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It’s not often you arrive at a restaurant and find out your server has been with the group for over 6 years. This was the case at Sushi Taxi, a restaurant group that has been around since the dawn of Quebec sushi
We recently stopped by for a quick bite at Grinder Montreal on Notre Dame Street in Griffintown. Grinder Viandes et Vins is the newest Griffintown restaurant placing its bets on the ballooning condo high rises building up in the area. We had heard some initial positive talk about the restaurant but went in with managed expectations. Grinder Montreal has a sister restaurant Hachoir which did not impress us on our last visit.
One of the newest restaurants to join the Griffintown block, Le Bureau montreal channels vintage chic. The ancient brick walls, the high lofty ceilings, the golden fire extinguisher lamps and even the cobra snake beer tap all add to the laid back, casual sort of vibe. It aims to be the up-and-coming hotspot for young locals and professionals to grab a drink after work, nibble on some snacks maybe and talk into the night.
Walking into Griffintown Cafe, you immediately take note of the high ceilings, panelled wooden floors and the spacious interior. The tables are pushed towards either side of the restaurant, leaving tons of space in between, giving the place an airy, open feel that is fabulously refreshing.
Walking into Joe Beef, one immediately senses a kind of warm intimacy few restaurants are able to successfully achieve in terms of both physical space, ambiance and decor. The space out front is quite small; tables are set one next to the other with only a few inches separating diners from one another – for those who sit on the inner banquettes, tables must be pulled out for them to exit gracefully. Even in such close quarters, fellow diners have been the most friendly and cordial I have ever met. The owners have recently closed their luncheonette next door (McKiernan’s) in favor of expanding Joe Beef, creating an oyster bar in its place while at the same time increasing its capacity for more people to stop by. Due to the popular demand for the restaurant’s exquisite food, the terrasse out back has been opened up as well. I had actually never been in the area before and our lovely waitress Vanya was nice enough to show me around. The garden where ingredients are freshly grown and harvested lines the terrasse; adjacent to this, a separate plot of land is sectioned off by a fence – here they house a large metal smoker where they treat some of their meats and fish.
Welcome to the food! I ordered the roasted beets to start. They were chopped to bite-sized pieces that were perfectly tender and nicely complimented by the horizontally sliced chevre chaud that lay on top of the beets like a warm, creamy blanket. Both the Jane Salad and the Caesar Salad were comprised of Roman lettuce though the former had an Italian style dressing while the latter had an obvious Caesar dressing along with hot cheese puffs (the warm temperature a nice touch).
Restaurant Jane, along with Liverpool House, Joe Beef, McKiernan and others have collectively helped revitalize Griffintown from a slowly decaying neighborhood to a trendy little borough just south of downtown. With metro stations Lionel-Groulx and Georges-Vanier close by, the area is accessible and is surprisingly full of sweet little cafes with terrasses out back and shops selling knick knacks, antiquities and the sort. With a seasonal cocktail list (the lavender martini served in the winter time is divine) and a menu that changes almost imperceptibly (different pizza toppings), Jane sticks with several core items that truly embody what the restaurant stands for and explores around them. Going for understated sophistication with its glossy dark wood tables and floors, high ceilings and small but spacious space, Jane exudes a relaxed atmosphere, playing the likes of Radiohead, the Black Keys and Sublime.