Editor’s Note: Below is a review of the curbside pickup procedure that was in place at La Queue de Cheval. As of May 4, this service has been discontinued until further notice. If it does resume, this story still will share the appetizing items on their special menu.
By Mike Cohen
Since the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic there are a lot of experiences people miss dearly. Going out for a nice meal at a restaurant is certainly one of them.
Restaurants are presently only permitted to operate for take-out and delivery service. The iconic
La Queue de Cheval Steakhouse and Raw Bar, (www.queuedecheval.com), located at 1181 Avenue de la Montagne, has been around for more than two decades. Before the coronavirus battered the economy, founder Peter Morentzos was happily preparing to open a new Toronto location. That is now on hold and in jeopardy of not proceeding.
Always a visionary, Morentzos has never been one to sit still. Take-out and delivery was never part of his plan. The restaurant has been in its present location since September 2014, an exquisite historic three-level building that can accommodate up to 300 diners at a time. No stranger to challenges, Morentzos had a licensing agreement in place with the company that owned his original Boulevard René Levesque location. It concluded on June 31, 2012, at which time he closed for almost two years and constructed his present facility from scratch. His former landlords tried, in the interim, to put another steakhouse there. It failed and Morentzos took his time resurfacing, inheriting all of his loyal clients and more.
While the pandemic has already cost the operations over $500,000 in lost revenue, Morentzos wanted to find a comeback route. He has attempted to do so with a flashy curbside pickup promotion, with a new moderate menu and offerings, along with the great steak cuts that we know. Until restaurants reopen, what a treat it is to enjoy the fine cuisine of such an extraordinary restaurant.
The procedure is simple. Go to their website at www.queuedecheval.com and click on Curbside Pickup under Menus. You can text, email, or call your orders into firstname.lastname@example.org and select your timeslot. There is a 10 percent discount for ordering the day before. If you do so on the same day, you are asked to send it in two hours in advance. Upon arrival merely call or text 514-390-0091 and they will bring the order right to your car and place it in the trunk or the seat.
Morentzos said he did not open for curbside pickup until he could be sure that all of the necessary safety precautions related to the pandemic could be taken. Any staff working in the restaurant has their temperature taken before they start their shift with an infrared thermometer. They also wear masks and gloves, changing the latter frequently. The kitchen, overseen by a small crew, is being disinfected constantly. There are also washing stations for staff.
You can also order steaks from the butcher (all steak cuts 25 percent off retail price) to bring home and cook yourself and wine from their list (15 percent off).
“The Montreal restaurant scene has been the backbone inspiration to many cities around North America for the last 40 years,” says Morentzos. “We have dedicated ourselves to the cultures around us and have always stood apart from the rest. We are facing something that many of us, or all of us never thought could be possible The entire industry is facing a monster that we can’t see. It is essential that our communities everywhere support our local restaurants.”
With that in mind, the Queue will be contributing 100 percent of the sale of gift certificates proceeds to the employee’s rescue fund until the end of April 2020.
“The first three months of the year in Montreal, and in most provinces are the worst three months of the year,” Morentzos said in a letter to staff. “We budget to lose money traditionally, so when this disaster hit, coupled with the three weakest months…we find [ourselves] in a situation where we need to work with everyone to see this [through].”
There was scrutiny with staff not being paid, and other hard allegations, but it was clearly explained that many have been paid and continue to be paid. La Queue de Cheval and the Morentzos team are no different than any other restaurant operator in the world. Business stopped and staff had to be laid off.
A Fantastic Meal
I must say that half of the fun for the three of us was making our order for curbside pickup and seeing many of our old favorites on the menu. My request was for a 5:45 pm arrival. I called and Demetra from the Queue was out in minutes with everything very nicely packaged. I made it back home in less than a half-hour. We set the table and sat down to an absolute feast!
We started off with the Dungeness Crab Crake Tempura Balls, with spicy dipping sauce and the BC King Salmon Poke, with marinated wakame, smashed spicy avocado, tomatoes, enoki mushrooms, sesame seed oil and mirin dressing. For our main course the three of us shared our favorite 32 ounce porterhouse, medium rare, dry aged in their meat lockers for over 60 days and grilled over Maplewood charcoal. We had leftovers for the next night it was so large. In addition, we divided up the beef short ribs. They are slow cooked, containing USDA prime ribs, garlic roasted mashed potatoes, butter sautéed peas and short-rib jus. This dish cut like butter and melted in our mouths.
We also added in, as a side, sage mushrooms: large button mushrooms with butter and sage. And yes we certainly chose a dessert, the decadent fresh berries shortcake.
They also have salads, hamburgers, chicken, fish and pasta available.
For anyone who is a regular at the Queue or any high end steakhouse, why not treat yourself to something special like this?
See their video for the service
The Queue de Cheval is located at 1181 Rue de la Montagne. The hours of operation for curbside pickup are 4 pm to 9 pm daily, with lunch service as well from Noon to 2 pm weekdays. For more information log on to www.queuedecheval.com or call 514-390-0091