Ice House: overpriced & trendy? Not exactly, but…

Every month or so, my brother and I decide to go to try out a new restaurant in gluttonous fashion: we like to eat and drink an obscene amount, while spending a ridiculous amount of money. Maybe this is a brotherly thing to do, I’m really not sure, but when we tried out Ice House last week, we were certainly ready to ball out.

Ice House, on Roy just east of St. Laurent, is the brainchild of Nick Hodge, the Texas native chef of Kitchenette, which explains the Tex-Mex fare. This excites me, because I know that deep down I love Tex-Mex, but I hate every “Tex-Mex” restaurant I’ve ever been to; it’s probably the most bastardized cuisine in Montreal, but Nick Hodge, a real Texan, has come to serve it justice, hallelujah!

The one bad commentary I’ve been hearing about Icehouse over and over again is that ‘it’s too expensive’. “My taco cost me 8$!!” “Who’s gonna pay 20$ for a burrito??” and so on. My commentaries about Icehouse are concerning the mediocre food rather than the price.

Ok fine, 20$ for a lobster burrito sounds ridiculous, but I dare anyone to try and prepare the monstrosity for less than that at home, not to mention the labour and time involved. Lobster’s expensive- so a lobster burrito at a hip restaurant is gonna be, well, expensive. My problem’s not in the cost- it’s more along the lines of “Why was this whole delicious lobster shoved into this gross burrito?” Call me a snob, but it struck me as the culinary equivalent of dousing a filet mignon in ketchup and shoving it in a hamburger bun…it’s kinda like, “hey, this shit’s expensive, you should probably eat it by itself and actually taste it”…but maybe that’s just me. On the other hand, the fish tacos were just a straight up deal- a whole filet of red snapper in 2 tacos for 8$? The last restaurant I worked at charged 18$ for a plate of red snapper (and it really sucked).

On a whole, I would say you certainly get your bang for your buck at Ice House, although there are some serious technical errors in the execution of the food- The popcorn shrimp, although seasoned perfectly, were extremely soggy. The lobster burrito just didn’t work for me- I really couldn’t stomach the combination of rice, beans, lobster, and cilantro. The michelada (beer with clamato, lime, and tabasco) was watery and tasteless. However, there were some high notes- the oyster Po’Boy kind of tasted like a way better version of McDonald’s Filet O’Fish (like way, way better). The fish tacos, although lacking in texture, were quite delicious, and I would go back for the Dr. Pepper braised ribs, which although very sweet, were pretty much perfect.

Considering the lack of good Tex-Mex in Montreal, this place has an edge- if I want fish tacos or ribs, I know exactly where to go, so it definitely adds something to the food scene in this city.

Ice House has a fun menu & atmosphere, but really falls short in some areas. I’m curious to see how they’ll do over the winter, considering en extremely succesful opening followed by mixed reviews. I’ll definitely defend the fact that its NOT expensive, but I won’t defend how amazing the food is. A cool place to grab some decent grub & a beer after a night of boozing on the main (kitchen’s open until 1!), but nothing to freak out over.


Categories: MTL Food Identities


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One Comment on “Ice House: overpriced & trendy? Not exactly, but…”

  1. October 26, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Agree. Ice House is way over-rated. Also – not a fan of the mindless eating from a trough atmosphere.

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