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Mike Cohen is in heaven as the Rib ‘N Reef Steakhouse opens for take-out and delivery

The iconic Rib ‘N Reef Steakhouse on Decarie Blvd. is the latest Montreal restaurant to move to take-out and delivery.

First opened in 1960, Peter Katsoudas assumed  ownership almost 30 years ago and took this landmark establishment to a new level of success.

Let’s be clear. For diners, the physical setting of Rib ‘N Reef is always a big draw for lunch or dinner. Featuring two dining rooms,  one seating 100  people and the other accommodating 60,  there  is also an award winning wine cellar with its own distinct dining room for up to 30 people, surrounded  by more than 8,000 bottles  of wine aging and a seasonal rooftop terrace for 40 more people.

After a meal, cigar aficionados can enjoy a stogie and a single malt scotch in a private lounge. It is equipped with a state-of-the-art air filtration system, satellite TV, full bar service and wireless Internet access.  

That will all have to wait as we continue to adjust to COVID-19 protocols. Katsoudas was able to open last summer and given his large capacity business was good. Thinking outside of the box, he invested in special heaters and plexi-glass in an effort to extend the terrace season. Then Quebec shut restaurants down. Katsoudas used the time to do some renovations and ponder his next move.

“I do not think the decision was fair,” said Katsoudas. “Restaurants were taking all of the necessary precautions. I had to put 85 people out of work. The government could have been more creative, perhaps limiting tables to groups of four people and close dining rooms by 9:30 pm. This would have allowed us to retain some income and offer couples an opportunity for a night out.”

At the end of November, optimistic that the province would permit restaurants to reopen to diners, Katsoudas had $56,000 worth of topline meat inventory in his possession. He thought things over. Rib ‘N Reef never had formal take-out and delivery options and there was no better time for him to give it a shot.  Regular clients have responded with great enthusiasm. Valet parking staff have been transformed into home delivery drivers. You can also use Uber Eats and soon Door Dash.

“People are tired of bringing home pizza and hotdogs,” said Katsoudas. “We have clients who are ordering large meals, some going to a few different addresses so they can have a first class meal with friends and family via Zoom or Facetime.  We recently had someone who ordered caviar and one of our signature seafood towers. He was very pleased.”

Katsoudas and his team have put together a nice package. My family always considered Rib ‘N Reef a real treat, so when I went for the take-out option we were all pretty excited.

For starters, you can do curb side pickup. The parking lot makes it easy for cars to pull right up to the front door and call upon arrival. If you go inside, there is plenty of room for social distancing and a large table prevents you from getting anywhere close to the open kitchen where Katsoudas and GM Abdo Abou Hamad keep things moving.

I called in my order two hours in advance to Abdo for a 6 pm Friday pickup. It was two packages: one for mother-in-law and father-in-law; and the other for the three of us at home.

Everything was so well organized when I got there. For my mother-in-law and father-in-law, they started off with a Caesar salad for two and main courses of roast beef and a two pound lobster, both with French Fries.

For our house, we began with an amazing salmon tartare appetizer and a piping hot bowl of lobster bisque. For the main courses, I had the filet mignonette cooked to a perfect medium, with lobster tail and a monte carlo potato on the side. My wife and daughter shared the rib steak P.K’s cut and steamed lobster, along with roasted garlic mashed potatoes – always a treat.

Each household ordered millefeuilles for dessert.

The packaging was so well insulated that nothing really needed to be warmed up.

You can select from a detailed menu on the website. For appetizers there is also steak and tuna tartare, caviar, crab cake, fresh calamari, grilled octopus, chorizo sausage, oysters Rockefeller and sirloin sliders. Sure we miss the marvellous way in which Rib ‘N Reef servers prepare the salad at the table, but the ones available come nicely assembled. While I chose the lobster bisque, the clam chowder is available too.

There are plenty of tantalizing steaks to choose from, dry-aged USDA PRIME Midwestern Beef, raised without antibiotics, hand cut and broiled to perfection on their open charcoal pit. You can also select from fresh fish, shrimp, crabs legs and veggie sides. If you would like to cook the meat at home, this can be arranged as well.

Rib ‘N Reef is located at 8105 Decarie Blvd. It is presently open for take-out and delivery Tuesday to Thursday from Noon to 8pm , Friday from Noon to 9 pm and Saturday from 3 pm to 9 pm. Log on to ribnreef.com, ubereats.com or call (514) 735-1601.