A Decadent Meal at Joe Beef

Joe Beef, Montreal
Location
: 2491 Notre-Dame Street West, Montreal, Quebec
Website: https://joebeef.com/

Joe Beef is frequently called one of the best restaurants in Canada, so if you find yourself in Montreal and you don’t mind splurging a bit (okay, a lot — it’s pricey), it’s a must.

I tried a few things.  The first was… some kind of tart?  This wasn’t on the regular menu and I forgot to take a picture of the blackboard where they wrote down the specials (I also forgot to take a picture of the inside of the restaurant — I’m really good at blogging, as you can tell).

Joe Beef, Montreal

I’m not even sure how to describe this thing.  It was somewhat souffle-esque, and it was absolutely drenched in an ultra-rich, buttery sauce.  It was outstanding.  It’s exactly the type of dish you’re hoping to eat at a really nice restaurant; it’s a delightful alchemy of luxe ingredients and high-end techniques that you could never possibly replicate at home, or even in a normal restaurant kitchen.  Every bite was pure magic.

Joe Beef, Montreal

Next up was the “côte de veau sauce ‘vieux téléviseur'”, which was a veal chop covered in an ultra-rich, buttery sauce (ultra-rich and buttery is definitely a theme at Joe Beef).  This was just as good as the tart, with the tender beef being absolutely jammed with flavour, and with the rich sauce complimenting it perfectly.  It seems relatively simple, but holy moly, the extent to which this was better than pretty much any other steak I’ve ever had was insane.

The side was some kind of braised greens (this also wasn’t on the menu, so I’m not sure exactly what it was).  This was a pretty standard version of this dish — tasty, but not mind-blowing.  My photo of this turned out pretty blurry, so you’ll have to use your imagination.  It was just a pile of greens on an oblong plate, so not much imagination is required.

Joe Beef, Montreal

The only big let-down of the night was, oddly, one of Joe Beef’s signature dishes, the lobster spaghetti.  This was perfectly delicious, but the heavy cream sauce was one-note rich, and the chunks of lobster were overcooked.  It certainly wasn’t unpleasant to eat, but coming from a restaurant of this caliber, it’s a disappointment.

Top-Notch Sandwiches at Vilda’s

Vilda's
Location
: 209 Dovercourt Road, Toronto
Website: https://www.vildastoronto.com/

Sandwiches!  I think I’ve mentioned in the past that there are a few dishes that I think are the perfect food.  A margherita pizza, for one.  A great bowl of ramen.  And of course, you’d have to add sandwiches to that list — but is that cheating?  A margherita pizza is a pretty specific thing, but with all the different combos of bread and fillings, a sandwich can be about a billion different things.

Vilda's

Still, who doesn’t love a sandwich, particularly when they’re as great as they are at Vilda’s?

(That’s mostly a rhetorical question, but if you’ve legitimately never had a sandwich that you loved, then there might be something medically wrong with you.  Go see a doctor.)

Vilda's

I tried a couple at Vilda’s: the Duca di Zucchine, and the Tuna à la Mediterranean.  Both were very good, but the Duca di Zucchine (which the menu describes as “Hard-roasted, lemon-marinated zucchini ribbons.  A vibrant spread of garlic scapes and tahini.  Parmesan cheese!  Bacon AND mint?!  Together?  Yes.”) was the highlight.  The combo of the tender zucchini, the crispy/meaty bacon and the zingy vibrancy of the various sauces was extremely delicious.

Vilda's

The Tuna à la Mediterranean (“Cut up artichokes, whipped tuna, melted cheddar, olive-dressed butter lettuce and mayo”) was a bit less impressive, but still quite tasty.  This one tasted more like something I might be able to make at home (or more accurately, something I think I could make at home, but could never actually make at this level of deliciousness).  It was also a bit odd in that it was ostensibly a tuna melt, but featured cheese that was completely unmelted.  You’d think that this would be an issue, but it was delicious regardless.  It’s hard to go wrong with the combo of the creamy tuna spread and the crispy freshness of the veggies, not to mention the great bread.

Classic Comfort Food at Emmer

EmmerLocation: 161 Harbord Street, Toronto
Website: https://www.emmertoronto.ca/

Emmer is a bakery that recently opened to pretty much immediate success — if you check this place out (and you should definitely check this place out), expect to be in line for a while.  It’s worth it.

Emmer

Everything here is so good.  On a previous, unblogged visit, I tried the roast beef sandwich and a chocolate croissant, and both were thoroughly delicious.

On this visit I was able to sit on their patio for their newly introduced lunch service.  I tried the tuna melt, which is 100% pure comfort food.   This isn’t any kind of “elevated” tuna melt; it’s like a tuna melt you might make at home, only so much better.

Emmer

The tuna is perfectly creamy without being overly rich, and the gooey American cheese complements it perfectly.  The sandwich also features some kind of zippy chili sauce, which adds a very mild kick and generally makes it all a bit more interesting.

Emmer

And of course, Emmer’s specialty is their baked goods, so the bread in the sandwich is house made and amazing.  It’s also slathered in butter and nicely crisped up on its exterior, so yeah, it’s very good.

A Disappointing Meal at Dreyfus

Dreyfus
Location
: 96 Harbord Street, Toronto
Website: https://www.facebook.com/Dreyfus-Toronto-382976892314156/

Dreyfus’ main claim to fame is that it was opened by an alumnus of Joe Beef, a seriously acclaimed Montreal bistro (among many, many accolades, it was recently called Canada’s second best restaurant).  I’ve never tried that place, so this seemed like the next best thing.

The menu consists of various small, shareable plates with big price tags; cheap eats this isn’t, but then every now and then you need to break the bank and try some top-notch food.  Or at least, that was the idea.

Dreyfus

The menu is entirely French, which means that effectively, there is no menu — the waiter tells you about every dish, and then you have to remember it all; not ideal for a place that requires you to order multiple dishes.  That whole conceit is a bit overly precious, but if the food is great, who cares?

Yeah, about that.

Nothing is outright bad, I’ll give it that, but for what they’re charging, the food is very much a mixed bag.

Dreyfus

There were some highlights, however.  There was a dish that featured endives topped with tender roast pork shoulder that was particularly delicious.  The endive was doused in a tasty, Russian-style dressing and was basically a variation on a wedge salad, and the thickly-sliced pork was meaty and tender.

Dreyfus

The croque cubano — essentially an open-faced Cubano that you can eat in a couple of bites — was crispy, meaty, zesty, and satisfying.

Dreyfus

And the ice cream sandwich featured top-notch ice cream sandwiched between two chewy, delicious cookies.

Dreyfus

Everything else was a bit iffy.  The steak tartare was fine, but it was way overseasoned and had zero beefy flavour.

Dreyfus

I can’t remember what the croquette was even supposed to be; the vaguely yogurty interior was basically just a thick, tasteless sludge.

Dreyfus

This squash dish topped with Jersey Royal cheese should have been tasty, but the cheese was haphazardly applied, and most of the squash was undercooked and crunchy.

The mackerel seemed okay, but it was absolutely doused in an overly vinegary sauce that completely overwhelmed the fish.

Dreyfus

The madelines were basically tasty, but they were overcooked and dry, and the sauce that comes on the side was overly sweet (the sugar that was haphazardly dumped into the container probably didn’t help).

More Delicious Pasta at Shiso Tree Cafe

Shiso Tree CafeLocation: 3160 Steeles Avenue East, Markham
Website: https://www.facebook.com/ShisoTree/

I mentioned recently that I generally prefer checking out restaurants I haven’t tried over revisiting ones I have.  There are, however, exceptions to that rule, such as: Shiso Tree Cafe, a restaurant that fuses Japanese and Italian cuisine with some seriously delicious results.

On this visit I had the shoyu mushroom spaghetti: “shimeji, enoki, king oyster mushrooms in mentsuyu butter sauce.”

Shiso Tree Cafe

It’s so good.  It looks a little bit dry in the photo; a lot of the sauce is at the bottom of the bowl, but once you mix it up, it becomes creamy and amazing (and the sauce is rich enough to cling perfectly to the pasta — there wasn’t any left in the bowl when the spaghetti was done).

It has an incredibly satisfying buttery/savoury flavour, and the various types of mushrooms add a nice variety of textures and flavours.  It’s a top-notch bowl of pasta.

Shiso Tree Cafe

It’s also an incredible deal; every pasta on their lunch menu costs twelve bucks and comes with a salad, soup, and a slice of garlic bread.  The salad looks a little sad, but features a sesame-infused dressing that’s a cut above the standard Japanese-inspired salad dressing you’re expecting.  The creamy seafood soup is rich, flavourful, and packed with tasty chunks of seafood — it’s way better than a free soup has any right to be.  The garlic bread is quite tasty, too.