This week Magnan Tavern sadly announced that it will be shutting its doors for good on December 21. I first learned of Magnan only five years ago. We were helping friends move in Verdun and as we passed the tavern, our friend John told us “That is the best roast-beef spot in Montreal.” My husband and I tried it, and it soon became a special place we would frequent once a year.
I don’t consider myself a meat lover by any stretch of the imagination, but personal ethics aside, I can see how a vegetarian might make the exception to eat a slice of this meat once a year!
The meat is cooked perfectly and sublimely seasoned. You can cut the meat with a spoon, whether you order a medium, rare or well done slice. Tender is most definitely the key word.
Though it took me about 35 years to knock Magnan off my bucket list, my parents only experienced the beauty of this gem this summer and they have lived in Montreal for 56 years! As great meat lovers themselves (we joke that Hungarians consider kolbas sausage a vegetable!), somehow this elusive tavern slipped through the cracks, but fortunately, not forever.
My children were not in a carnivorous mood that night and opted for the lasagna. They each ordered one plate and our honest waiter, instead of beefing up the order, told us that one serving to share would be sufficient. He was right!
My husband ordered the roast beef with a slice of OKA. The slight smokiness of the cheese infuses with the natural juices of the meat so melodically. It is truly a meal to be savoured. You can order your main course with a choice of fries, baked or mashed potato.
Their desserts are as traditional as the roast beef itself. Pudding Chomeur, Chocolate Cake, Cheesecake and Apple Pie are not light, but rich and filling. They’ll most certainly ensure that you will be rolling home!
The restaurant and tavern have multiple seating options. Magnan Express, an “elegant” dining room and in the summer, a beautiful terrace camouflaged amid flowers and plants, sequestered from the parking lot. There is even a reception hall for larger gatherings.
So how can it be that a restaurant born during the Great Depression, that endured for over eight decades, that hired wonderful staff with integrity, with undeniably the best roast beef in the city, is closing its doors? The restaurant has struggled for the last decade. And the ongoing construction on the Turcot Interchange and the Champlain Bridge did not encourage its clientele from the South Shore. The rising prices of beef over the years have not helped and competition from other restaurants contributed to this outcome. They will, however, continue to operate their butcher shop — the Boucherie Magnan Cuisine Dix 30 in Brossard.
If you haven’t been to this 82-year-old landmark famous for their roast beef and popular happy hour, this is one Montreal bucket list item for you and time is a fleeting. I know I will try to get as many opportunities over the next two months to dine there, and as of December 22nd, becoming vegetarian is a realistic possibility.
Mangna Tavern is located South of the Atwater market at 2602, rue St-Patrick Montréal, Québec H3K 1B8 Phone : 514.935.9647. Magnan is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Sunday to Wednesday.
Esther can be reached at [email protected]