The word on the street is that New York is just a stopover on the way to Montreal thanks to the rogue princes of Canadian cuisine at Joe Beef dubbed the Kings of Quebec at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

Lookout New York, your big apple has been thrown in the barbie and it is coming out shaped like a big, thick barbecued sirloin steak.

Canada’s number three restaurant on their top 100,  Joe Beef was named in homage to Charles “Joe-Beef” McKiernan, a 19th-century innkeeper and a Montreal working-class hero.

Opened in 2005, Joe Beef is very different take on a French bistro. It’s old school but new school and creates food magic in Montreal. The restaurant is owned by David McMillan and Frederic Morin, managed by Vanya Filipovic with March Olivier Frappier as Executive Chef.  

They are loud, proud and feed you way too much but that’s what makes Canadian restaurant Joe Beef leaders in the white-hot Montreal food scene.

You have always travelled to Canada for its jaw-dropping scenery and friendly folk but now you can add Canadian food, backed by strong Canadian traditions of living off the land and cooking seasonally, to the long list of draw cards.

Joe Beef cooks the ultimate backyard barbie at Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

From one of the most exciting food cities in North America, four of the Joe Beef team – Vanya Filipovic, sommelier and general manager, Marc-Olivier Frappier, executive chef, David McMillan, co-owner and founder and Frédéric Morin, co-owner and founder packed their bags for the 2019 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

Their Kings of Quebec dinner held on March 9 was a sell-out event.

Introducing David McMillan to diners at the event, Food writer Jill Dupliex said that cities get the restaurants they deserve, and Montreal got Joe Beef.

David revealed that the restaurant usually turns down festival invitations but this one was a no-brainer.

“One of my first cookbooks was one of Stephanie Alexander’s and it is completely dogeared now,” says David.

Kings of Quebec menu

Long before the food appeared on family-style platters on the tables, the aromas were drifting over the tables creating great anticipation.  Filled with big, authentic flavours, the dishes did not disappoint.

It started with a small cup of grilled corn sundae with barbecued corn kernels, pecorino and a black pepper mayonnaise.

Next came a huge platter of hot barbecued seafood filled with sweet mussels, scallops, and giant grilled prawns along with dishes of baked oyster with Marmite – yes Marmite! – on a thick bed of seaweed. There were also platters of raw and cooked vegetables.

The second course included maple-glazed ham and roasted pineapple wedges which I had watched being rotisseried over a charcoal grill.

Hero of the night for me was the smoked lamb shoulder Monsieur which had the most amazing smoked flavour throughout the tender flesh. It came with ocean trout topped with grilled greens and the most amazing seaweed butter. 

Dessert was creamy brown butter ice cream sandwich on a crisp Lune croissant.

Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse: Another Cookbook of Sorts

Published late in 2018, this is the second cookbook from the Joe Beef team.

Along with recipes for soap and cough drops, you’ll be well set to survive the apocalypse should it ever come with these quirky tips from Meredith, David, and Fred.

It’s all about embracing the great food that is available before it ever happens with 150 brand new recipes (nearly all illustrated with photographs). Here are recipes for Smoked Meat Croquettes and Muffuleta à la Française (a gloriously stuffed loaf pâté, ham, Gruyère, foie gras, and onion jam), for fancy pre-apocalypse Sunday dinners.

You will eat very well in your fallout shelter.

Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse: Another Cookbook of Sorts  

Where is Joe Beef?

Canada used to be the nation of maple syrup, crisp bacon, poutine French fries covered in gravy and cheese curds. It’s the comfort food that we love and that’s still there but the headline grabbers are the street-food of Canada’s cities, the burgeoning numbers of craft-brewers and distillers and a natural wine scene that is creating a whole new generation of growers and producers.

It’s something you have to taste. Follow that delicious barbecue aroma and head to Montreal.

Joe Beef is located at 2491 Notre-Dame West, Montréal, Quebec.


Disclaimer: Eat drink and be Kerry was a guest of Destination Canada