Elegance. Sophistication. Class. All words that are apt to describe Bar & Boeuf. The divas were excited to go to another Old Montreal haunt with a dazzling reputation. When our friend asked to join us on one of our Thursday night adventures, we were more than happy to oblige. Now, the Divas will never judge someone for their morals (most of the time). Quite the opposite, in fact, we applaud them for sticking to them! Our morals tend to be slightly skewed.
Knowing full-well that our friend is a vegetarian, whom we affectionately refer to as Vegan Vixen, we made our reservations for Bar & Boeuf. That’s right, we chose a restaurant with the word “Boeuf” in it for our non-meat eating friend. But let’s give credit where credit is due. Though Vegan Vixen claims to not eat meat, she succumbed to the Divas’ pleas (more, like insistence) and was game to at least try whatever we ordered and the Divas can’t argue with that!
When we arrived at the multi-storied financial district restaurant, located on McGill Ave., we were ready for a good meal. And no good meal starts without a good drink. Though the word “Bar” in Bar & Boeuf refers to sea bass, the restaurant is known for their martini cocktail list, so three martinis were soon being mixed. The always delicious Dirty Gin Martini, a classic Cosmo and a specialty martini, with orange vodka, blackberries and Cabernet, was quickly downed by the Divas and Vegan Vixen.
While perusing the menu, our waitress, who spoke wonderful Parisian French, served us two choices of bread: white or raisin with fennel. Accompanied by butter and flaked salt, the bread was hearty, rustic and addictive. We then ordered our appetizers and while waiting, were served a small amuse bouche. It was a clam and bacon salad served on a white beet puree. It was delicious and could easily stand alone as an appetizer on the menu.
As the table was cleared and our 2008 Bordeaux was opened, our appetizers arrived. Vegan Vixen had ordered the squash and foie gras. Yes, you read right, and the Divas didn’t even have to nudge her in the right direction! The piece of foie gras was a good size and still creamy on the inside with a nice pan-seared crust. Not too bad, but we are used to tastier foie gras that explodes with flavour. The squash was shaved very thinly and all this was contrasted with some deep fried swiss chard. Unfortunately, the apricot was lost in this dish; its flavour was not apparent.
It’s hard for the Divas to see raw meat on a menu and pass on it so Diva #2 ordered the Beef Tartare. It was different from the tartares that we love; it was dressed more like a salad and heavy on the vinegar. The croutons were grilled with a nice char for extra flavour. The menu mentioned smoked cod but we didn’t really taste any. But guess what? Vegan Vixen also had a taste of the tartare! Once again this was tasty, but does not compete with other beef tartares that we have had the luxury of tasting.
Our third appetizer was definitely the best. The Oyster Cream was served with a caviar-topped brioche which was buttery. The cream was definitely worthy of eating by the spoonful! Even if you’ve never had oysters before, order the Oyster Cream. It is different because the oysters are not raw and it is a wonderful combination of flavours. Do yourself a favour; try it, love it and send us a thank you note later!
Sticking to her vegetarian sham, the lovely Vegan Vixen ordered the Pappardelle dish. The pappardelle pasta was huge, too chunky and not delicate at all. It was served with plenty of oyster mushrooms, which was nice because it gave it a meaty feel. The pasta was cooked al dente and the squash flan was a unique touch for the dish.
Diva #1 believes that Vegan Vixen is going through an unfortunate phase, they’ve known each other for ten years and for most of those years she could be found at a local deli or charcuterie enjoying meat, especially pogos during her teenage years.
As you know, if there’s something on a menu people will steer clear of, the Divas will run right to it. Diva #1 ordered the Sweetbreads which is not seen on menus very often. It was great and not chewy or rubbery, as most people tend to believe! It was served with small ravioli filled with mushrooms, though some could have had more filling. The leeks were a nice touch and this was by far the best dish that we tried that night.
Diva #2 noticed the words black pudding in the menu description for the scallops so naturally, they were ordered. The scallops were cooked perfectly and rested on a parsnip flan. They were served with deep fried black pudding which was really nice and added texture to the dish. There was also an acidic, crunchy bite from the marinated Chinese artichokes. Too bad they weren’t Jerusalem artichokes, Diva #2 loves those. All in all, a good dish but we have had more impressive scallop dishes elsewhere.
After all that, the Divas and Vegan Vixen couldn’t possibly think of having dessert though the Bar et Boeuf menu offers some very unique desserts. Bar et Boeuf boasts an in house pastry chef and that night their pastries included a lemon and hazelnut tart with apricot sorbet, caramelia chocolate cake and peanuts with pear sorbet, and a mandarin-orange puree, alpaco chocolate cream and passionfruit ice cream with a cherry and blueberry puree and almond financier. Writing this, we are now regretting not having ordered dessert. Bar et Boeuf also has a tasting menu for 50$ per person or 80$ per person with 3 glasses of wine. Everyone has to order the tasting menu for it to be applicable. In sum, this restaurant has an elegant décor, sophisticated atmosphere and enjoyable food; another Old Montreal restaurant to add to your list. It was good, but not remarkable, typical of what you would expect from a good restaurant in Old Montreal. But the Divas don’t want a dinner that was “as expected” but rather to be impressed.
Hopefully in 2013 Vegan Vixen comes to her senses and rejoins the circle of life. We did not fight our way to the top of the food chain to become vegetarians.
Our Rating: Average
Tagged: Average, Bar et Boeuf, Beef, Black Pudding, Brian Verstraten, Cocktails, Financial District, French, Martini, McGill, Montreal, Old Montreal, Oyster, oysters, Pastries, Scallops, Simon Mathys, Sweetbreads, Tasting Menu, wine