Review: Méchant Boeuf

Méchant Boeuf

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.

Méchant Boeuf

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.

Méchant Boeuf

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

TOTAL SCORE:71/100

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.

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6 Comments

Filed under Designer Poutine Reviews, Montreal

6 responses to “Review: Méchant Boeuf

  1. Michael

    Glad to see that you’re back to writing regular reviews! I’ve been following your (very well written) reviews for almost a year now, and even though I haven’t had the chance to try all the top places you reviewed (and for the longest time, I’ve been sort of too lazy to comment before now) , I use your blog as something of a guide to good poutine, since like you, I am a huge fan….and there are far too few sites like yours. Bravo!

    Two places that I would very much like to see a review of if you ever get the chance.
    1) Fromagerie Qualité Summum – To this day, I believe that this has the best poutine that I have ever tasted. The cheese is absolutely divine, the sauce (you have 3 choices, but I took pepper) is very tasty and the fries were good as well. I went to the one in Bromont, but I heard the one in St-Alphonse is no good (according to the users of mypoutine.ca). Anyways, strongly recommended if ever you are in the area.
    http://www.fromageriequalitesummum.com/
    here’s a picture of it: http://www.mapoutine.ca/poutines/fromagerie-qualite-summum-bromont-poutine-sauce-au-poivre-moyenne.php

    2) Patate Rouge @ 755, boul. Crémazie E
    Not quite as good, but still one of the better poutines I have had in Montreal. Also it’s probably the one I have had the most, since it’s right by my house. In my book, their poutine went from ‘very good’ to ‘excellent’ once they upgraded their cheese to the ‘squeaky’ variety. The fries are very good, of the slightly crispy slightly sweet kind you find at La Belle Province. The sauce is very nice also, and the cheese is great, like I said. Whenever I eat it, I wonder what your grade for it would be. Like I said, not the best ever, but a very solid pick in my opinion.

    Keep up the great reviews!

    • Michael

      P.S. Just to mention that (to cover my behind) for #2, the cheese wasn’t the squeakiest ever, but I could feel it slightly. Anyways the important thing is that it is very good cheese, which it is imo.

    • Hi Michael,

      Thanks for the positive feedback. It’s always nice to get feedback of any sort, but even better when it’s positive.

      I will definitely check out Patate Rouge & Fromagerie Qualité Summum in the coming months.

      Cheers!

  2. Anna

    Thanks for this–I have to admit I am getting very weary of the “fancy poutine” trend, as I too have found that these are of varying quality. (Like slapping some expensive cheese or meat on some fries does not a good poutine make.) Do you think this is a trend that will pass? I am not sure Martin Picard knew what he was starting…

    • Agreed. I have yet to come across a fancy poutine that lives up to the promise. However, I do like the fact that it’s encouraging innovation and pushing people beyond canned sauce and frozen fries, but you need to get those basics right before you start slapping other stuff on top of it. Get some decent squeaky cheese before you start worrying about foie gras, and that cheese doesn’t need to cost a fortune. A proper gravy made with real stock would be good – check the temperature, taste, and thickness before you start adding chunks of ironic caviar into it.

      The gourmet poutine trend also seeks to make a point by blurring the distinction between high and low cuisine. I suppose this is a good thing but yeah, we get the point already, and we weren’t dismissive of poutine in the first place, so the point is kinda lost on us.

  3. Michael

    Awesome, thanks!

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