Joe Beef has been on my list for some time but I was saving it for a special occasion. My birthday seemed to be a good excuse, so I went to their website to make a reservation. Getting a table wasn’t easy though. As expected, the place is fully booked months in advance. If you want to find a spot there on weekends, you’ll probably have to wait. I had to content myself with postponing my celebration dinner for a couple of weeks.
Finally, the big day arrived! I was really excited about it! Joe Beef has a reputation of being one of the best restaurants in Montreal and I had only heard good things about it from friends and bloggers. It turned out that my experience wasn’t that great though.
We got there right after they had opened and the placed was already packed. The atmosphere was cozy and casual, which for me was great since I get a bit uncomfortable in fancy restaurants. But the space is quite small, so tables are set too close to each other and I had a hard time to get to my seat.
Joe Beef’s menu is extensive and changes daily. Everything is written on a chalkboard on the wall behind the bar. Choosing what to order was at least challenging, considering that the place is quite dark and the handwriting wasn’t very readable. It was very awkward to read it standing around other diners. So, we decided to ask for suggestions. And for my surprise, the waiter was very rude. He started saying that he couldn’t suggest any dishes because everything that they serve is always fresh and outstanding. Then he told us to close our eyes and simply point to the menu.
He sounded very snob and disrespectful. My husband wanted to leave right away after that, but I convinced him to stay and try the food. The waiter left and we took a picture of the menu in order to decide what to eat. For the appetizer, we chose a Deep-fried Mozzarella di Bufala ($18) and the Smoked Bone Marrow with Poached Snails ($14). As main courses, I had the Carré de Porcelet, Frites et Moutarde ($25) and he went for the Cou d’Agneau Boulangère ($30).
Overall, the food failed to wow us. There was nothing really exceptional about the deep-fried Mozzarella di Bufala. In addition, they served it cold. Then, my carré de porcelet was extremely salty. So salty, I couldn’t finish it. My husband’s lamb was good, but it felt a bit uninspired. Even the dessert I had, a Panna Cotta with fruit & Verveine ($6), was just ok.
The only exception was the Bone Marrow with Snails. That one was absolutely flawless. It was rich in flavor and beautifully presented, just like the other dishes should have been.
Ok. Perhaps my expectations were too high. Honestly, I still want to believe that we simply had an unlucky night and ended up doing the wrong menu choices. I can’t say Joe Beef doesn’t use high quality ingredients or that the food is not extremely well prepared. I just think that, when it comes to service, they should make sure to offer their clients top-notch hospitality.
Does anyone have a Joe Beef experience to share? Maybe you can convince me to go back for a second try.