1708 Rue Notre-Dame W./Richmond
Montréal, QC H3J 1M3
Phone: (514) 439-1130
Cost: $ 81.40 (per person, tax & tip included)
Chef Hats: 3
Some establishments from their inception have it all together with a winning formula.With a combination of good planning, lots of business experience and backing by a great designer they are bound to become popular hang outs.Grinder in Griffin town has been since its opening in December 2012, just this type of place. Started by the owners of Hachoir on St. Denis St, Jean-Francois Corriveau & Lea D’Amboise, it’s named after the English version of its sister restaurant.
The big draw at Grinder, besides the prime cuts of good quality aged steak has got to be the decor and ambiance. Grinder was designed by Zebulon Perron, whose name is synonymous with numerous restaurant design awards and his knack for creating a functional and fun space for whoever enlists him to the task.
Grinder and its surrounding area have replaced what the likes of The Globe & Buonanotte were on the lower main in its heyday. The area around Richmond St. draws in the beautiful people that have plenty of disposable income, like to show it and spend it in beautiful urban modern settings. It also draws in a slew curious wannabees and has become synonymous with being a great place to go with friends to have a wild time, grab some grub and hang out with the all types of people.
I came across Grinder in summer 2014 purely by chance, while having dinner at The Richmond down the street. Passing by, I spotted Lamborghini & Ferrari’s at the valet waiting to be parked. Loud music spilled onto the streets from its opened garage door windows and the crowd looked hip and cool.We took a peek inside and were impressed by the decor. We spotted a long modern bar set in the center of the room surrounded by mirrors, surgical type lighting and subdued hues of beige leather seating all while creating a chic ambiance. The place looked welcoming and fun and we placed it on our bucket list of places to try. That summer and fall we tried endlessly to get reservations at any hour to no avail and then we gave up. So two years later, when my dining group booked a reservation I jumped at the chance to go. I was excited, but my experience at Grinder did not start well and the excitement was short lived.
After leaving my car with the valet, I was greeted by a busy & distracted hostess at the door. She tells me that my dining companions got there too early and were relegated to Le Bureau, another watering hole a few doors down on the next block, because there was no place at the bar to have drinks.
She then proceeded to bolt out the door to show me where I can find them. With my umbrella in tow, I walked to Le Bureau. I stood at the door short of breath and told my story of how I was sent here by the hostess at Grinder to look for my dining companions. The maitre d’ looked puzzled and asked me what the names of my friends were. “No one by that came in”, I looked around and then he suggested I check out Foxy’s next door.The same scenario played out at Foxy’s. Frustrated, I went back to Grinder, this time irritated.I told the hostess I could not find them anywhere and she allowed me wait at the side of the bar with another woman who was part of the group.I introduced myself and we patiently waited 20 min. I was asked by a bar maid what I wanted to drink and then she walked away before taking my order. Two young chaps were seated at the bar next to us and asked if we wanted to sit on their laps. We had a good chuckle as they looked about 18 years old and very drunk.That is when we finally spotted our friends who had shown at the door for a second time to be seated for their reservation. The girls had opted out for drinks at the two places suggested and instead went to look at the Grinder Boucherie on the corner. Alas we were in and got seated at a long table against the wall.
Our waitress was really friendly and professional which made up for the lack at the door.We scanned the menu and ordered our drinks. I was not in the mood for steak tonight and found the cuts rather pricey. I started with a Belgian Moon Beer for $7.00 to go with a burger. Someone at our table ordered the Pimm Royal cocktail for $ 12.00.
Grinder has a good cocktail menu from anywhere to $10-$15.00, as well as a good wine list by the glass or bottle at reasonable prices. Its bar is always full and very vibrant. If you don’t come for dinner a drink is a must. The atmosphere is fun and cool.
After being served our drinks, our order was taken immediately by our waitress who explained the menu thoroughly and gave a great explanation of their choices for the evening all the while trying to up sell the steaks. It seemed that our table was almost oblivious it was a steakhouse, as we went the opposite direction and ordered more fish than anything else. Aside from the Tandoori Halibut, the other fish items on the menu were mediocre at best.
For starters I ordered Beef Carpaccio for $16.00 which came with thinly sliced raw beef, parmesan shavings, garnished with arugula and pine nuts. No big complaint in this department, the Carpaccio meat was perfect and satisfied my craving, but it could have used a drizzle olive oil or balsamic reduction for impact and more flavour; it was a little dry.
Mary ordered Salmon Tartar for $ 15.00, the presentation was a little messy, she had to ask for the baguette on the side and did not find it optimal, and it lacked flavour and was rather bland.
Lina ordered Fried Calamari $13.00, these too were a little soggy and not of the best quality. The Mediterranean Salad for $ 13.00 was also a whopping mess; the cheese looked runny and must have sat too long in the kitchen close to a heat source.
For our Main meal, two of us ordered the Burger 1855 -$ 19.00, served with Grinder homemade ketchup, bacon & pickle, aged cheddar and Dijon mustard and a side order of fries and mayonnaise. The burger was satisfactory but lacked an aged meat Angus style flavour.
The fries were decent but ordinary. The price quality was not there.
Mary ordered the Braised Short Ribs for$ 34.00 with infused espresso butter, topped with pickled onions & arugula salad. She thought she was getting Baby Back Ribs a la Baton Rouge style, an error on her part. She was surprised at how small the dish was and the lack of accoutrements. The price quality just was not there and the short ribs were bland.
Lina and Gerry shared the Cornish Hen for $33.00, with braised Savoy cabbage, cornbread and gravy. The chicken was flavourful and plenty for both, but the accompaniments left much to be desired. Like most expensive steakhouses, sides are an extra and anywhere between $ 6.00 to $10.00 and a salad will put you back another $ 13.00-$18.00.
Richard ordered the Tandoori Halibut for $ 38.00 and the Halibut was well received and was enjoyed immensely. It came served with a quinoa tabouleh, cherry tomatoes & cucumber salad, a ginger yogurt and fried wonton. The halibut was tender and not overcooked. The salad was refreshing. The mix of Mediterranean and Asian flavours was original he thought.
For dessert, I ordered the Pudding Chomeur for $9.00 and an espresso for $ 3.00. I loved the pudding which came served in a bowl with mounds of crème fraîche on the side. It was a little on the sweet side for me, but with lots of crème fraîche it was palatable. It’s a good contender for those with a real sweet tooth and I was only able to eat half.
Lina ordered the cheesecake topped with caramelized pears and a base of caramel coulis for $9.00 , which she found light and of perfect consistency. It was light and not overly sweet with the caramel on the bottom.
Mary ordered a chocolate Baba au Rhum style cake-$9.00 topped with slivers of almonds and served with raspberry coulis and a duo choco- vanilla whipped cream on the side. She found the Baba a little dry and on the heavy side.
As the evening wound down, the music got louder. We couldn’t hear each other speak any longer; the table went silent, as we just looked at each other. We were happy to have tried Grinder but we all left little disappointed and deaf. We stood outside in the rain talking for a little while longer. Maybe we were getting too old for this type of scene.