Review: La Queue de Cheval – Montreal
1221 Boulevard René-Lévesque Ouest, Montreal – Website
MOVED TO: 1181 Rue del la Montagne
Date of Visit: January 5, 2012
I had long wanted to visit La Queue de Cheval ever since seeing their website and I have to say that my evening there was a memorable, if rather expensive experience. I have seen a number of reviews describing the place as over-priced for what you get but I really didn’t feel that way at all. I had a delicious and well-prepared meal with attentive service in very pleasant surroundings and, really, what more can you ask than that?
Ambience and Service
The restaurant is dark, cavernous sort of place and is rich appointed throughout with pristine tablecloths, gleaming silver and glassware, and sumptuous displays of seafood and joints of meat. It is divided into a downstairs and an upstairs but I did not get a chance to see the upper portion on this occasion. On the lower level, there is a huge fire-pit area that has a surrounding bar where patrons can sit and watch steaks and other foods being grilled. I was actually offered a seat here but I declined in favor of a proper table nearby.
One of the features that drew me to the restaurant was its cigar lounge. It is a glass-enclosed are just inside the main entrance and, though a little cramped, is very nice and cosy. I enjoyed a Cuban cigar and a couple of decent single-malt Scotches in there before going for my meal.
The service throughout the whole evening was extremely attentive and very efficient. Unfortunately though, the level of attention I received was actually the only negative part of an otherwise excellent experience. No less than six different persons served me, at one time or another, and, while impressive, it was also a bit intrusive after a while. I think, on the whole, I would have preferred a single waiter.
Raw Malpeque Oysters
I cannot resist fresh oysters and I ordered a half dozen of these an appetizer. It is often difficult to tell the actual origin of oysters in spite of what a restaurant claims but these were obviously good east coast ones and they did have the typical sharp brininess of all PEI varieties. In addition to the standard horseradish and lemon, the platter was served with two sauces: a standard red seafood sauce and a cabernet wine vinegar dressing with chives. I am something of a purist when it comes to oysters and I used neither, but I did taste them both and they were quite pleasant.
20oz Grass-fed Nebraska Bone-in Rib Steak with Mushrooms
This was excellent. After I ordered my steak grilled medium-rare and charred, the raw cut was brought to me for my inspection. It was a lovely thick piece with terrific marbling. I was able to see it being grilled and I noted that, after it came from the grill, it was subject to further attention with a blowtorch sort of device to get the charring just right.
The mushrooms that came with the meal were about the best I have had in a restaurant. They appeared to have been sautéed in butter with whole sage leaves and then they were finished and served in a little iron cauldron so that they steamed to tenderness in their own juices.
La Queue de Cheval offers different kinds of beef. They have corn-finished Colorado cuts, the grass-fed Nebraska sort that I selected, a couple of Canadian raised cuts and also some (very expensive) Wagyu beef. The grass-fed beef definitely has a different character than the more common con-finished variety and is reputedly more healthful. It took me a few bites to decide that I really liked the taste and I have to say that this steak was one of the most tender rib-steaks I have ever had. It was cooked just the way I like it and the meat alongside the bone was incredible. I have no hesitation in giving this a rib-steak rating of 5 out of 5 in all categories.
This was an excellent and enjoyable dining experience and will probably be one of my culinary highlights of the year. I am very much looking forward to visiting this place again.