The sound of French-Canadian folk songs accompanied by spoon and fiddle are audible from down the block on cobblestoned Rue Saint-Paul, a jolly racket in the night air. Through the lobby of the historic hotel and up the elevator to the roof, a rustic scene awaits- usually you have to drive way out of town to get to a shack like this.
Because the Hotel Nelligan is hip and happening, I’d assumed that they would have a modern twist on the traditional Quebecois sugar shack meal – maybe some Rigodon set to techno, or a maple-themed signature cocktail. Certainly, Montreal has a few of these modern takes on the old sugaring-off traditions.
But the folks at the Nelligan are purists, it turns out, because a more picture-perfect old-timey sugar-shack scene can’t be found anywhere within the city limits – or outside them. This is as real as it gets!
The house band, Les Danseux, intersperse foot-stomping folk tunes with instrumental spoons riffs and dance lessons for the crowd, while happy guests fill their plates to heaping from the buffet – also very authentic. Maple ham and molasses baked beans, with Grandfather dumplings in maple syrup and maple-syrup pie, with pickled beets and homemade relish (ketchup maison) on every table- be sure to bring an appetite, as they’ve also got the famous specialty Oreilles de criss (Christ’s ears, also known as bacon rinds). Be sure to bring an appetite, because this is country food.
Terrasse à Sucre, until April 22, 2012
Hotel Nelligan, 106 Saint-Paul West, (514) 788-2040