Fresh off the launch of a natural Quebec beef program at Moishes, Eater Montreal spoke to Lenny Lighter, the owner of the éminence grise steakhouse, today.
Can we talk Quebec beef at Moishes?
Sure. We started a few weeks ago and it's selling well. We get in fresh product every week from an abattoir in the Townships - Les Viandes Laroche - and dry-age for 45 days in-house. They work with a number of small independent farms in the area who follow certain specifications for natural programs. No hormones, no antibiotics. What they also do is follow Temple Grandin [doctor of animal science, livestock industry consultant] methods of humane slaughter. "Humane", in quotes.
We've been testing this for a year now and dealt with specific local farms in the Townships and near Alma. But we were never happy with the product. Laroche grades A, AA, AAA - we go AAA. There's more fat and flavour. We're surprsied by the quality. We're used to Certified Angus Beef at Moishes.
Is this grass-fed beef?
Grass-fed finished with grain. It has a different taste. A different profile, not as round or as rich as corn-fed. People like it. We thought here, being a traditonal steakhouse, it would be a tough sell. We start on Thursday and by Saturday it's gone. We've had to double our order. And every type of customer is ordering it.
[Photo: Quebec beef at Moishes, Lenny Lighter]
How is it priced in comparison to the USDA Angus beef you normally sell at Moishes?
It's priced higher but lower than 45 dry-aged USDA Prime. It's in the middle.
Hypothetical scenario: Moishes converts to 100% local and natural beef. Possible?
I don't think we could source enough quality and quantity. There's not a big enough beef industry here in Quebec. I still think there's a bigger market for traditional steakhouse beef. But things are changing and evolving and we want to be part of that. When the day comes - it may or may not happen - we want to be there.
Moishes has been around for 75 years. I want to take it to 100. I'll be 85 then. You have to evolve with the times and we've put in a lot of effort to do so. Thirty percent of our business is with customers under the age of 30 now. We're always looking ahead.