a word until they were finished, which unless you’re eating something truly heinous, is usually a sign of quite reflection at the altar of good gnosh. The pulled pork taco was especially delicious, with a rich, smokey flavour on the meat and and pork rinds adding a crunchy texture.
The real star of the show, though, was what we had for dessert: the chicken-fried peach pie a la mode. Sometimes you can just hear the name of a dish or dessert and you know they’re going to be awesome. This was one of those things.
Fried with a panko coating, the pie’s crispy texture is really what makes it special, with every bite providing a nice bit of crunch to go with your sweet peach filling. On its own, it would have been a real winner. Throw in ice cream, though, and now you’re talking about a heavyweight champion dessert. This pie rules (as a side note, I really think they should start retroactively giving out awards to people who came up with brilliant ideas like combining warm pie with ice cream. Why should such a genius be confined to the shadows of history?)
All in all, we can confirm what everyone else has been saying: Ice House is the real deal.
Type of Cuisine: BBQ-heavy Tex-Mex.
Prices: Roughly $70 for 3 people, including ice teas. (Note: you can eat affordably here, but there are items – like the $20 lobster burrito – that are understandably pricier.)
1 Roy E.