Concierge.com's insider take:
Joe Beef was a 19th-century Montréal tavern proprietor who kept wild animals in the basement. Today, this Little Burgundy restaurant pays homage to the historical figure with classic bistro cuisine. The preparations are simple but tasty: a charcuterie plate with cornichons and candied dates, spit-roasted suckling pig slathered with chanterelles and served with apple compote for dipping, or steamed bivalves (oysters, clams, mussels) served in a Le Creuset pot. Portions are largeit's better to add dishes later than to order too much food all at once. And make room for one of the three daily dessert creations, especially if it's the strawberry cake (white cake layered with fresh berries and topped with a foamy dollop of whipped cream). The only element that doesn't jibe is the music, which tends to be a bit schizo ('90s alt rock hits mixed with '80s hip-hop). This place is small, so reserve your table at least three days in advance.
The people behind Joe Beef have expanded their presence on Notre-Dame Street West by opening the market-driven Italian spot Liverpool House (2007) and McKiernan, a small luncheonette and wine bar (2008). McKiernan is where hip Montréalers go for a Saturday brunch of portobello mushroom burgers, flapjacks, or egg sandwiches with house-made bacon. If there's a long wait for one of the eight tables (and there probably will be), pop into some of the antique shops that line Notre-Dame West or take a turn around nearby Atwater Market.—Updated by Danielle Contray
Joe Beef: Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 6:30 pm to close.
McKiernan: Open Tuesdays 11 am to 3 pm, Wednesdays through Saturdays 11 am to 3 pm and 6:30 pm to close.