Joe Beef MontrealPosted By Jennifer Ho Jun 20 2011 · 0 comments · Dining Out, Griffintown
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.
After opening a bottle of Bourgogne Aligoté ($40) white wine, we ordered our meals. I had the foie gras confit with rhubarb ($24), accompanied by four warm buns – a nice touch. The slice of foie gras was generous, as was the rhubarb jam that was lightly drizzled around the edge of the plate. The combination of sweet, sour and salty had me gobbling the dish down faster than I can remember. My friend ordered the house cavatelli ($17) (home-made pasta) with braised octopus and red wine. This too was finished off in minutes. For our mains, I had the Cornish hen with rouille and saffron ($29) served in a deep bowl accompanied by some sliced potatoes, peas and a thick sauce. The portions were big enough that I (someone who likes to finish everything on the plate) could hardly stuff it down, in fact, to my dismay I had to leave behind a whole breast. It tasted comforting and rustic – something that one would eat when thinking of home. The porchetta, lemon and chard ($26) was extremely moist and tender, with the meat falling off and almost melting in your mouth. Even though we were both full, everyone knows that there’s always room for more, especially if it’s dessert. We compromised and decided to share the donuts with smoked cheddar and maple syrup ($10). The donuts were heavy goodness and combined with the melted cheese and syrup on top, I almost died and went to food heaven. As if this wasn’t enough, Vanya brought us complimentary soft serve ice cream from the chefs – so sweet of them! The flavor was vanilla and mint chocolate – we were told the mint from the chocolate was home grown. And yep, you can probably guess… it was amazing, just like everything else we had that night.
*Reservations are recommended – we made ours two weeks in advance.
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