Archive for the ‘steakhouse’ Category

Welcoming this new  year with an overwiew of the highs and lows of my 2016/2017 foodie adventures:

The best  meals of 2016/2017:
Le Coucou (NYC), Sushi Azabu (NYC), Dons Bogam (NYC) , Hvor (Montreal) — but Chef S’Arto Chartier-Otis does not work there anymore, Pamika brasserie Thai (Montreal), Ichimura (NYC) but Chef Ichimura does not work there anymore, Nozy (Montreal), Cocoro (Montreal), Argo (Fira), TO Ouzeri (Fira), Old Tavern of Psaras (Athens), Mere Michel (Montreal), Kelsey & Kim’s southern cafe (Atlantic City), Junior’s (Brooklyn), Jordan’s lobster dock (Brooklyn), The River Café (Brooklyn), La Caye (Brooklyn),  The steak at Wolfgang steakhouse Park Avenue (NYC)

The most memorable food items of 2016/2017:
1.Le Gâteau Mollet du Marquis de Béchamel et la Glace Fondue à la Rhubarbe (Pres d’Eugenie)
Wall of fame material.
2.Rutabaga fettucine, black truffles, hazelnut butter, mimolette cheese (Hvor, Montreal) – Lifetime achievement award!!!
3.Roasted pineapple (Le Coucou) –
They all say they can make it. In reality, few, very few can pull out some roasted pineapple of this quality.

My GO-TO places:

La Frite à Brigitte (Vaudreuil-Dorion). When I discovered Quebecois classic food, I was filled with awe. Simple French-based food but full of dazzling flavors. Quebecois people have an awesome palate. They have glorious food items like the Poutine. French fries, gravy, cheese curds. Sounds straightforward, right? Perhaps, but Poutine is one of the best inventions of all times. It is so tasty, so well thought, so great. La Frite à Brigitte is currently my GO-TO place for their superb poutine . I keep going there for more. La Frite à Brigitte Addr: 347 Boulevard Harwood, Vaudreuil-Dorion, QC Phone: (450) 510-5151. My other GO-TO place in Montreal is Reuben’s Deli & Steakhouse. I never tried any steak there, but their delis are some of the most refined and better executed of this globe. They seem to pull off great things after great things at Reuben’s: some of the best strawberry cheesecakes in town, the best sliders I ever had in Montreal, etc. I am not implying that it is the restaurant of the century, but at whatever it does, it consistently  outshines its competitors.  Reuben’s Addr: 1116 Sainte-Catherine W. Montreal, Qc Phone: 514-866-1029. My other go-to places in  Montreal: Gyu-Kaku, the current best local table top bbq grill restaurant.    Ichi Go Ichie (the best Isakaya, right now, in Montreal) , Escondite (the best local tacos and tequila bar),  Panama, my preferred Greek eatery in town, as well Loukouman Addr: 522 Jarry Ouest Montréal, Québec, H3N-1E9 Phone: 514-272-5272  (indeed, some of the best loukoumades in town eventhough they do not use the pricey honey that I am usually fond of, but regardless, they are as fine as you will get them in town, better than the ones of Mr Puffs, most Greeks will tell you, and that is what I think,  too). Another go to spot is Nouilles de Lan Zhou.  I also tried   Souvlaki Bar (the one in Laval) as well as the Marathon that is at 3313 Boulevard des Sources, Dollard-des-Ormeaux (the Marathon in Laval is disappointing) and both were good by Montreal Souvlaki Chain eateries (food cooked to order, the pork souvlaki as tender and meaty as it should at Souvlaki bar, the gyros you should prioritize at Marathon, the ingredients are fine at both places). Talking about Greek eateries  in Montreal, I had some of the best pork souvlaki in Montreal around 25  years ago at a place called Marvens in Parc Extension. Marvens used to also serve one of the very best homemade sauce, their special sauce boasting a light orange hue. Remembering how great it used to be, I went back this past summer and I am saddened  to submit that Marvens’s star  has faded: the special sauce is so sour, nowadays, that it made the food almost inedible. Inedible is also how I would describe the once stellar pork souvlaki which consistency is nowadays dry and tough. People who knew Marvens 25 years ago will be in a serious shock.  Away from Montreal, I am  a big fan of Jordan’s lobster dock (Brooklyn) that I never fail to visit every time I find myself in New York. Their seafood is so popular that it is even exported to Canada. This is the best seafood shack of  New York city. Jordan’s lobster dock 3165 Harkness Ave, Sheepshead Bay – Brooklyn, NY 11235 United States; Phone number (718) 934-6300; URL: http://www.jordanslobster.com .

The best food items of 2016/2017:
1.Mustard ice cream, grilled leavened bread, green tomatoes (Hvor, Montreal) – WOW!
2.Carpaccio of Quebec’s lamb, grated prosciutto (Hvor, Montreal) – You die  and are resurrected just for that!
3.Braised oxtail / potatoes (Le Coucou, NYC) – Even a 3 star Classic French Michelin restaurant in France would be J*E*A*L*O*U*S!!
4. Sea eel (anago) nigiri (Ichimura,NYC) – I thought this nigiri was  flown in straight from one of the best sushiyas of Tokyo!!
5.Langue de boeuf/ pommes/arachides/vinaigrette gingembre (Marconi, Montreal) – Ok, my life did not feel shattered, but damn ..that was GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
6. The ramen at Cocoro (Montreal) – SLURP! …because, in the ramenya world,  that is the way to show how enchanted you were, about your ramen!
7. Grilled goat at Petite Ya quartier (Mtl) – With flavors like these….Oh you, Mother Africa, you make it impossible …. to stop loving you!

-The LOWS:
-The oysters at Docks Oyster House (Atlantic city)
-All the food at Vizantino taverna (Athens)
-My meal at Miss Favela (Brooklyn)

The reviews that you have perused the most in 2017: The review on Montreal steakhouses is the one that you keep favoring the most year after year.  It is an old review, dating back to  2013. Definitely not the review that I was expecting  to captivate any attention  on this blog, but somehow you like it.  At some point I did consider removing all posts of more than a year on this blog, as they become irrelevant,  but it would be a  nonsense to do so (I never saw a food blogger proceeding that way). The second most popular review was the one on Sushi Sawada (Tokyo). I am glad to see that you were interested by that review as it proves one thing: people are, sometimes, more interested by the content of a review, the technical aspect of the food that  lies before them (is it well conceived, does it respect the fundamentals of good cooking, you know…the right texture, the right temperature, etc) , rather than food porn (sexy instagram-esque pictures —  I was ready to shoot the pictures, actually, but we have got to respect the rules of a house, which, in the case of Sawada, forbids photo taking to normal diners). The 3rd most popular posts are  the ones on Dons de la Nature(Tokyo) and this post I wrote on Gault Millau Montreal/Yakitori Otto/Bombay Mahal Tali/Chez Jano.

4th most popular post, among you – The review on Argo (Fira) as well as the one on Kam Fung (Montreal)
5th  – L’Arpege (Paris)
6th – Ishikawa (Tokyo)
7th – Nice  (Cote d’Azur)
8th – Sushi Oono (Tokyo)
9th – Kanbai (Montreal)

This  web blog’s main intent is to cater to some close foodies with whom I share information about places where to dine at.  In the process, it benefits to the rest of the web as well – obviously. It is also an opportunity to have a firm  idea of how the information on the web is manipulated by many  individuals of the restaurant world (expecting otherwise would be utterly naive … ): although I was pleasantly surprised by the considerable amount of hits on the 9 posts I have just mentioned above (numbers that could almost rival those web sites that have a PR machine behind them — certainly a surprise for a web site that is anonymous like mine), it is clear that some  restaurants around the globe are paying the search engines to filter what can be found on them. That makes sense as it is all about business, protecting business, masquerading their failures as success, etc, and it takes a non restaurant-friendly source like the current  blog to remind you of that. Apparently, based on the wordpress stats of this blog,   you do  not care  for some of the very best restaurants of this globe …  Trattoria Vecchia Roma offers some of the best Traditional Cucina Romana in the world.  Sushi Azabu, Ichimura (New York) are some of the best sushiyas outside of Japan. Le Coucou (New York), one of the best French restaurants outside of France. Dons Bogam  (New York), one of the best Korean BBQ outside of South Korea.  Le Casse Noix (Paris),  has some of the best  riz au lait and Ile flottante in the world. Readers of this blog could not care less. Yeah, yeah, yeah…I believe that    truely exists.  Lol…a nonsense as those restaurants are some of the most popular of this planet…

Paris lost one of its best classic French restaurants (Moissonier) –  Moissonier , which  had  the best French pike quenelles as well as rice cake  of Paris, did close this summer. Paris will never be the same without  this restaurant which served classic French food from Lyon and Franche-Comté as remarkable as the impressive resume of its Chef (an Ex sous Chef of culinary legends such as Alain Senderens, The Troisgros family). Certainly  the sign that people, nowadays, are more interested by hype rather than substance: the closure of this restaurant did not make the headlines…  Moissonnier Addr: 28, rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard, Paris, Phone: 01 43 29 87 65

My special journey in Fontjoncouse – According to the Michelin guide, their 3 star restaurants “worth a special journey”.  L’Auberge du Vieux Puits in Fontjoncouse is a 3 star Michelin restaurant that is considered as one of the very best French restaurants in the world by those in the know. I had lunch and dinner there. You will find more, about my meals at L’Auberge du Vieux Puits, here.

A stopover in Northern Catalonia’s Perpinyà  – At approximately 60 kms away from Fontjoncouse, you will find   Perpignan. Northern Catalonia was Spanish, then became French in 1659. It is an area that the French call Pyrénées-Orientales.  In Perpignan, I tried Le Divil which was recently credited with the title of the best restaurant for meats in France by Internationally acclaimed  steak expert Franck Ribière of the movie ‘Steak Revolution‘  (click here for that review) .

I was born to the sound of the sea waves hitting the rocks – It is magical. It really is, because all your life you remember the smell of that sea, the noise of the waves hitting those rocks and the treasure you sometimes found on those rocks. On those rocks, there were ..oftently..oysters! One of the ‘gemstones’ of the sea.  Decades later, oysters do not stop to fascinate me. While in Southern France, I had another opportunity to flirt with them, once again. This time, they were in one of France’s most important destinations of oysters, Leucate. Leucate is a commune in the department of Aude, a department with some of France’s most picturesque communes (Peyriac-de-Mer, one of its communes, has the potential to leave the most in awe). Most part of Leucate is composed of swathes of  beautiful landscapes (beaches, blue waters, the sea, the mountains).  Unexpectedly, the oysters ..those jewels of the sea…well, it is in the less pretty part of Leucate that you will find them. An area called Le Grau de Leucate where less than 30 oyster stands are offering the local Cap Leucate oyster. An hour away from Leucate, I had  the opportunity to taste some  dazzling oysters in Bouzigues which is located on the northern side of  the  Étang de Thau (famous for its oysters). In Perpignan, I pursued with the spéciale de claire and pousses en claire of Alain Laugier Goulevant from Marennes-Oléron and  I feasted on some  cupped (creuses) Prat-Ar-coum  oysters  as well as some Aber-Vrach flat (plates)  oysters  of  Yvon Madec at the  seafood restaurant 7 ème Vague Boniface .  I also found some of my preferred oysters of France, Yves Papin ‘s bivalves, in Perpignan.  All world class oysters.

 

Cannot wait to try world famed Sorbillo Pizza in New York – New Yorkers, those lucky bastards! Lol. They attract the best of the best! Sushi Saito (Tokyo) is the current best sushiya in the world. Guess what… they had one of their Chefs who was ready to go working abroad, but it had to be ..guess where…in NYC, of course (Chef Shion Uino now working  at Sushi Amane at Mifune ). You remember the legendary Jiro, of Jiro Dreams? Well, that is not ‘new’ news anymore, but his apprentice  Nakazawa (one of the main characters of the movie Jiro Dreams) is ..guess where? Examples of great Chefs attracted by New York are endless (Ferran Adria, Joel Robuchon, Alain Ducasse, Rene Redzepi, Massimo Bottura, Enrique Olvera), with the latest being Legendary Neapolitan Pizzaiolo Gino Sorbillo. I have long been fascinated by Pizze, particularly the Neapolitan Pizza. Actually, my next major ‘foodie’ project is to spend 3 months in Naples and review every single of their Pizza shops (a bit like what this guy did, many years ago, but I will stick to Naples, world’s ‘temple’ of the Neapolitan Pizza).  It took me a while to be prepared for this project: first, I wanted to spend years tasting all sort of Neapolitan pizze, understanding  the techniques, the ingredients, etc. I did that for the past 20 years and do, consequently, nowadays, feel ready for the last step before visiting all the Pizza shops of Napoli:  doing an apprenticeship at 3 of the best Pizza shops of Napoli. This will not be easy, perhaps even impossible, but where there is a will, there is a way!  If that happens, the 3 shops will not be reviewed  (I am a bit ‘old school’ about this, and do have nothing against those who think otherwise — I mean we are in an era where most critics do not care about such details — but I insist on never reviewing establishments that I am familiar with), but revealed, of course  (I would like the relevant blog to feature videos of what I am learning at those shops, as well as detailed written  accounts of my journey as an apprentice pizzaiolo in Napoli) .  Regarding Sorbillo NYC, expect the food journalists of  NYC to review it inaccurately as they never went to Napoli and will review this shop with their North American taste. You will not fail to identify those who have no clue of what to expect from a Neapolitan pizza: they will complain about the crust being a bit limpy (Americans prefer a crispier crust). Well, it is the way it is done in Napoli, folks! If you want a pizza which pie is crispy, them opt for a Roman style pizza or any of  your usual  Italian-American pizze. In the meantime, Sorbillo NYC, here I come !  Zia Esterina Sorbillo  334 Bowery Street at Bond Street, NYC Phone: (646) 678-3392 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SorbilloNYC/

The GREATEST CHEFS of the globe – My generation was gifted with some of the most talented Chefs of all time. One of them was Jacques Maximin. Chef Maximin  has inspired legends such as Ferran Adria as well as highly regarded Chefs like  Franck Cerutti, Christophe Moret or Bruno Cirino. Nowadays, he is not an active Chef anymore. He stood out for his impressive creativity. Oftently, he was able to create, with limited time, what many of the  other legendary  Chefs would, sometimes,  take ages to achieve. Perhaps the culinary Genius who had the more wit, the best natural instinct when it came to Classic French cuisine:

 

Series “Follow this CHEF” – There are NOT that many TRUELY talented world class Chefs around the globe at this moment. Many are marketed as such, for sure, but few are THAT talented. One superb talent is Chef David Bizet. He is largely considered, by those in the know,  as one of this globe’s  most underrated star Chefs right now. David is relatively young, and yet he has been the right hand of several multiple  michelin starred Chefs (Christian Lesquer, Phillipe Legendre, Eric Briffard). David will, sooner or later, have  its 3 Michelin stars and he will deserve them (which is not the case of some Michelin triple starred chefs who earned their stars just by following following the ‘checklist’ of what it takes to get there). For now (January 2018), David is at the helm of L’orangerie (Four seasons)  in Paris.

New York City’s Michelin Stars for 2018  –  I do not understand the Michelin guide (yeah, I know, it is trendy to say so, in the anti-Michelin circles, but it is NOT better in the anti-Michelin world, neither! ) on one hand, you have plenty of Japanese restaurants in NYC  that are awarded stars, and deservedly so… because, yep, truth be told,  we are talking about hard working people, proud of their craft rather than a bunch of money hungry bums disguised as restaurateurs as widely seen elsewhere in some other supposedly food cities. But then, why demoting Jean-Georges? I do  oftently visit  NYC and do know Jean-Georges well  and there is no difference between  Jean-Georges  in its current form Vs the one of the other years. Same for Daniel, btw! Is it, because Michelin, came to the conclusion that they should  not have been awarded  3 stars in the first place? Well, if that is the reason, then dear Michelin, you should have thought about that…in the first place! Is it because both Jean-Georges and Daniel do not have the “grandiose’ looks and feel of   3 star Michelin restaurants  like Per Se and  Eleven Madison Park? The special ‘cachet’ of Masa? I am sure NOT,   as Michelin does not have a  limited vision  of what the restaurant world should be about: to the contrary of what the anti-Michelin lobby is trying to sell to us, you do not have 1 type of restaurant that Michelin favors. Michelin stars were awarded to plenty of restaurants that do, actually, fit the mold of its competitors and detractors  — for example, L’Arpège and L’Astrance in Paris, which are restaurants that Michelin competitors  such as Le Fooding and  San Pellegrino top 50 restaurants do regard as ‘non-Michelin enough’, ‘non-Palace enough’. Well, in reality, both L’Arpège and L’Astrance have … 3 Michelin stars! Examples like those abound: MirazurOsteria FrancescanaAsador Etxebarri are  all  San Pellegrino top 50 restaurants ‘bestsellers’. Well, they ALL have  Michelin stars, too!  Business is business…you can “bark”  as loud as you want, but at the end of the day, they are all competing for the same thing! At least, Michelin has managed, up to now, to avoid  laughable  decisions such as marketing  an ordinary restaurant  which best meal is  spaghetti and lobster …. as one of the top 100 best restaurants of the globe! A recent  “exploit” in the world  of  one of  Michelin’s  competitors (if, at least, that was the best spaghetti or the best obster out there, but no..not at all, not even close….Rfaol!).  Back to Michelin NYC 2018… I am not done with it: Torishin, the 1 star Michelin yakitori…can someone tell me how no Michelin inspector ever ran into the mixed bag of a service that did put me off when I was there (as reviewed here). What…??..the bad waiters I met at Torishin are nowhere to be found when the Michelin inspectors do visit Torishin? That mixed service would be BAU at a hole in a wall eatery managed by bums, nothing to do with a Michelin star restaurant!

N° 900 pizzeria is a one big succes story of  the Pizza  scene in the province of Quebec. Their growth  was such  that they have expanded to  16 restaurants across Quebec in a very short period of time. I went to the one in Laval (https://no900.com/restaurants/centropolis-laval/) and ordered a margherita pizza: the cornizone (puffy rim) in evidence as it should with its (expected ) tinges of a blackened edge, fresh herbs are used, cooked in a wood-burning oven, but the pie I was having became tough too quickly (in comparison to the better renditions of the neapolitan pizze I tried elsewhere), and the sauce (not enough sauce, btw)  lacked a bit of the bright acidity and high mineral content that  I came to expect from the better San Marzano tomato sauces I had. I am realitistic enough to avoid surreal expectations such as expecting a Neapolitan pizza to be as good in Montreal as it can be in Napoli, or even in a true world class foodie destination like NYC, but Bottega (the one of St Zotique) used to make a far better Neapolitan pizza (I wrote “used to” because on my last visit, last summer at Bottega, my pizza was a far cry  from the dazzling pizze   they have served me for many years). That said,  N° 900 pizzeria has a friendly service, a nice  ambience and the pizza is  pleasant enough for me to go back. Save your dreams of a stellar Neapolitan-style pizza for your next trip to Naples or  New York and just eat your pizza quickly (which you should do, anyways) to enjoy that pie while it is crispy and chewy.  N° 900 pizzeria, Addr: 540 Promenade Du Centropolis, Laval. Phone: (450) 973-0947 URL: https://no900.com/restaurants/centropolis-laval/

Restaurant Petit Seoul opened in December 2017 to wide acclaim from the local food critics and it quickly turned into a very popular restaurant. I did visit it on a Tuesday evening, an evening that was quiet even for its very popular neighbor Magpie Pizzeria, and yet Petit Seoul was full of patrons. There’s no doubt that the kitchen brigade can cook genuine South Korean food as evidenced by a successful haemulgeon (seafood pancake with spring onion, carrot, onion and sweet potato) , but they seem to want to please the local crowd a bit too much: the dolsot bibimbap was adapted to local palates, meaning that is was not as genuinely flavored as I came to expect from the finer  dolsot bibimbap I had elsewhere, even here in Montreal.  I was missing a bap (rice) that stands out (it was fine, especially for Montreal, but the bap needed to impress more — obviously — for a dish that relies heavily on rice. I was missing morsels of meat that can delight. The beefy flavor that I came to expect from my bibimbap‘s meat happened to be a wish, here, not a feature.  Korean chili paste flavor is one of the most fascinating flavors out there, the art of seasoning, marinating and pickling  are Korean’s specialities, and a superior bibimbap is THE opportunity to showcase the vast array of cooking techniques of the Koreans (there is a reason why the bibimbap is considered by many to be one of world’s  most popular dishes…), but all of that was toned down and you can thank our local diners for this: they want Korean food but the way they want it, not the way Koreans are supposed to do it. Petit Seoul is a business, therefore you can’t blame them to adapt to their clientele! Petit Seoul  Addr: 5245 Boulevard Saint-Laurent Montreal, Quebec H2T 1S4 Phone: (514) 379-4929 URL: https://www.facebook.com/restaurantpetitseoul/

Pamika Brasserie Thai – Pursued with another major local opening, Pamika, a  Thai-inspired restaurant that is already one of the most popular  restaurants  in Montreal. There, on a 1st visit, I ordered their beef salad made of grilled flank steak, their seafood Tom Kha soup (the broth made of coconut milk, lemongrass and galangal), as well as  their  red curry seafood  which is made of kaffir leaves, basil, coconut milk, red peppers, calamaris and shrimps). Every single dish was eventful, featuring vibrant colors, enticing textures, judicious seasoning and superbly well balanced  genuine Thai  flavors. At handling, and cooking  seafood, they seem to have an edge on plenty of ambitious local restaurants. The Gaeng Daeng (red curry) obviously made of  a high quality curry paste. On a second visit, I was less taken by the green curry/chicken/winter melon/Thai eggplant/coconut milk/basil , the Yellow curry/chicken thighs/potatoes/coconut milk as well as the Thai satay chicken skewers   but that was because of personal taste (sometimes, for Thai food,  I just prefer the old fashion rustic bold mom-and-pop Thai flavors + there are some Thai regional ways of making sauces that I prefer more than others and I tend to be partial to  charcoal grilled satay) and not for a lack of skills as they all  were competently executed and were tasty. A special of the day, on my second visit, consisted of a starter of marinated pork in lemon grass (picture above), the pork finished on a grill. That starter looked simple, but that is the sign of a great kitchen brigade: it makes everything it does look so simple. Not many kitchen brigades are capable to deliver such a perfected starter as most would either under or over season it, others would grill it too long or not enoughly long killing the  delicious  flavor of the meat  in the process, some would cook it well but serve it at the wrong moment which would reduce their work to a non happening. Behind that superlative starter  there was a great deal of technical mastery (timing of its cooking, timing of its serving,  superb work of its marinade —lemongrass is a tricky ingredient for marinades as you really need to know what you are doing with it or else it will make your food pass as punishment —  which is not given to all cooks, btw,  a precise balance of the flavors, again …not an  ability that all cooks happen to be gifted with). The signs of the skills of this kitchen continued to be on display in their flawless  condiments and sauces. Traditional Thai desserts may be perceived as basic to most western eyes and palates, but they remain enjoyable:  I tried the Khao neow ma muang (sticky rice with mango) as well as  the Thai tapioca pudding.  The mango of the Khao neow ma muang may not come from Thailand, but the kitchen picked a ripe mango of fine quality,  the sticky texture of the rice properly rendered, the warm coconut cream a benchmark of its kind.  Both desserts were  well executed, their respective   Thai flavor profiles in evidence. Here is an example of a talented kitchen brigade that is not hiding behind the fear of having to cook what its patrons  want it to cook. Instead, it is cooking what it is supposed to cook, pulling off  Thai flavors that are as genuine as they get in Montreal (which they manage to keep at the forefront even when they add their own  twists here and there).  It will always be delusional to expect Thai food to taste exactly the same as in Thailand , this far away from Thailand (obviously, to do so, you would need every single ingredient to come from Thailand and shipped to you in a blink of an eye after being  harvested, and not long after, it will inevitably cost an arm to eat there  and the restaurant will go bankrupt), and this is not your old fashion (heavy sauces, bold) type of Thai food (the genuine Thai flavors are there, though, which is what matters), but Pamika is an elite  ethnic restaurant  in Montreal  right now.  Seems like Montreal has an an all rounder, here  (service and overall dining experience are good, quality ingredients and cooking are on display). Pamika Brasserie Thai, Addr: 901 Sherbrooke East, Montreal, Phone: (514) 508-9444 URL: http://pamika.ca

 

My next ‘immediate’ foodie project  – It is about time, for me, to take   my passion for food to another level. Cooking since my tender childhood and submitting my palate to all sorts of taste sensations  from all around the globe as well as trying to see what the girls and boys of the restaurant industry were  up to  (the sole reason I enjoyed visiting  restaurants) was useful, for sure. But now, I have seen what I had to and I am more than ready for the next steps: as mentioned earlier on, learning how to perfect the art of the Neapolitan Pizza, in Naples, is one of the next projects that is of interest. That can’t be done right away, though. Therefore, my next immediate foodie project is to focus on pushing taste sensations to dimensions that we are not used to, this side of our sphere. Lately, I have been experimenting a lot with the moringa (pictured above). It is ‘trendy’ , in the western world,  to introduce exotic ingredients in  our vocabulary, therefore the moringa is on everyone’s mind, but what matters to me is how complex, in terms of taste sensations, the moringa is. It is rare, in one single ingredient, to get to experience with a collection of clashing taste sensations like the ones delivered by the moringa. The moringa, on a culinary perspective, …it is a real ‘pain in the butt’, but as with everything that is not ‘easy to deal with’, it leads to interesting opportunities..

May 2018 be joyous, fruitful  for the epicurious in us and above all….DELICIOUS!

 

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Le Divil (Addr: 9 rue des Fabriques D en Nabot, 66000, Perpignan, France Phone: +33 4 68 34 57 73)

According to  the international experts of the steak, the best restaurant of France, for meat, in 2017 is le Divil –  Franck Ribière and  Vérane Frédiani, authors of Steak in France as well as internationally acclaimed  experts of the steak have awarded le Divil with the title of France’s best restaurant, for meats, in 2017. Franck has also a movie  about steaks called Steak Revolution in which he documents his trips  around the world in search of the finest steaks possible.

Aging beef : an art or a just a trend? –  Beef aging is nowadays a trend in the restaurant world, but as it is the case with everything that is lucrative, many are aging their meat but rare are those who are delivering an aged beef that lives up to the hype. That is because it is not …lucrative enough to go through what it takes to get the job done properly: months of trial and error, matching the right technique….to the right cut of meat… at the right storing temperature, etc. It is a complex combination of know-how (that few can have because the most are busy running without taking the time to learn walking…) and genuine passion (the attitude of a true artisan, but that is too old school/too time consuming by the standards of the most, nowadays).

Aging beef is  also another strategy of the restaurant industry to ‘milk the cow’. But when done properly, I will admit that it’s a luxury (because …. obviously … properly aged quality meat will not come cheap) that is worth the hype.  Earlier on, I argued that it is rare to find people, in the food industry, that have the right know-how of aging meat, and that could not have been more accurate: just look at how, most of them, do store their aged meats and the lack of proper know-how is an evidence for those in the know. Another proof of the total lack of proper know-how: have you noticed that most restaurateurs do recommended the same doneness no matter the cut, no matter the marbling…that’s absurd as anyone with proper understanding of the science of meats should know that the doneness needs to be adjusted to, as an example, how marbled or not the meat is. Absurd is actually an understatement: many do mix wet and dry aging to…inevitably…an ordinary effect. Why? Well, again….the basic principles of ‘ science ‘ is misunderstood by most of those people aging meat: when you put something wet on something dry… guess what…the dry effect is cancelled. Aging beef is sublime when it is an art. Sadly, it is oftently  no more than  just a trend in the hands of the most.

What  I ate at Le Divil – I ordered a bone-in ribeye of Baltic Beef (tasting a bit of  nuts, saline), dry aged for 100 days days, from Poland as well as a 70 days dry-aged Montbéliard (France) bone-in ribeye (to the smell, before they cooked it, it had the smell of  dry cured ham) . Both were examples of world class dry-aged pieces of quality red meat.  Just remember that they do not serve them to you as  whole steak the  way that a steakhouse would serve it to you in North America, but as meat that is sliced  in pieces (a bit like how they serve your red meat at a Japanese teppanyaki). With meat of this quality, always opt for the default suggested doneness of the house as they know what they are doing (indeed, the doneness ‘bleu’, which the Chef did strongly suggest, was the best doneness for both dry-aged meats as the texture of the meat as well as its flavour were at their best).

Bottom line: Oftently, in the industry, many mix dry and wet ageing, and you are punished with a meat with no real beefy character. Both the Montbelliard and Baltic beef were dry aged meats (as well as all their aged meats at Le Divil), and it was obvious that the meat was aged in perfect conditions (finding the right temperature, and not just using the defacto recommended ones is key to a beautifully dry aged piece of meat, which is what was achieved here). And I am traditionally fond of red meat grilled on open fire, which is the cooking method they use at Le Divil. But next time I will go there, I will insist to get my 20oz bone in rib eye steak…The Chef finds it (a whole piece of 20oz of bone-in ribeye) too much, for 1 pers, but in North America, we are used to it. When meat is superbly dry aged like these, a chunky 20oz bone-in rib eye is what I am looking for. I will go back.

***Joel Robuchon, unleashes a restaurant in Montreal – In 1989, Gault Millau, once a major competitor of  the Michelin guide,  did not hesitate to name Joel Robuchon their “Chef of the century”. Since then, the legendary Chef has opened plenty of michelin starred restaurants around the globe and this year, Chef Robuchon will add Montreal to  “his map” as it was first  announced by the Journal de Montreal in April 2015 (the article can be found here). The restaurant will be located in the  Montreal casino . It will be an “Atelier Robuchon” (Think  of  gourmet French/Cosmopolitan food  served to you in a  tapas-bar inspired  contemporary chic dining room, in  black and red tones,   where you can sit at a square counter and  interact with the kitchen brigade. In general, at an Atelier Robuchon, you have table seating too )  and  it is expected to open this fall.  For those familiar with the reality  of the local  restaurant  scene, the idea of opening  an “Atelier” Robuchon instead of  a  formal Robuchon fine dining venture is certainly a no-brainer. But time has come for much  more than just “ideas that make sense”  as this is  the 3rd attempt of a  Michelin starred Chef in Montreal after Gordon Ramsay and Daniel Boulud (Gordon’s adventure lasting not long and Daniel, which currently opened downtown restaurant, although  fine and popular,  never managed to overwhelm its local competition).  Atelier de Joel Robuchon,  Addr: 1 Avenue du Casino, Montréal

WOLFGANG1***Wolfgang steakhouse Park Avenue (New York) –  I dropped by Manhattan which is situated couple of hours drive away from Montreal and ate at Wolfgang steakhouse Park Ave which owner (Wolfgang Zwiener) was a waiter at Peter Luger for four decades. If,like me, you are both a huge fan of North American style steakhouses as well as Arts, then this place combines both attractions  under one roof as the artfully decorated ceiling is worthy of attention. On to the point, I could not order their star item, the Porterhouse for two , because my dining companion insisted on ordering her sirloin, which I did not taste, thus cannot opine on, but she certainly was not unhappy about it.

WOLFGANG2I ordered the Bone-in rib eye steak  which, although not the best I had in North America, was at least not far neither from the (rare) better  ones, the 28 days ++  dry aged USDA prime cut packed with enticing robust taste sensation, featuring a well judged char  (charred enoughly long for a proper crusty exterior while leaving the inside perfectly buttery tender and juicy), the steak cooked  to the exact measure of doneness requested (medium rare). I also  had some excellent blue point oysters from Long Island, big, plump and tasting marvellously of the sea. The sides are also well prepared here: broccoli was timely sauteed with chips of garlic, the french fries packed with fresh  potato flavor and boasting attractive texture, with only the mushrooms failing to be enjoyable because they were  way too salty.  My verdict (Benchmark>Great>Good>Above average>Average): Great (8/10 Categ: World Class North American Steakhouse) NY is a mecca for good steakhouses, so the fierce competition is obviously forcing  the chophouses to step up their game  and the diners to be particularly picky. But at the end of the day, at such  level of perfecting the steak, it boils down to personal tastes:  I like and I am perfectly able to appreciate the nuances of the “feel” of dry aged over wet aged meat, and this rib eye  steak met my expectations. I tend to perceive meat that is dry aged in between 35 to 40 days  to provide the mouthfeel I want, and the taste of that steak  had an effect on the palate that got  close to what I wanted  (perhaps short of  3,4 extra days of dry aging, for my taste, but I am nitpicking here).  There are perhaps two or three  exceptional North American artisan butchers as well as steakhouses that  did surprise me with rib  steaks that were a  tad superior to this one I was having at Wolfgang Steakhouse, but  WS  is a genuinely great North American chophouse.  That said, it is pricey and at those prices, I wished the service could be more consistent: it was not bad, actually really great in the beginning (not overbearing, very courteous) , but as soon as it got busy,  both my dining companion and myself  virtually stopped existing (our  glasses of water were  left empty for 45 mins…I can understand that you want us to  enjoy our meal and not be bothered by the  constant presence of the wait staff…but 45 minutes and not realizing that the glasses of water are empty…well, I can see no excuse for that) – Wolfgang steakhouse Park Avenue , Addr: 4 Park Ave, New York, NY 10016,  Phone:+1 212-889-3369

01***The best Hakata style Tonkontsu  ramen in Montreal is at Yokato Yokabai – Usually  I am not a big fan  of Hakata style Tonkontsu  ramen (just google it if you want to learn about the different types of ramen)  which is what they do offer at Yokato Yokabai, but this bowl I was having was the  Hakata style ramen by which I will judge all other Hakata style ramen in Montreal. Fautless texture, great depth of flavor, and well conceived toppings.  My verdict (Benchmark>Great>Good>Above average>Average): Benchmark (10/10) Hakata style Tonkontsu  ramen by Montreal standards, but even in Tokyo (yeah, I know, Hakata style ramen is not from Tokyo, still …Tokyo is a major world foodie hub offering  ramens from all parts of Japan) it would   be considered as a good bowl (though, …. a bit too small in terms of the portion – that is actually my only quip about that bowl). I just hope they do not change their current recipe as oftently seen at other ramenyas which started on the right foot (genuine bold flavors,  broth with depth) but turned into average ramenyas after trying too hard to please local palates (with lightly flavored broths).   Yokato Yokabai Addr: 4185 Drolet, Montréal  Phone: 514- 282-9991 UPDATE April 4th 2016: I went back (my review here). The ramen was not as dazzling as on that initial visit, but make no mistake, it remains one of the very best ramen in town.

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Restaurant: Dons de la Nature
Address: 104-0061 Tokyo, Chūō, Ginza, 1 Chome−7−6, B1F
Phone:+81 3-3563-4129
Cusine: Steakhouse (serving only one type of meat: Purebred Wagyu)
Date/Time of the meal: 19-11-2014 18:00
Michelin stars: 1
URL: http://dons-nature.jp/

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Dons de la Nature is widely considered  as one of Tokyo’s finest steakhouses. Which means that, here, you are exempt from the laughable mis-identification of the meat, a sad recurrent feature  at plenty of steakhouses around the globe. At Dons de la Nature, when they tell you they have Kobe beef, then it is the real one that  comes from Kobe in Japan (and not from elsewhere),  and when they say Wagyu,  then it is TRUE PUREBRED Japanese beef and they will tell you from what region in Japan.

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Traceability is taken seriously here. Wagyu beef is  usually (usually, I wrote, not always) fed on rice straw which is essential for achieving the high level of  intramuscular fat as well as whitening the marbled fat. The slaughter occurs in between 23 to 28 months.

THE FOOD:

I took no starter, fearing that the steak would be filling.

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The meat  available on the day of my visit was  Wagyu from the Oki Islands, (there was a choice of a highly marbled sirloin,  as well as tenderloin — for my taste, Sirloin features the  characteristics I am looking for when eating Wagyu as it’s not lean like tenderloin, the flavor certainly more expressive compared to tenderloin).

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Oftently, in Tokyo, steaks are cooked on an iron griddle (teppanyaki), but here, at Dons de la Nature, they grill it over charcoal (my  preferred cooking method for steak), no ordinary charcoal that is (they use the highly praised Binchōtan charcoal) ,  inside a kiln.  From such steakhouse, there’s not much to say about the basics (as expected, they get the requested doneness right, medium-rare in this case, the seasoning, although simple — a bit of salt — is judicious, the nice crust on the outside that most steak aficionados favor nowadays is achieved beautifully , and the kitchen  clearly knows how to delicately handle a meat of such extensive fat marbling ),

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so what I was looking for was how far the extensive marbling could impress in flavor. Unexpectedly,  the umami  kick  that the  media and plenty of online accounts have praised  continues to elude me (this was the 3rd Wagyu tasting of this trip, having tried Matsusaka a day prior, then Sanda) .Well, YES the umami dimension is  definitely there (afterall the effect of the marbling has to be ultimately felt)  but I get more exciting umami flavor from most   40 to 45 days perfectly dry aged corn-finished prime Black Angus cuts …that have less marbling.  I also do not get the comparision to  foie gras (a common comparison) that I oftently hear about. Do not get me wrong:  this is   quality red meat, that is for sure,  the fat much more delicate in taste and texture in comparison to a fatty cut of Black Angus, but at the end of the count …it is just not as flavorful.   I admire the  quality of Wagyu beef, but for the enjoyment part ..nah,sorry…I (my palate) just do not get it. This was a  6/10, at best, for me  (Grade: A5/  Breed: Japanese Black Wagyu from Oki Islands, 30 days of wet aging  + 30 other days of dry aging )

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The Chef’s wife has suggested to pair the steak with a glass of Camus Père & Fils Mazoyères-Chambertin Grand Cru 2001. This is a wine that scores high on paper: exceptional soil, exceptional vintage, too, as 2001 is one of the very best years of Mazoyères-Chambertin wine.  But the wine I was having had barely any structure (surprising for a wine known for its complexity), the wine devoid of the mouthfeel expected from a grand cru, the finish disappointingly short. Furthermore, this glass of wine was so dry that it clashed with the flavor of the meat I was having. Dryness is a characteristic of Mazoyères-Chambertin wine, but but this was way too dry to be enjoyable. This is an instance where you need a wine with silkier tannins/rounder palate.

Pros:  Wagyu is so praised outside of Japan that there are no shortage of marketing manipulations to call pretty much everything that looks like meat… Wagyu.  You therefore really appreciate the moment when you get to enjoy the real thing on its very own land, which is exactly what Dons de la Nature offers.

Cons:   Wine pairing to a steak is expected to be a highlight at a steakhouse. It has to.

How influential is buzz (buzz about Wagyu is obviously..epic ) and  scarcity (it goes without saying that, at those prices, it is impossible for the most to enjoy Wagyu on a regular basis) in your enjoymentof your food? No one will ever know, and only people with interest in the industry should care about such questions. The only thing that I know is that Wagyu,  the real thing… any meat lover should try it at least once as it  is  one of those rather unique experiences that you’ve just got to  try. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it better than I did….

Service: Very intimate, very very friendly. The wife of the Chef is very enthusiastic. It is much more informal than at most of the steakhouses that I have been to.

My verdict and conclusion:  I won’t rate this house as I do not want my aversion to Wagyu to influence my opinion about Dons de la Nature.  But Wagyu, you my friend….even at the same cost as my favourite Black Angus steaks, there is simply no way I could appreciate you. I respect your legendary reputation but for me, it is clear  that your scarcity creates your value. Yes, you are beautiful to espy (I have rarely seen marbling of such striking beauty), but for my palate, you are not even half as flavorful as an expertly dry aged prime cut of Black Angus. And I just gave you 3 chances right here on your own lands! I even  ensured to lower my expectations (I had none, to tell you the truth) and I did erase  any notion of price from the equation so that the assessment’s  focus is on what matters most:  the flavor!!!.

What I think weeks later: That Wagyu is my all-time biggest disappointment on the aspect of food, that is life and I can deal with that. What struck me most was how the praises about its superlative flavor had absolutely nothing to do with what I have enjoyed. If the flavor of meat is going to be almost as subtle as the one of tofu….then I’ll take the tofu! Meat needs to be flavorful no matter how hard you have worked its quality.

Event: Dinner at Peter Luger
Addr: 178 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211-6131
Phone: (718) 387-7400
Type of cuisine: American Steakhouse
Time/Date: Saturday Febr 23rd 2014, 18:00
URL: http://www.peterluger.com
Michelin star: 1

***NOTE – This meal at Peter Luger is listed on the left side of this blog among the other reviewed Michelin starred meals, since it is a Michelin starred restaurant at the moment of writing/posting this review. It goes without saying that the score that I did assign to it IS NOT to be compared with the score of the reviewed meals that  you’ll find there (PL is not a fine dining destination). That score reflects my appreciation of  PL  as a steakhouse delivering a North American Porterhouse steak of  world class standard, nothing  more, nothing less.  And in case you are the kind to believe that it is crazy to praise a place that  specialises in just one sort of  steak, then you are running straight into an instance where we’ll have to agree to ….disagree: for me, if  one thing is done better than anywhere else  (the North American Porterhouse cut of PL, in this case), then it deserves to be considered as highly as you’ll consider any other favourite food destination. Japanese people have got this since a long time (a specialist of pork cutlet, specialist of tempura, etc) and I’d rather admire a ‘specialist’ that does its craft beautifully rather than  … ‘a jack of all trades” playing it safely.

***Sorry, no pics – Just wanted to eat quietly with no hassle / distraction of photo nor note taking. After all, it’s a steakhouse, so the 1000th picture of their steaks or 3000th picture of their side of spinach won’t make those items look nor taste any better ;p

NY is not far from Montreal, so I recently spent a weekend in  NY to  see if  Peter Luger is still doing great especially after reports from some food journalists about PL losing a bit of its past glory (my 3rd visit here in 6 yrs).

Picked:
-The Porterhouse steak: The succulent beef flavor that shone through is a reminder that Peter Luger has mastered, for so long, the art of delivering the perfect North American porterhouse steak: this is one of the few great American steakhouses which dry aging technique of the meat is rarely paralleled. But there’s much more, of course: the right grade and the right cooking degree for the right cut. It’s a breeze to appreciate that they are genuinely obsessive about where that beef grew up, how well did it live, what was it fed with, how great and knowledgeable was the butcher behind that cut, how properly aged and hanged was the cut, etc. One of the few benchmark aged USDA prime Porterhouse (some complain about the sauce that’s underneath the steak…well, this adds to the character of that Porterhouse. If you can’t take it, simply ask them to serve it aside). 10/10
-Their legendary creamed spinach: deliciously rich as usual, though hardly something that anyone behind a kitchen should miss. Still, they do it well, it tastes good and it’s a perfect logical match to that Porterhouse steak 7/10
-Their old fashioned sauce: not too sure how that fares with their patrons, but their old fashioned sauce is not to my taste (I do not find that it pairs well with meat). Of course, a question of personal preference (anyways, the only time I am fine with sauce over my steak is when I eat it French-style as with steak au poivre) , especially since the sauce that’s underneath that Porterhouse largely suffices for me. I won’t score that sauce since this boils down to a matter of personal taste only (I am just not used to pair my steak with the flavor profile of this kind of sauce – a mix of sweet and savoury flavors which, for my palate, had following dominating aromas: horseradish/ tamarind/vinegar/molasse. There are, of course, more ingredients to the recipe, but those were the ones that my palate has primarily detected). I did replicate that sauce at home and after several tries, it now tastes almost like theirs, so that my palate gets used to it.  Yep, that is how food works lol: you do not like it, do not  ive up on it, just accompany your palate in gradually appreciating it and there will be more power to you ;p
-The fabled side of beacon, which I finally got to try this time (kept skipping that one on the past 2 visits): Decent thick slabs of porky meatyness, but beacon abound in North America, its preparation varying widely in quality and depth of deliciousness from one place to another, so it is hard for me to get excited over  their beacon. Certainly not bad, but there are definitely better beacon to be enjoyed across North America 6/10
-The dessert list here features typical classic American steakhouse dessert items (Ice cream, pecan pie, cheese cake, etc). This time, I tried  their Cheese cake (7/10) which was as classically well executed as it gets (as expected, New York style cheesecake that was and as I wrote, in its classic version), the schlag that I also tried being just Ok.

PL is what it is, not what you want it to be, which is exactly how things should work: it has its charms (the classic setting), its relative weaknesses (obviously, not a modern trendy fancy steakhouse so  if that’s what you are looking for, you’ve knocked at the wrong door + it’s not cheap) , its own character (old world charm). You learn to know what they are, if that pleases you, you go, if that does not fit, then you look elsewhere. I am delighted  to observe that  PL  remains as it is, which means at it has always been, regardless of the pressure that new trends put on our perceptions/appreciations: a classic house with personality.
I have read online arguments about PL being a tourist trap to some (100% pure BS! IMHO) , that they have suffered at some point from a shortage of Porterhouse, that they once had a matriarch who was second to none when it comes to selecting the finest meat and that perhaps her successors are not as diligent as she used to, but I have also spent 15 years in North America, enough time to familiarize myself  with most major NYC’s and USA’s steakhouses and came to the conclusion that if PL is a tourist trap, then the definition of tourist trap has evolved into a compliment. There’s no way a serious steak connoisseur  would confuse PL with a tourist trap. Has PL delivered the perfect Porterhouse steak on each of my 3 visits (I took the Porterhouse everytime I went there)? The answer is NO. On one particular visit, I could easily name  plenty of American steakhouses which Porterhouse was superior. But it’s naïve to attempt to convince oneself  about the definitive appreciation  to have of a  restaurant based on just one meal. You can judge the meal, which I do too and that is  fine, but not a restaurant. Which leads me to where I am getting at: on the two other visits, their Porterhouse outshone their major competitors by leaps with effective superior aging technique and far better sourcing of the meat. Are there steakhouses in NYC where I had more fun? Of course Yes. Are there better cost performance steakhouses?  Absolutely.  But again, ambience and better value have nothing to do with why I like Peter Luger: the quality of its Porterhouse!
Overall food rating: 8/10 I was impressed to see that PL continues to deliver some of this globe’s finest American Porterhouse steaks. The Porterhouse steak, their star item, remaining as glorious as ever.

Recommended: This  great article on America’s current finest steakhouses

I can’t manage — because of a lack of time —  the ‘comments’ section in timely manner. So, I’ll publish questions received by emails and that I found interesting to share with you.  Off topic comments will be discarded.

Q&A – Peter R says that if PL is a 1 star Michelin Steakouse, then Carnevino in Las Vegas is a 3 star  Answer: Peter, I never went to Carnevino but heard that it’s highly regarded in  Las Vegas as one of their finest Steakhouses alongside Cut.  It’s on my TDL,  for sure (there’s also Raku in LV that I would like to dine at).   That said,  are we comparing apples to apples here:  do they serve the Porterhouse cut at  Carnevino? Did you try it? As you’ll see in my food report, I was floored by the Porterhouse steak, not by the rest (side, desserts, etc) and it is  a fact that as an all-rounder steakhouse (for eg, with not just one type of steak but a variety of them being great, better sides, better ambience, etc ) , there is no shortage of superior steakhouses in the US.  But based on the quality of its Porterhouse,  I find PL to be deserving of its accolades. Furthermore, PL is not influenced by trends and that, for me, is the  key for a restaurant to keep its own character intact. It might not please hipsters, but it adds a lot to my appreciation of a food destination.

GOOD TO KNOW: I can see that this post is very popular among the visitors of this blog. It would, then, be accurate to  remember that this post dates from 2013. Since then, many things have changed on the local chophouse scene and some of the steakhouses that did not impress, at that time, have improved (a good example is Moishes. I respect Moishes because they  respond gracefully –a breath of fresh air in an industry where ego is generally out of control  — to constructive criticism  by  adapting to constructive change).

 

Montreal is not a city for steaks (our strenghts are the smoked meat, the bagel, the cheesecake, to some extent the poutine but that is unfortunately less and less the case in Montreal).  The scores you’ll see below are scores limited to Montreal steakhouse  standards. If I had to start comparing those with the finest in the US,  just as an example, the scores would be even lower.  Let alone, the finest Argentinian, French, Japanese, Australian, Spanish  cuts of  meats that are virtually not present in Montreal while remaining high on the list of this globe’s  most praised meats. Montreal  has couple of steakhouses that are widely known as the finest of the city. The most famous of them all is La Queue de Cheval of  charismatic restaurateur Peter Morenzos.  Other highly regarded Montreal steakhouses are  Rib n Reef, Moishes, 40 Westt, Gibbys.  Choices of meat do not vary that much: mostly  Black Angus from the US,  occasionally some cattles from Alberta and recently some Australian Wagyu.  Of course, Montreal has other chopshouses  but those are the ones generally regarded as Montreal`s  finest.

You’ll find below the reviews of following steakhouses:
-Queue de Cheval
-1221
-Moishes
-Rib’n Reef
-Gibby’s
-Steakhouse Vieux Port

I had my first steak at a steakhouse in 2009. Since then, I have enjoyed plenty of stellar steaks ( Argentinean, Scottish, US, etc ) . At this point in time, my preferred rib eye steak is the like of a corn-finished 40-45 days solely dry aged Black Angus, bone-in, backed by rigorous sourcing and an exceptional understanding (from my butcher or steakhouse) of what makes a prime cut really great ( for eg, using the best aging technique for X cut, understanding the importance of the health/diet of the beef/the proper slaughtering technique/proper hanging technique, etc –when you are obsessed about doing things right, it never fails to be noticed by a diner who prioritizes quality).  I am impressed when I see a butcher or steakhouse concerned by the traceability of their meat.  In regard to the reviews you will peruse,below, I’d like to remind that the sole intent of my scores is to convey what I have perceived  as closer to /  or far-off  my preferred  type  of rib steak,and they (my scores) should not be interpreted as a way to assess one steak as superior to  another one (those steakhouses would not be in Business for so long if they were serving bad steaks, so rest assured that none of them had bad steaks). Obviously, food assessment is utterly subjective (solely based on personal expectations), so consider my ratings as  what they are, and not what you want them to be. IMPORTANT: Most steakhouse staff in town is unable to inform about  the exact cattle as well as the farm where the beef was born,which is why you’ll notice that I always mention the grade of the beef, but virtually no info about everything else.  That is something to improve upon as being knowledgeable about  traceability is a way to show respect for the food you are serving.

***Recent steakhouse review (Sept 2014): Steakhouse Vertigo Stk (click here for the review).

La Queue de cheval  (aka the Q    http://www.queuedecheval.com)  is an iconic steakhouse in Montreal. There has been a split, recently, which resulted in the Q moving from its original location (they were on 1221  Rene Levesque Street ) to a temporary spot (1234 De la Montagne, but they are planning to relocate soon) and the other half of the team remaining where they used to be (now re-named Steakhouse 1221). If you are curious to know where  Montreal’s legendary restaurateur Peter Morentzos did end up, the answer is that he is the strongman of the Q.     The Q is pricey, therefore I can’t afford heading there on a regular basis. This being only my 2nd visit in 5 years. But not many steakhouses in town offer the quality of  beef and  the proper depth of knowledge/expertise you can  find at places like this,  therefore I find it justified to splurge once in a  long (only when I feel like really enticed at the idea of dining out at a top steakhouse ) while on Montreal top steak contenders (Moishes, Gibbys,Rib n Reef, Queue de Cheval). In a long long  while.

At their current temporary location, there’s a tiny bar made of marble as well as a relatively small dining room that they share with nightclub 1234 (another reason I chose to eat there earlier in the evening). I sat at the bar, which ensured a completely different ambience from my last visit here (last time I was at the Q, I was in their grand dining room on  René Levesque), with my waiter, Thomas, offering stellar service where professionalism and warmth is perfectly balanced. Thomas is a charismatic gentleman of the type you occasionally  encounter at few grand dining destinations.

Picked their classic 20 oz bone-in Lou cut’s rib steak (I chose the corn-fed Colorado’s Black Angus USDA Prime cut as opposed to the mostly grass-fed Kansas cuts / At touch, smell,  and look,  I can  and always  judge the dry-age of a meat myself,  and my cut had less than 30 days), the precision in cooking absolutely faultless with that steak I was having: medium rare as requested, medium rare is delivered.  The good  marbling delivering enjoyable steak flavor, the usda prime quality being indeed a cut above most of  the non usda prime versions found at most steakhouses in town. Objectively a good steak by upscale steakhouse standards in Montreal.

The problem with the Q, based on my visits here, is not a problem of quality nor cooking skills (the problem, as with most upscale steakhouses in Montreal, is $$$). As an example, their take on the tiramisu (it’s their take on it, so do not expect comparisons to traditional Italian versions of the Tiramisu) was delicious, technically well crafted. The Brazilian coffee done properly, the salad fresh but over-overpriced for what it was. The problem, as it’s oftently  the case with upscale places  like the Q is the price.   I do not disclose details about the amount of  my bill, since I value such infos as purely personal, but their prices can be found on their web site.
It is admittedly always hard to tell whether a steakhouse of this standard worths all that money. No one will ever have the absolute answer, anyways.  But it’s not rocket science to fire a great steak in a back yard, so buying a great aged steak at my butcher remains the best cost effective option.   What I insist on doing, though,  is to avoid mixing up the effect that prices have on our judgement with the real appreciation of what I am eating. With price in mind, I have always valued 95% of the dine out scene to be widely over-rated. So if I decide to dine out, I am looking for other factors to fill the gap: in this case, the expertise/knowledge  about their meats, the way they age them, etc. Things that move me out of what I’d be able to do at home: I can cook a steak at home. But I do not age steaks. So I opt for the cuts they’ve invest the extra mileage I could not.

Factsheet – The steak I had on this meal at the Q:
20 oz bone-in Lou cut’s rib steak
Breed: Black Angus
Dry or wet aged? Dry
Grade: USDA Prime
Upon visual inspection, indeed this  had USDA Prime marbling distribution. Of course, USDA Prime is not only about marbling, but this was the element I could realistically factor as a diner looking at  his steak
From: Colorado, US
Aged: less than 30 days (for the cut I was having)
Corn? Grass? Matters less than factors such as the breed and skills/care of the farmer, but this was corn-finished and as such, it only makes sense that cattles feed mostly on grass.
Do they have a mostly grass-fed cut? YES, their Kansas cut.
Buttery flavor (Poor>Decent>Fair>Good>Great>Exceptional): Good 7/10
Juiciness      (Poor>Decent>Fair>Good>Great>Exceptional): Good 7/10
tenderness     (Poor>Decent>Fair>Good>Great>Exceptional): Good 7/10
Timing         Proper timing/ the steak was not rushed to the table upon cooking
Cooking        (missed, achieved)                       : Achieved (requested medium rare, served medium rare)
Personal appreciation (Disapointed>Satisfied>Blown away): Satisfied
MY Overall score for this steak                                      :  7/10
Deserves its rank as one of the finest few steakhouses in Montreal:
Absolutely, the seriousness/care, dry-aging, sourcing makes this one of the finest steakhouses in Montreal.
Just don’t draw comparisons to the finest of NYC, for example.
Service: Thomas is simply one of world’s best in the hospitality business.
In my Top 10 steakhouses ever? No, but remember it’s a always a subjective matter, that the grass tends to always be greener at the neighbor’s, that I just had rib steak on my past 2 visits here,  whereas they have other cuts, from other breeds, etc
What I liked: (1)The world class service of Thomas (2)The opportunity to discuss steak with a knowledgeable staff (3)Because it was early and there were not many people, the ambience felt intimate (3)Although limited in variety, the wine by the glass was relatively decently priced by upscale steakhouse standards in Montreal.
What I did not like: (1)Pricey as one should expect from an upscale steakhouse that walks the extra mileage that such steakhouse have to invest in  (2)The wines by the bottle are $$. (3)Wines by the glass are limited to very few choices
Final Notes: I did not elaborate on the decor because it’s a temporary location that they are currently sharing with the Nightclub BAR 1224. It’s actually funny since when I was younger I wished all bars were attached to a nightclub to get my refill of protein right on the spot ;p UPDATE, OCT 2014:  La Queue de Cheval has now moved to 1181 rue de La Montagne

1221 Steakhouse (http://www.1221steakhouse.com/ ) is the other half of what used to be la Queue de Cheval. So after visiting their other half, La Queue de Cheval on De la Montagne, I paid a visit to them. I was particularly curious to see the difference between their rib steak, especially since both teams have benefited from the same knowledge, for so long and the split is just recent.
At 1221, I picked their 20 oz Rib Steak dry-aged 28 days steak.  There’s something that we all need to know: when you go to such upscale steakhouse, in Montreal, the dry-age period does not reflect  on the price as it logically can be the case at some places abroad, or perhaps elsewhere in Canada:  logically,  the older cuts are the priciest. Not in Montreal steakhouses. On the flip side, you can end up with a 40 days the same way you can get a 20 days dry-aged steak (28 days minimum at 1221), for the same price. I was lucky at 1221, on this visit:  my cut was dry-aged for easily around 40 days, and it therefore was a  more flavored than, say, the one I had the day before at the Q. Both the Q and 1221, during this visit, served their rib steak with garlic. So, I’d recommend you order a side dish to go along. In this instance, I ordered their onions rings (7/10 good onion rings, large in size, prepared properly but I think I have to get used to the fact that less salt/spice  is better for health. It was a healthy serving of onion rings. But still, for  someone like me who enjoys big bold strong flavors, the climax was nowhere to be found). The steak itself:  can’t complain since it was cooked precisely, and the resting carefully timed. A 7.5/10 for me (both the Q and 1221 not altering the steak flavor with superfluous flavor-enhancement, which is what you should  expect   from a top steakhouse indeed, but their mix of steak spicing –they lay a bit of  that on their steaks —  is one that is not a secret recipe…so if you are looking for the next mysterious/revolutionary steak seasoning, you might have to knock at other doors ). UPDATE, MAY 2014:  this place is now closed (replaced by Bier Mrkt)

Factsheet – The steak I had on this meal at the 1221:
20 oz bone-in rib steak (They don’t call it LOU’s CUT)
Breed: Black Angus
Dry or wet aged? Dry
Grade: USDA Prime
Upon visual inspection, indeed this  had proper USDA Prime marbling distribution.
Of course, USDA Prime is not only about marbling, but this was the element I could realistically factor as a diner looking at  his steak
From: Colorado, US
Aged: Easily more than 40 days (for the cut I was having)
Corn? Grass? Matters less than factors such as the breed and skills/care of the farmer,but this was corn-finished and as such, it only makes sense that cattles feed mostly on grass.
Buttery flavor (Poor>Decent>Fair>Good>Great>Exceptional): Good to Great
Juiciness      (Poor>Decent>Fair>Good>Great>Exceptional): Fair
tenderness     (Poor>Decent>Fair>Good>Great>Exceptional): Good to great
Timing         Proper timing/ the steak was not rushed to the table upon cooking
Cooking        (missed, achieved)                       : Achieved (requested medium rare, served medium rare)
Personal appreciation (Disapointed>Satisfied>Blown away): Satisfied
MY Overall score for this steak                                      :  7.5/10
Deserves its rank as one of the finest few steakhouses in Montreal:
Absolutely, the seriousness/care, dry-aging, sourcing makes this one of the finest steakhouses in Montreal.
Just don’t draw comparisons to the finest of NYC, for example.
Service: Gianni was extremely patient, and I appreciate his very accomodating behaviour ->
fearing that my bill would reach skyrocked highs, especially with the price of wine, I did put a brusque halt to any extra splurge, so no dessert, no coffee, nothing else .  Instead of treating me in a snooty way (especially with the close table of wealthy gentlemen feasting on caviar, lobster and champagne), he was as caring to me  as he was to his wealthier patrons. Hard to not like a service like this.
In my Top 10 steakhouses ever? No, but remember it’s a always a subjective matter, that the grass tends to always be greener at the neighbor’s, that I just had rib steak on my past 2 visits here,  whereas they have other cuts, from other breeds, etc
What I liked: (1)The classic steakhouse decor with the aged steaks displayed at the entrance, the warmth of black stones mixed with rustic wood. This place is big and special in its own way (2)I was lucky to stumble upon that 40 ++ days aged cut.  It made quite a difference: as expected, a tad more concentrated in beef flavor than the cut I had the day before at the Q, the flavor benefitting for the expected extra concentration of meat flavor. It was on its way to develop the nuttier aromas of some exceptional dry-aged cuts, therefore really a cut packed with character in the aspect of texture in particular. The kind of cut that calls for a pause, then admiration of the work behind it, then you can start devouring, Rfaol!
I did not like: (1)Pricey as one should expect from an upscale steakhouse that walks the extra mileage that such steakhouse have to invest in  (2)Wines by the glass are way way WAY too pricey…..for example, the steak-friendly and good red wine Louis M Martini Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 can’t be priced in the 20ish by the glass….when it cost almost the same $$$  for the bottle at the SAQ. FOLKS…WE ARE NOT IN A MICHELIN STAR VENTURE, HERE …………
Final Notes: Did you notice that I scored this steak with a 6/10 on the aspect of tenderness? Which is paradoxal in theory , given that the longer the cut was aged, the more tender it’s supposed to be. Make no mistake: this cut was tender, but
I had cuts that were even more tender and that were not aged this long, so tender that I could cut them with a spoon. This is not a bad thing btw, since again, this cut was tender enough for a steak of this standard, but I am glad I have experienced this  paradox as a reminder that theory and practice are sometimes just two different buds. That there’s never just one possibility that counts, but a myriad, depending on a vast umbrella of factors reinforcing the suggestion that a cut of beef will never be as simple as stating that bone-in ribs are more flavorful than boneless ones (there’s a steakhouse in Montreal that has stopped being a favourite of mine since they change their boneless ribs to bone-in ones…), this breed is better than that one (I have enjoyed stunning cuts of incredible beef flavor from supposedly poor breeds as I have experienced with poor meat from supposedly great breeds), corn is better than grass (in my lifetime top 10 best steaks, I have as many corn-finished as there are mostly grass fed-ones), etc

Moishes (http://www.moishes.ca/) is considered as Montreal #1 steakhouse on many web forums as well as restaurant review web sites. Forbes Magazine even rating Moishes in World’s top 10 steakhouses in 2008, and   this wikipaedia article telling everything you need to know about the glory of this widely praised steakhouse destination .  It is an institution with already 75 years behind it. The interior decor is very elegant in its  classicism,  and to me, this is the warmest and prettiest steakhouse dining room of the city (I find it even prettier than Gibby’s — Reviews on Gibby’s and Rib n Reef will come soon). The service was flawless on this evening, the young lady at the reception being very welcoming and most of the staff   hospitable. Another big hit:  you have a variety of breads, some pickles, butter (with ice on them) as well as   as some coleslaw served for free, which makes this steakhouse one that’s exceptionally generous with its side offerings (apart bread, you do not get that much extras alongside your steak at most steakhouses in town). My problem was with the main feature of the evening :  my 3 weeks boneless rib steak (colorado  USDA Prime according to my waiter) could not compete with the superior aged bone-in rib steaks I had at the Q (around 30 days) or 1221 (40 days ++)  in the aspects of tenderness (at same doness, which they achieved perfectly  – I required Medium rare– this steak I was having at Moishes remained a bit too firm  for a rib eye steak to be fully enjoyable) and depth of  meat flavor (the bold rich beefy flavor I came to expect with this  cut was certainly not at the forefront, on this instance) .  There are plenty of reasons to love Moishes, such as the charming service and the lovely place, but if you meet someone claiming that this is the #1 Steakhouse in Montreal, send him back to his homework:  he needs to visit all of this city’s finest steakhouses first!  The Gentleman who was serving me was a very patient and offered superb service, but he had no answers to some of my  questions   (grass fed? corn finished, etc),  so I’ll have to go with a shortened factsheet of this rib steak, which I scored (overall score) with a 5/10:

Buttery flavor (Poor>Decent>Fair>Good>Great>Exceptional):  Poor
Juiciness      (Poor>Decent>Fair>Good>Great>Exceptional):  Decent
tenderness     (Poor>Decent>Fair>Good>Great>Exceptional):  Poor
Timing         Proper timing/ the steak was not rushed to the table upon cooking
Cooking        (missed, achieved)                       : Achieved (requested medium rare, served medium rare)
Personal appreciation (Disapointed>Satisfied>Blown away): Disapointed
MY Overall score for this steak                                      :  5/10
Deserves its rank as one of the finest few steakhouses in Montreal:  In my opinion, No. A rib steak is the easiest cut to work with. Bold beefy flavors is its raison d’etre. You say rib eye, you automatically think rich meaty flavor.  It has to dazzle.

I liked:        The warm classy and cozy decor, down to earth and charming welcoming
I did not like:  My steak!  For me, this   3 weeks boneless rib steak (no bone-in rib eye at a time when bone-in rib steaks are all the rage?? Something is sure, the waiter told me there was no bone-in rib steak when I asked ) was not even close to the character of the finest  bone-in wet age steaks of 30 to 40 days I enjoyed either at Montreal’s steakhouses or bought from local butchers.  Which took me by surprised given the praises over this steakhouse. What I also found disconnected from the praises seen everywhere on the web   (btw, I too do love Moishes  but I can’t pretend that this is the finest steak or among the finest  I had in this city. It’s simply NOT the case, as far as I am concerned) is the opinion about the side of baked potato.  It’s Ok, not stunning and eventhough there is a lot of babbling about  chain steakhouses being poor, I have to say that at the end of the day  I can only deal in facts and that the baked potato of a chain like the Keg has pleased me far more than this one I was having at Moishes.  I also enjoy being presented with my steak before it goes to the grill, a piece of theater that adds to the experience of a grand steakhouse dinner and that I did appreciate a lot at places like the Queue de Cheval and 1221.  That did not happen on this visit. Same for the wine by the glass  (the glass arrived with no presentation of the bottle).  I am not one who will force his imagination to let prices affect  my appreciation of things,  so never rely on me for such things like value (although I know very well what  might perhaps be  cost effective or not), but prices aside (For the record, this steak at Moishes cost me almost the same price at the Q or 1221), my steaks at the Q and 1221, during this round up, were easily 2 cuts above my steak on this meal at Moishes.

Rib’n Reef  (http://ribnreef.com/  ) – In Montreal, you basically have two leagues of steakhouses : one that’s known as the upscale steakhouses in the city (Rib’n Reef, Queue de Cheval, 1221, Moishes, Gibby’s, 40Westt) and the other one comprising of  the likes of the Keg, Maddison Grill, Houston, etc. Again, which one is better will come down to what you are looking for.   I have no judgement other than recommending that you try them all and see what matches your expectations. A personal matter. As for me, I took my hard earned money and went to find for myself since I want to know where I can bring my wife or what to recommend to close friends and relatives. In the process, I am just sharing what I think with you. This time, I visited R’n’R. R’n”R interior is relatively vast, with several sections: for eg, classic dark wood dining areas, cigar lounge, rooftop terrace, etc In order to compare apples to apples, I pursued with the same cut (rib eye steak)  I chose at other reviewed upscale steakhouses (Queue de Cheval, 1221, Moishes are already reviewed in current post), at exact same doneness: medium rare. Prices for a rib eye steak of mas o menos similar size (for eg, 20 oz at Queue de Cheval and 1221 / 18 oz at R’n’R) is almost the same  at all the upscale steakhouses of Montreal (approx 55$).
Factsheet – The steak I had on this meal at Rib ‘n Reef:
18 oz Bone-in Rib steak
Breed:  Black Angus
Dry or wet aged? According to the waitstaff, it is awet aged for couple of weeks then dry aged for an extra month
Grade: USDA Prime
From: Colorado, USA according to my waiter
Aged: 1 month minimum (for the cut I was having)
Corn?  Corn fed
Buttery flavor (Poor>Decent>Fair>Good>Great>Exceptional):   Decent
Juiciness      (Poor>Decent>Fair>Good>Great>Exceptional):  Fair
tenderness     (Poor>Decent>Fair>Good>Great>Exceptional):  Fair
Timing         Proper timing/ the steak was not rushed to the table upon cooking
Cooking        (missed, achieved)                       :  Achieved (requested medium rare, served medium rare)
Personal appreciation (Disapointed>Satisfied>Blown away):  Not Disapointed, not fully satisfied. Just Ok
MY Overall score for this steak                                     5.5 /10
Deserves its rank as one of the finest few steakhouses in Montreal:  For me, Not for now. But this place shows a lot of pride and will to improve that I trust its rib steak  could one day reach the standards of those of La  Queue de Cheval or  1221.
Service:  Daniel fabulous service is of the highest hospitality standard
What I liked: (1) Daniel’s incredible service (2)At Moishes, I was impressed to see that they served pickles, bread, coleslaw. Sounds like nothing miracular, but you won’t see that oftenly in Montreal. But Rib n Reef went even further. They served those same items (coleslaw being superior at Moishes, in my opinion and the pickle as plump and of remarkable quality, except that Moishes served more of them), and completed the meal with even some cookies. Not the beginning of a new life cycle, rfaol, but a rare touch at a Montreal steakhouse.
What I did not like:  I love my steak thick, exactly as what they served at 1221 and the Q.  For me, a good 2′ thick inch rib eye steak opens my appetite, it locks more juiciness/tenderness. Theirs was about 1′ inch thick (or slightly more, but slightly).  I also like when you show me the steak prior to grilling it, which they’ve omitted on this instance.  Last but not least, this rib steak was certainly nicely aged, but not to the point of reaching the close to gamey/nutty character of the steaks I had at the Q or 1221. The wait staff explained that it  was  wet age then dry aged . If that is the case, then perhaps just dry aging it all the way would be more successful.
Final Notes:  A classy steakhouse, which  has not impressed me with its rib steak on this visit, but that remains promising (I’m always amazed to see people who are always curious about getting better).

Steakhouse Vieux Port – Picked the $35 rib eye steak. Service at Steakhouse VP was really nice with great welcoming from a young lady at the entrance, then superb service from  Angelo, the waiter (this soft spoken middle-aged man, could be an actor in the movie the Godfather ;p) . The rib steak was nicely seasoned (you’ll be surprised how it’s not that easily achieved at many steakhouses in Montreal), though it would have been better with more char and thicker consistency (nowadays trendy prefs at major big steakhouses).  Nice warm bread was also served, whereas green beans + cauliflower  came with the steak. Not bad, but I prefer the Keg’s steak to this one (keep in mind that this whole thing about what steak we find better does not mean that what we find better..is better…it just means that we like X one better than Y one.  Subjective stuff, as always, since those steakhouses just have different ways of seeing things. For me, a stellar steak is one with char,  with the kind of deep meaty flavor usually provided by long dry aged technique. So I can only talk for what I like or not. A  5/10 for my taste

Gibby’s is a steakhouse institution, 200 years  of history.  I asked  questions about the origin  of my meat, but my waitress simply responded that everything here is of top quality. Therefore, needless to  stress that there won’t be any factsheet about the usual detailed infos  of my meat. Of course, I could insist  for the kitchen to bring me some answers, but I was there to eat, not to   cascade my requests. Gibby’s is an institution that I have not visited since 2009. In 2009, when I first visited Gibby’s, I had not much experience with steakhouses and I was very impressed at that time. Years later, I have tried many steakhouses not only in Canada, but also in the US and in other countries where beef is as revered as in the US. The reason I am writing this is because I do not think that Gibby’s is bad. They are doing things the same way they used to, but I believe that I am not impressed by it anymore only because my taste has evolved. So Yes, my rib eye was cooked to requested doneness, but no it’s no more one that seduces me because nowadays my ideal rib eye steak is the like of a corn-finished 40 days dry aged Black Angus, A 40 days wet aged USDA prime, bone-in, etc.. which are clearly not what was offered on this dinner (this boneless rib eye steak was firmer, had less fat distribution, less expressive meat flavor …but again, compared ..to what i idealize as great today ). So less impressed,indeed, but only because my taste has switched to something else, NOT because it is bad! And yes, if you start comparing to some other hot steakhouses, well no it is not playing in the same league as it is not its purpose neither. Still, it’s a generous steakhouse: nice warm bread, palate cleanser, pickles of great quality, plenty of salad did accompany my rib eye. The only thing that i can,t put on the back of the evolution of my palate is : the wine service…leaving a glass of Pinot noir on my table without showing the bottle to me, without pre-tasting NO and NO! You serve me my glass of Pinot Noir while I haven’t finished my other glass of sparkling wine, again..NO! And what about the year of that PN? Its description (region, etc) ??? There’s no excuse for that. Score for that rib eye steak: 4/10

Whenever I’ll drop by (more accurately, re-visits..usually once every 3, 4 years since, honestly,  we   could reproduce most of the hype at home..think of a steak picked at a reliable local butcher……) the other upscale steakhouses in Montreal, I will add my views to this post.  This rundown is now almost completed (I just have the review of 40 Westt and Gibby’s to write whenever I have a moment, but no steak at those upscale steakhouses went above the score of 7.5/10 all along this 2 months of visits. T
My thoughts about Montreal’s upscale Steakhouses:

-When you are a rich , I’d guess price never matters. But I am not, therefore for my money,  proper sourced and aged cuts at a reliable local butcher wins.

-Which steakhouse is the best in Montreal goes down to trying the finest ones (Moishes, Gibbys,Rib n Reef, Queue de Cheval, 1221) and see which one matches the best with  your expectations.   In my experience,  Montreal finest steakhouses is a cut, a times two cuts,  below their competition in say, the US, Spain, etc.

-Grass fed, corn fed: a non debate, folks….I was hesistant to actually mention this  in my  reviews of Mtl steakhouses, because enjoying steaks is not as simple as saying I love grass fed steers over corn-fed ones. It’s actually erroneous to embark on that propaganda wagon.  Cattles need grass, pasture being their natural diet. Then, depending on the popular demand at  some geo locations, corn plays a role in their diet,  usually not long before the animal is slaughtered  so that more fat is imparted to the meat. But meats is not tasty because of grass or corn.  As a matter of fact,  I have enjoyed as many mostly-grass fed cuts (for example Charolais,  Limousin)  as corn-finished ones (widely praised in North America, so you take your pick…. ).  Food is like anything in life: surprises have more chances to come from the neighbor, Lol. Rarely from home ;p In 2012, a cut of solely grass-fed Galician beef outside of  San Sebastian (Spain)  rose as one of the finest cuts I ever put in my mouth. Could that be the effect of the “grass that’s always better at the neighbor’s??”..??..perhaps. I personally don’t care about the reason, I just want to know what beef tastes best to my palate…but think about it. …..meat is much more than just grass fed / corn fed.  The breed of the cattle, the care and knowledge of your farmer might be the recipe of your  next best piece of steak ;p