Out on the Town, Student Life

Patati Patata is the charming, local diner we all love

Oh, I’m exhausted. Now there’s an opening sentence to remember. I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to yawn in your face. It’s 6:30 p.m. on a Saturday and St. Laurent is subdued. It’s not deserted—the street’s just napping before the partying commences. Normally I’m able to find some time to write, but it seems this Saturday got away from me.

This week I’m reviewing Patati Patata. Heard of it? Thought so. But for those who haven’t been confined to their houses, Patati Patata is a petit diner on the corner of St. Laurent and Rue Rachel.  

The exterior is plastered with jagged blue and purple on one side and yellow and red on the other, along with a dash of illegible graffiti, and a ginormous ‘Patati Patata’ billboard that lights up at night. Also, before I forget: It’s not Pa-ta-ti Par-ta-ta. It’s Pa-tar-tee Pa-tar-tarrr—roll those Rs. Hermione Granger would be all over this. 

By the way, if you are still here, I’m now on overtime, and I most certainly do accept cash as payment—none of that fiddly crypto stuff. Call me old-school, but it has to have Queen Liz’s smutty smile on it.

The line for Patati Patata normally comes outside and snakes around the block. Most go for takeout here, which is fair enough if you prefer eating hot food cold. I try to dine in for this reason. So, I wait in line and eventually grab a stool at the far end of the serving counter. 

It’s a compact, chaotic room, but the chaos adds to the design. Students flock here like excited cattle, but families, with children under 10 years old, as well as local workers, come for a bite, too. The walls are a modest yellow with light-brown wooden beams and are covered in Quebecois posters and local music fliers. The cooking area takes up the biggest chunk of the room, leaving an L-shaped area for customers. There are only about 12 stools, so it’s cramped—but cozy, like an inner-city Quebecois cabin. There’s also a sign that says, “To go or for here? Think about it please do not change your mind,” just in case you forget you’re in Quebec.

The menu offers poutine, the real crowd-pleaser for students at 3 a.m., from $9.50 and beef burgers from $4.50, which are like sliders. There are also ample veggie options, a selection of breakfast sandwiches, and pints of sweet malty beer for $7. 

I order two beef burgers, with fries on the side. The burgers could fit in the palm of my hand, with faintly char-grilled black patties that are thinner than a cigarette. The patty is tucked in between an overflowing pile of lettuce and a soft, lightly toasted bun. Surprisingly, the burgers are neither fatty nor greasy and hit the spot in the same way as a mini muffin. I could munch on these all day. 

The fries suffer from height complications. I don’t want to height-shame them, but they’re on the shorter end of the spectrum. Something I can personally sympathize with. But no, seriously, they can’t ride the roller coasters. Stabbing them with a fork is recommended—but watch out, the inspired might try to abandon ship. Despite this, these crispy wee potatoes please the heart. I left full.  

As you eat, you’re able to watch the 20-something, tank-top-wearing servers hustle strenuously: Chopping, cleaning, frying, grilling, cleaning some more, taking orders, and dishing them out. Time begins to slow down and the world begins to speed up; you’re able to appreciate the simpler moments. This hole-in-the-wall is not your average fast-food diner. It offers something more unique: A taste of the local hustling Plateau. It’s the pulse of St. Laurent, the gem everyone knows, and the one that offers warm, delicious food through the day and well, well into the night.  

Score: 4 / 5 Stars

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