Every year for Father’s Day, my siblings and I look forward to taking our Papa to Rib Fest, a traveling collective of BBQ and sauce-concocting professionals who tour around North America selling tender, mouth-watering ribs smothered in award-winning sauces. It’s always a treat to hear a thick Southern drawl inquire if you’d like a scoop of potato salad or coleslaw with your hunk of meat. With the opening of Diablos Smoke House, it’s a comfort to know authentic Southern cooking is available in Montreal any day of the year!
Located at 1693-A Saint-Denis, Diablos is smartly nestled across the street from Le Saint-Sulpice and next door to Le Saint-Ciboire, two of Montreal’s most sprawling beer gardens. Diablos itself offers a sunny patio out back where clients can luxuriate in the warm months. The decor inside creates a rustic country ambiance: swinging saloon doors are complemented by two giant chandeliers crafted from old wagon wheels, antique glass lanterns line walls built from old barn wood planks (which also showcase a giant set of mounted bull-horns), pictures of Confederate soldiers, and old Colt handguns. Add to this blues and country music, an old grandfather clock that tells the wrong time on the bar, a hanging noose by the kitchen (the complaints department!), and thick red velvet curtains with golden tassels — just the sort Scarlett O’Hara would use to sew a new dress.
In short, this place is thoroughly Southern. The chef, Joe Henry, hails from Savannah, Georgia; he told me in his charming accent that most of the recipes came from his Daddy. The owner, Richard Escaravage, decided to open Diablos when he longed for the lip-smacking cuisine he experienced on a road trip through the southern U.S., which also inspired the restaurant’s fanciful drink menu. While these cocktails may not suit the taste of a traditional good ol’ boy, I loved them! Served in a giant glass, the Fink Bomb, made with pineapple juice, melon liqueur, coconut cream and coconut rum, tasted like summer and made me want to throw on a pair of cut-off jeans and a halter top. But I’m a tequila girl, really, so I also had to order the Cowgirl’s Prayer, made with tequila, lemonade, and lime juice, it was so strong that it made me whistle!
Foodwise, I enjoyed the pulled pork slider with its tangy BBQ sauce the most, and the house-smoked Emmenthal and Parmesan mac ‘n’ cheese with chorizo, which was dangerously rich and creamy. In contrast, the watermelon, arugula, blue cheese and pecan salad with balsamic dressing was light and refreshing. The beef rib (not usually offered in a world of pork ribs!) was lightly smoked with hickory wood, as were the pork ribs. I like my ribs as vehicles for sauce, and my one disappointment was that there wasn’t enough of this. Joe Henry, though, was obliging enough to offer more. The meats are served with old-fashioned coleslaw and potato salad, and crispy sweet potato fries are also a great side dish.
So take the trip down South for authentic cuisine right in the heart of Montreal! Yee-haw!
Diablos Smoke House
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