Friday, July 08, 2011

Joe Beef, Montreal

On Canada Day, the whole TIGBG crew got together in Montreal for an unforgettable dinner at up and coming restaurant, Joe Beef. We figure we’d try a different approach to our posts and turn this into a discussion about our meal.

fougoo: First off, before getting into the food, the atmosphere at Joe Beef is absolutely charming. Even though we had a little mix-up with the reservation, the staff were accommodating, and we were lucky enough to get a spot in the corner of the garden. Dining out there in the early evening sunshine, with plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetables all around us was just a perfect setting - as if you were invited over to your fabulously bohemian friend’s house for dinner on their patio. Our waiter was helpful translating the menu posted on the chalkboard, offering suggestions, and letting us know what was fresh and where it had come from.

brooklen: By our dumb luck, we got the best seat in the house; on one side of my seat I was smelling the smoker, on the other I was getting whiffs of basil. There was thyme growing out of the tree stump at the end of our table!

1000yregg: We were so fortunate to be sitting in the backyard of Joe Beef for dinner on such a perfect summer evening. Redneckhunter selected a 2007 Castiglion del Bosco Rosso di Montalcino, a versatile wine for the evening's dinner.

fougoo: We ordered french fries for the 2-year-old BrookLEN Junior, but everyone ended up stealing from the poor kid - they were crisp, garlicky and delicious!

brooklen: Poor Junior spent all of Montreal subsisting on french fries... he didn’t inherit his daddy’s palette (yet)...

fougoo: our cousin, stephen, managed to eat a foie gras Double Down all by himself! I was totally satisfied with my one delicious salty, fried, rich, creamy bite.

: I was actually a little hesitant to get the foie gras Double Down, feeling it would be too much, but since we had a good sized group, I knew we had to. It was wonderful. The batter was deliciously spiced and crispy like fried chicken skin, and the lobes of foie gras were beautifully fatty and rich. Even the honey under the “sandwich” was awesome. I understand how my cousin could want more, and yet I also felt very scared for him.

brooklen: Ohh, the Double Down. Stuff of legend, though I have to admit, it won’t be the dish I remember forever. I think the sauce had a touch of honey, to give it that Southern-fried flair.
fougoo: As 1000yregg and redneckhunter devoured the Double Down, I focused my attentions on our other foie dish, a foie gras confit with rhubarb, which I preferred - a perfect summer dish - the tartness of the rhubarb melding nicely with the smoothness of the foie.

brooklen: Yes! I believe foie gets a lift with a little sweet; a Northern chutney of Pie Plant. Even the jellied fat was summery. Might be my favorite of the dinner.
fougoo: we ordered the Smorgasburg toast when we heard that they smoked all the seafood on it just feet away from us in the back garden. It was a nice dish -- a bit hard to share among so many people, but really a perfect appetizer if I had to order something for just myself -- a nice variety of fish and shellfish, an oyster, whitefish salad.

: My first oyster of the trip; not icy cold as we Americans tend to take ‘em, but it was graced with a touch of herbs that seems to be the Quebec style.

brooklen: The cavatelli with morels was simple in appearance, but the cream sauce was perfectly rendered. I might have fallen in love with morels on Canada Day.

1000yregg: The lobster spaghetti was my choice on the menu, and boy was it good. The lobster was huge, and the lobster sauce was rich and strongly flavored. As clean up guy for the table, this was the plate that I finished first.

: I marveled at 1000yregg’s prowess as he finished up claws bigger than my own hand, large chunks of lobster tail, and bite after bite of sauce-heavy pasta. If they bottled that lobster sauce, I would have bought a jar to take home and savor.

fougoo: The porchetta with summer vegetables was my menu choice and I’m glad it didn’t disappoint. We probably didn’t need another meat dish, but I did love it. The pork was fragrant with herbs, not overly salty (as it sometimes has been at Porchetta in NYC), the perfect marbling of fat, just melted in your mouth. The waiter chided us for not finishing all of the skin, but by this point 1000yregg (who had cleaned up the lobster spaghetti) was saving room for dessert.

brooklen: The secret side-players on this dish were the veggies; gorgeous chard, and perfectly cubed beets. This was also the brightest sauce of the night- what was in that green stuff?

fougoo: Agreed - the green sauce was awesome! Parsley perhaps?

fougoo: I couldn’t believe how much schnitzel we got - two huge flat platter-sized pieces, along with a mountain of potatoes and veggies.

brooklen: The girotte mushrooms made this dish, not to be outdone.

: Our waiter had recommended the cheval (horse) with red wine sauce when we told him we were die-hard carnivores, but it was actually our least favorite meat dish. The marrow, however, was one of the largest portions I’ve ever seen. Redneckhunter always says that marrow is the Frenchie litmus test of whether someone is worthy of French cuisine or not. I have to say, after seeing 1000yregg pull out a massive glob of marrow onto his plate - jiggly and goopy like a mound of snot - the fact that we all thought “ooh, yummy!” at this stuff that would probably turn other people’s stomachs says a lot.
1000yregg: It was a little disappointing. Horse seems to be a leaner meat, and ours was a little dry. We guessed it could have sat while our other items were being made. I’d still try it another time. The veal bone marrow was spectacular and a huge portion. As with the porchetta, the side veggies, spring onions, were wonderful.

1000yregg: As a counterbalance to all this protein, we also ordered a Parc Vinet salad. The Parc Vinet refers to Joe Beef’s own garden located in the back of the restaurant. One of the waitstaff told us that he had hand picked the vegetables in our salad that evening, a wonderful medley of lettuce, fennel, and radishes.

1000yregg: For dessert, I was glad we got the Bavarian cream with rhubarb. It was very seasonal, and not overwhelming, especially following our amazing meal.

fougoo: by this point, 1000yregg and I had to keep up our 3-day streak of rhubarb desserts, though I have to admit I was too stuffed to eat more than one bite. Bavarian cream was nothing like the American “Bavarian Creme Pie” filling - a lot more subtle, but than most things un-American are...

fougoo: While we were dining, we were a little jealous seeing chef/owner David McMillan talking to some of the other diners and showing them the smoker. But as we were leaving the big man himself stopped 1000yregg because he had noticed all the picture-taking, and asked if we’d let him know when they were posted online. He showed us a soon-to-be “secret” table in the adjacent alleyway.

: Chef David McMillan chatted with us for a while after dinner. He said despite all the press about the foie gras Double Down, he had not eaten a whole one by himself until recently with David Chang, who was in town the previous week working on content for Lucky Peach.
He said he wanted to be known for other items on the menu such as his vegetables. It was generous of him to talk with us, and I know that we're going to go back on our next trip to Montreal.

2491 Notre Dame West
Montreal, QC


New York Don't Leave Me said...

I like the discussion format! Looks tasty, can't believe Steve ate his own double down. Thinking about it makes my heart hurt.

Jorge Ramiro said...

Joe Beef rules!!!! Men, I mean, that place is awesome. Is like a party for my stomach, everything is so delicious there. You know where I have eaten very good meat. In Argentina. Men, is the usual meal there, they eat beef for even for breakfast. I am joking, but they eat a lot of meat, is the usual food, realy. I have stayed in some Argentina Apartments with argentinian partners and the eat meat at least twice a day.