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Mike Cohen reports on La Queue de Cheval Steakhouse and Raw Bar & its imminent Toronto expansion

    As La Queue de Cheval Steakhouse and Raw Bar, (www.queuedecheval.com), located at 1181 Avenue de la Montagne, marks 21 years in business, owner Peter Morentzos has some exciting news to announce.

    Mike Cohen reports on  La Queue de Cheval Steakhouse and Raw Bar & its imminent Toronto expansion

    In early 2020, the Q will open up in Toronto at 224 King Street in the base of a glitzy condo building. Morentzos will tell me more soon so stay tuned to this space, but the prime location is right next to the Royal Alexandra Theatre in the very heart of Toronto’s entertainment district. It is safe to say that the Morentzos magic touch will be in play here.  While Moishes Steakhouse unsuccessfully made the move to Toronto, Morentzos is taking the proper time to make sure this new operation has everything necessary in place.

    Mike Cohen reports on  La Queue de Cheval Steakhouse and Raw Bar & its imminent Toronto expansion
    Peter Morentzos with his son Chris.

    I first met Peter 14 years ago and an invitation to review his restaurant has come my way once annually since that initial interview.  I anxiously look forward to dining at his new spot in Toronto.

    Why will Peter be so successful in Toronto? He is a visionary in the restaurant business, the man behind the development of more than 50 restaurants. While the Queue de Cheval serves as the flagship, others with his stamp include Moe’s Deli and Bar, Weinstein and Gavino’s and 40 Westt Steakhouse, just to name a fewIn 2014 he introduced QDC Burger in the back alley of the Q offering spectacular burgers. He soon decided that this brand was strong enough to stand on its own two feet and opened a stand-alone in the Mile End District -another addition to the Morentzos Restaurant Group (MRG). There is another at Gate 52 of the YUL Trudeau International Airport, with franchise opportunities available. Toronto would be a natural. See more on this concept below.

    Conveniently situated a mere block away from the Bell Centre and next to major hotels, the Q has complimentary valet parking and offers a dining experience like none other.

    While visitors to Montreal flock to the Queue, so do locals who recognize that they are in for a memorable dining experience? The restaurant has been in its present location since September 2014, an exquisite three-level building. Prior to that, it was just around the corner on Boulevard René Lévesque. This spot has some history attached to it. This is where Jefferson Davis, a 19th century U.S. senator and president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, once lived in order to fend off the assassination. John Wilkes Booth, an American stage actor who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, was also a guest here.  

    Mike Cohen reports on  La Queue de Cheval Steakhouse and Raw Bar & its imminent Toronto expansion

    The Q is a 300 plus seat locale with an open-exhibition kitchen, glass refrigerated meat lockers, an opulent winding staircase and a massive round grill crowned by a dramatic 30-foot brass hood. The USDA prime beef is painstakingly dry-aged in the restaurant’s meat lockers for 30 to 45 days. Downstairs you will find the exquisite Angry Lobster Seafood Lounge. There are three private dining rooms, able to handle 30 to 120 people, and a cocktail area for up to 150 people. A seasonal terrace is part of the complex as well.

    On this night we were a party of six. Three of the ladies raised their glasses to some champagne.  Our server Nicholas then came to the table and provided a very detailed overview of the menu. This is a Q trademark, right down to their return appearance to showcase the main course items that are about to be cooked.

    There is an extensive wine menu.  The legendary shellfish platter remains an absolute must for starters from the raw bar: lobster claws and tails, snow crab legs and claws, sea urchin, jumbo shrimp, fresh bay scallops and tuna poke.  The platter was happily shared in three ways. Selection and availability may vary from season to season. Two others shared a nice-sized Caesar salad.

    Mike Cohen reports on  La Queue de Cheval Steakhouse and Raw Bar & its imminent Toronto expansion

    Then it was time for the main courses.

    The portions are large, so sharing is not such a bad move.

    My wife and daughter split a 10-ounce Waygu Miyazaki rib steak, which cut like butter and gained a big thumbs up, ordering mashed potatoes and some outstanding grilled oyster mushrooms from Poland on the side.

    I shared the 36-ounce Porterhouse with my mom, Ontario Black Angus prime dry-aged for 60 to 75 days and had some lobster mashed potatoes on the side.

    Mike Cohen reports on  La Queue de Cheval Steakhouse and Raw Bar & its imminent Toronto expansion

    My mother in law had the 10-ounce Waygu and aged beef, freshly ground while my father-in-law sampled the Caribbean Rock Lobster “Carpaccio,” which came with sautéed baby kale

    Additional “Q” classics are headlined by lobster emerging, three to 4.5 pounds and de-shelled and other choices from drunken beef, rack of lamb chops, Mediterranean sea bass, yellowfin tuna, B.C. king salmon, the petit mignon and the bone-in veal chop.

    As for dessert, do not focus on the calorie count. Consider sharing a few of these to die for offerings:  key lime pie, white chocolate cheesecake, shortcake, tiramisu, death by chocolate, millefeuille, crème brûlee, tipsy affogato (vanilla bean ice cream espresso/frangelico) or le parfait (fresh berries/vanilla bean ice cream/chocolate cake/mascarpone cream).

    Mike Cohen reports on  La Queue de Cheval Steakhouse and Raw Bar & its imminent Toronto expansion

    If there is a birthday being celebrated by your party call in advance? A team of waiters will arrive at your table with a surprise dessert featuring a sparkler inside and a loud and exciting happy birthday chant.

    Peter takes such care in selecting his food items and it is always him or one of his reliable managers who keep a close eye on the open kitchen to make sure everything is done just right. In fact, over the last few years, he has worked his two sons into the business, Chris and Alex.

    Fabulous Lunch Special

    The fabulous Q lunch special remains very popular. For only $27 per person the table d’hôte features a three-course business lunch from 11:30 am to 3 pm. You can select from meat (beef wellington, steak tartar, petite mignon or hamburger); fish (Mediterranean sea bass “loup de mer,” nori leaf wrapped organic king salmon, raw pan-seared yellowtail tuna nicoise salad or scallops; and pasta (angry lobster pappardelle or risotto funghi, spaghetti alla chitarra). All of these options are served with the Chef’s dessert of the day and café Americano coffee.

    Pre-Theatre/ Hockey Menu

    Mike Cohen reports on  La Queue de Cheval Steakhouse and Raw Bar & its imminent Toronto expansion

    The re-theatre/show/hockey menu is a page right out of Broadway. From 5 pm to 7 pm, prior to all Bell Centre hockey games, concerts and other events, you will be in your seats with time to spare with a selection of $45 meals. Long-time sales and events director Marie-Andrée Chouinard rightly says that there is absolutely no restaurant with an outstanding menu like the Q this close to the Bell Centre that offers such a deal. You have a choice between lobster bisque or a wedge salad (like the lunch special) to start off and then either a meat (beef wellington, steak tartare, filet mignon or short ribs), fish (Mediterranean sea bass “loup de mer” or yellowfin big eye sushi tuna, pasta (angry lobster pappardelle) or the Butcher’s Blend hamburger. The latter is a half-pound blend of Australian KOBE, USDA prime dry-aged beef and short ribs, boursin cheese, wild mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, smoked pork belly and fried egg served with spicy lobster curry mayo and fries.

    QDC Burger

    Mike Cohen reports on  La Queue de Cheval Steakhouse and Raw Bar & its imminent Toronto expansion

    Founded by Morentzos, QDC Burger first opened its doors in September 2014 in the back alley of a steakhouse and the new St. Viateur spot was an immediate hit with customers.  It is a throwback concept that has a down-to-earth feel.  Burgers are simply spectacular as they are uniquely created with a secret recipe of USDA Prime & Canadian AAA “steak-cut” along with QDC a signature brioche bun. Amazingly delicious! The taste profile on its own has the ability to create a loyal cult-like following the menu has two options: Build Your Own Burger, for adventurous foodies, or, choose one the Chef’s selection of 10 mind-blowing burgers. From crowd favorites like the Surf n’ Turf or the MOB Burger to the health-conscious Kong Burger (Ahi Tuna) or the creative À Louer Burger (Organic King Salmon). Really hungry? No problem add two bucks and go from the large 1⁄4 lb to the extra-large 1/3 lb of USDA steak-cut beef.

    Mike Cohen reports on  La Queue de Cheval Steakhouse and Raw Bar & its imminent Toronto expansion

    The Queue de Cheval is located at 1181 Avenue de la Montagne. The hours of operation are 11:30 am to 3 pm for lunch Monday to Friday and dinner service from 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm Sunday to Wednesday and 5:30 pm to midnight Thursday to Saturday. The Angry Lobster Seafood Lounge is open daily from 5:30 pm to 2 am and from 5:30 pm to 3 am Thursday to Saturday. For more information and to see the complete menus log on to www.queuedecheval.com. Bookings can be made via Open Table. For private parties and corporate groups, call Marie-Andrée Chouinard at 514-390-0091 or e-mail sales@queuedecheval.com.

    Mike Cohen

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