Thursday, January 31, 2013

Don't let the mean cow bull-y you! (Ha!) - Le Méchant Boeuf

My puns are so lame, even your weird punny uncle is curled up, bawling in a corner. Ooohhh yyeeaaahhhhh.

Our decision to visit Le Méchant Boeuf was actually somewhat a spur-of-the-moment decision. My friend and I had actually planned on going to Suite 701, but we were too intimidated by their chic up-scale setting and fancy 'smart casual' dress code and so we chickened out at the last minute. No, really, that place scares me. Alas, what are two scraggly students hauling around huge backpacks of books to do? Head to the more casual Méchant Boeuf, obviously.

So round 3 of Happening Gourmand. As I had mentioned in my Taverne Gaspar post, I have visited two restaurants on the Happening Gourmand list, one being the aforementioned Taverne Gaspar, and the other being the Vieux Port Steakhouse. One I was quite happy with, and the other was a sore disappointment. So where does Le Méchant Boeuf land on a scale of Tourist Trap to Foodie-worthy?

Accessibility - Grade: B
Like all restaurants in the old port, you need to walk some ways from Place d'Armes metro. It's not as far le Taverne Gaspar, and the sign is more obvious, thus making it easier to find, but a ten minute walk in -20 degree weather is still nothing to sneeze at.

Service - Grade: B
The service was efficient. There was no warm friendliness, but this isn't a small homey restaurant. Instead, you get polite professionalism, well-dressed waitstaff and full water glasses. It is the old port, after all, so it's really not that surprising.

Ambiance: B+
The ambiance of the restaurant is also very nice. It's not as extravagant as Suite 701, being more casual, but the decor is still classy and chic enough for a nice night out. They also have a happy hour of sorts, from 5 to 7, where drinks that are usually priced at $10 go for $7.50, which is a nice touch. They have a pretty extensive cocktail menu, too.

Food - Grade: B-
Ironically, for a restaurant that has 'beef' in its name, there wasn't much beef on the menu. At least, not on the Happening Gourmand table d'hote.

I started off with a charcuterie plate, which included a slice of foie gras and a cold cut of pork. The presentation was nice, but the meat was quite bland, and the pork was very fatty. It came with a smudge of dijon mustard, some arugula, a slice of crouton and three pickles. All-in-all, not bad, but not great. 

My friend ordered a beet puree that had been breaded and fried, served with a side of arugula salad and pine seeds, with a dollop of goat cheese dip. I thought this dish was quite good. The beet balls were crisp and crunchy on the outside, while soft and smooth on the inside, and didn't feel too heavy despite being fried.  The goat cheese dip was a nice touch, and gave it that extra bit of flavouring that it needed.

My friend ordered the ribs, which, when compared to the ribs at the Taverne Gaspar, are much smaller and definitely not as well-cooked. The sauce on the ribs was nice and spicy, but instead of cooking the sauce with the meat, it was clear that the ribs were cooked first, and then slathered with sauce, as shown in the picture below.

Food pics with flash always look so unappetizing...
This made the meat itself bland, so the flavours didn't spread out evenly. Also, the meat was a little on the dry side. The fries were decent, but didn't stand out much.

You think the KMB burger is a beef burger...
I ordered the KMB burger, thinking that for a place that specialized in beef, maybe a burger was the way to go. The description for the burger is a bit misleading, because nowhere on the menu did it say that the burger was a chicken burger. And given name of the restaurant, I really would have thought that it was a beef burger.

Ta-da! It's actually chicken!
On the up side, they were very generous with the chicken in the burger. I think I must have had three pieces of chicken breast in my burger. The chicken is also 100% trim chicken breast, stringy toughness and all, and not the processed stuff that usually comes in chicken burgers. The chicken is also well-seasoned, with just a bite of spiciness from the chipotle. On the downside, I don't like chicken burgers. The chicken in this burger wasn't by any means dry, but it definitely wasn't as juicy as regular beef burgers. So if you're a fan of chicken and chicken burgers, then you might like this particular burger, but if you were like me and expecting a beef burger, then STAY AWAY. I probably should have ordered the salmon tartare...

Spicy chocolate cake
For dessert, we had a choice of a spicy decadent chocolate cake or a tiramisu. My friend ordered the chocolate cake. I thought it was when they said spicy, they meant hot spicy, like those chilli hot chocolates. Instead, the spice was more of the cinnamon and nutmeg variety. It was soft, with a fudge-like consistency, but again, lacked something to make it truly stand out. But hey, who doesn't love chocolate cake?

Tiramisu in a jar
I ordered the tiramisu, which came in a little jar. It was light, and not too sweet, which was perfect after carb-heavy meal. The bottom was layered with the spongy cake over-saturated with a syrupy coffee mix, which is then covered with a light, creamy marscapone, and finally topped with large flakes of chocolate. Not bad, but again, not amazing either.

Price - $$$-$$$$
I took a peek at the regular menu, and wow, were things pricey there. A (beef) burger went for around $20, and a steak went easily for $30, at least. Just their appetizers alone were about $20. This is definitely not a place for students to frequent. Even with the table d'hote, I felt like the food wasn't really worth the price. I guess you pay more for the ambiance and the service in these type of restaurants than you do for the food.

Final Grade: B-
To sum it up, the what draws people to this place the most is probably the ambiance, service and drinks. The food, on the other hand, isn't that special - at least from what I've seen of the Happening Gourmand menu. Maybe their regular menu items are better, but it seems a bit weird to not showcase your specialty (beef) in your table d'hote. I probably won't be returning here (probably can't afford to return here), but if you've got the cash and are looking for a nice place to spend a Saturday night without sprucing yourself up too much, then Le Méchant Boeuf is a venue to consider.

Méchant Boeuf
124 Rue Saint Paul Ouest 

(514) 788-4020

Méchant Boeuf on Urbanspoon


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