No. 3: Joe Beef
THE HUMBLE 30-SEAT BACK-TO-BASICS CULINARY OUTPOST THAT CHEFS DAVID MCMILLAN AND FRED MORIN OPENED ON A SKETCHY STRETCH OF NOTRE DAME WEST IN 2005 HAS OVER THE INTERVENING YEARS DOUBLED ITS SIZE AND SEATING, ADDED A PROPER BAR AND PATIO, ACQUIRED ITS OWN ONSITE SMOKEHOUSE, TROUT POND AND VEGETABLE GARDEN, AND SPAWNED TWO NEIGHBOURING RESTAURANTS, A RETAIL SPICE LINE AND A MUCH-ADMIRED COOKBOOK—WITH A SECOND EDITION NOW WELL IN THE WORKS.
The best part of Joe Beef’s unlikely evolution from culinary upstart to institution is the fact that it made the transition with its original ideals intact. Actually, it seems more sharply focused now than ever. The guiding idea is resolutely contemporary—but in every application it has one foot firmly and proudly planted in the past. The ostensible bric-a-brac of its decor is in fact quality stuff, a nod to the antique shops that for decades lined the local street. The waitstaff are convivial, tattooed and casually familiar, but behind all that there lurks an impressive well of knowledge and professionalism.
And while the kitchen is averse to l’art culinaire’s pretention and fuss, the bag of tricks it applies to its top-quality ingredients is invariably French and old-school. Picture a big wedge of pâté en croute, luxuriously studded with moist chunks of rabbit, or Dover sole doused in celeriac cream and blanketed with Périgord truffle, and sweetbreads, seared and poached to a perfect state of succulence, wrapped in crisp bacon and dressed with lobster sauce. The restaurant could ride out the decade on the strength of its lobster pasta alone. The patio setting beside the garden is magical. The wine list features innumerable quality pairings for everything. And the sum of the parts is always much more than a good meal; it’s a great time.
Tuesday to Saturday
6:00 PM until 12:00 AM
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALLEN McEachern