Ever the puck-crazy metropolis, Philly and its hockey fans craved the return of their beloved Flyers for every excruciatingly boring second of the four-month-long NHL lockout. But even though our guys in orange and black are finally back on the ice, we’re still quite far from Conn Smythe wishes and Stanley Cup dreams — true, the Flyboys are riding a nice little winning streak, but they’re kicking off a tough week on the road tonight, one that begins in Toronto and ends in Montreal.
That latter Canadian city directs what goes on at South Philly’s Noir (1901 E. Passyunk Ave., 267-319-1678) more than you might think, and it’s not by accident. Though chef Marco DeCotiis has been bouncing ’round the region’s gravy circuit for years (Foggia, La Stanza, Polstina’s in AC), he was born and raised in Montreal’s Rivière des Prairies by Italian parents, and marries these disciplines to get things going at his EPX bar/restaurant.
Before we get into the food, (we assume) Great Northern tradition demands we lead this discussion with advice on how to drink cheaply. Look no further than Noir’s O’Canada, a spin on Philly’s beloved Citywide Special that’s available all day every day. In lieu of a PBR and a shot of Beam, Noir sides up a Molson Canadian longneck with a shot of soul-rejuvenating Canadian Club for five loonies dollars. Every Flyers game this week kicks off at either 7 or 8 p.m. — think of how many of these you could knock over before the first puck’s dropped. (Snag seats at the end of the bar closest to the Avenue for primo game-watching position.) The bar’s also fond of doling out chef DeCotiis’ own cherry-infused vodka, which they deep-discount for Tuesday-night happy hour from 5 to 7, when they sling $5 cherry vodka shots/drinks and $7 cherry vodka martinis. (Here’s the full rundown of their many happy-hour deals.)
Noir doesn’t mess around where Montreal food is concerned, either. Take the brisket DeCotiis prepares as an homage to his home city’s smoked meat, the north-of-the-border answer to American Jewish deli pastrami. After letting his beef chill in a brine hooked up with Montreal steak seasoning for 10 days, the chef cold-smokes and overnight-roasts the briskets, then plates a more-than-generous portion up with rye bread, scratchmade mustard and Brussels sprouts roasted with pancetta.
DeCotiis further shouts out his heritage with dishes like Montreal-style steak, a signature onion soup and Quebec Tourtière, a warming ground pork pie, but it’s his spin on poutine that’s garnered the most attention. That’s because he knows how to play to the locals. Stateside restaurant takes on this ultimate drunk-person snack can contain shmancy additions like lobster or foie gras, but DeCotiis keeps his version simple — fries, brown gravy, cheese curds and fennel sausage from Cannuli’s House of Pork in the Italian Market. If you find yourself at Noir this weekend, it’ll serve as either a snack of victory or an eat-your-feelings bowl of defeat, depending on how the Flyers do against DeCotiis’ Habs on Saturday night.