Dunn’s Famous opened their doors in Vancouver last November, serving up their well-known Montreal smoked meat alongside a menu full of rich, gravy-topped, comfort foods.
My brother-in-law previously introduced us to Estrella’s in Langley, which was my first taste of a sky-high stacked Montreal smoked meat sandwich. For this reason, I sent my sister and my brother-in-law, who grew up just outside of Montreal, to the launch event when Dunn’s first opened on Seymour, just off Robson. He sent me an email the same night: “It rocked! They officially have best poutine on the West Coast now.”
I soon realized that upon mentioning “Dunn’s is now in Vancouver”, anyone within earshot who is from Eastern Canada will perk up and salivate. Dunn’s has been smoked meat favourite in Montreal since it was founded in 1927 by Myer Dunn.
My first (and only experience) at Dunn’s was with Lucy Hyslop recently. It was a great lunch however I did not get smacked with the aroma of smoked meats upon entering the restaurant, something one might expect or anticipate. Nevertheless, I soon discovered that the reason for this place’s legendary status lay between the pages of its menu.
The menu was large both in size and in terms of offerings. Bright images of the meals appear on every second page to illustrate what “Two Rivers free run chicken breast on sliced white bread covered in gravy, topped with ‘mushy’ peas” might look like. I decided to go the traditional route and order one of their Super Sandwiches.
Super Montreal Smoked Meat $10.99
6 oz hand sliced smoked beef brisket on light sourdough rye, sliced to order. Lucy informed me ahead of ordering that I could get “light, medium, or fat” meat and that “fat” would be the most tasty due to an even marbling throughout the slices. I decided to go with “medium” for my first run.
All Super Sandwiches are served with French fries, Dunn’s special coleslaw and a kosher pickle. I “up-sized” to a poutine Quebecoise and other side options include onion rings, seafood chowder, or a caesar salad. After considering the knife and fork on the table in front of me, I dove into my generous stack of sliced brisket (that was smoked for 17 hours then steamed for 3 hours). It takes a full pair of bites to break through from bread slice to bread slice. I came away from the meal with fairly clean hands as the sandwich wasn’t over-run with dripping sauce or juices. The coleslaw wasn’t drenched in dressing either, which was nice, and the crunchy pickle completed the meal.
The side poutine was tasty, definitely different, but tasty. One could argue I’ve never had “real” poutine since I’ve never been to Quebec. My Quebecois was just one of their poutine offerings along with Dunn’s (cheese curds, Dunn’s special gravy & chopped Montréal smoked meat), Peppercorn (cheese curds & peppercorn sauce), Italienne (cheese curds & meat sauce), Dunn’s Italienne (cheese curds & meat sauce with chopped Montréal smoked meat), and Vegetarian (cheese curds, vegetarian gravy).
The staff was very attentive and helpful to us Dunn’s first-timers. I left with half of my sandwich in a take-away box, to be enjoyed again later. Next time I’ll try something different like one of their poutines or entrees. I know John would also want to try their all-day breakfast since it’s his favourite meal of the day.