Coming to Terms with Joe Beef

I ate at Joe Beef for the third time this summer. As those who’ve read my earlier reviews of dinners at Montreal’s temple to gastronomic excess (here and here) know, Joe Beef is my favourite restaurant in its genre in North America. I refer to “the curse of Joe Beef” often when contemplating the lesser offerings of more expensive restaurants in the Twin Cities. Going to Montreal and not eating at Joe Beef seemed unthinkable to me. And so when a trip to Montreal with colleagues materialized earlier this year making a reservation at Joe Beef was one of the the first things I did—I would be taking along with me a couple of friends who’ve heard me rave about the restaurant for some years now. It would be my first dinner there in the summer. Let me explain why we then almost didn’t go and why we finally did. Bewarned: I am going to spend rather less time talking about the meal than about other things. Continue reading

Joe Beef II: The Re-Beefening (Montreal)

Joe Beef: Spaghetti Homard Lobster
Actually, we barely ate any beef at this meal. We did eat very Joe Beefishly though though.

This was my second visit to Joe Beef. The first was in March of 2015—I was in Montreal for a conference and a friend who lives there made a reservation for our group of grad school friends who were all on a panel together. That meal was spectacular and was a large part of my desire to get back to Montreal soon’ish with the missus so she too could eat at Joe Beef and not just listen to me go on about it. This autumn we had the opportunity (and a reason) to do a weekend getaway by ourselves and so it was to Montreal that we decided to go. Note: neither late March nor late October are the optimal times to visit Montreal but I would suggest that there is no bad time to visit Montreal. It’s a beautiful city and if you like food in a French vein there is no better place in North America.  Continue reading

Joe Beef (Montreal)

Joe Beef
If Schwartz’s was one of the places I knew I was going to be eating at in Montreal, Joe Beef was the other. This is literally true: I had a dinner reservation; it is, they say, the hardest reservation in town but we secured it a while ago, once participation in the conference I was attending was confirmed (dining with me were my four friends on my panel, three of whom I had gone to graduate school with and one of whom lives in Montreal). Even a few months out, and even on a Thursday night, the best we could get for a party of five was a table at 9.30. When we arrived the restaurant was packed, the party before us was dawdling, and we were not seated till 10. This gave a couple of us a chance to scan and slowly translate the menu (more on this below) while the rest waited outside (there’s not much space inside for waiting, which made me wonder what people do when it’s really cold outside). Continue reading