I've got to admit I was a bit bummed when I heard McKiernan was no more: owners Fred Morin and Dave McMillan decided to close my favourite little lunch spot and turn it into an annex of Joe Beef, opening only at night.
As much as I still miss McKiernan, I've got to say I really like what they've done with it: the oyster bar, much bigger than the original one nextdoor, just feels very right, as if it had been there forever.
The décor, a hodge-podge of old maps and collectibles, a wall lined with white subway tiles, a black leather banquette and shelves filled with wine bottles, is pure McMillan-Morin (the duo doesn't use professional designers, preferring to do it all themselves).
At the back of the restaurant, as usual, they've got several outdoor tables and their beautiful vegetable and herb garden (which has been supplying the restaurant with its bounty for quite a while, since they got the plants going with lamps in the basement in early spring).
The other night I had an appetizer of razorfish clams followed by a gorgeously fresh platter of seafood, which included Lucky Lime oysters from Prince Edward Island and langoustine tails, a lobster claw, shrimps and also scallops (that I only wish had come "nature", so the seasonings wouldn't get in the way of tasting their sweetness).
The "boys" are very busy these days working out the final details of their upcoming book: The Art of Living According to Joe Beef (Ten Speed Press).
Rather than a mere recipe compilation, this will be a book about the city of Montreal, seen through their eyes - with a foreword written by David Chang of the Momofuku empire in New York. It will be on sale starting October 11, but Amazon is already taking pre-orders (link below).
Here is a description of the book's contents, by the publishers:
Located in a working-class neighborhood of Montreal, Joe Beef is at the center of Montreal’s growing reputation as a culinary destination. Often referred to as the Paris of North America, Montreal is the second-largest French-speaking city in the world, and like France, food is at the heart of its identity.
In The Art of Living According to Joe Beef, co-owners/chefs Frédéric Morin and David McMillan, along with writer and former Joe Beef staff member Meredith Erickson, present 135 unforgettable recipes showcasing Joe Beef’s unconventional approach to French market cuisine. Advocating the use of ingredients from local or family-owned producers whenever possible, this collection of hearty dishes delivers. The Strip Loin Steak comes complete with ten variations, Kale for a Hangover wisely advises the cook to eat and then go to bed, and the Marjolaine includes tips for welding your own cake mold. Joe Beef’s most popular dishes are also represented, such as Spaghetti Homard-Lobster, Foie Gras Breakfast Sandwich, Pork Fish Sticks, and Pojarsky de Veau (a big, moist meatball served on a bone). The coup de grâce is the Smorgasbord—Joe Beef’s version of a Scandinavian open-faced sandwich—with thirty different toppings.
This cookbook (of sorts) is packed with personal stories, Fred’s favorite train trips, Dave’s ode to French Burgundy, instructions for building a backyard smoker and making absinthe, a Montreal travel guide, and beaucoup plus. With nearly every recipe photographed in exquisite detail, this nostalgic yet utterly modern cookbook is a groundbreaking guide to living an outstanding culinary life.
Joe Beef: 2491 Notre-Dame St. West, tel: (514) 935-6504