We just got back from our 6 day visit to Quebec City...our first, but definitely not our last. The city and the music festival were amazing, but the food alone was worth the trip. Also, in reference to other questions we've seen posted on this board: We speak no French (though I always think that a S.V.P. or merci goes a long way), and it was not a problem at all. Most of the people we encountered were bilingual and very kind about our inability to speak the language. I didn't perceive any problems with service that seemed to be language related, and it certainly should not deter anyone from making a visit. Also, we had our 11 year old son with us. Granted, he is used to going to high end restaurants, and his behavior is very good in those situations, but again we didn't have any service problems related to having him with us. (Though I also think the city is very romantic, and I would love to return for a grown up trip too!)
Day 1: We arrived in time for dinner, but I hadn't made reservations in case our flights were delayed. Lucked out and got a table at Cafe Le Hobbit. The atmosphere and service were great. The food wasn't fancy, but very good. We particularly enjoyed the duck confit panini. Gelato at the place next door was excellent.
Day 2: We had breakfast at Casse Crepes (tried to go to Le Billig, but it wasn't open). Crepes were good, though I wouldn't say great. I wouldn't feel like I had to go back there again. We had lunch at Lapin Saute, which was GREAT. Highly recommend the rabbit pie. Portions are large though...we easily could have shared. That night we went to Panache for dinner. Great atmosphere and service and the food was outstanding. I would have loved to have tried the signature menu, but we were (unfortunately) still a little full from lunch. Nevertheless, the food was amazing and would highly recommend.
Day 3: We got croissants at Palliards. I recognize that this is a little bit of a touristy place, but still much better than anything I can get at home. For lunch we got carry out from Restaurant Leban right near St Jean gate. Not the best arabic ever, but still very good, very reasonably priced, and we wanted to get something we could eat while sitting on the city walls listening to music. I wouldn't go out of my way to eat here, but a good option under the circumstances. Dinner was at L'echaude. We sat outside on the terrace. I would say both the food and the service were good, but not great.
Day 4: For breakfast we had bread, pates, and strawberries that we had picked up at the farmers market. Yummy. It's worth a trip to the market just to see what they have. Prices were very reasonable. We then biked up to Montmorency Falls, so ate lunch at the Manor there. Given its location, I expected the food to be horrible and touristy, but the sandwich I got (pork bbq marinated in maple syrup) was quite tasty. Pleasant surprise. For dinner, we went to Patriarche. This was, hands down, the best meal of the trip. Everything is served in trios (which I was afraid might feel gimmicky but wasn't at all), so after ordering appetizer, main course, and dessert I had tried nine dishes there. I got the foie gras first course, the wild game main course, and strawberry dessert trio. Every one of them was spot on and complemented the others. Service here was outstanding...very friendly without being intrusive. It's pricy, but worth every penny.
Day 5: Again had breakfast items that we had picked up at the market, then caught an early ferry over to Levis to go biking. We ate lunch in Levis at the Fabrique du smoked meat. I had the lunch special of poutine with smoked meat. Very filling and tasty after a morning of bike riding and hiking up the hill to get to the town. And we HAD to try the chocolate dipped ice cream at Les Chocolats Favoris (very good, and mercifully available in small sizes). I don't think I would make the trip to Levis just for the food alone, but the ferry ride and views are spectacular. It's good to know there are decent dining options while you are there. Dinner was at Le Saint Amour. I was fully expecting to love this restaurant, so maybe it suffered from my expectations, but I was disappointed. The atmosphere wasn't as nice as either Patriarche or Panache, and the service wasn't great either. (Things like having to ask multiple times for my son's drink, not bringing soup spoons with the soup). Not rude, but not very attentive either. The food was a little spotty. My husband and son both got the lamb crusted with pistachios and hazelnuts with a rosemary/honey sauce which was cooked perfectly and very delicious. I got scallops which were just ok. Not bad, but I've had better for half the price. Again, maybe my expectations had been too high, but it felt to me like a restaurant past its prime.
Day 6: Breakfast at Lapin Saute. We all got the eggs fried in maple syrup. It turned out to be a huge amount of food because it was also served with a crepe, fruit, potatoes, sausage, ham, and bacon, toast with homemade jam. Very, very good, but it was a skip lunch kind of day. We did pick up a little snack later on at JA Moisan on Rue St Jean (worth a stop to see all the different pates and cheeses here) and a few sweets at Chocomusee Erico. Dinner was at Bistro du Cap, which we loved. This is a tiny little restaurant, but we were able to sit outside. I had a delicious buffalo filled ravioli with wild mushroom sauce and a delicious blueberry creme brulee.
The places I wouldn't miss:
High end: Patriarche and Panache (though if I were choosing between these two, I would pick Patriarche)
Bistros: Lapin Saute, Bistro du cap, Cafe Le Hobbit
Definitely worth visiting the farmer's market and JA Moisan.
We wanted to go to: Cafe du Clocher Penche, Les Bossus, and La Pain Beni, but ran out of time. We'll have to try those next time.
What a great, great city. We loved the history, the music, and the food. People were very friendly, and the city felt very clean and safe. I can't wait to go back!
620 Rue Saint-Joseph E, Quebec, QC G1K3B9, CA
526 Rue Saint-Jean, Quebec, QC G1R1P6, CA
73 Rue Du Sault-Au-Matelot, Quebec, QC G1K3Y9, CA
Le Saint Amour
48 Rue Sainte Ursule Vieux, Quebec, QC G1R, CA