Wemindji’s Maquatua Inn sits at the edge of the community near the river beside a softball field. If you’re lucky and get the right table at the right time, you will have a so-so view of the river, a perfect view of a softball game and an even better view of the Chief and his cohorts discussing the fate of Wemindji, world domination and other inane topics or just stuffing themselves silly.

I entered the dining room accompanied by Will and Alex late one afternoon where we imposed ourselves on Mr. X (not his real name) and joined him at his table. He was just polishing off the last of his rib steak when Will, in full journalist mode, asked how it was. Mr. X shot back, “You’re not dragging me into this!” I wonder what he meant by that.

There was a group of men talking, laughing loudly, ignoring the game at an adjacent table. I guessed they were construction workers but I found out later it was Vern Cheechoo and his merry men. They were scheduled to perform at the arena later that night. There’s not much difference between a rock ‘n’ roll band and construction workers attitude-wise. Smaller groups of people sat scattered throughout the dining room talking quietly amongst themselves about God knows what (memo to The Nation: Buy hi-tech listening device). Office workers and out-of-towners. An acquaintance of mine from Wemindji told me this is where the “big shots” assembled. He meant it as a compliment. Wink, wink.

The service was a tad on the slow side but we didn’t care because of the lively table conversation and the game going full swing outside. Finally the waitress decided to make an appearance and take our orders. She was friendly and very helpful. Minutes later, our food arrived. What else but that old Cree staple: chicken and rice with vegetables. I would’ve had two steaks had I known Will was picking up the tab.

Before my fork entered my salivating mouth, one of my dinner companions asked how it was. It would have been more interesting and critic-like had I answered his question with a backhand across the face and snapped, “Silence while I’m eating!” But I was exhausted and hungry so I said, dryly between nibbles, “You’ll have to wait for my review.” How was the meal? You’ll have to wait for my real review as I am still chewing as I write this. What do they put in that rice?

Near the end of our meal, embattled Chief Walter Hughboy arrived with a small entourage and sat down, with his back to the wall, at the table with the best view of the game and was served almost instantly. Aaaah, the perks of power.

Editor’s note: Neil would like to use what little space and sense he has left to announce that this is the last of his so-called restaurant reviews so as to allow him to start writing about more important subjects. Namely, nightlife. Something he should know quite a bit about. Yes, in keeping with The Nation’s pledge to inform and entertain he will take you, in upcoming issues, on a tour of the seedy underbellies of Montreal and other towns. Hopefully this will give readers who would otherwise not have a chance to visit or who would never want to set foot in these places a chance to see what they’re missing and what to avoid.