A Main classic, this Jewish steakhouse has been serving up mouth-watering meat for over 70 years. With a recent renovation and an after-nine menu to make you plotz, Moishes is bringing in a whole new generation of carnivores.
The Jews have given Montreal a great many treasures: bagels, smoked meat, Leonard Cohen, and of course, Moishes. Moishes has been around since 1938, and has been serving up fantastic meat and potatoes ever since. But with an aging customer base, Moishes needed a facelift in order to attract the younger demographic and underwent a renovation last year.
Moishes’ new look definitely fits in with that goal. New brick walls, gorgeous photographs, a huge black and white map of Montreal from the 1800s, and beautiful new chandeliers give the restaurant a more urban, trendy, and vibrant energy. It’s a masculine, classic decor that works perfectly for Montreal’s oldest steakhouse. The place was buzzing on this night, ,and there were still people waiting to get in when we left at 11:00, which gives you an indication of how successful Moishes’ overhaul has been.
To go along with their new look, Moishes introduced a new 3 hours to midnight (aka after nine) menu and it’s quite a bargain. For a mere 25$ you get an appetizer, a main with a potato side (if you get anything other than a monte carlo potato you’re doing it wrong) and a coffee/tea. The rib steak alone costs more than that on the pre-9 menu. Our only minor gripe with the menu is the tiny selection of appetizers (only four to choose from and two are salads). There used to be a lot more choices including a solid beef tartare, and they’ve really cut down the portion size on the salmon tartare, but this is still quite a bargain. *Note the after-nine menu is only available Thursday through Sunday.
The chopped liver, a popular Jewish staple, is definitely an acquired taste, but Moishes certainly does a tasty version of it. The plate comes with a nice pile of fried onions alongside a scoop of chopped chicken livers. We wouldn’t haven’t minded some crispy crostini to go with this dish, but the rye and pumpernickel breads at the table were pretty tasty stand-ins anyhow, and fried onions are always a winner in our books.
The salmon tartare is nicely presented with a smear of crème fraiche, a tiny dollop of caviar and a couple slices of crostini to accompany the raw salmon. The tartare itself is well seasoned if a bit dull, but the simplicity of the dish does allow the fresh salmon stand for itself. As was mentioned earlier, the real problem with this dish is the portion size. The tartare was finished in three bites. It was so small that there wasn’t even enough to cover the two small slices of crostini. Leftover crostini…Oy Vey!
Moishes is all about steak so we definitely had to have the rib steak. One bite of this dry aged, wonderfully marbled beauty and it’s easy to understand why Moishes has been popular for so many years. Charcoal-grilled to a perfect medium-rare, the steak was packed with flavour and was melt-in-your-mouth tender. *Moishes pro tip #1: ask for garlic and spices on your steak – unless you have somewhere to go afterwards.
The steak frites was also very tasty, but we recommend going for the rib steak since it’s more flavorful than the strip loin you get with this dish and getting fries on your plate in addition to your potato side is a bit of potato overload.
The Maple-Smoked Ribs are a new addition to the Moishes menu, and they were a pleasant surprise. The sauce on these bad boys was fantastic, packed with smoky flavor, and not overly sweet like a lot of bbq sauces tend to be. This being a Jewish steakhouse, these are beef ribs (not pork) which means they’re a little less fatty and therefore tend to be a little less tender, but we didn’t find these to be overly tough and it’s sometimes nice to have a rib that doesn’t fall off the bone (how else can you eat ‘em caveman style?).
A great steakhouse is defined not only by the quality of its steaks, but also by the quality of its sides, and this is an area when Moishes certainly shines. The Monte Carlo Potato (aka twice baked potato) is legendary. It’s like a baked potato on steroids that had kabbalah spell of deliciousness performed on it. Basically they take a potato, bake it, scoop out the flesh and mash it up with cream, butter, chives, milk and love , put it back in the potato skin with some paprika sprinkled on top, and put it back in the oven until a delicious golden crust forms. It’s the creamiest, silkiest potato you will ever eat . The only thing that could possibly make this any better is bacon, but unless they want to piss off the bubbes & zaydes (and if you’ve ever seen a bubbe complain you know they definitely want to avoid this), it can’t be done. *Moishes pro tip #2: Buy your own Moishes Monte Carlos from the grocery store…not as good as the real thing, but close!
Moishes is also well known for both its pickles and coleslaw (which come free alongside the bread) and for good reason. The big juicy dill pickles (immature chuckle) are probably some of best we’ve ever had. The coleslaw, which is of the vinegar variety, is the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity and is packed with garlic flavor.
The service at Moishes is a bit hit or miss and on this occasion it was a big miss. The restaurant was packed, a testament to the success of the after nine menu, but this seemed to cause the service to suffer. Our gruff waiter was quite unfriendly and the whole time we felt like we were being rushed out the door. When one of the members of our group asked the busboy for a wetnap (not an unreasonable request considering they’d ordered the ribs), he told them they didn’t have any so he brought lemon water instead. It was at this point we overheard the waiter tell the busboy “Next time, tell them they can get up and go wash their hands.” Wow, we’re very sorry we bothered your busboy so much by asking for something a lot of other restaurants give you without having to ask. The success of the late night menu meant that Moishes needed to hire additional staff, and we happen to know this is one of the newer waiters, but it’s very disappointing given Moishes standards. *Moishes pro tip #3: Ask for George as your waiter (he wasn’t working the night we went). He’s always friendly and has been working at Moishes forever. He’ll take care of you.
Spotty service aside, the after-nine menu at Moishes is one of the best values you’ll find in the city. If you’re looking for a great steak at an even better price, this is definitely the place to be. Moishes may have changed but with a deal like this even bubbe has to approve. *Moishes pro tip #4: Ask the coat check guy for double bubble/bazooka gum you’ll get a year’s supply of gum AND groan-worthy comics.
- Monte Carlo = Potato bliss.
- Prime cuts of beef for a great price.
- Great pickles and coleslaw.
- Small selection of appetizers.
- Miniscule salmon tartare.
- Spotty, rude, rushed service.
- Burping after eating a steak with garlic and spices.
- The tip we left for our disgruntled waiter.
How much you save by eating after nine: Between 15-30$ approximately. Hard to say exactly since the portion sizes are different after-nine.
Where to Grab a Drink After: Big in Japan Bar (orange door next to patati patata).
Whiskey bottles hang from the ceiling behind the bar, and the overall design, decor and strong offering of alcoholic beverages makes for a great night in a Tokyo-style cocktail lounge.