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Home at Mesquìte: our neighbourhood southern BBQ

October, 2009

Michael Minorgan (chef Michel), Lauren Reynolds and Gulam T. Rahman Photo: Barbara Moser

I am at home at Mesquìte. It’s half a block away from my home and office, but there’s more to it. I don’t have to shop for groceries, prepare meals, cook, bake, or clean up! And I can enjoy Mesquìte’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week.

When I come in, I am always greeted with a “Hi Barbara” from owners Gulam T. Rahman or Michael Minorgan.

And now for the ultimate feeling of home: They’ve named a burger after me in their new menu! It’s called Barbara’s Portobello Mushroom Burger “with roasted red peppers, creamy goat cheese, guacamole and tomatillo mango relish” – all my favourite foods on one plate. The menu, of which I got a sneak preview, coincides with Mesquìte’s 5th anniversary.

I can’t believe it’s been five years since they opened on the corner of Decarie Blvd and NDG Ave, a block from the Villa Maria Metro and in front of the 24 bus stop. There is not a week that goes by when I’m not at Mesquìte two or three times with family, friends and the Senior Times team. We ST ladies are always celebrating birthdays.

Lunch specials are all served with Chef Michel’s daily soup or tomato juice and coffee or tea. The soups are exquisitely spiced. I’ve never been able to replicate one — although I’ve tried. Sandwiches come on grilled baguette with one side. It’s always hard for me to choose between the home-made russet fries, coleslaw, onion ribbons or mixed garden salad although my favourite is the black beans, which also come as a breakfast side.

Two sandwich favourites among my friends and family are BBQ Brisket and the Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese, which on the new menu, includes bacon and avocado slices.

The nice thing about Mesquìte is that they’re flexible. as my favorite server Lauren Reynolds can tell you. If you don’t want the bacon, no problem. As a matter of fact, this was the genesis of my namesake: I ordered the meat burger with portobello mushroom and asked Chef Michel to hold the meat and add goat cheese, roasted red pepper and guacamole. Sometimes I even say: hold the bread and onions. For my omelette of spinach, mushroom, and cheese on those leisurely Saturdays and Sundays (brunch is served till 3 pm), it’s like this: egg whites only, hold the toast, add spicy hollandaise (no extra charge for this) and two sides (since I don’t have the meat).

For dinner the choices are endless, even for this pesky pescetarian.

Here are a couple of sensational sounding chioces on the new menu, which by the way, is not pricier than the old one: Appetizers: Corn Meal Flash Fried Baby Calamari with Roasted Tomato Remoulade ($8.95), BBQ Chili Lime Tiger Shrimp (4) with Pico de Gallo ($8,95). Mains: Atlantic Salmon Salad Grilled or Blackened ($17.95) – one of my favourites – and Mahi Mahi Grilled or Blackened ($17.95).

I have yet to try Chef Michel’s Ultimate Country Salad of shaved pickled beets, romaine, baby field greens, cucumber ribbons, shaved fennel, goat cheese, toasted walnuts, sweet corn and fresh tomato vinaigrette ($14.95), but I will. I love the fajitas ($13.95) with a choice of BBQ pulled pork (Irwin’s favourite salad), BBQ brisket, BBQ chicken, vegetarian (my choice) or a combo of two meats served with “pit smoked black beans, sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo.” For carnivores, Mesquìte’s St. Louis Ribs are so popular there is a rib-eating contest at least once a year, which, I’m not keen on — especially for seniors with heart problems!

If you’re not a big dinner spender, you can choose a BBQ sandwich ($8.95) with one side of pulled pork, turkey or chicken or brisket (unpulled). I’m at Mesquìte right now on a Saturday morning about to order my favourite Florentine Benedict ($9.95) with spicy hollandaise, a side of beans and an extra of tomatoes.

Speaking of tomatoes, Michael and T. have recently decorated the place in rich red tones to go with the original rich red wood bar, tables and chairs. Unfortunately it’s a bit cold to enjoy the terrace.

Oops, I almost forgot the desserts. How could I? The bread pudding and the frozen key lime pie are to die for!

Mesquìte has a full bar, featuring daily cocktail specials, and two big-screen TVs. Happy 5th anniversary to my friends at Mesquìte! Thanks for bringing Southern BBQ to NDG and making me feel right at home.

Prices start at $6.95 for the half sandwich of the day with one side, soup, and coffee.

Reservations: 514-487-5066.

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