I fully admit, I have to thank Anthony Bourdain for properly introducing me to the brilliance of Joe Beef on the Quebec episode of his CNN show Parts Unknown. While Chefs Frédéric Morin and David McMillan were certainly familiar faces to me within the foodie world, Bourdain’s visit to their Little Burgundy-based haven of all things gloriously gourmand truly made me appreciate their culinary skills, and long to visit their seemingly oh-so far away restaurant. When I found out early last month I had an upcoming business trip to Montreal slated for April 1st, I immediately made a Joe Beef dinner reservation (even before booking my plane flight!) and was more than happy to take the only available time slot of 9:45 PM.
Named after beloved 19th-century altruistic Montrealer innkeeper Charles “Joe Beef” McKiernan, the warm and convivial nature of co-owners and Chefs Morin's and McMillan’s restaurant was evident from the moment I walked in from the frigid, Canadian cold; and I couldn’t wait to -- almost literally -- dive head first into all the chefs had to offer. With a solo seat perched at the ever-bustling bar (situated on one side of the fully packed, two-room locale), I sat nursing a glass -- which became glasses over my several hours-long meal, of course -- of champagne, and enjoyed banter between the restaurant’s regulars and its ever-attentive and incredibly charming waitstaff. As I was dining by myself, I had to refrain from ordering the entire handwritten chalkboard menu, and ultimately settled on beginning with an array of freshly shucked Canadian Little Shemogue, Evening Cove, and Yuniku oysters. I then moved on to Humbolt squid grilled a la plancha, served with a bright, tomato-based broth, risotto, and clams; followed by a richly creamy parfait of foie gras topped with ham jelly and served with brioche de crème hot cross buns. Though I’m typically not a big pasta eater, my waiter heartily recommended the half order of the restaurant’s deconstructed lasagna, its large and tender house-made noodle sheets served with ragu de queue de boeuf that seemed to absolutely melt in my mouth, leaving me utterly (though not surprisingly) in love with the dish.
The meal itself surpassed even my most fanciful culinary expectations, leaving me in awe of the brilliant Chefs, and eager to both purchase their cookbook and hit Le Vin Papillon and Liverpool House (also within the Joe Beef Restaurant Group) on my next Montréal visit this fall!
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