Quebec Resto Roundup

Sarah and I recently traveled to Québec, where I gave a paper at a French history conference. I’ve included our dining notes below:

Thursday. The trip does not begin auspiciously.

Le Cochon Dingue: Dessicated luke-warm mussels served in an undesirably farinaceous “cream” sauce. Alarming.

Le Café St. Malo: Bourride–like fish soup was a good start. Sarah’s blood sausage and fries were delicious. My main was a disturbing garbage plate that included, in no particular order: veal sweetbreads, mushrooms, dill, fried shallots, cream, beets, cherry tomatoes, linguine, and zucchini. Just because I like to eat all of these things does not necessarily mean that I like to do so at the same time. During the walk back to the hotel, I seriously considered crawling under a parked car to die.

Friday. Meals improve dramatically.

Panache at the Auberge St.-Antoine: Decent beet salad to start, followed by an impeccable slab of roasted cod served with a parsley emulsion. Sides of excellent creamed Brussels sprouts and a seasonally-inappropriate-but-still-good asparagus risotto.

L’Echaudé: Six perfect oysters followed by a single giant game ravioli topped with wild mushrooms. Major success. Sarah’s pheasant must have been good, because it disappeared almost instantly.

Saturday. Our string of good luck continues.

L’Ardoise: Poached egg on a lamb Parmentier (usually mashed potatoes topping ground beef, but here shredded baby sheep). Sarah’s savory crepe looked pretty good, too.

Marie-Clarisse: Grilled squid with a Greek salad followed by terrine de foie gras and grilled duck breast. Sarah had six perfect oysters and the same quacker duo. The toasted brioche served with the foie gras was an excellent touch.

Chez Ashton: Immediately following the foie gras and in a fit of gluttony, Sarah and I purchased a postprandial bébé-sized poutine, which we devoured on the street, in the rain, like junkies.

Overall winners

Coffee: Québec’s weather is miserable this time of year, but excellent and restorative coffee can be found just about anywhere.

Oysters: Served in matched sizes, plump, and very fresh.

Fries: Cooked to order everywhere, often with tell-tale yellow of animal fat.

Beer: Solid Canadian and French wines are easy to find, but Quebecois microbreweries were a surprising hit.