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Joe Beef’s Latest Venture Gets Showered in Shining Reviews

And a sushi surprise in downtown Montreal

The brightly-lit interior of Mon Lapin.
Mon Lapin
Stephane Lavoie/Eater Montreal

Week in Reviews took a short break last Friday, but over the last two weeks, hot St-Zotique East newcomer Mon Lapin positively raked in glowing reviews. The fourth restaurant from the Joe Beef group, opened in Little Italy back in March. First up was Maeve Haldane at the Montreal Gazette (standing in for Lesley Chesterman), with a major rave. Haldane finds it both “homey and professional”, with plenty of points on both the wine and food side. There’s “beguiling” macerated (orange) wine, crisp-and-tender tempura fiddleheads, and excellent specialty bread made in-house. The only complaint is minor: the eel carbonara (similar in format to Joe Beef’s famed lobster spaghetti) was rich but needed a bright note — but it’s a near-perfect three and a half stars. [Montreal Gazette]

Next was JP Karwacki at Cult Montreal, highlighting the “rough and tumble feel” of the semi-casual newcomer. He doesn’t seem to be a fan of a slightly-awkward “standing bar” in the restaurant, but gives stamps of approval to the food — haddock-stuffed tortelli scores top marks, and ham plate offers up ample textures and flavours. While a whelk dish offers up some “palate fatigue”, desserts shine brightest, notably, fried strawberries with hazelnut cream. Also satisfied is La Presse critic Marie-Claude Lortie, who gives big props to the originality of the dishes on offer. Her highlights are tagliatelle with lamb ragout and a bitter red lettuce salad with copious foie gras. Lortie’s one issue is perhaps the most specific: she’s not a huge fan of Joe Beef’s tendency to often decorate with pastoral Peter Hoffer paintings, but it doesn’t matter much given the impeccable dining. [La Presse/Cult MTL]


Elsewhere, Gazette critic Lesley Chesterman discovers superb sashimi on Montreal’s relatively scarce sushi scene, at downtown restaurant Saiko Bistrot Izakaya. The sushi hits every good note: fresh fish, precise cuts, sweet-sour vinegar rice seasoning: “gorgeous”, all up, although Chesterman also reserves ample compliments for the gyoza dumplings and tempura starter. Three stars. [Montreal Gazette]

Antidote Foodlab/Facebook

Finally, Le Devoir critic Jean-Philippe Tastet is out east in Sherbrooke, at playful homey-but-gastronomic spot Antidote Foodlab. The out-there “cucumber steak” (not a steak, just a pickled cucumber) scores a thumbs up, ditto for a celery root entrée with shrimps. A more classic spiced-up Cornish hen also pleases the table. Three and a half stars. [Le Devoir]

Mon Lapin Bar à Vin

150 Rue Saint-Zotique E, Montréal, QC H2S 1K8

Antidote FoodLab

35 Rue Belvédère Nord, Mont-Bellevue, QC J1H 4A7 (819) 791-9117 Visit Website