The name is the Latin equivalent of ‘bovine’ or ‘cow’, a place for steaks, chops and all things meaty, Le Bostaurus, in Aylmer, Quebec unabashedly serving certified Angus Beef, UDSA triple A beef, and lots of it.
UPDATE: As of July 14, 2016 Le Bostaurus and sister restaurant Ambrosia Bistro closed their doors. Unfortunately, it appears that these two entries, and their assets, were ceased by Quebec police amid unsubstantiated rumors of drug trafficking. Sad news for restaurant staff who showed up for work to find doors sealed (glasses still on the bar), and for those of us in the Aylmer, QC community who loved them both. It’s a dangerous industry in many ways people – this is a cautionary tale.
Just across the Champlain Bridge from Ottawa, lies a historic little gem once part of cottage county, now annexed by Gatineau. But while the merge of municipalities may be complete, it still remains a distinct local flavour and, for us, it’s home. When we heard last summer that local entrepreneur and chef Daniel Lalonde, principal in our favorite local Italian restaurant (Ambrosia), was signed on to be part owner and executive chef at Le Bostaurus we held our breath for the massive renovation project to the heritage building (and former strip joint) to be complete.
Our first excursion shortly after they opened, was fast and disappointing. One look at a menu that read ‘beef, beef, and more beef’ and a roll of the eyes holier-than-thou waiter who actually snorted and walked away with a nearly empty dining room behind him, make it easy to politely walk away and take our money elsewhere. It wasn’t that we didn’t expect beef, it was that we expected something more than just beef (and a measure of courtesy wouldn’t have hurt a bit). I turned to the chef in my life and said flatly “they have opening-itus, let’s give them a few months.”
Opening-itus: the time period between ‘don’t bug me I’m texting my boyfriend’ and ‘we’re professionals here to serve you’ that effects seven out of every ten restaurants.
Some recover quickly and hire well, going on to be killer cafés, bistros and steak houses – some do not. I am a big believer in second chances, and while the service still suffers a few pit falls now and again, Le Bostaurus bounced back with a broader menu and a loyal local following, that now includes us.
That snotty waiter is gone, the all beef menu likewise; quickly replaced by a selection of red & white meats and seafood specials. Le Bostaurus has now become our go-to pub when it’s just the two of us and our new white linen tablecloth celebration dining space when it’s a group of us. High, open-beam ceilings tell a tale of the past while gleaming modern lighting, straight backed chairs and a modern approach to plating have a firm root in the twenty-first century.
On most nights if you’re in the pub you can order from the dining room menu and even mix and match with an appetizer from one menu and an entree from the other. In the dining room even has a savvy, well thought out kids menu that the four year old approves of. I might recommend the American Burger ($13.95), for the burger aficionados out there. Juicy and tasty with just the right mount of fat to make it moist and char on the grill. That certified Angus makes for a great burger, and it rides along side some truly wicked fries.
On the beefy side, choose from the high end with filet mignon ($38), rib eye ($38) or striploin ($39) and at the low end the flank ($24) and flatiron ($23) steaks all well marbled and precisely prepared. Choose your starch, choose your sauce (cognac green peppercorn, red wine shallot or bearnaise), veg of the day at the side. Pretty standard steak house stuff. The flatiron is good, likewise for the striploin, the lamb chops are particularly well executed and the bearnaise is exceptional. We’ve yet to have a piece of meat at Bostaurus that wasn’t handled with respect.
If you have a great product, my philosophy is: don’t mess with it. That’s why the mark of a truly great steak is not in how the chef seasons and cooks it, but rather in how the chef seasons and prepares it raw, chopped and served as a tasty Steak Tartare ($13). Why cook it when it’s this delicate? Why expose flesh to flame when it can be tossed with assorted savory bits from the pantry: capers, shallots, Dijon, parsley, Worcestershire and olive oil, a hint of gerkin, a single egg yoke.
The chef in my life (Benoit Gelinotte) is making a systematic survey of tartare on menus across the National Capitol Region. (Something I hope he’ll expound upon in his own words one day… God help us all.) His favourite remains a reconstructed version at Navarra on Ottawa’s Byward Market, but the Tartare at Le Bostaurus is done exceptionally well (top photo). The plating is playful and fun and the seasoning is spot on, allowing the tone and texture of the beef to shine through.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a raw meat kinda’ gal, but through our time together I’ve a developed a tolerance for textures I once found repulsive. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but that new found tolerance threshold allows for small discoveries like this tartare coupled with the fresh, peppery arugula salad that accompanies it. The balance of salt and acidity, smooth and crunchy. One perfect bite.
But you know what would be nice? If you would be so kind as to grill it and bring it on a sassy little bun, and put some crispy bacon, lettuce and tomato, maybe a condiment or two on it and we’ll call it a day.
Le Bostaurus. It’s meat, done well.
61 Rue Principale,