Archibald Microbrasserie (Montreal Trudeau International Airport)

The life of an engineer with international travels means that, in addition to my own recreational travel, I’m often having to dart off to distant locations for work, on a tighter schedule than I’d usually book. In this case, I had to fit a trip to Grenoble and Paris in France in between two other personal trips, and the best overall location for both cost and schedule was catching the red-eye out of Montreal Trudeau International Airport. As I’ve discussed many times here at Offbeat Eats, airports aren’t exactly focal points of good cuisine, and the typical fare is both expensive and disappoint. But every once in a while I’m pleasantly surprised, and this time it was in Area 51 of the YUL airport, between the main screening area and the smaller international departure lounge sits Archibald. This was the perfect opportunity to fortify myself for an overnight flight with that cornerstone of Montreal cuisine, the smoked meat sandwich.

Archibald is pretty much like many of the smaller brasseries and brewpubs scattered around Montreal, especially around Le Plateau, but Archibald is located right in the airport terminal, with a slight nod towards “north woods hunting lodge” decor. Aside from the customary “captive audience” substantial surcharge, it’s otherwise a surprisingly pleasant and friendly brasserie. They’ve got a greet selection of beer, with almost two dozen of their own brews on tap, and more in cans and bottles. The beer quality is quite good, and I enjoyed a particular nice Vermont-style “juicy” IPA with Citra hops.

But my primary reason to visit Archibald was to get some sustenance in the relatively short window between my arrival at YUL and my boarding, so I went for the classic smoked meat sandwich. As I cover in detail in my reviews of Schwartz’s or Dunn’s, “Smoked Meat” is a pretty uniquely Quebecois product somewhat partway between “corned beef” and “pastrami”, having a bit of a lighter smoke and spicing than US-style pastrami, making for a surprisingly nice sandwich. The version at Archibald is served up with an ample portion on rye bread with mustard, along with coleslaw, pickle, and fries on the side. The meat was nice, flavorful, and tender, the coleslaw a nice vinegary one, a classic deli pickle, and some fairly ordinary but decently executed fries. I was happy, and this was a great start to our trip.

Honestly, from my experience, Archibald is probably the best overall dining option if you are traveling through YUL, and it’s not just pub fare: if you are there early, they’ve got a good breakfast menu, and if you are looking for a more substantial menu, they got a lot of full main courses like steak frites, mushroom ravioli, prosciutto linguine, or even braised beef cheeks. It’s worth trying to make the time to catch a meal here on your way through, or catching one of their other locations around the metro area.

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