Sherman's Food Adventures: Joe Beef

Joe Beef

Fresh off a good meal at Mon Lapin, we were looking forward to our reservation at Joe Beef.  Last time we were in Montreal, we had such a big group and so many kids, it was not feasible to dine there.  Mind you, we still made it out Au Pied de Cochon...  We made the mistake of attempting to walk from our Downtown hotel to the restaurant and it was a bit of an adventure.  We ended up taking an Uber back instead.  But while we were at Joe Beef, we had a heck of a time.  The food was excellent!

To begin, we had something seemingly so simple but ultimately it was super delicious.  The Aidi "Joe Beef" featured amazingly fresh crudites from their own garden.  It was served with this aioli that was akin to a green goddess dressing.  It was absolutely delicious and the crunch and sweetness from the wonderful veggies was mind-blowing.  Imagine that, we were blown away by raw vegetables (except for the potatoes)!

Next, we had the Smoked Trout with a buckwheat crêpe and homemade cheese.  Again, this looked really simple, but the execution was flawless.  The trout was buttery and soft with a balanced smokiness and saltiness.  Thin, a bit robust, but ultimately delicate, the crêpe did not overwhelm the delicate fish.  Creamy and smooth with herbs, the cheese complimented the trout with the addition of briny ikura and fresh dill.

Now if you thought the last 2 appies seemed simple, the next consisted of Fine Ham with compressed melon and wine gelée.  This was essentially prosciutto and melon but completely elevated.  Beyond the salty and buttery ham, the melon squares provided sweetness and moisture.  The flavours were quite concentrated.  Adding in the gelée, it was as if we were drinking some wine to go with our charcuterie.

Last appie was the Grilled Octopus in a heavily concentrated bouillabaisse sauce.  This was amazing where the reduced sauce packed all of the seafoody goodness normally found in a bouillabaisse but 10 times more potent.  It was rich and smooth with enhanced brininess, sweetness and aroma.  This complemented the tender octopus tentacle very well.  We also found some braised and seared fennel as well as potato on the plate.

Onto the mains, we couldn't possibly dine at Joe Beef and not order the Lobster Spaghetti???  Well we did the right thing and it was the proper decision.  This was super rich with plenty of heavy cream spiked with strong lobster essence.  Hence all of the briny sweetness came through.  The spaghetti itself was perfectly al dente where it soaked up all of the lobster cream.  About that half lobster, it was prepared well with a juicy and bouncy texture.  

Presented atop some potatoes gratin, the large Seared Duck Breast was prepared medium.  This was perfect as the meat was still juicy while being tender and meaty.  The skin was generally well-rendered and had some crispiness.  The whole thing was dressed in a luxurious cherry sauce that was silky, tart and sweet.  Such classic flavours and ingredients, but done completely right.

Next, we had the Hanger Steak prepared medium-rare (closer to rare, just how I like it).  Being a hanger steak (as it hangs over the diaphragm), it is flavourful and beefy.  That it was and it sported an even sear on both sides.  It was well-seasoned and tasted great on its own, but the jus underneath was so rich and meaty, it needed to be enjoyed.  However, there was also a house-made fruity steak sauce on the side.  That elevated the meat even more so with a sweet tanginess.

The surprise dish was the Halibut served on top of some ratatouille and smothered in tomato butter.  Wow, just wow, that ratatouille made us feel like that restaurant critic in the movie Ratatouille.  Almost life-changing.  The vegetables were perfectly tender yet not mushy while the flavours were natural, bright and delicious.  Oh and the halibut was flaky and moist too.  That tomato butter was sinfully silky with the essence of tomato.

We cannot forget some of the sides including the Bread and Frites.  These buns were quite good where they were somewhere between dense and fluffy.  However, the main event here was the very good butter.  It was creamy and extremely spreadable while having the right saltiness.  Those frites were pretty solid being crispy with a creamy potato centre.  Of course it was served with a side of aioli.  

By now, we were completely stuffed due to the generous portion sizes and heaviness of the dishes.  Hence, we only got the Éclair to share (it rhymes!).  This was also huge and very well executed with light choux pastry that had a nice crispiness.  It was filled with ice cream and topped with plenty of chocolate sauce.  Decadent.  Okay, gotta say this straight-up - the meal at Joe Beef was fantastic!  Not only was the execution on point, the flavours were purposeful and impactful.  Really no-nonsense food prepared right for the purpose of being delicious.  Sure, prices aren't cheap, but it was worth every penny.

The Good:
- No-nonsense food that is just delicious with impactful flavours
- No-nonsense, but on point service
- Lively environment

The Bad:
- Dining room gets a bit stuffy and warm
- Washroom situation is not the best


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