Rib 'n Reef (Decarie)
My husband and I are going to treat ourselves to a nice meal. We've all heard this before right?? His favorite is beef, beef, and more beef. He is a steak lover. Myself, I love seafood in particular crab legs. There's a restaurant near us that I'm pretty curious about, the Rib 'n Reef on Decarie. I've checked the past posts on Rib 'n Reef and their website - there isn't much. Has anyone been there recently?? I'm interested in any kind of review (thoughts) of the place.
Just went the other night. I can even conveniently compare this to a recent visit to Queue de Cheval. Don't know why, there have been a lot of work events in steak houses these days....
At RnR, we started with a large selection of seafood. It was very good, but not great. The grilled octopus was very tender and tasty, perhaps my favorite item. The kalamari was uninspired and slightly greasy. The shrimp were very good. The lobster was good but not outstanding. I think they slightly overboiled the lobster, it was starting to have a touch of rubber consistency. It was still good quality lobster but...(I feel so mean: Ho hum, lobster, so what's new.. But that is what it was like). I was disappointed by the oysters Rockefeller, they were tasteless and insipid. This was sad to me, because how can you ruin an oyster??? But overall the seafood platter was reasonable. The seafood was all fresh, and not overly fussy. If you like simple seafood (and good seafood should be simple), you won't be disapppointed. And you will have a lot of food. Just don't look at the check at the end. Or the menu.
To compare: QdC: I had a very similar meal there about 1 month ago. The seafood platter at QdC was very similar, but I found the shrimp to be bigger and much tastier, and the lobster was fresher and better prepared. And the oysters were left raw and delicious.
Then onto steak. I had the rib eye junior (I don't want to be passing no "junior" through my birth canal that can eat one of those steaks!!!! You just want to spraypaint "portion control" all over the building! But I guess that isn't the point). I was very pleasantly surprised. My steak was perfectly cooked to medium-rare, with a nice smoky crust on the outside, good marbling inside, tender tender tender, like filet mignon but with all the flavour of rib eye. I was impressed. It was a really good steak. The mashed potato with garlic was well prepared, the french fries were thick cut with a nice crisp skin and fluffy inside. We ordered the side of mushrooms, and I was impressed by the rich flavor and perfect seasoning. The side of steamed (not creamed) spinach was bland, but healthy. So the steak was a winner.
At QdC, I was disappointed by the steak. I had the "Lou's cut". I really expected a much more flavorful steak, given that it is suppposed to be dry aged, etc. It was really unexciting, and a major disappointment. PLease understand that I love a good simple steak without sauce. I am built to love meat. I was really looking forward to this steak, and was quite saddened by the lack of flavor. The sides were ok, but nothing to write home about.
Wine list: Both restaurants have very classic steak house wine lists. (rubber stamped by the Wine Spectator cabal no less). You can spend crazy amounts of money on Petrus and other astronomically expensive wines if you need to impress soemone really important. And don't even get me started about the markup. The owners of QdC should be arrested for highway robbery... There are no reasonably priced bottles to be had at QdC. I am willing to pay ridiculous prices for an interesting hard to find wines, but not for bottles I can get for a quarter of the price in my local SAQ. I cannot enjoy paying for wine in a place like QdC. RnR is a bit better. The sommelier was quite helpful, and picked out a few more reasonable bottles for about $75 each. We had an Alsatian blend of Pinot Gris and another grape by Pffafenheim (Sp?) with the seafood. And we had an Italian Tuscan Syrah for the steaks. Both of the wines were not yet on the wine list, were reasonably priced given the setting and were very nice with the food. But the key was to speak to the sommelier.
Cannot compare desserts, as I was in food coma by the time this rolled around. But just by glancing at the choices, QdC has a much more interesting selection. (who eats desserts in these places???? Who has that kind of fortitude???)
Decor: Edge definitely goes to QdC
Service: Major edge to QdC. I guess that is what you pay for? At RnR, our water glasses remained unfilled, they missed out on the chance to sell us more wine as our glasses remained empty, some of the members of our large group were unable to reach some of the seafood platter, and no attempt was made to help them. The service at QdC was much better, in that macho "I'm going to take care of YOU" manner that seems to be popular here in Montreal (Similar attitude at Trinity). I'm not a big fan of it, but at least they are attentive. Also, at RnR they ran out of "valet parking" because it was too busy. What??? Isn't that the point of valet parking? You pay someone to park your car when you can't find parking??
SO: to summarize: We really like the steak at RnR. Maybe we got lucky, but it was one of the best steaks I've had in a long time. You can get a reasonable wine there, the seafood is good, the service so-so. Sides great! It is a verygood steak house, you'll have to decide if that's what you feel like, and that's what you want to pay top dollar for. Despite my negative comments, I would go back on my own dime if I really wanted a good steak. And that's telling, given the steakhouse prices...
BTW didn't see crab legs at RnR menu.
Wow, whadda writeup.
It's Pfaffenheim, BTW. And the Syrah may well have been one of two Luigi d'Alessandro wines that showed up last month, the 2004 Cortona (retails for c. $24, in which case their markup was pretty outrageous) or the 2004 Cortona "Il Bosco" (retails for c. $55, in which case their markup was astoundingly reasonable).
You know that Trinity is run by the same team as QdC, eh?
Ahh ha! Trinity/QdC, yes that makes sense. The service is very good, but I am not a big fan of the beefcake late-20-something too-much-hair-product Macho "I'll take care of you, Little Lady" waiter thing that they seem to prefer. You know, the "I'm going to bang the hostess between tables, then hit the clubs after" mentality? I guess I'm not their demographic. Who knows, maybe these guys go out and march for child poverty on their breaks, maybe I'm being too judgemental. But sometimes being catty is fun.... And I think QdC can take the PR hit.
It was the Pfaffenheim Black Tie we had, a mix of Pinot Gris and Reisling. (This is at RnR) Thanks for the spelling! I was able to find the wine on the Pfaffenheim website. There, it sells for 10 Euro. I didn't see it on the SAQ site, but I figure it would probably go for about $20-25 retail if sold here. So if we paid $70, well, RnR is making a tidy profit. Still, I felt it was reasonable quality for what we got in the setting, and the sommelier did not try to sell us more expensive wine. In fact, he was very good about trying to find good wine for a reasonable price, and actually dissuaded us from buying some more expensive wines which he felt would not be as good with our meal. As for the red, unfortunately, it was not one of the Syrahs you mentioned. I am having some memory issues right now, and I meant to write down the name at the end of the meal, but then food coma hit like a tonne of bricks... Sorry.
I found the MontrealFoodie review interesting. For the most part, I agree with the assessment. Like I said, I may have just gotten lucky on the steak, but my partner felt exactly as i did, that the steak was really delicious. It wasn't just hunger either, because I could have stopped eating after the appetizers. It was so good, that we got up the courage to ask for a doggie bag (Yup, you can look horrified). The steak was even good the next day, cold, and in front of the TV. I cannot say the same about the QdC steak, I was really disappointed. Maybe i should give it another try sometime. But should a $60 steak be hit and miss? Personally, I don't think so. I can get 6 meals of pho for $60, and it'll be 6 out of 6 for deliciousness at Pho Lien.
Thanks for the great write-up! I am disappointed to find out that at RnR you did not see crab legs on the menu. However, it`s good to know. As for your description of your steak my mouth was watering just reading it. Since your review leaned toward QdC, I`m leaning toward QdC but, that perfect steak makes me want to go to RnR even more....! Oh the dilemma!
I completely agree with you that seafood should be simple as my husband agrees with you that steak should not be complicated by a sauce. It will be interesting to see where we end up but, I will definitely report back.
Thanks for taking the time to give such a thorough write up! :)
Haven't been. The self-styled MontrealFoodie blogger recently posted a mixed review (linked below). The Gazette gave it a more positive write-up a few weeks ago (not in the 30 day archives that I can find), though the reviewer was one of the second-stringers and I thought the piece read like boilerplate.
I was at Rib 'n Reef on Friday, & they had the recent Gazette review by Brian Kappler(long-time editor of the Gazette, & Lesley's replacement when she's on holidays) posted. Brian gave Rib 'n Reef 3.5 stars. Frankly when it comes to steaks, I trust the opinion of Brian more than Lesley's. Personally I've always had great steaks at Rib 'n Reef, but that's all that I order there(I can't afford to order seafood there). Noticed on my Friday visit, Rib 'n Reef on their board was listing their lobsters at $39 a pound(they have small to giant lobsters). How much is Queue de Cheval or Milos charging per pound for lobster today?
I have always had great experiences at RnR, and there are several reasons why it's my favorite for beef in Montreal.
1. Very easy to park
2.. Service is excellent - they have always been very nice to us.
3. Lobster Bisque - I love it there.
4. Prime Rib - Best in Montreal, IMHO. I honestly cannot remember ordering a steak there though.
5. Hot desserts - Cherries Jubilee. My wife's favorite.
6. Very pleasant atmosphere. QdC is totally different, and much more of a see-and-be-seen place. In RnR, I can hear myself think, and I can hear what my wife is saying.
I have eaten at QdC twice, and both times they didn't cook my steak correctly - I like a true medium rare, but they erred on the rare side. Better than overcooking, but at those prices I expect perfection. I've never had Peter Luger's miss the mark on doneness.
Rib n' Reef has fond memories for me, many nice meals with my wife. A warm inviting place on those cold Montreal nights.