i felt a very palpable sense of loss when Mondo Frites [sic?] closed its doors back in two thousand and whatever. it was modestly priced, but with a disarming atmosphere of class (in spite of its name) and stranger still, of warmth. the fries were consistently good and they had veggie burgers and that vegetarian peppercorn gravy for everything, and the portions were obscene. it is always a treat when you encounter a restaurant that seems to -defy you- to eat what is put before you. almost as if they are saying “oh, you want some french fries? good, here, have ALL THE FRIES.” one feels spited somehow, but deservedly so. without rancour, but admittedly some misgivings, you tuck into your fries and hope faintly that they don’t kill you before drink gets the chance to.
but they’re gone. in nomine patris.
it is an old story, but no less sad for its banality. change catches us off guard, and we are left feeling as if the world has turned and left us, again. with this in mind i regret to confirm that the rumours are true, Al Taïb has raised the price of its zaatar – and in fact, one now pays by the topping. you can imagine how shocked, disturbed i was to receive wind of this development (there was a lot of “really?” “yeah.” “really?” “yeah.” “really?” “yeah.” “really?” “yeah.” ” . . . really?” “yeah.”), and today i took the verification of the information into my own hands, and walked out of that treasonous hole with a 3.50$ zaatar!
3.50$! are you insane?
FURTHERMORE, they don’t even have MINT anymore! this is seriously upsetting. wtf.
admittedly, they do have cabbage, which is kind of nice (but come on, no mint? is this food from the cradle of civilization or isn’t it?), and when it comes down to it, zaatars are still delicious and 3.50$ is not an outlandish price to pay, but we are talking about my youth here, people.
or when i last felt the flush of it, anyway. we are talking about the lifeway and sustenance of a whole crew/slew of displaced punks and students and itinerant sketchbags. from the first time i set foot in Montreal, the 2$ zaatar tout garnie was my rock, and, perhaps heretically (sorry poutine, but i was effing vegan), my main gastronomic association with Montreal. what i would let no visitor arrive or depart without tasting, a cultural currency that could not be devalued no matter how often the dudes skimped on the turnip or were out of mint or served one up so stale and unsympathetic that you cut your mouth on the corners of the bread.
and i know for a fact that i am not alone in such fond reflection.
so i feel a little betrayed. but i suppose it is, like, only a dollar. i must say however that this price hike does tip the scales somewhat in the Boustanwich v. Zaatar war.
still more chilling, and striking so close to my heart that i know i can’t but someday give it the attention it deserves, is the slight decrease in the quality of the Hot & Spicy Tofu With Peanuts from Niu Kee. my formerly favourite restaurant in Montreal, Niu Kee.
i feel no reservations saying that Niu Kee is a big part of why i started this blog, and so i feel poorly about how rarely it has appeared, to say nothing of my never giving it a proper review. i really feel that i owe it something, and that in this case it is i who have betrayed. but now things are…..complicated, and i just need some time to think it all over.
i just need some time, you know?