Joe Beef opened in 2005, named for Charles McKiernan, a tavern owner who died at 54 due to gluttony and generosity. Joe Beef offers a casual take on French fine dining in Montreal’s Little Burgundy neighborhood. The menu changes daily depending on what is fresh and available but oysters seem to be ever-present as are rich, heavy sauces. The menu lists plates of the day, most to be shared and a chalkboard has additional specials. Additionally, they had 3 types of oysters, caviar service and fish (maybe raw?). It won the #24 spot on Canada’s 2023 100 Best list. A couple rooms are closely set with small wood tables and lively music in the background. A full bar is available as is a large wine list and the diners are furnished a towel-sized napkin. Service was great and helpful and the food was wonderful.
We started with some of the raw oysters – two of each of the 3 kinds. They came with lemon wedges, fresh horseradish, mignonette and cocktail sauce. They were all from Canada but the Joe Beef Select were my favorite. They were the ones in the middle. We enjoyed a ‘perfect martini’ (as named on the menu) with the oysters.
Beef tartare was topped with anchovies and came surrounded by thin potato chips. We pulled off the anchovies cause they gave the tender wonderful beef a fishy flavor that was unappealing. On its own, it was quite nice and mixed well with the foie gras appetizer. The chips did not hold their crisp.
Foie Gras terrine was seasoned with truffle and served with toasted brioche. It was creamy and delicious but the truffle flavor was very mild. That didn’t matter though, because the liver taste and texture were divine in the terrine and it was scrumptious on the toasty buttery brioche.
Hanger Steak with Beaujus was nicely cooked and very tender with a delicious wine sauce. There was an extra cup of sauce that tasted a little like barbecue sauce, but was too sweet and overshadowed the beef rather than complimenting it. However, it was good with the fries. On top of the steak was a thick slice of sweet tomato sprinkled with crisp breadcrumbs and a pickle spear and underneath was sauteed spinach. It was a very good plate.
Sweetbreads with Albufera sauce were on top of creamy polenta. They were topped with sweet onions and yellow peppers with a honey sauce. The sweetbreads were cooked perfectly and lovely with the wonderful sauces and onions. This was a fabulous plate if you like sweetbreads.
Frites were well seasoned with good potato flavor but not that crisp. They were on the dark side but didn’t taste burned at all. They came with a thick aioli for dipping but we liked the barbecue sauce.
For dessert we had the Gâteau Basque which was a cheesecake covered with thin sliced peaches. With it we enjoyed a Grappa that was not exactly to my taste but good enough. The cake was great as were the sweet peaches. It wouldn’t pass as a Basque cheesecake but it was certainly good for what it was and a nice ending to a lovely meal.