Cote de Boeuf
Cote de boeuf is a butcher shop and bistro for quintessential French dishes like bone-in prime rib steak.
The shop will have you feeling as if you've stumbled into Paris, and with the tables out front usually overrun with locals grabbing a bite or drink, it's easy to spot among the mass of food stops along Ossington.
The tiny inside space has old wooden wine barrels for tables and a hanging chalkboard to display lunch and dinner specials. On the shelves, there are French wines and a small assortment of oils, vinegars, mustards and crackers.
Teo Paul opened up shop here in 2013 following years working as a chef in Paris. He also owns Union, which similarly favours farm fresh produce when it comes to the menu.
Everything from locally sourced côte de boeuf, NY strip and tenderloin to sausage and in-house pork terrine and duck foie gras is available in the butcher shop and butchered in the back of the shop every week.
Head chef Damien Cochez, who came from Union to train here as a butcher over three years ago, uses an old-school handsaw to prepare the Ontario-grown beef. That's how it's always done.
As much of the animal as possible is used in the kitchen – beef fat goes to help with the cooking while the bones are used in the stock.
Cochez cleans the bones of skin and meat as the last step in the process for the côte de boeuf. Once the bones are bare, it's "Frenched" and ready to hang in the front display that doubles as a walk-in fridge.
All of the meat is dry-aged for about 25 to 35 days, longer if requested. Soaking the moisture out of it ends up concentrating the flavour to make for a more tender and intensely flavourful cut of meat. It also makes it easier to get a nice crust when searing.
The côte de boeuf ($145) has been dry-aged 30 days and cooked in duck fat until medium-rare before making its way to our table. This is the specialty of the entire place and comes big enough to share between three or four hungry friends.
The perfectly cooked steak is simply seasoned with salt and pepper and sits on a bed of roasted potatoes and veggies.
New to the menu is Iberico ham ($23). The pork leg is cured for a whole 40 months in Spain. You might pick up on a bit of a nutty flavour as the free-range pigs eat nothing but acorns for a period of time.
The beef tartare ($27) is cut by hand with a knife instead of ground, mixed in with a truffle paste and topped with egg yolk. Some fresh cut fries also go on the side.
The butcher shop eatery also features a few different fresh seafood options like escargot ($13). Plenty of butter, garlic, salt and parsley coat the snails.
PEI oysters from Oyster Boy are sold by the half (MP: $19) or full dozen (MP: $38). On the side are a homemade mignonette sauce and a spicy habanera for a big kick.
The wine list features primarily French options including the sparkling perles du val de moine (4 oz glass: $14) from Loire Valley. Expect a seamless combination of pinot noir, folle blanche (a white grape variety grown in southwest France) and chardonnay.
A creamy and brittle-topped vanilla creme brulee ($12) will end your visit on a sweet note.