Friday, December 7, 2012

To New/Old Beginnings: Le Biftheque

On November 12th, 2012 a Montreal institution reopened their doors to crowds of excited people. After the new owners of the restaurant suffered a bankruptcy, the original owners decided it was time to bring the old glory back to life. Le Biftheque's reopening excitement was felt throughout the city and has yet to die down. The chance to taste their delicious rolls, deep fried garlic croutons and chocolate mint candies couldn't be missed by this famished foodie.

On December 2, 2012, myself and a fellow Biftheque lover found ourselves strolling in for a Sunday night treat. We walked in and gave our party size to the hostess, who was quite rude and hostile, who then informed us there would be a fifteen to twenty minute wait. We quickly grabbed a comfy seat and began reminiscing about the old Biftheque. I remember running up and down the hallway near the butcher shop, and birthday parties in the down stairs party room. Oh the memories!
Our stories were quickly interrupted by a lovely hostess filling the chocolate mint dispenser. She walked up carrying a large plastic bag filled with the little candies and a bowl to scoop with. Without hesitation, or gloves I might add, she began sticking her hands in the bag and scooping large amounts of candies into the bowl in order to fill the machine. I was absolutely flabbergasted. As she continued to fill the machine some candies spilled onto the counter top. The hostess dutifully picked them up and put them into the machine.  The reason I am mentioning this is not to be malicious, but rather to inform the management at Biftheque what I and a room full of fellow diners witnessed.  Front of the house staff should be trained properly as they are the first impression of ones restaurant.   Let's just say we skipped the mints this time.

We casually waited for about half an hour before our number was called and we were graciously seated in the dinning room.   As we were seated, our waitress introduced herself, offered us drinks which we quickly ordered and informed us she would return in a few minutes to take our orders.  Looking around the newly decorated dinning room, we noticed many tables of four empty. We had been waiting over thirty minutes for someone to free up a two person table when many four person tables were still available.  This was a bit annoying to say the least.  I would understand if we came at 6 pm to dine and they made us wait for a proper table, but at 8:30 pm on a Sunday night I am sure we could have had a four person table and been able to eat more comfortably.  As we scanned the menu, even though we both knew exactly what we were going to order, our bread and croutons arrived, still no drinks.  We placed our orders; rib steak, filet mignon, truffle mac 'n cheese, blooming onion and of course the Caesar salad, still no drinks.   As we munched on the rolls and croutons, our waitress passed by a few more times without stopping nor offering us our drinks.  When our salads and blooming onion arrived, I expected the waitress to also serve our drinks, still no luck.  I decided to give her one last chance before asking her if the wine was being pressed and sent from Italy, but after our salads were done and fifteen minutes had already passed I realized she had totally forgotten about us.  When she passed by to clear our plates, I kindly asked her what was taking so long with our drinks.  She looked totally shocked and ran off apologizing the entire time.

The blooming onion was absolutely delicious, really you can't go wrong with fried breaded onions. The thousand island dip wouldn't have been my first choice, ranch would be. The thousand island had a harsh taste that we both did not enjoy. The Caesar salad dressing was really good however the lettuce it was served on looked like scrap odds and ends but the croutons quickly made us forget about that.

As the waitress returned to our table with a glass of diet coke and a soup bowl full of wine, I couldn't help but laugh.  I guess she felt the need to make up for forgetting our drinks so she overfilled and gave me more wine to compensate for the delay.  Shortly thereafter our meat arrived.   The rib steak  was seasoned with garlic and Biftheque spices and cooked to a perfect medium rare, it was heaven.  The filet was perfect too, smothered with garlic and steak spices however we found it to be on the small side.  The fries, eh same old Biftheque steak cut fries, really nothing special, but the Truffle mac 'n cheese OMG!   It had a crispy crust, ooey gooey cheesy truffle sauce and macaroni noodles that to my surprise were not mushy nor overcooked. I ate every last bite, that left me with no room for dessert!

Monday afternoon as I was still recovering from eating wayyyy too much at Le Biftheque, I received an email from a colleague inviting me out for lunch the following day. At lunchtime on Tuesday I found myself in my colleagues car pulling into Le Biftheque's parking lot. Round 2!!
Since it was lunchtime and I am going to be down south in a bikini in a week, I decided to go the healthier route and ordered the seared Ahi tuna salad with the ginger-lime vinaigrette. My colleague had the steak salad.
Our salads arrived fairly quickly, convenient for a quick lunch. My seared tuna salad was fairly large and was served on a small plate which made eating the salad a bit challenging. The crisp yellow peppers, seaweed slaw and sliced avocado all blended beautifully with the ginger-lime dressing. The tuna had a beautiful sesame crust and was lightly seared with a raw center, but was totally flavourless, I had to really dip it in the dressing. Having the tuna served as a large slab atop the salad was a little frustrating especially on the small plate. It was hard to slice and I would have preferred the chef to pre-slice the tuna on a bias, would have made the dish much easier to eat and more appealing to the eye.
My colleague really enjoyed his steak salad. The meat was perfectly seasoned and properly cooked, a really good choice. As we finished up and left, I stopped by the sushi counter and spoke with the very friendly chef. I must say I was impressed with his setup and the beautiful fresh fish he had on display, I think next time I will definitely give it a try.

All in all our visit was enjoyable and exactly what we expected, meat wise that is. Le Biftheque really knows their meats and croutons, just put a little effort in training your FOH staff, we would all really appreciate it.

























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