I’d imagined “authentic” Montreal smoked meat for lunch, and ended up being disappointed with the Red Wagon Diner’s offering. The bread was both greasy and soggy, the meat was lacking flavour, and the whole thing was awash in mustard. However, the pickle was awesome!
With another food truck coming near my work, I was excited to try the Red Wagon Diner – a Calgary Food Truck offering “Authentic Montreal smoked meat, hash, sandwiches & wraps”. It was one of those beautiful rare fall days when the colours of autumn are gorgeous and enticing, but it was still sunny and warm enough to think “yeah, I’ll go outside” without too much thought. (Well, with a sweater, leather jacket, and a scarf, I was plenty warm enough… this is Calgary after all!)
The Red Wagon Diner offers a few different selections, for what I thought was a decent ‘food truck’ price. I was chatting with a friend through Twitter, and we both agreed that ‘food truck’ pricing isn’t anything like ‘street food’ pricing around here, which is disappointing, but I guess gas isn’t cheap!
- The Special – Montreal Smoked Meat served with grilled red onions, fresh tomatoes, lettuce and aged
cheddar on grilled rye bread with mustard.
- The Reuben – Montreal Smoked Meat served with sauerkraut and aged cheddar on grilled rye bread
- The Traditional – Montreal Smoked Meat served on local rye bread with mustard.
- Vege-Mighty – Grilled red onions, mushrooms, banana peppers, fresh tomatoes, lettuce, aged cheddar
and an egg on grilled rye bread with mustard.
- The Smoked Meat Hash – Montreal Smoked Meat mixed with hash browns, sautéed mushrooms, onions, banana peppers and cheese. Topped with two eggs, served with a side of rye toast.
- The Wrap – The Smoked Meat Hash in a tortilla.
I ordered The Special (I need some vegetables, right?) without onions, and a side pickle. The sandwich was $7.50, and the pickle was an extra dollar.
Like the Waffles & Chix I tried earlier, this is not stand-and-eat food. This is sit-down food, if only because the sandwich is piled high with so much meat, that to eat it standing up could be a disaster (unless you have enormous, nimble hands…) It doesn’t look great in the photo, but in person it did look delicious – but another no-standing drawback was that the bread was REALLY greasy. This is a three-napkin sandwich.
While the pickle was delicious, I was disappointed with the sandwich itself. The meat had very little flavour – the smokey, slightly dry flavour of Montreal Smoked Meat that I had anticipated, was pretty bland – and there was a fair amount of visible fat. The rye bread – well, it was kind of disappointing too. My readers in Germany and Finland will be looking at these photos thinking “well that’s not rye bread!” and they wouldn’t be far off – the bread wasn’t the dense, flavourful bread that I usually think of as being paired with Montreal Smoked Meat – it was just ordinary sandwich bread as far as I could tell, and really greasy from being grilled. The first half of the sandwich was fine, but by the time I got to the second half, the lower slice was already soggy from the grease and from the tomato. Stuffed full of meat, this made eating this gracefully even more of a challenge. The main flavour of the sandwich was the ‘house mustard’ – which was delicious, but I was hoping for more than just a mustard sandwich.
Now, I’ll admit, I’m probably the exception here. I checked out their reviews on UrbanSpoon (link below) and when I checked it out, it had only one negative review out of 25 good reviews… so maybe I experienced a flavourless, greasy day for an otherwise flavourful day, or perhaps my expectations were just higher than the other people commenting on UrbanSpoon.. so click the link below for a few other opinions!
Red Wagon Diner