Joe Beef – the acclaimed (and distinctly hipster) restaurant in Old Burgundy, Montreal that gets rave reviews on all Montreal food shows, magazines, etc. Is it as great as everyone makes it out to be? In my opinion, yes, and no. Yes, the food is fantastic, the menu is creative and ever changing and the chef certainly makes the most out of seasonal foods. However, no; the restaurant is rather hipster-pretentious and makes you want to continuously ask the waitstaff – are you freaking serious? For example, our waiter was wearing a t-shirt with a wolf (or a cat, Dan and I disagree on that one…) on the front. Every time he tried to snub us (or anyone for that matter), I couldn’t help but think dude, you have a wolf on your shirt.
In any case, all hipsterness aside, Joe Beef is certainly worth a visit for the food! Just be prepared to put up with the staff and some of your fellow diners.
Dan and I have been to Joe Beef twice. Once in 2012 when we had the amazing foie gras double-down (maple drunk smoked cheddar and bacon with chicken-skin mayo sandwiched between two health cakes of deep fried foie gras), pictured below, which they sadly no longer serve. They claim it was a joke. No way. They thought they were being funny, it was really popular, probably due to Anthony Bourdain, so they took it off the menu. I’m still annoyed by this. BRING IT BACK!
In any case, we dined at Joe Beef again during the summer of 2015. To my disappointment, no double down. The food was still amazingly delicous, even sans the Double Down. Per any self-respecting hipster establishment, the menu is written on the wall, in French, as is the wine list. If you do not speak French, one of the waiters will begrudgingly assist you. Don’t let this dissuade you. Half of the city doesn’t speak French.
This summer, we started with three appetizers. To clarify, there were three of us at dinner. The first was a salad with a homemade garlic burrata. The burrata was so good. It was totally fresh and made with garlic and greens from Joe Beef’s garden out back. This dish was so, so good. The pictures does not do it justice. We finished it all.
In addition to that, we order the smoked meat croquettes. As you may know, smoked meat is a Montreal speciality and a big part of Québécois cuisine. The croquettes were somewhat plain for Joe Beef, but I still loved them! They were topped with a bit of mustard, pickle and dill!
To round out our starters, we took the fried soft shell crab dish. As usual, you can’t go wrong with soft shell crab, and this was cooked wonderfully and paired with fresh vegetables, again from Joe Beef’s on-property garden. We ended up dipping these into the burrata!
For my main, I ordered the Spaghetti with Lobster (aka Homard). This dish was fantastic and contained so.much.lobster. The size and amount of lobster made it well worth the hefty price tag (about $45). Seriously, it was great. I would order this again in a heart beat. Like summer in New England, lobster is in-season and ubiquitous in Montreal in the summer. You can find it at almost every restaurant and it is truly celebrated! Don’t visit Montreal in the summer without trying the hommard!
Dan went with a lamb sausage and crepe. The plate was huge and well plated, but unfortunately it wasn’t that great.
Finally, Pryor ordered the trout. It was good (much better than the lamb sausage), but my lobster spaghetti was the winner!
After all that, we decided that we would split only two desserts. However, our waiter brought us the wrong one so we ended up with three desserts (two for free)! The pictures did not come out great (it was really dark by this time) but here are two of them. They were all great!
And just for fun, here is a picture of my amazing ice cream, cheddar cheese sundae from 2012. I still dream about it. If you are lucky enough to find this on the menu, order it.
Steal Our Dinner
Joe Beef – 2491 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montréal, QC H3J 1N6, Canada. T: +1 514-935-6504. Reservations are essential and can be made online, but always seem to be “full.” I think that is a bit of a ploy. I recommend calling the restaurant directly. We did that on both visits and got a reservations about three weeks in advance without issue. A month would be better.
If you cannot get a reservation, Joe Beef’s sister restaurant, the Liverpool House, uses the same kitchen and seems to be easier to get a reservation.
On a Budget
There’s really nothing to do on this one.