Posts Tagged ‘steak’

Keens is an institution of NYC, a piece of restaurant  history that started in the  19th century (established in 1885). Its dark wood walls are covered with a tasteful  display of  memorabilia (time-honored paintings, photos, cartoons).   This restaurant could be an incredible shooting location for a movie.

 

The avid fan of history that I am  had to find himself in this charming old world  decor, espying what could have possibly been the pipe of Roosevelt over here (thousands  of clay pipes of  patrons who dined at Keens are on display on the steakhouse’s ceiling), climbing the same stairs as Einstein over there.   Nowadays, Keens is one of NYC’s most popular steakhouses, attracting tourists, locals as well as many connoisseurs of North American steaks (as you will see below, their steaks did not « rest on their laurels »). But, with legendary places like this one, I am on my guard, always ensuring that  the lore shall never be part of the lure.

On a previous visit here, over 2 years ago, I did try their fabled slow roasted lamb loin‘s saddle  chop (aka the ”mutton chop“). It is not mutton, anymore. It  is  lamb  that they do serve nowadays. The lamb is raised in  Colorado,  some of the  most sought after lamb  in the nation. Colorado does offer to its  free-ranging sheep,  vast swathes of vegetation to feed on, thanks to the numerous mountains and hills of the state. The sourcing of this piece of  pasture raised lamb was  of high level , its subtly earthy lamb flavor  (milder than, say the flavour of lamb from New Zeland)  dazzled. Boasting an enticing color, definely tender, this  was as great as your roasted lamb loin‘s saddle  chop  will be if served to you at a top tier  steakhouse. 9/10

Then last year I dropped by with a long time genuine connoisseur of North American steakhouses and we had the porterhouse.  For anyone truely familiar with beef aging, it was easy to enjoy the great effect of the dry aging (they dry-age and butcher the meat on the premises) process that went into that piece of meat (great concentration of beef flavor). The thing about aging meats is to think about the right effect for the right meat. Oftently, you see people dry aging then wet aging their meat (perfect recipe to cancel the benefit of dry aging that meat …), dry aging meat that has fat that is so delicate that it cannot  ‘age’  well (highly marbled wagyu as in this case at Dons de la Nature, one of Tokyo’s leading steakhouses. It is the sort of fat that is way too delicate to   benefit from dry aging — I will write, later on, a detailed article on what type of fat benefits from the aging process and why), dry aging fishes that have the taste of nothing if you age them (few fishes do benefit from the dry aging process, most do not…most fishes that are aged do simply fit in the ridiculous trend of aging the flesh for the pleasure of following a trend, as stupid as that – ). Not all steakhouses do master the dry aging of meats as  obsessively well as, at, let us say, Le Divil in Perpignan, but the concentration of flavor of that porterhouse steak  at Keens revealed some serious mastery of the dry aging of their meats.   8/10

 

This is my 3rd visit here, and this time I ordered the prime rib of beef  (king’s cut – meaning that it’s bone-in),  the  medium rare doneness that I wanted was precisely achieved,  and it came charred at my request, served with au jus.  The loin end   rarely fails to be flavorful once cooked,  and yet, you realize how, in the USA, they have perfected its cooking  with no shortage of dazzling renditions of the  prime rib such as the ones you can enjoy at  establishments such as the House of Prime RibLawry‘s or   Dickie Brennan‘s  to name a few. But this prime rib at Keens was not out of place in that fierce competition, as here again, you had all the qualities of a stellar piece of North American steak (the quality of the meat really high as you would expect from a North American steakhouse of this reputation, the standing rib roast timely cooked, its delicious fat properly rendered, the seasoning competent, the steak craveable ).   8/10

 

I love Keen but I was NOT  in love with my platter of a dozen of oysters: all had their superb maritime flavour in evidence, true, but some of the oysters were served a bit too cold than expected at a restaurant serving seafood. The shucking could have been better, too.

Our sides of creamed spinach , sautéed mushrooms and cooked broccoli did not tantalize both my girlfriend and myself :  for both of us,  this preparation of their creamed spinach  did not  enhance  the taste of the spinach. And they did add a bit less cream than I would have preferred.  Still, their way of doing it is one legit classic way of cooking the creamed spinach and I am fine with that.  The broccoli,  I need them to retain a vivid fresh appearance  (I am not here to talk about cooking techniques but there’s a technique for that, there is a technique that allows your broccoli  to be nicely cooked while retaining its perfect crunch and vivid looks, a technique that is widely documented. There is no doubt that the kitchen brigade at Keens knows how to do that, but, again, their choice is to remain classic, therefore they did use a more classical approach  and that is to be respected. As for the mushrooms, they  looked and felt as if they were sautéed a bit too long  and served a bit too late,  the taste of the mushrooms not in evidence.

The crab cake of my girlfriend  featured   fresh crab flavour, the seasoning well judged. The crab came from Maryland and it is in season right now, consequently its depth of flavour was remarkable. Of her crab cake, she said that it was about “”the full taste of the crab and not a lot of filler””, which was a good thing.  7/10

Bottom line: This article of the NY Mag had its author arguing that   « The meat isn’t first class anymore, especially by the standards of today » at Keens…another one of the absurd and senseless suggestions of our so-called food journalists. A steak is first class if the quality of the meat is great, the cooking accurate, the flavours on point, the extra steps to elevate the taste of that meat making a difference (for example, my pieces of steak, here, at Keens, did benefit from the nuances that an educated palate would detect as nuances that can only come from a competently dry aged piece of quality meat). And you do all of that better than at most other steakhouses, which is the case of Keens.  You stop being first  class the day your steak costs an arm and a leg only to have the taste and feel of a generic-tasting piece of meat that you  would buy at the supermarket (the case of one so-called legendary steakhouse right here in The old Montreal …). Keens has nothing to do with an outdated steakhouse.  For his  steaks, Keens is still one of NYC’s very best. I was not in love with the sides, but again, this was (more of) a matter of preference (at the exception of the mushrooms) rather than the sides being faulty. They need to control the temperature of those oysters, though. My number 1 North American steakhouse is still Peter Luger (the one in Brooklyn) , but that takes nothing away from the superb steaks of Keens. The service and ambience at Keens are  also  great. One of my preferred chophouses in NYC. Steaks (9/10), Appetizers (7/10), Sides (6/10 ), Service (8/10 ) –  Keens steakhouse Addr: 72 West 36th St. New York, NY 10018 Phone: 212-947-3636 URL: http://www.keens.com

 

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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. Steaks (9/10), Appetizers (N/A), Sides (7/10 ), Service (8/10 )

sh01Strip House Steakhouse is considered as one of the very best steakhouses of New York by the big majority of the city’s  most serious  steakhouse connoisseurs, some of them even  considering the steaks more flavorful at Strip House than at the legendary Peter Luger. It would be a nonsense to eat an average piece of steak in the Mecca of North American style steakhouses, New York, so I did a lot of searches and Strip House ended up ranking high on my list of steakhouses to try in New York.

West coast met East coast in a platter of perfectly well shucked quality oysters, with a dazzling mignonette, and an equally dazzling home made sauce, some tabasco. Oysters have to be great at a steak house of this reputation and they were. Where I needed them to excel was in their homemade sauce and mignonette. They did. 7/10

Lobster bisque , maine lobster, pearl couscous tasted enticingly of fresh lobster flavor, which it has to, indeed. It paled a bit, though, in comparison to the finer lobster bisque that could come from a fine French restaurant (its way-too-thick texture just not as refined, the flavor just not as complex) but that was to be expected at a steak house. 6/10

sh05Filet mignon was the pick of my girlfriend. She thought that the  char was not necessary for a filet mignon (well…honey, it is a North American steakhouse, lol!! Not a French restaurant …) but thought that it tasted fine enough. 6/10

 

sh02 The strip  is their signature steak , but I went for my preferred cut , the bone-in rib eye. The USDA prime meat is wet-aged for at least 21 days.  I usually prefer the effect of a 35 to 40 days dry-aged cut, which was not the case of this steak I was having.  They use a 1800 degree broiler to cook the steak and coat it with olive oil and pepper and that allowed for a nice tasty brown crust. I chose the 20 oz bone-in rib eye . Not much to say about my steak, as a steak house of this quality will usually get the requested doneness right (medium rare to my request), the meat certainly well sourced. Which is exactly what happened here. But the 20  oz bone in rib eye is wet aged, and for someone like me who has long embraced the hype of the dry aged meat, this wet aged piece left no impression (just not enough umami sensation on the palate, just not as meaty and flavorful, I find). Great char, nice  salt and pepper rub, though. Still…game, set and match: dry aged meat wins, for my taste. 6/10

sh03Crisp goose fat potatoes came in the form of a big croquette (6/10), quality asparagus retained a superb crunch (good, but somehow Wolfgang does a tastier rendition)

 

sh04Creamed spinach was fine, but I found the one at Peter Luger a tad more exciting in mouth. Still, this was tasty and had an enticing cheesy-alike taste that I kinda liked. 6/10

Ice cream and sorbet were good,  coffee (Rwanda single origin) was watery and not as flavorful as its enticing description (Silky body, lemon acidity, notes of pineapple and dark chocolate)  may suggest.

Pros: A classy steakhouse, with superb service and its own cachet
Cons: No serious quibble to raise, but as a diner you need to know that they have wet aged as well as dry aged cuts. If, like me, your ideal North American style steak is a 40 days expertly dry aged bone in 2″ inch thick 20 oz cut, then their 20 oz bone in rib eye is not what you are looking for. But they have other steaks that are dry aged such as the 14oz rib eye, 14oz new york strip, porterhouse for two.

Bottom line: a service and an overall dining experience that far surpassed what I have experienced at Peter Luger and Wolfgang. However, they need to fix the issue of the watery coffee. It is easy to make great coffee, so no excuse there. On the topic of the food, I was not blown away. True. But it would be accurate to underline  that no wet aged steak has ever impressed me, so,  obviously,  just a matter of personal taste. 6/10 as an overall rating  for the sides (fine sides, though a tad less impressive than at Wolfgang, for the sake of comparison). I won’t rate the steak – it was a perfectly well executed steak of the wet aged sort, but wet aged  steaks  are not my cup of  tea. 10/10 for the service and overall dining experience.

 

 

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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/

DLN is widely considered as a top tier steakhouse in Tokyo. Service (by the wife of the Chef)  was uneven for a 1 star Michelin restaurant: over-the-board friendly with some diners, decent with others…which, I gather, is ‘normal’  in ‘general life’ as this boils down to chemistry between people..less so  by the standards of  a 1 star Michelin restaurant. That said,  rest assured that the service is still really really good (you are in Japan, after all). The quality of the meat is the main reason that brought me here, and there is no denying it: the quality is, as expected, of top shelf mention. Sadly,  Wagyu is overrated, which is not the fault of DLN, indeed, but DLN …as a steakhouse…needs to pair  better red wine to their steak.  

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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.

 

Service: Very intimate, very very friendly. The wife of the Chef (she was the sole waitress on that evening) is very enthusiastic, perhaps more with some than  others, but I am nitpicking here. 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.

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