Memorable | One of the Best
Beauty’s Luncheonette | A Montreal Best Bet Diner
Review by: Michael Stern
Delicious History for Breakfast
In 1942 Hymie and Freda Sckolnick opened a lunch counter in the Bancroft Stationery store in Montreal’s garment district. The stationery store is gone, as is the garment district. But the diner at the corner of Rue St. Urbain and Rue Mont-Royal thrives. Montréalais know it as Beauty’s Luncheonette. Many will tell you to come for breakfast. It is a Montreal best bet, for sure.
Two items in particular have earned fame: the Mish-Mash omelet and the Beauty’s Special. The former is less an omelet than a kitchen-sink whirlwind. They scramble eggs with chunks of hot dog, salami, pepper, and onions. I don’t know if the dog actually is kosher (Beauty’s kitchen is not), but it’s firm and beef. Along with salami, it gives the dish serious heft. The caramelized onions serve as tender veins of sweetness throughout. On the side you get a toasted sesame bagel. It’s a Montreal bagel, of course: chewy, slightly sweet, with a hint of char flavor from having been baked in a wood-fired oven.
A Montreal bagel also serves as the foundation for the Beauty’s Special. That’s a beautifully assembled breakfast sandwich of smoked salmon and cream cheese along with slices of tomato and onion. You will stretch your jaw to eat it. Although Montreal bagels tend to be small, this sandwich delivers more than enough to eat.
The breakfast menu includes pancakes and waffles and challah-based French toast. At lunch you will find an array of burgers, sandwiches, melts, and salads. Beauty’s Mac ‘n’ cheese is a short-order gem, as is its rice pudding; each earns praise as a Montreal best bet. The kitchen also is known for its smoothies. They come in a wide variety that ranges from classic strawberry/banana to such modern concoctions as cookies & crème and mochaccino royale. Dense, dark brown loaves that look like banana bread form stacks along the counter. The waitress says they are gateau au banane. Indeed, grilled slices are sweet and luxurious enough to be cake, lacking only frosting.
The name of the restaurant, by the way, derives from founder Hymie Sckolnick’s bowling nickname. Until he passed away in 2017, in his nineties, Mr. Sckolnick was on hand daily, sitting on a stool at the counter up front, helping direct customers to an available booth, and ready to chat about the history of the landmark eatery he created.
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