Written by Jonathan Naccache on 04.02.14

AmbienceComfy, intimate, rustic, hip
Why : It’s about much more than excellent food.
Must-have: Côte de Bœuf 18oz
Tip: Reserve at least a month in advance.

Joe Beef is the perfect example of how good food and great service can bring a smile to people’s faces. At Joe Beef, this becomes apparent as soon as the server first greets the client. From that moment on, you can tell that you’re about to indulge in a full experience.

Shortly after you’re told that the menu is actually on a chalkboard above the bar. Quite clever since this forces you to turn your head for a couple of minutes and actually notice the detail behind the product that is Joe Beef: the people next to you, the decoration, the friendly staff, but most importantly the wide-open eyes and frequent smiles whenever a table receives its dishes.

You can say that Joe Beef is characterized by a rustic and intimate environment. The restaurant has two main areas and a patio, all of which are quite small in width. The subtle pieces of decoration and the great presence of wood give you the feeling that you’re in a historical tavern-steakhouse. This is when you start noticing the story behind the name Joe Beef. The man actually has a portrait of himself for everyone to see; yes Joe Beef is a real character, a battalion officer from 1860 Montreal that later on became to be a well-known tavern owner and innkeeper in the Old Port of Montreal. The theme is omnipresent throughout the restaurant, a moose head hangs over a table, a large wooden fish sculpture is suspended from the ceiling, historical books are shelved a bit everywhere, and an old, long rifle sits comfortably beyond the bar area. What’s most surprising though is the team taking care of you: the waitress was helped constantly by other waiters, our host, the bartender, and difference busboys and in unison they catered to all our needs with an attention to detail we have yet to enjoy anywhere else.

Onto the food, easily the best part of anyone’s experience at Joe Beef. Nothing left to desire, with Frédéric Morin and David McMillan, internationally renowned chefs, as the masterminds behind the entire product. The night should always start with their classic, and easily one of the best we’ve had, Bloody Caesars. Follow up almost immediately with a few necessary entrées! The crème de foie gras with confiture (jelly) is to die for. With sweet soft-yet-crunchy biscuits in the mix, it is simply an irresistible small pleasure. A good soup to take on, yet heavy and not for the small stomach, is the soupe de céléri-ravé au four; rich in flavour and consistent. The cornflake eel nugget helps tone things down; it is accompanied with a ketchup maison made with fruits, a honey mustard dip, and a BBQ dip. We kept the best for last… You simply CANNOT forget to get a taste of the foie gras double down: two pieces of foie gras deep-fried in batter with, sandwiched in the middle, home-made bacon, smoked cheddar, and gravy-based mayonnaise. This one will melt in your mouth, with the mere consequence of representing a heart attack within a bite.

We’ll make your main dish choices easy. A must: the grosse côte de bœuf, an 18oz beefsteak that is simply perfect. A member of the cooking staff brings the piece to the table before it is fully cooked and sliced so you can marvel at the size, and it is immediately brought back for full cook and serve, sleeping in a delicious réduit of wine. The steak is delivered with a substantial serving of fries and spicy home-made mayo, the best we have tasted, smoky and rich. Another great addition is the lobster spaghetti with bacon and lobster biscuit. This is usually where normal individuals start feeling the all-too-familiar high so we leave the rest up to the avid adventurer. We will however leave you with a small teaser: stuffed clams on a radio (food art), oysters on a tomato can, and razor clams on erotic novels.

2491 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montréal, QC H3J 1N6
(514) 935-6504

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