“My favorite restaurant in the world is Joe Beef.” The bold statement wasn’t uttered by just another of the Montreal restaurant’s die-hard fans. It actually opens the new book, The Art of Living According to Joe Beef, in the foreword written by none other than David Chang, one of the world’s most famous chefs and owner of a growing empire of which Manhattan’s Momofuku Ko is the crown jewel..
The indecently high praise from a celebrity New York chef (who goes on to say, among other things, that “everything they do is amazing) is only the first of many pleasant surprises one finds in the book about the famous little Montreal restaurant called Joe Beef. The Art of Living According to Joe Beef is much more than a mere collection of recipes, and could be best described as a brutally honest rags-to-riches tale that pays homage to Montreal and to the richness of the terroirs surrounding the city.
Chefs and best friends David McMillan and Frédéric Morin (who own Joe Beef along with Morin’s wife Allison Cunningham), aided by book co-author Meredith Erickson, paint an adoring portrait of their hometown that makes one yearn to follow in their footsteps and try the local foods that merit, in the book, mouthwatering descriptions.
They talk, for example, of the “infamous three large trunks of marrowbone, sel gris and rounds of cabbage” served at the classic bistro L’Express, “the kind of thing you want to eat when snow is melting off your boots”. And who wouldn’t be curious to visit La Vielle Europe after reading that “the smell of this shop is ambroisial, it’s like all (their) favorite foods rolled into one: cheese, smoked meats, pickles, tea and sauerkraut”? The latter is one of many stops on the nostalgic trip the book takes down St. Laurent Boulevard. They’re fans, especially, of Moishes, Schwartz’s, the Boucherie Fairmount and Portuguese eateries like Coco Rico and Portugalia.
Most of their dine-around-town tips are contained in the section “Montreal in Two Days”, which includes not only a list of their favourite restaurants and purveyors at the Atwater Market, but also recommendations of hotels, coffee shops and even downtown stores.
Joe Beef, 2491 Notre Dame West, (514) 935-6504
Atwater Market, 138 Atwater, (514) 937-7754
Coco Rico, 3907 Saint Laurent, (514) 849-5554
L’Express, 3929 Saint Denis, (514) 845-5333
Moishes, 3961 Saint Laurent, (514) 845-3509
Portugalia, 34 Rachel West, tel. (514) 282-1519
Schwartz’s, 3895 Saint Laurent, (514) 842-4813
La Vieille Europe, 3855 Blvd. Saint Laurent, (514) 842-5773
Boucherie Fairmount, 3833 Saint Laurent, (514) 288-8046
Photo Credit: Alexandra Forbes