On Tuesday evening we participated as guest reviewers on another Montreal blog site called "Mr. Lew's Great Burger Search". Mr. Lew is a man who searches Montreal and sometimes other surrounding cities looking for great burgers to share with his readers. After responding to a twitter invitation to join him on a future review location, a date and time were arranged for us to meet with Mr Lew at Méchant Boeuf.
Méchant Boeuf is located on St Paul street in Old Montreal attached to Hotel Nelligan. The first thing we noticed as you approach the restaurant are the large windows of the store-front wide open to the street allowing plenty of natural light to bless the happy hour crowd. We enter to find an upscale looking restaurant with dark wood and burgundy tones, almost like a modern take on the classic steak house decor. They seem to have a pretty large seating capacity with a nice long bar including a seafood and raw bar.
The restaurant offers a pretty wide range of seafood, steaks and tartares but since we had been invited as guest reviewers on a "Great Burger Search" we felt it seemed appropriate to embrace the occasion. We go with the flow and sort of play this one out by Mr Lew's rules forgoing our normal ordering and reviewing style, all this basically meant was no appetizers, straight to business with the burger. There is only one burger on the menu at Méchant Boeuf, and they make a bold declaration that it's "the best in Montreal" on their website. Mr. Lew's choice was obvious and the two of us ordered one as well, however, in the interest of a little bit of diversity rather than ordering two burgers we ordered the beef tartare as well.
The tartare came served with croutons, a salad, and matchstick french fries. The salad was very average and uninspired, mesclun mix, a few halved cherry tomatoes, a bit of grated carrot, balsamic vinegar and olive oil - nothing to phone home about. The matchstick fries came in a large portion and weren't greasy. We understand that they are a classical pairing for tartare but personally we prefer regular or slightly smaller than regular sized french fries ten times out of ten over the matchstick variety. Yes they look cute but they're also a bit of a pain to eat and they easily over crisp, they were okay just not our preference. The tartare was well chopped and the portion was a very reasonable size for a main but it was way too strong on the Tabasco, it overpowered the meat as well as all the rest of the seasonings. As if all the spice from the Tabasco wasn't enough, for some reason they chose to serve the tartare with an additional unnecessary condiment of a sambal oelek style chili sauce served in a spoon. Who dips their tartare in hot sauce anyways?
Beef Tartare - 22$
The "Méchant Burger" comes garnished with blue-veined Ciel de Charlevoix cheese, gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, and baby arugula. The burger is served with fries but there is an option on the menu to substitute your french fries with a poutine, which we chose to go for. When we ordered, our waitress asked if we were okay with the burger being cooked medium, we said yes. First of all the burger was a reasonable size which we appreciated, not small but not obnoxiously large either. A huge pet peeve of ours is when you order a burger and it arrives as a big sloppy mess that you can't even fit in your mouth; we would have to say the size of the méchant burger was ideal. The toppings were good as well, the bacon was crisp, not over or undercooked, it was just right for sandwich making purposes. The gruyere and blue cheese were great, although blue cheese is delicious on a burger it can easily become overpowering, on this burger it worked very well playing a supporting role. To be honest the caramelized onions were nearly undetectable to the taste but they could be seen, they were definitely in there. The bun was truly excellent, it couldn't possibly be faulted in any way. It was really tender and top-knotch; so good in fact you might say that if you dissected the burger and ate each item separately it could have very well been the strongest individual component. As for the burger itself, although we were asked if we were okay if it was served medium it arrived pretty close to well-done, but it remained tasty and juicy. You could taste the meat loud and clear, as you should be able to in a burger; the taste of a little bit of steak spice was present in the background but it hadn't been adulterated with a ton of seasoning and filler. Overall a very successful burger experience. Saying it's "the best burger in Montreal" may be a little bit of an overstatement, but it certainly is a very good gourmet style hamburger
At a 6$ surcharge initially the poutine seems like a pretty expensive option, but when it arrived along side the burger there was a big surprise in store. Sitting on top of the poutine was a big pile of tender, juicy pulled pork which is not mentioned anywhere on the menu! If we had known this was what was in store we would not have hesitated even for a moment to order the poutine. We requested the menu back to confirm it hadn't been mentioned anywhere and were perplexed as to why? Pulled pork poutine? the P.P.P? Seems like a great selling point to us. The cheese curds on the poutine were huge and they were fresh, you can always tell fresh curd cheese because it squeaks between your teeth when you eat it. The fries were great and the sauce was also very good. Poutine always pairs well with a burger, it's like peanut butter and jelly, or Bert and Ernie, some things just go together. Adding pulled pork and simply taking the time and care to treat a poutine with as much respect as anything else one cooks puts this combo experience a step higher.
Méchant Burger - 17$ Pulled Pork Poutine (Xtra 6$)
We had a good time with our experience as guest reviewers on Mr. Lew's Great Burger Search. In hindsight we should have both ordered the burger and poutine combo because it was very enjoyable and the tartare turned out to be pretty underwhelming. The value for the dollar on both of these dishes was a little bit questionable but in cases like the burger and poutine when your meal tastes great it's easier to let the price slide than in the case of the tartare. Overall the service was very quick and friendly at Méchant Boeuf until it came time to pay the bill, then it was a bit difficult to find our waitress, it really was no big deal though. It probably only seemed long because because we were on our way to the Paul McCartney concert and Mr. Lew had a radio interview to do immediately after dinner. In the end, we won't go out on a limb and make such a definite statement as to call it the best burger in the city, but it's certainly worth going to try, especially partnered up with that awesome pulled pork poutine. Check out Méchant Boeuf for everything from their well priced happy hour (5a7) menu, live music, group menus and even late night menus. The doors at Méchant Boeuf seem to always be open and waiting for you.
124 Rue Saint Paul Ouest