This is the second post in a series of dispatches from my recent trip to Quebec City and surrounds. The first was my two day trip to Charlevoix, specifically Baie St Paul. Today, I am focussing on my best eats and drinks in Quebec City itself. Enjoy!
Quebec is a city that is dear to my heart, there is something a little magical about it. The architecture is beautiful, a walk around Quebec City feels part fairytale, especially as you ascend the ancient funicular to the old town below. Steep pitched zinc roofs top chateau like houses, painted red, blue or proud in silver, sometimes copper turned green with age and the rain. It is just the right size, big enough to have lots of options and small enough to walk around. Quebec City has music, art and a vibrant Bohemian culture. There is also an excellent food and wine culture here.
Quebec City has a proud francophone heritage, and the food is certainly influenced by this but not defined solely by it. Quebec is the largest producer of maple syrup in the world, and even though summers are short and it can get very cold, there is a new culture of wine making there with respected winemakers setting up. I have heard excellent things about natural wine maker Pinard et Filles which I suggest you seek out (and let me know how it is!).
In terms of drinks beyond wine, ice wine and ice cider are what you should look for here, as well as the local gins, including a new gin distilled from 4 types of local wild mushrooms, Radoune. Layered on top of all of this is an emerging and exciting contemporary food culture excited by local ingredients and everything wild from Quebec, an enormous province. I endeavoured to cover most of it with this list, and I know you will really enjoy it.
Where to Eat and Drink in Quebec City
Le Clocher Penché Bistrot
Known for its smart wine list as well as the contemporary plates Le Clocher Penché Bistrot feels every inch the French bistro but it is in downtown Quebec. The menu is influenced by their excellent suppliers and whatever is seasonal. I started with a spritely and gorgeous fiddlehead and courgette salad. Salmon tartare with grapefruit emulsion pierced through my jet lag fug (it was the first place that I ate at off the plane). I loved the piglet cheek from Turlo Farm. Seal tataki is available for those that want to try it. Good cocktails too, and brunch looks worth investigating.
Légende par la Tanière
At Légende par la Tanière everything is local, as far as they can take it. Creativity is encouraged both at the bar and in the kitchen and the results are sublime. Described as a tribute to their ancestors and the land, Légende par la Tanière is far from old fashioned. The tasting menu is a very reasonable $79 and cocktails and / or wine can be matched. We started with exceptional oysters and a terrific sea buckthorn cocktail, a smart take on a negroni with campari, sea buckthorn and local birch soda. A wonderful dish of asparagus with duck jerky, mustard and tiny perfect onion rings followed this. Then bison, cod and lobster. There is an air of excitement and innovation here. I would highly recommend a visit.
Monastère des Augustines
A hotel in a former convent, the Monastère des Augustines has a rich history in healing and healthfulness in a beautiful home. Originally the beautiful large building was home to the Augustinian sisters who relocated from France over 400 years ago with chests of healing herbs, before establishing the first hospital north of Mexico. It is one of the most important sites in old Quebec and is part museum, mostly hotel and wellness centre complete with restaurants. The Monastère is a non profit organisation with charitable status carrying on that original mission of improving health and wellness. Many come here to relax, prices are very affordable and breakfast is in silence.
Central to this wellness offering is their restaurant. The chef works with local producers to source as much locally as possible, and some is grown on site, including their lovely cabinet of micro leaves which stands centre stage as you arrive. They are careful to stress that they are not judgemental, that they do serve wine and meat, but all food is fresh and well sourced with a focus on organic and biodynamic and a nutritionist consults on the menu. As well as alcoholic drinks there are are freshly prepared juices and smoothies and herbal infusions. I popped in for lunch and only regretted that I had not time to stay there and do a mini retreat. It will definitely be something I look to do in the future. I love to eat when I travel but I miss my home kitchen, and it is lovely to have a light and healthy option to stagger out those tasting menus with.
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
The Fairmont is located in Old Quebec looking over it. An absolutely stunning building, it warrants a visit for the architecture alone. Every summer an artwork is displayed outside, this year one of Dali’s amazing elephants, L’Elephant Spatial. What a joy. I dined in Restaurant Champlain. Greeted by an enormous stuffed polar bear on arrival, the restaurant overlooks the boardwalk and the St Lawrence river outside, and it is worth booking a seat at the window. Well executed dishes with big flavours are on offer here, with a nod to tradition without being tied to it. As is a common theme in Quebec City, ingredients are hyper local. Snow crab with pork feet carpaccio and sherry jelly was sublime. The suckling pig terrine with easter ham jelly, rose hip ketchup and beet salad pinched my heart a little, in the best way. I had excellent Canadian wine matches from Niagara and the Okanagan which the sommelier happily chose for me on request. Lovely.
Brasserie Artisanale La Korrigane
La Korrigane is a female led artisanal brewery serving fresh beer brewed on site. I loved the labrador tea beer. Labrador tea is a fragrant low growing bush used to make a medicinal tea by the First Nations Canadians. It is gorgeous in this beer. I hadn’t enough stomach space for a full meal but I loved the pickled quail eggs and spiced pork jerky.
Le Renard et la Chouette restaurant
Sister restaurant of acclaimed restaurant Le Pied Bleu, Le Renard at La Chouette is a little more laid back but no less excellent. Food is classic with a twist, it felt like a modern Lyonnaise bouchon to me. I had radishes with remoulade and house cured sausage to start, then parsnip with duck ham, mustard sauce and almonds. I finished with a divine ham served with sabayon made with shiitake oil in place of butter. There is a great drinks list with lots of interesting natural wines.
Le Panache at Auberge Saint-Antoine
My last night in Quebec was at Le Panache at Auberge Saint-Antoine. An upmarket restaurant in a beautiful 5 star hotel, I also spent the night here and would highly recommend it. The restaurant is gorgeous, it feels almost like an Alpine chateau in old Quebec. In terms of food, as I had come to expect from my previous restaurant experiences, the food was contemporary and very well executed and the source Quebecois. This felt like one of the more traditional restaurants of my trip but with a lightness of touch. There is an excellent wine list with more great wine matching from the sommelier. Recommended.
I travelled to Canada with Canadian Affair, Air Transat and Destination Canada as part of the Canada City Plus project. If you are inspired to visit, you can fly to Canada from London Gatwick with Canadian Affair for as little as £346 to Toronto and Montreal, £407 to Vancouver and £434 to Calgary, or book a Montreal and Quebec City city break with Canadian Affair – LINK. For more inspiration, check out Canada – Keep Exploring, and in particular, their Quebec City content which lists Quebec City’s festivals and events, Quebec City itineraries for you to use when you visit, and a very useful walking tour of Quebec’s Old City.