I had my very first taste of Joverse a little over a month ago at Taste For Life, a mega Montreal benefit thrown by ICRF. That night Joverse featured their spicy brisket tacos and I fell in love at first bite. Their PR manager happened to be present with one of their amazing chefs and I wasted very little time setting up a tasting session at the restaurant. When I walked into the restaurant on St. Jacques near St. Laurent the first thing I noticed was the virtual nonexistence of freestanding tables and chairs. Though there is plenty of seating, it is mostly set around the circumference of the restaurant in various sizes of booths with more seating dotted around the central bar. We hauled up at the bar and got down to business right away. During our sitting we tried four dishes. Each dish came with an explanation by the restaurant’s proud owner, Julian Arbia. We started with the brisket tacos (we had to try them again, they were too good!) and followed them up with Karaage Chicken, which is a Japanese inspired chicken, served with chipotle mayonnaise and spicy dragon sauce. After the chicken we were served the Achiotte Tiradito (albacore tuna) served with an achiotte and habanero emulsion, leche de Tigre and avacado pieces. Lastly we were served a delicious burrata with organic grape tomatoes, olives, thai basil, a balsamic reduction and homemade croutons. All of the food we tried was fresh, full of flavour and sharply served on dishes that are meant to be put in the middle of the table for sharing. The restaurant is the type of place you drop in for a quick bite and before you know it you’ve stayed all night long. My visit to Joverse also featured an education on Mezcal (pictured above). Don’t know what it is? The resident Mezcal expert, Matt dropped six bottles of the delicious spirits directly in front of us not long after we had first arrived and taken our seats. He pour up samples of each one and as we were eating we were treated to his knowledge of the extremely hard to produce, high-class cousin of tequila. Running the gamut from smoky to floral and oaky, the taste is sophisticated and since it takes up to 20 years for Mezcal to be produced, it’s a taste to be savored.
My experience at Joverse was fun and very low key. Though the place gets very busy on the weekends it was nice to go in on a Tuesday and learn a little more about the workings of the restaurant. That night the restaurant’s patrons were mostly the post 9 to 5 crowd, out for a drink and a quick bite before heading home. Joverse seems like the type of place where anything can happen. You don’t necessarily need to make plans for later because once you sit down you might never want to leave.
Photo credit: David Major-Lapierre