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The Beaver Club


CharityCase
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Through a Fairmont connection a group of 10 of us are dining at the Beaver Club in the Queen E later this month, to celebrate (er, begin to celebrate) a friend's bachelor party.

The reservation is made so hopefully no one pipes up and says "avoid at all costs" but I wondered if I could get people's opinions on the place. Recommended dishes? Jacket required?

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I have eaten at the Beaver Club a few times, the last time was with a group of 10. Each time I have been there, both the food and service were amazing. With the group, the service was abit slower but expected. The menu changes seasonally but they keep some standards such as seared foie gras (the best I have ever tried), prime rib and caesar salad (incredible as well). The desserts are very good as well, the trio of creme brulees is quite good or anything from the dessert cart. They say jackets are recommended but they are not necessary, as long as you are dressed nice and no jeans.

You should go to the Voyageur for drinks before, it's right beside the beaver club and they serve amazing martinis.

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Sorry overlord, but I just can not agree.

The Beaver Club is expensive and second rate. You could do far better almost anywhere. And really, again overlord I'm surprised...the desserts are terrible.

Wonder if we went to the same restaurant?

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Compared to some of the top restaurants in Montreal, the Beaver Club is not that expensive. A 4 course meal is $70, anything can be chosen on the menu including foie gras. If I want trendy new style fusion cuisine, I will not go to the Beaver Club, I will go to somewhere like Bronte but I will pay much more than $70. The food is very good, the waiters actually know what they are talking about and have knowledge of food and wine as compared to other restaurants who hire waitstaff for how they look. Also keep in mind, the sommelier at Bronte used to work at the Beaver Club. As for the desserts, I worked there over 5 years ago and I know the quality of all the cakes and pastries is extremely high. I am not going to the Beaver Club expecting groundbreaking desserts and unusual flavour combinations, I am just expecting really good cakes and pastries which is what they consistently deliver.

So if others disagree with me, why is the Beaver Club second rate? And why are the desserts so terrible?

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Overlord, I started out as a pastry chef. I know a shitty chocolate mousse cake when I see one. I found their entire dessert cart dated and of very poor quality. Things were miles better when Jean Ricardi was there, but he's long gone and his replacement is far from impressive.

Desserts aside, when I dined there I had a $39 salmon filet and wrote in my review: "The dish consisted of nothing more than a large slab of farnmed salmon set atop a few frazzled fried artichokes, a handful of zucchini slices, and an insipid roasted tomato and parsley oil. With such negligible effort poured into the accompaniments and the creativity of the dish, I couldn’t help feeling ripped off."

That dish was a complete disgrace. And $39 for farmed salmon! Hang your heads in shame boys.

Edited by Lesley C (log)
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I concur with Lesley C. that the Beaver Club is second-rate at best! My husband and I had a Christmas Day dinner there several years ago that was memorable for its mediocrity. The food was classic 1950's gourmet "continental cuisine"--very unimaginative and uninspired--and the service was not particularly great. The main dining room looked like it had not been updated in the past half-century, with a dark, depressing decor reminiscent of a 1950's country club (there was an additional dining room off to the side that was lighter and brighter). We only ate there because there were not many dining establishments open on Christmas Day other than Chinese restaurants, and we felt like something a bit fancier and festive, but we vowed never to return. I fail to understand why the Beaver Club is still considered "fine dining" with so many other far superior choices available in Montreal. I truly believe that its "fine dining" days have long since past, if they ever were indeed.

"Some ladies smoke too much and some ladies drink too much and some ladies pray too much, but all ladies think that they weigh too much."

From a poem by Ogden Nash - Curl Up and Diet

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Actually, what's very sad is that the last chef there -- a French Canadian fellow -- was pulling off some great food. My first review (Jan 2001) I gave them 3 1/2 stars. But he left soon after. Dommage!

Good gracious is all I have to say to this thread!

I haven't been yet, and I hope that their current service is an improvement over the experiences that some of you have had in the last couple of years. I'm cautiously optimistic that things will have improved with the adding of Fairmont to their name.

I'll be sure to report back and help settle the dispute :)

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I haven't been yet, and I hope that their current service is an improvement over the experiences that some of you have had in the last couple of years. I'm cautiously optimistic that things will have improved with the adding of Fairmont to their name.

It's always been a Fairmont since Fairmont was spun out of CP by Tellier several years back.

Have been to the Voyageur several times over the last year for hypothetical discussions; apart from individuals smoking poor-quality cigars, it was acceptable for a hotel bar with a reasonable selection of wine and spirits. Can't tell you anything useful about the Beaver Club since it's been over a decade since I've had a meal there. Your Fairmont connection however may be useful in ensuring that it does become a (positive) memorable experience.

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I can't add anything helpful, I just saw the name and had a great memory. the first really nice place I ever went to and picked up the bill was the beaver club. I remembered it as bieng fantastic, but I was a 21 year old kid, and that was 17 years ago.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Good news. The Beaver Club was wonderful. It was also the best meal I and many of my fellow diners had ever experienced.

There were 9 of us dining together on Wednesday night, and the restaurant was quite full even at 9:00 when we sat down. Having a Fairmont staff member doing the booking was advantageous and we were greeted with our first amuse bouche of the evening: Terrine of smoked duck breast topped with a mousseline of foie gras.

Many of us opted for the $78 prix fixe menu ("Royal Selection" I beleive) which included a cold and hot appetizer, main, dessert and coffee.

I started with Bay Scallops on the half shell, which arrived on a bed of rock salt and with six different preparations: I can't remember all of them but caviar, roe, another roe, shaved black truffle, tequila and cream and one other.

Those who hadn't had scallops chose either a raw fish plate (tuna carpaccio, salmon, scallop) or a cold foie gras. Our sommelier had paired an alsatian riesling with the first course and it worked well with the scallops...crisp and a bit spicy but not so much so that it interfered witht he range of flavours in the dish.

Our second amuse bouche missed the mark a bit but was interesting nonetheless: a warm cube of melon, a seared scallop and balsamic reduction.

We moved onto the warm appetizers, where again there was a scallop entree but most chose the foie gras, seared and presented with a wafer of burnt sugar and atop green tomatoes and strawberries. I suppose those of you more experienced might say that there's nary a bad foie gras preparation to be had but this course was exquisite, perfectly cooked and well presented, the foie gras itself having a salty and smoky first bite followed by a velvety almost custard-like richness. At my end of the table we went on and on about the thing, and at the other end our friends sat speechless...or mostly speechless except for the occasional "wow".

For the main course I chose the veal scallopini served with a boulangere of jerusalem artichoke and freshly shucked green pea and lardons puree. The veal was beautifully pink, the sauce perfect with it (not sure what it was but it was built with rich veal stock to be sure) and the artichokes just mindblowing. Others had the more classic chateaubriand served tableside with a bernaise sauce, roasted sea bass, roasted lobster tail and so on.

Following our main course was another amuse bouche: a rich chocolate mousse with something white perched atop it...could've been a mint foam, could've been something else but of course by this point we'd essentially lost our minds in the magnificence of the night and I stopped paying attention. On that note the dessert course was more of a novelty but the few bites I could manage were good: Apple and mango chutney with avocado sherbet and two sauces (sorry, no idea what they were but one was likely sour cherry or cranberry).

Coffee was served in a vacuum pot contraption which I'd never experienced before..quite unique and definitely worth the wait. Last but not least we were offered a tray of sugared grapes, gooseberries and a couple of small cookies.

Both the meal and service were excellent, and while the price might be somewhat high for a frequent visit (with six bottles of wine our bill was around $120 p.p) but I know I'll go back again for another special occasion such as this.

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  • 1 year later...

I must disagree with CharityCase as say that my recent dining experince at the Beaver Club was not ALL wonderful. Lesley C, if you were curious about a change for the better, I have to report that the deserts are still pretty bad and quite possibly the worst I have ever tasted in Montreal.

Click here for the full review with pictures on my food blog.

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The Beaver Club. Sigh. It was my first "fancy" restaurant . I was twelve and dazzled. I have no comment on the current state of the cuisine because my last visit there was in the bar when I was eighteen, drinking a martini with my parents.

I do know, because my parents return there every year for their anniversary dinner (after some healthful high-end retail therapy at Ogilvies) that the FOH is fantastic. They had dinner there on their honeymoon and they are treated like minor royalty -- the Maitre d' hotel remembers them, asks about the family, comps them them tiny stuff, presents a special cake for two, takes their picture. It makes for happiness.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

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margaretmcarthur.com

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The Beaver Club.  Sigh. It was my  first "fancy" restaurant . I was twelve and dazzled. I have no comment on the current state of the cuisine because my last visit there was in the bar when I was eighteen, drinking a martini with my parents.

I do know, because my parents return there every year for their anniversary dinner  (after some healthful high-end retail therapy at Ogilvies) that the FOH is fantastic. They had dinner there on their honeymoon and they are treated like minor royalty --  the Maitre d' hotel remembers them, asks about the family, comps them them tiny stuff,  presents a special cake for two, takes their picture.  It makes for happiness.

I just spotted this thread last night, and read back to it's beginning. It's strange to read such widely opposing views of what's obviously such a venerable institution?

I guess, should I find myself in Montreal, that's where I'll dine, based on the above post.

SB (remembers dining in The Flame Room at the original Minneapolis Raddison Hotel when he was about 12)

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Um, if the butter and sugar have been modified, then it's not the ORIGINAL recipe.

It may be the new or the adapted recipe.

I'm just asking to see if it's the same one we ran in the Gazette, one which came from the hotel (perhaps even from you pastry overlord???).

Edited by Lesley C (log)
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Hope I can clear this up!

I was thrilled to see the recipe published in the Gazette just two days afte we ate the the Beaver Club! Yes, it is the same recipe as what was published in the paper and I have since credited the Gazette in my blog for the recipe.

Hope to try it out soon!

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  • 2 weeks later...
I guess, should I find myself in Montreal, that's where I'll dine, based on the above post.

You'd be wasting your time and money.

That Beaver Club is long gone.

Lesley, living in Toronto for the past ten years, I'm not as attuned to the Montreal restaurant scene as I used to be. But I do remember some incredible meals and amazing service at the Beaver Club of old. Growing up in Montreal in the sixties and seventies, I had the good fortune to have parents who delighted in taking my sister and me to fine restaurants for each of our birthdays and their anniversary.

I actually attribute a good dea of my passion for food and gastronomy to this early exposure to the great restaurants of the time: Le St-Amable of old; Les Halles; Le Castillon; the Beaver Club; Troika; and so many others...

Ah, que je me souviens!

With my daughter now attending McGill, we find ourselves in Montreal more often, and I am re-discovering the joys of dining in Montreal restaurants.

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Yes, but now I'd say avoid those restaurants that once impressed.

Le St-Amable is the only restaurant that received the dreaded no-star review from me in the eight years I've been reviewing for the Montreal Gazette. It was beyond awful, which is very sad considering that under previous ownership it was one of the best restos in the city. But that was 20 years ago...

As for the other places on that favourites list of yours, I can say that none of them are worth visiting anymore -- save perhaps for the Troika, which still has excellent food but is usually empty.

Les Halles was always good, and closed last summer when the owner, Mr. Landurie, decided to retire.

My biggest regret as a Montrealer was never having dined at Cafe Martin, Ruby Foo's or Chez Bardet. But I was just a baby when those places were at their height.

Of course, missing EXPO 67 was another regret for I hear bottles of Chateau Y'Quem were being sold for about $18 at the French pavillion.

At least I got to the Olympics.

Edited by Lesley C (log)
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I know how awful Le St-Amable has become. On a visit to Montreal with my kids about five years ago, we were walking around Old Montreal wondering where to eat, when I spotted Le St-Amable and had to go in.

What a disaster! I can't remember what else we ate, but my beloved Feuillete de Fruits de Mer, which was an entree that, growing up, one of my family members always ordered, was horrible, as was every single dish. The service was terrible.

[We had an unwritten rule in our family: we all ordered different dishes, and the plates, from entree through to dessert, were passed from person to person].

Well, the feuillete was quite obviously frozen and reheated, the pastry soggy and tired, the filling lacking in seafood. The sauce was thick and gloppy, not anything like the velvety, lobstery sauce that I remembered so vividly.

I don't think we ever went to Cafe Martin, but we did go to Ruby Foo's on occasion. The only things I recall eating at Ruby Foo's were the Pu-Pu Platter and the best egg rolls ever - big, plumply filled and crispy, served with a thick, brown, tangy plum sauce that I've never had the likes of since (although the egg rolls and plum sauce at Pumpernick's came close).

Les Halles (and La Petite Halle, too) was a wonderful place. It is too bad that it closed up. It's no wonder you're still kicking yourself for not taking M. Landurie up on his offer.

I also miss the old-style seafood restaurants - Desjardins on Mackay, and Aux Mouettes on Laurentian Blvd. We went to Delfino a few weeks ago and, although the fish was fresh and tasty, I would have liked some adornment; I'm a sauce lover, and everything was just too plain for my liking.

Edited by FlavoursGal (log)
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