SiteBitsCitiesMontrealDispatches ⇒ Comfort Food for Carnivores: L'Entrecôte St-Jean

Comfort Food for Carnivores: L'Entrecôte St-Jean

Guest post sent by Ree from Montreal | Published : 25/Sep/2006 13:10

Entrecôte St-Jean
L'Entrecôte St-Jean is an establishment that has been there approximately forever, in part because of its prime location in Downtown Montreal (the corner of Rue Peel and Blvd de Maisonneuve) and in part because its formula just works. Mix one part indecision, two parts repetition, a dash of hospitality, a slab of steak, a sprinkling of chocolate and a glass of red wine. That simple formula could be a critic's worst nightmare, but that's only because they would be going there with the wrong attitude.

Sometimes you really don't want your food to arrive at your table resembling a famous monument of the Western world. Sometimes you don't want to eat ingredients you can't even pronounce. Sometimes you just don't want to have to make major decisions about with what you should nourish yourself. If you're having that kind of a day, then L'Entrecôte is the place to go.

Entering the narrow restaurant through the double velvet curtain, a bright neighbourhood bistro atmosphere greets you, with mirrors lining the walls and a stamped tin ceiling. White swathed tables are pressed closely together, and all the elbow rubbing adds to the conviviality. Waitresses are kind, and know the ropes perfectly. While French is the preferred language, even Anglophones seem to struggle along while ordering, for the sake of maintaining the bistro's ambiance.

The menu itself, a laminated piece of paper with a little text on either side is the first clue you're in for an easy choice. You can order one of the set menus, which always include steak and French fries, with varying combinations of salad, soup, dessert and coffee (the "complete" meal is about $24). Starting with a glass of tomato juice is an option, but choose the soup of the day instead. It's usually a cream of vegetable, and I have seen people who don't like creamy soups and/or vegetables eat it happily. Next you have a salad of romaine lettuce and walnuts with a light vinegrette. Again, vegetable haters never fear. The lettuce is not too crunchy, nor too bitter. And while you're waiting for your steak, you might as well try it. Onto the main course, which is what you came here for. The frites are cut thin, so that the proportion of crisp exterior to soft interior falls a little on the crisp side, and the steak is so good and tender that even a vegetarian (or snob, depending on your point of view) such as myself tried it and liked it. Both are topped with a brown mustard sauce, which is alternately tangy and creamy. Add a bottle from the averagely good wine selection and you have yourself a very good meal.

A quick note on dessert: while I have never ventured beyond the profiteroles (as I said, I go here for the pleasure of knowing what I'm going to order before I sit down) which is their signature dessert, I can attest that they are delicious. Two cream puffs stuffed with vanilla ice cream and floating in a small sea of dark, hot chocolate sauce, this dessert is the perfect size and combination of temperatures and textures to end a very comforting meal.

L'Entrecôte is often busy, and keeping with the neighbourhood feel they don't take reservations so it's best to show up earlier for dinner if you're not prepared to wait. When crowded, it can also be kind of loud (that's the downside of tile floors and metal ceilings) and not the best place for intimate conversation.

Entrecôte St-Jean

L'Entrecôte St-Jean
2022 Peel Street,
H3A 2W5