Written by Jonathan Brouillette on 08.07.16

Houston’s is a chain restaurant. That certainly doesn’t sound appealing. But who would have thought beneath that typically pejorative idea that a legitimately delicious menu existed with fresh ingredients and local flair?! Houston Avenue Bar & Grill Peel’s opening on June 15th was a huge revelation and a fantastic success. Aside from the fantastic service, great party atmosphere, and mouthwatering food, a large part of the credit goes to Chef Joe Mercuri.

Houston Avenue Bar & Grill Peel Montreal (6)

Over the past months, Mercuri has been transforming the face of Houston’s everywhere. Riding in on principles of well seasoning, using local ingredients, and tasting everything, he has completely changed the identity of the Houston chain. Furthermore, he has introduced a signature menu which is simply to die for! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s talk about the first part of the grand opening, when everyone got a flavour for the brand new space and the delicious party atmosphere.

Houston Avenue Bar & Grill Peel Montreal (2)

Greeted by an interesting new JP Chenet Sparkling Wine meant to be served on ice, guests were treated to an immediate circulation of giant platters of food. The standout item was easily the Houston Crispy Ribs with southern BBQ sauce. They were extremely tender with a sweetness and saltiness that did not overpower the entirety of the flavour. Without a doubt these will be devoured by all who love a good rack of ribs ($29.50).

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The Mini Filet Mignon Burgers were also delicious. With an amazingly juicy piece of meat and a refreshingly crunchy slab of pickle, each bite was both a challenge to fit our mouths around and a complete pleasure to eat ($24). All of the platters going around were accompanied by a nice selection of beers and wines which will be readily available to everyone enjoying their 5 à 7.

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The real treat came after, when Chef Joe Mercuri invited a select few up to a private tasting of his signature menu which will be changing depending on what is in season. It began with one of our new favourite drinks: the French 75 (12$). This consisted of Bombay sapphire, cointreau, Prosecco, and lime. Imagine if the playfulness of a margarita found its way into the sweet fizzy lips of a glass of Prosecco. This is what it is like to drink this absolutely divine creation. Paired with this mixological masterpiece was an odd offering of asparagus in a stew of apple, fonduta, and pancetta ($15). If ever there was a upper class play on vegetables and dip… this was it. And wow was that cheesy dip good.

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The stand out of the special menu, which included meaty lobster & chorizo dumplings ($18) and a zesty crab and avocado salad ($20), was clearly the sticky chicken. The story goes that one day after a service, Chef Mercuri had a bunch of ingredients left and so decided to throw together some chicken to feed his staff. What resulted is this heavenly beer-battered chicken with a chili-lime glaze ($15). With just a hint of sweetness and acidity along with the perfect amount of crunch, this chicken will be a staple of all patrons.

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All in all, Houston Avenue Bar & Grill Peel will easily be one of the best restaurants in the area. Expect to see big crowds gather after work, on Thursday & Fridays, and especially before hockey games. The place will quickly develop into a powerhouse despite the chain affiliation.

Featured image and image #2 by Houston Avenue Bar & Grill. All other photos by Jonathan Brouillette (@darksteelangel).

1001 Rue du Square-Victoria, Montréal, QC H2Y 2K3
(514) 875-9669

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