Yet another reason why not to go to a restaurant immediately after their grand opening. Back in June, a bunch of us went to La Belle et La Boeuf. Their grand opening 9sorry you need to be signed in to Facebook to see the pictures) was at the beginning of April, and my rule of thumb is three months to work out all the kinks, get the staff working together as a team and in general have it working as a well oiled machine.
While for most people the experience in June was fine, I ended up having to send back not one, but two burgers (and man do I hate wasting food) because they weren’t cooked properly, and for the most of our evening the service was nowhere near up to snuff. But word got back to management, and I received an invitation for a make over, a second chance, a redo, or if you prefer a chance to wipe the slate clean and start over. They were offering free burgers in order to show us that the previous time had been an anomaly.
It only took us a month to get our act together (and we almost didn’t!) but by then, La Belle et La Boeuf, had passed the three month probationary period and on the surface it seemed like everything would work out. The first sign that things would work out, was that my name had been circled in the reservation book. I wasn’t certain if I should be honored, scared or or if it was merely do alert the staff. I’m kind of used to being noticed and recognized in restaurants, but I do think that this was the first time I had been felt a tinge of embarrassment upon sitting down (I was the last one to arrive, and as a consequence everyone else pointed out and/or asked if I had seen that my name had been circled). I think I was able to stop the blush before it reached my Adam’s apple.
The second sign that everything would work out was immediately upon sitting down, I was asked what I would like to drink. The first time we had been there, they hadn’t received their liquor license. Liquor with my meal, while not a deal breaker, does go a long way to making bad situation easier to handle. Back in June without any liquor, it was kind of like they were flying without a safety net. I got a pint of Okanagan Spring which is distributed here in by Sleeman’s Quebec (aka Unibroue), which in turn is owned by Sapporo.
Some of my dinner companions decided to go all girly (it’s a good thing that they are all women) and ordered a pitcher of Rose Sangria. Thankfully my manhood wasn’t questioned and no one offered (or forced) me to taste it. I was told on very good authority though that it was delicious, but since I have hair on my chest that I am proud of, sing with the worst tenor voice you have every heard in your life and can grow both sideburns and a mustache (but won’t anymore) I wouldn’t be caught dead drinking something like that.
You can judge for yourself.
But we weren’t there for the drinks, we were there for the burgers. La Belle et La Boeuf makes their burgers from 8 ounces of Certified Angus Beef from Alberta that as they point out has never been frozen. They specify the shoulder, I would think Chuck, but translating cuts of beef from English to French is never an easy thing. So take whatever I say with a large grain of salt.
Since this was a free pass, I decided to leave my comfort zone and try something unusual that I would normally never ever order (kind of like the Rose Sangria, but in a meat form). La Belle et La Boeuf offers eighteen (18) different types of burgers ranging on price from $10.95 to $29.95. The low end of the price spectrum gets you a standard issue burger, with lettuce, tomato and onion. As you move through the range of offerings they offer additions like Monterey Jack cheese, fried eggs, peanut butter, Meyer lemon mustard, Brie cheese, an eggplant puree, grilled pineapple and a bunch of other things as well. I’m certain that if you wished you could get a burger with the items in the Calimero (fried egg, smoked bacon, lettuce, onion and mayo) with that of the Goldorak (Mozzarella, pepperoni, merguez, spiced ground beef(?), homemade tomato sauce and fried onions) to make some kind of Manga Super Chicken Robot burger. Or if you prefer the Calimero and the Billy Idol (caramelized onions, grilled pineapple, sunflower greens, blue cheese, guacamole and a dijon mayonaise) into a Funky Chicken burger. Personally, this time I chose a Calimero, there was something appealing about the fried egg, with peanut butter (I’ve been kind of going through a phase recently…). As you might expect I ordered it rare.
As you can see I ordered mine with onion rings instead of french fries, and behind that behemoth is a quarter of a kool-aid pickle
My dining companions ordered La Boeuf (cheese sauce, jalapenos, red pepper and blue corn chips), the fish burger(!) – she also was the one drinking the Rose Sangria, The OMG burger (double patty, American cheese in both colors, onion rings, extra bacon, tomato, onion, lettuce and a mustard-y mayo), La Belle (Brie and Monterey Jack cheese, fig jelly, arugula and caramelized onions) and a Classic with bacon and cheese (onion, tomato and lettuce).
Judging from the time stamps on the pictures I took, it appears that the burgers took about 8 minutes to appear. There are benefits to getting your name circled in the reservation book. As you can see my burger came exactly as ordered and was particularly delicious, or if you will allow me, a particularly sloppy and messy delicious taste sensation that accomplished just about everything I asked of it. There’s nothing like reverting back to my inner adolescent while scarfing down a fairly decadent burger to put a large smile on my face (along with some egg yolk, peanut butter and spicy mayonnaise, thankfully there were napkins available).
While I am not 100% certain that everyone at the table was as happy, sated and satisfied as I was with their burgers, I believe it due more to the fact that I was kind of on top of the world, and in relative terms they were just above the arctic circle. Or in plainer language, I really really enjoyed the experience and I think everyone else only really enjoyed it. In speaking of the experience, I should mention that La Belle et La Boeuf is in a new building (as is everything at Centropolis) that has exposed brick walls, something like a 25 foot ceiling, and has been designed to evoke some kind of retro feel. Although it is not an age, era or period specific feel (or at least I didn’t think it was) more like, “there’s something old, lets put it on the shelves! It’ll add atmosphere.” It appears to be geared to young professionals and students living in Laval (or at least that’s what the crowd looked like on the nights I was there. I wasn’t quite the oldest one in the restaurant, but lets say the next oldest) and as a consequence the music can get kind of loud and there are TVs on the wall. They also have a small-ish terrace that looks out on Centropolis if you want to eat outdoors. My preference when eating outdoors is to eat someplace where there are plants and trees and grass, but that’s just me.
Last night I participated in the Dans La Rue fundraiser, De La Rue aux Etoiles as a judge because they were serving burgers. Or so I was told. In fact it was a phenomenal event, basically a cocktail dinatoire (doesn’t it sound much better in French?) where they served a bunch of appetizers (or as is the current style, tapas) that just so happened to be on a bun.
Thankfully, no one called them sliders. After 10 of them, I was just a tad stuffed.