Burger 118: Moishes | Mr. Lew's Great Burger Search

3961 Saint-Laurent
Montreal, Quebec

Bus:  STM 29, 55, 144

Visit:  October 27, 2011

http://www.moishes.ca/

2011 has been quite the year for eating here in Montreal.  In this stand-out year for myself, I’ve been to quite a list of places and done quite a bunch of things that I never thought I’d do.  Out of all the things or places in Montreal, there is one thing that I never thought I’d ever be any part of, Moishes.  This place is a Montreal institution, much like the famed Schwartz’s just a few steps away.  If you want to be seen, this is one of the very few select places you come to, no matter which day of the week.  So, I was very intrigued when my favorite food eating colleague threw this out as a suggestion for an outing.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Moishes should be on any person’s food bucket list.  If you asked me months ago if I wanted to come to this place, I’d probably shrug you off with a response along the lines of them not having what I, Mr. Burger, wanted.  However, that all changed over the summer when they introduced their 3 Hours to Midnight menu.  I’m pretty sure it was designed to attract people like me, who otherwise wouldn’t ever set foot in a place like this.  Even though they put out the fact that they had a burger, I still wasn’t very motivated to come here.  I know what you’re thinking, who would ever turn down an opportunity to come to a place like this?  Believe me, a person like me has no business in a place like this.  For crying out loud, 3 days earlier, I bought breakfast at a fast food joint.  Heck, less than 8 hours earlier, I had lunch in a food court.  So, it was my colleague who really convinced me to go along to this must visit location.

Everything about the visit was mind-blowing.  It’s not mind-blowing in such a way that it’s overly impressive, but in a way where I’d never seen anything close to it.  The first aspect was the parking.  In the busy part of Boulevard Saint-Laurent, at night, there’s literally no parking whatsoever.  But, Moishes had their own parking lot within very reasonable walking distance.  Remember, if you’re going to Moishes, you’re not taking the bus there.

Even the entrance is something.  There’s “security” there, standing, waiting for you to approach.  They open the door for you.  As you enter, you see a set of majestic stairs, like you’re ascending to heaven or something more equivalent in the non-secular world.  As I’m walking up the stairs, I already know that I’m not classy enough for this place.  Mind you, I never wear jeans anymore and I’m always in some sort of buttoned shirt.  In the past, I’ve mentioned how I felt underdressed for places, this time, I think I was severely in that direction.  Standing in the lobby, which wasn’t for long due to reservations on a Thursday, I was somewhat relieved to see other patrons dressed more Montreal normal or casual.

From the lobby, you can’t see the dining room so well.  So, I had no idea how the setting was going to come across.  Now, I do a decent amount of research before going to restaurants for burgers and I had a vague idea of what I was going to see.  However, nothing prepared me for what I was about to see.  The dining room, much like the lobby, is very dark.  So, I’m very glad I didn’t run into any of the wait staff while my large clumsy frame briskly was walked to my area of the dining room.  For a Thursday night, the room wasn’t as packed as it would be on a Saturday night.  I haven’t even sat down yet and I still know that I’m really lucky to have been here.

The table set-up is nothing so out of the ordinary.  But, for me, since I was already in a state of awe and amazement, you could’ve shown me a dollar store and I would’ve been gaga over it.  Our table was quickly loaded up with the Moishes staples, the waters were promptly filled up, and the evening was ready to proceed.  I knew exactly what I wanted and my colleague knew what he wanted since he was born, steak.

A Nicely Folded Cloth Napkin

The staffing at this restaurant has to be one of the most efficient set-ups I’ve ever seen.  After being seated by the hostess working that night, we were also greeted by a busboy assigned to our table.  Now, this is no ordinary busboy.  For one, they are dressed to the nines, head to toe in clothes probably worth more than I make in one week.  Their job is to clear tables and fill water, which they did with extreme efficiency.  They are basically not allowed to touch food.  The server took our order and brought out our food.  As a matter of fact, we barely ever saw this person.  Just with the busboy alone, we were in good hands.  This person knew the menu, the restaurant, and the answers to all the insane questions we had.

The First Sides

Pickles

Coleslaw

Of the three dishes from the above picture, I made it a small point to have a little bit of coleslaw.  Now, I need to mention that I was feeling a little nauseous coming in to the restaurant this evening.  It’s been hours that I ate anything and I was worried that it would affect my enjoyment of the evening.  So, I was very cautious when eating anything, especially the above par coleslaw.  To put an early end to the suspense, the nausea was gone by the time I left Moishes an hour later.

This was one heck of a showing of coleslaw.  I’m not really a big fan of coleslaw, but this was definitely better than your average selection.  I took a bit of it and placed in on my side plate.  After I wasn’t able to eat it with a fork anymore, I was starting to pick at the remaining food with my hands.  So, here I am at Moishes eating with my hands, go figure.

Bread

Normally, one would eat bread while waiting for food to come.  Since I wasn’t quite at 100% yet, I only ate a piece of bread at the near end of the evening.  I’m awkward with butter and fancy restaurant bread.  I rarely get any practice.  So, for Moishes bread and butter, it was something good.

Water (Just because I can)

Organic Salmon Tartare

This was probably one of the only tough decisions of the night.  The decision was what to pick from the appetizer portion of the after 9pm menu.  I would’ve been more than happy to not even have any appetizers, but since I was here, I figured I’d go and do something in this respect.  Now, we were told that the chopped liver wasn’t so appealing, so that was out.  I wasn’t about to come to Moishes to have salad.  You can have salad anywhere and I don’t know how you could make salad better than it already is.  So, the only choice left was the organic salmon tartare.  I’ve never done anything like this before and I was more than game to try this.

Organic salmon tartar, at Moises, comes with two pieces where you could spread your goods around.  You’ll see a white sauce that you use to mix in the raw salmon and the expensive caviar on the plate.  For those of you wondering, that is caviar on the plate.  My colleague confirmed it for me as he got a taste of my side dish.

Caviar isn’t something that sounds too appealing to me.  I know that this is the first time I’m putting any in my mouth.  I can’t help but remember the Curb Your Enthusiasm scene when Christian Slater was shovelling it in his mouth as my hero Larry David called him out on it.  I don’t get the appeal of caviar.  After having some, a very expensive amount, I still don’t get it, but that’s just me.  Just give me bacon and I’ll be happy.  So, now that I got my obligatory bacon reference in, I can really get to what the dish was all about.

When you combine the sauce, caviar and salmon together, you have a unique taste.  For what it was, it was very good.  I wouldn’t have this every day, but I could’ve gone home at this point and been satisfied.  It was so good and obviously expensive that I asked my colleague if I cleaned the plate enough.  So, I made sure that each and every morsel was sent to my stomach before we could move on.

Caesar Salad

This was my colleagues side dish.  I was nothing really out of the ordinary.  To me, it didn’t look any different than any other salad of this type that I’ve seen around Montreal.  When he took a taste of my side dish, he knew he made the first and only tactical mistake of the evening.  His only comment was that there was too much cheese in the salad.  That’s where I was baffled.  How could anyone ever complain about having too much cheese?  That’s just insane.  I didn’t really buy his explanation, not that I remember it right at this moment.  As a matter of fact, I’m writing this, having just finished a whole plate of grilled cheese sandwiches, and it’s not even 7 a.m. yet. (the time I wrote this paragraph)

Rib Steak

My steak fanatic colleague’s choice was obvious.  He chose a rib steak.  After his slight disappointment at Jack Astor’s, this was sure to be a successful choice.  After he went through his carnivorous selection, the look of pleasure on his face just told the entire story.  For the price he was paying, he definitely won.

Grilled Vegetables

I only had one of these.  I can’t, for the life of me remember the name of the one I had.  However, I was really good.

French Fries

I only had a few of these.  They were really nothing to write home about.  Though, they were better than most normal fast food french fries.

Monte Carlo Potatoes

Normally, I’m not a lover of baked potatoes, but this was so much better.  These were like mashed potatoes served with the bottom half of the skin.  The taste of this really complimented my burger quite well.

Kobe Burger

This burger contains lettuce, tomatoes, and grilled oyster mushrooms on top of a Kobe beef patty.

The announcement of Moishe’s 3 hours to midnight menu came with their first ever burger, to my knowledge.  So, even though I wasn’t completely excited about going to Moishe’s for a burger, the thought of putting this notch in my belt was at least tempting.  This menu was probably the only way I’d ever eat this burger.

The research I did turned up the list of ingredients for this burger.  On this occasion, I wasn’t going to push for cheese or bacon.  I’m at a high class restaurant, I should thank my lucky stars that I even get to set one foot past the front door.  So, asking for the usually awesome burger accoutrements wasn’t going to take place this evening.  The one thing that stood out was the grilled oyster mushrooms.  Up to this day, I haven’t heard of anything resembling these types of mushrooms.  So, I had no clue how they would affect the burger.  Thinking bigger, I had really no clue what to expect with the overall burger.

My first pick up came with a gentle squeeze of the burger.  When a jet of burger ooze came out, I knew immediately that this would turn out good.  The size of the burger was quite something.  I was actually looking forward to taking each bite of this burger.

The biggest issue with the burger was the structure.  First of all, this was the first time I was presented the burger in three piles.  Usually, the burger is either built for you or put into two simple piles.  So, on this very occasion, I had to think strategically to ensure that I wouldn’t have too much trouble eating.  Since the meat was considerably smaller than the bun, I was forced to rebuild once or twice during the whole procedure.  Even if that was the case, it didn’t wipe the smile from my face.

The burger had two main shining points, the first of which was the inclusion of the mushrooms.  Unlike regular burger mushrooms, these were bigger slices that obviously didn’t fall out as easily.  I noted during the evening that with these mushrooms, I didn’t need any cheese whatsoever or bacon.  That’s a extremely high compliment for me to say about a burger without my top 2 musts.  The unique taste that the mushrooms brought in only complimented the Kobe beef.

For me, the biggest thing I was looking forward to was the Kobe beef.  This was going to be the first ever time for me to try Kobe beef.  As a matter of fact, the only things I learned about the type of beef came from the original and best version of Iron Chef.  So, that’s pretty much why I didn’t complain about the lack of cheese or bacon.  The Kobe beef should’ve been able to stand on its own.

For those of you wondering, the beef delivered full throttle.  Not only was it cooked near perfectly to my favorite specifications, it was as juicy as some of the burgers in my Fave 5.  I probably could’ve ditched all the toppings and had the beef on its own.  That wouldn’t of affected my satisfaction with the burger.  With the size of the actual patty in the burger, in combination with the intense juiciness, this burger strongly delivered.

During the evening, I mentioned to my colleague that this very burger might of just made its way into my Fave 5.  I’m not quite sure at this very moment if it truly did make it into that hallowed part of my burger history.  The structure and the fact that rebuilt once or twice is probably the only detriment to the entire consumption of this Kobe burger.  But, what I’ll say to anyone who’ll listen is that if you do not try this burger, you’re insane.  It’s a worthy contender.

Aftermath

I’m choosing to write this paragraph because I witnessed something quite interesting on this evening.  After the bus boy picked up our plates, they took this comb like tool and started to sweep the table for crumbs.  I have never ever seen this in my life.  My colleague was only seeing this for the third time in his life.  I know I’m going to have people telling me to get out more, but this made my whole evening.

Chocolate Cake

With my colleague celebrating on this evening, we had the opportunity to try the Moishe’s chocolate cake.  I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to eat my share of this cake.  It’s probably the best cake I had in the last few months.  It definitely put the last cake, pie, and other various dessert to shame.

Final Verdict

If you live anywhere near Montreal, or ever visit this fine city, you must add Moishe’s to your food bucket list.  No matter which menu you choose from, this is a necessary experience to have.  Everything that went into my mouth that evening was good.  The praise that came out of our mouths was good.  Everything I saw was good.  I even made a joke about wanting to move in permanently, but I probably couldn’t afford the one minute rent.  The burger truly delivered and is going to be one I remember for a very long time.  Even if it wasn’t the burger, everything else surrounding the evening is worth remembering.

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  1. mrlewburger posted this
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