Aug 30, 2009
By Alexandra Forbes, guest contributor
I give a LOT of restaurant recommendations. Daily, almost. Surely, one of the consequences of being a restaurant critic. And one of the places in Montreal that I recommend a lot is Joe Beef. Yeah, that little place on Notre Dame St, a bit off the beaten bath, that has gotten a ton of press in the US, owned by that friendly ogre of a chef, Dave McMillan.
Now... surely, if you live in Montreal you're tired of hearing about him. But for those of you who don't: he's one of the city's best-known chefs, who, after leaving Globe (a hot spot of a few years ago, best known for the hot waitresses in tight dresses), went off to create his own mini-empire of hip little restaurants.
Turns out McMillan hit the jackpot with Joe Beef. It was an instant hit, the tiny restaurant a favorite for its party vibe, top-notch oysters and enormous, carefully-prepared dishes. Soon after he opened, I went, loved it, wrote about it and started recommening it.
But that was a couple of years ago and... I never went back. 'Till last night, that is. Slow night, not much happening, so - hey! - why not have a little bite and a glass of vino at Joe Beef?
Sat at the bar. Service was nice enough, although the friendly barman Eric - a DJ - was wearing his own plaid shirt, super caj, if you know what I mean. Just kinda... hanging. He'd recently created a cocktail called the suburban - bourbon, OJ, ginger beer, homemade bitters, black tea syrup. Not bad. Not bad at all (he gave me a little taste).
Great oysters. Delicious wine by the glass - don't ask, wrong pairing! And then came.... the most outstanding grilled octopus, previously poached in wine, with peeled yellow and red cherry tomatoes, the purest expression of late summer, all the garlicky goodness of the sauce enveloping the tender tentacles. Yum.
Fun night, fun place. Hey... that's why I've always recommended Joe Beef.