Dinner at Moishes Steakhouse has been the classiest night out on the Main since 1938—and it still stands up. A recent Friday night birthday dinner proves that the Montreal institution that is Moishes Steakhouse is the gift that keeps on giving, and a longstanding tradition that is in the process of reinventing itself. If you were lucky enough to have an 8 o’clock reservation for a special night here’s how it would unfold.
Moishes: Main-stay of St Laurent Bl.
You exit the cab and slip through the unobtrusive doorway on a bustling block of the mid-St. Laurent. Montreal’s most famous thoroughfare, known also as the Main, was once the hub of the city’s immigrant and Jewish communities—as legend had it, they disembarked down in the Port of Montreal and walked straight up from the river with their belongings, to set down roots on this street. Moishe’s , formerly Rumainian Paradise, has been a Main-stay (if you will) since then.
You walk into the bar for an 8 o’clock Friday-night reservation, and Le Tout Montreal is there, just as they always have been. While you sip your pre-dinner cocktail, a perfect Manhattan, you peruse the gallery of “Moishes Memories”, recently mounted in honour of the menu revamp. There are priceless historical documents in these shadowboxes, including vintage menus and other keepsakes (what was “pineapple cream” anyway?) as well as a photo exhibit by local Hungarian-born art-photographer Gabor Szilasi‘s Photos of the Main as it is today, all of which will be donated to help local charities.
As the waiter shows you to your table for two, you get to take in the room—families out in their weekend best to see and be seen, all over the finest cuts of meat this town knows. Your table is between two works of art: on one side, a huge lighted map of 1880s Montreal, from the river to Mile End, in all its glory. On the other side, mounted photographs of the alley graffiti on the restaurant’s rear wall—as legend had it, owner Lenny Lighter commissioned the work when authorities collared a tagger on the premises who was making his mark in a more illicit manner.
Classics new and old
Almost immediately, your waiter Serge, who looks like he grew up with the place, brings you the breadbasket—as well as a healthy helping of Moishes classic pickles and coleslaw. As you peruse the menu, you notice some new items: A Dungeness crab cake, as well as a bona fide lobster roll—these are courtesy of the resto’s brand-new chef, Josh Fiddler, a recent transplant from Vancouver. Fiddler is responsible for breathing new life into the classic menu, and starting a 9-to-midnight weekend menu with burgers and salmon as well as their classic steaks. In the restaurant’s own words, “Moishes has always been a place where dreamers, fast-talkers and forward-thinkers from all walks of life have gathered to enjoy life into the late hours.”
But tonight is a special-occasion night, and though the Kobe burgers and salmon are tempting, you tuck them away for future perusal and stick with what you’ve been craving: A full size Caesar salad, followed by a double-cut lamb chops wit classic mint jelly for you, and a gleaming, perfect, 22-oz T-Bone for your dining companion. Accompanied by sides of oven-crisp broccoli and heaping helpings of their classic Monte Carlo potato, which defies description.
Guest blogger: Melora Koepke
3961 Saint-Laurent, Montreal, Quebec H2W 1Y4
514 845-3509 [firstname.lastname@example.org]