Review banner


Days of Future Passed


The Pitch

The COVID-19 pandemic shocked the world and rocked the city's restaurant scene when it hit in March of 2020.  Amid the many casualties was the revered Moishes, the city's finest and most famous steakhouse, open since 1938.

The landmark restaurant had switched hands two years prior, when longtime owner Lenny Lighter signed his property to the then Sportscene Group, which has since been absorbed into the Grandio Group.  With commercial and touristy names such as La Cage and Gibby's in Montreal and Café du Monde and Lapin Sauté in Quebec City in its portfolio, the new owner would certainly bring changes to the beloved Moishes.

To begin with, they relocated the Saint-Laurent Boulevard institution to Square Victoria, no doubt aiming at the area's business crowd for lunches, happy hours and team dinners.  The new digs – which take over from the dreadful Houston Avenue Bar & Grill in the same corner – were unveiled last summer by way of a noisy media event, which I was invited to and attended.

Of course the latter being a stand-up affair à la cocktail dînatoire, it was impossible to tell if the resurrected steakhouse lived up to its name.  Recent reviews seem mixed – exorbitant prices are a common gripe – but today I would decide for myself.

The Mood

Mood image

The large interior space comprises three distinct sections: bar, main dining room and… extra dining room (?) in the back. With enough room to fit 200+ diners, one wonders if it ever fills up.  I came in for lunch on a Tuesday and witnessed no more than 10 occupied tables, mostly in the bar section and on the terrace outside.

The renovated interior is as posh as they come and pays respect to the original location's classic look thanks to mahogany surfaces, the tin ceiling and statement chandeliers.  The few diners on site donned preppy business attires; mission accomplished for the new owners wanting to tap into the "power lunch" scene.


The Food

Food Image

American steakhouse staples remain on the menu, from shrimp cocktail and crab cakes to monte carlo potatoes and creamed spinach, not to mention a dozen cuts of steak such as filet mignon, rib (eye) and the famous porterhouse.  Gone are Jewish specialties which were an integral part of Moishes such as chopped liver, latkes and such.

Prices are quite high across the board; non-steak dishes are manageable but a cut of red meat will empty your bank account.  You're looking at $64 for a filet mignon and $95 for a rib steak.  These are of course just for the meat by itself – sides require more spending – and do seem scary but are also expected in these post-inflationary times, especially considering the name here and the multi-million-dollar renovation.

For lunch, a three-course table d'hôte is offered with several choices for each course.  Personally, I find the $48 price tag reasonable compared to the same or more for only two courses – no dessert – at nearby Toqué! or Ferreira Café in the heart of downtown.  The table also gets the habitual service of bread, pickles and coleslaw, adding more bang for your buck.

food image

A starter of crab cakes – ordered extra – saw layered fluffy patties in a tangy crema.  Next, a divine salad of heirloom tomatoes and Bulgarian feta was taken to the next level thanks to Maldon salt and fresh mint leaves.

food image

Moving on to the pièce de résistance, my New York strip steak was tasty but a tad overcooked for medium rare.  The fries next to it were well seasoned and cooked to a soft/meaty texture.  Finally, an unorthodox mille feuille was way too thick and filled with something other than crème patissière.

tagged:  TABLE D'HÔTE

The Service

Service image

Gone is the brigade of (all-male) veteran servers who tended to Moishes in its heyday.  Taking their place is a group of younger waiters from both genders, who surprisingly leaned more Anglo than Franco.

Staff are formally attired and generally serious in demeanor; we were tended to by a waiter and two different runners.  Everything went fine; I cannot complain except for main dishes taking a tad long to arrive.

The Verdict

Was lunch at Moishes worthy of the name at stake?  Asides from slightly overcooking my steak, I would declare "yes".  The setting is glorious, the vibe sophisticated and the food luxurious.  If there's anything to nag about, it wouldn't be for what the new Moishes is, but for what it is not.

With the move we got a new style, new menu and new staff (both for the front and back of the house).  Gone are the Jewish heritage, old-world charm, longtime staffers and the cachet of being on the Main.  Instead, we have a modern, glitzy steakhouse with a corporate/business vibe.  The resurrected Moishes feels like a re-imagined version of the original, with much of what made it what it was lost to time.

Still, this was a lunch to remember…

tagged:  SOLID

Price per person:  $48

No Comments Yet


Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink.  We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.

In the Neighborhood

old montreal map thumbnail



Facebook Fans

Twitter Love

Facebook share button Twitter share button