Mechant Boeuf offers another variation on the Pied de Cochon theme of shamelessly unhealthy comfort food revamped with quality ingredients. This dimly-lit Vieux Montreal gastropub looks better than most of the overpriced tourist junk in the surrounding streets. Despite the lounge-chic atmosphere geared to wealthy young professionals, Méchant Boeuf was refreshingly different in that it didn’t have those changing colour backyard pool lights that seem to be a mainstay in this kind of place. You know what I’m talking about, right? The lights are red one minute and then they slowly shift to purple. One of my neighbours installed some of these damned things on his art deco triplex, the colours shifting at disco speed, a crime against architecture. Some idiot in the municipal government also decided it was a good idea to install them in city park fountains. The novelty of those things wore off after five minutes when I first saw them ten years ago. I’m glad this place didn’t have any.
Digressions aside, there’s usually some kind of entertainment going on at the Méchant Boeuf, so it’s not a place for a quiet tête-à-tête dinner. A decent folk band was playing the night we went. On certain nights, I hear there’s a screaming eighties DJ that clashes with the atmosphere.
But let’s get to the poutine. You can find it in the appetizer section of the meat-heavy menu, a “Charlevoix poutine with braised pork & Migneron cheese.” Don’t believe what the menu says. This designer poutine is not an appetizer. It is a meal fit for two normal-sized people. Lying beneath the perfunctory green shallots sprinkled as decoration lies something that looks like roadkill. Poutine is an unattractive dish on the best of days, but this roadkill topping makes it look positively revolting. It’s important to go beyond those first impressions. That braised pork is delicious.
Fries: Home cooked fries. Too limp. Not crispy. 16/30.
Gravy: Thumbs up to the gravy for not tasting like something that comes out of a can. Unfortunately, it is too watery for poutine. 36/50.
Cheese: This place uses Migneron instead of standard squeaky cheese. Unless you’re a die-hard purist, you can’t fault the quality, though I’m not sure it’s entirely necessary to put such expensive cheese on a poutine if you’re going to smother it with pork, grease, and gravy. Furthermore, the cheese is poorly distributed throughout the dish and there’s definitely not enough. Thankfully, the chunks are properly sized compared to the usual Montreal crumbs. 9/20.
Braised pork: The braised pork topping is delicious and blends well with the other ingredients – an extra ten points there +10
Verdict: Promises lots but fails to deliver on many fronts. A little heavy, even for poutine, both on the stomach and wallet.
Price: $12. Too expensive, especially for a so-called “appetizer.”
Location:106 rue Saint-Paul ouest, Vieux-Montréal, a 6 minute walk south of Place d’Armes Metro.