Joe Beef à Montréal

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Dear readers,
Long time, no write! I’ve been incredibly busy the last few weeks, which is what everyone says of course. But it’s a holiday in Ontario and my flight home from Montréal is delayed, so I’ll take this time to share with you a nice meal I recently had. Ray and I took a small vacation to see some music at Osheaga in Montreal. It’s Canada’s biggest music festival (I think?) taking place over 3 days. We splurged on VIP passes so we could make the most out of it. I totally recommend doing that!

One of the most well-known and popular restaurants in Montréal is called Joe Beef. We made reservations here over 1 month ahead of time and could only snag seats at the bar – that’s how popular it is! It seriously is THE PLACE to go in MTL; I arrived with high expectations, an empty stomach and a stuffed wallet (it may not be “fancy” but the prices sure are). It’s a really cool spot, casual and home-y with some Canadiana flair. The food is inventive, upscale Quebec bistro – and heavy on the meat. The menu is written on a blackboard and changes regularly (sometimes daily), but there’s always foie gras included somewhere on there.

Here we are at the bar!

The bartenders were very friendly and knowledgeable, helping us fully understand the menu (which was in French). I almost ordered the zucchini flowers (one of my faves) without realizing they were stuffed with head cheese (click link at your own risk :p). Close call!

We had cocktails to start – a gin negroni for Ray and a celery spritzer for me. I can’t remember what the base of my cocktail was, either vodka or gin, but it was super sparkly and celery-y! We both enjoyed our drinks but I wished my cocktail was a little more floral or fruity (I asked for something summery with fruit or floral hints).

For a starter, we shared the ricotta and carrot stuffed ravioli, with a lapin (that’s French for rabbit!) ragu ($16). It was very rich with a creamy sauce and mushrooms and peas. The raviolis came as long rolls instead of cut into squares like ravioli usually is. It was delicious! I love rabbit and of course I love pasta. Some of the rabbit pieces were a little bit fatty but it was still tasty. The portion was also a decent size.

For the main, I played it safe with a veal T-bone steak in a picatta sauce ($37). It came with garlic scapes and a very buttery jus. It was perfectly cooked and very tasty. You’d never know from my blog, but I generally try to eat vegetarian meals (ha ha!). This was my first time eating steak since February when I was on vacation in South America! It. was. so. good.

Ray ordered the seared halibut ($31) that came with mussels and calamari in a lovely buttery sauce with peas. Sometimes when you order halibut at a restaurant, you get a teeny tiny filet. This was a healthy portion for once! Super flaky and light – just look at the photo, it’s summer on a plate!

To end we got a mille crepe cake which was served with stewed cherries and cream. It was nice, and I feel bad saying this, but I could kind of taste the refrigerator on it. You know what I mean? It’s like the taste of freezer burn, but from the fridge. -__- Anyway. I still ate it ALL and the cherries were delightful.

For wine, we opted to drink by the glass so that we could sample a few different wines with our dinner. Joe Beef has a sister restaurant called Le Vin Papillon which is a wine bar. I figured they would have a pretty good selection. We tried the white blend recommended to us for the starter. It was extremely light, to me it kind of tasted watery. It had no real flavour to speak of. For my next glass I sampled the other whites available by the glass – same same. I found them very lackluster. I usually prefer a dry sauvingnon blanc but they did not have anything on hand like that. I am by no means a wine expert but this was just disappointing!

Overall, we have a good meal at Joe Beef, but to us, it didn’t live up to all the hype. The food was lovely but unsurprising. The drinks and wine were not really to my taste. The service was quite good – but I would expect that for the price. I would go back, but it wouldn’t be my first stop in MTL.

I hope to write a little more about my trip to Montréal in the coming days. Stay tuned!

August 2, 2016
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