First off, I just wanted to say thank you for the excellent reviews and recommendations in the Quebec board. Although I would've loved to have visited and planned all the meals at places Chowhounds recommended, we ended up having 2 "proper" lunches and 3 "proper" dinners. Please bear with me as I am a newbie in describing the food, and I suppose taste is somewhat subjective, so others may disagree with my assessment.
Treading up from Toronto, the 8 hours drive totally seems to worth it. We stayed out of Old Town, at Chateau Bonne Entente, beautiful place (had the Urbania room), which has a complementary breakfast and "cocktail" hour. (More about that below)
We arrived around 7:00 pm and did not feel like heading out, so we had our first dinner at their "MC Lounge". (Note: If you plan to visit in winter, it seems like most good restaurants recommended here are closed Monday night). We originally wanted to try the Monte Cristo restaurant, but was out of luck as it was closed on Monday (day we arrived).
Day 1 Dinner MC Lounge:
We arrived shortly after settling into our hotel room, and was directed to a table quickly. Staffs were friendly and very efficient. After a bit of time figuring what to order, we ended up ordering the "garlic snail", french onion soup, miso marinated salmon steak and roasted halibut. We were a bit adventurious and curios about the blue cheese macaroni, so we also ordered this side.
I did not try the snail, but was told it tasted just like the ones out of the can, so it was not something very interesting, although the presentation is quite good. The Onion soup is one of the better ones I've had in recent years. Cheese is plentiful, the bread they used for the soup is a walnut bread, which gives it a bit of a nutty flavour, the soup itself not very salty and is very aromatic. The onion is very soft and I love the texture. I thoroughly enjoyed my soup.
The side arrived after our appitzers arrived; the cheese is very strong, and the texture is, in our opinion, perfect. We enjoyed it very much but it was very filling.
The main courses we ordered are both fish (salmon and halibut). The halibut is cooked very well, but the salmon seems to be a bit overcooked (it isn't completely pink and flaky, it just seems more cooked than we thought they would do). Both fish are fairly moist, although the miso mariate seems a bit weak, as we could not taste the miso.
Dessert was a chocolate trio, brownie, macarone, chocolate mousse and chocolate. Very smooth and tasty. Portion is quite generous.
We retired for the night after the dinner, and woke up just to try the complimentary breakfast that is included. Unfortunately, the time it opens is limited to 7:00 am to 9:00 am, a bit too early if we were to sleep in, so we made an effort to wake up for it.
Day 2 Complimentary Breakfast:- at hotel
The breakfast is served between 7 and 9, which is a "buffet" type deal, with K-cup coffee, tea, and a good variety of self-serve drinks, milk. Food provided are continental breakfast type food - boiled eggs, pastries, fruits, cold ham, cheese, cereals...etc. It is nothing special, although the partries were pretty decent, which ran out way before the end time of 9:00 am.
Day 2 Lunch: - Le Billig
Knowing my gf loves crepes (I have to admit, I do as well), I picked Le Billig after reading various reviews. We arrived at 12, and we are glad we did. Shortly after we were seated, they had to turn people away as the entire place is seated (quite small). We ordered, based on the server's recommendation, the potato/bacon crepe (savory), and the apple caramel crepe (sweet). I added duck confit to the potato crepe as well. It took awhile for them to arrive, since there is only one staff plus the chef. We were both very hungry as the aroma fills the entire restaurant. When they arrived, we were glad we came here. The crepes were FANTASTIC. The duck is a bit salty, but overall, the combination of the potato, bacon and the duck tastes great, and the apples were cooked well and the crepe itself is heavenly. Crispy around the edges and soft all around. Not soggy at all and the thickness is perfect. The side salad for the savoury crepe is also excellent, very fresh, and perfectly dressed.
Price is also excellent compare to what is available in Toronto (Richtree and Marche, as well as another crepe place in Toronto)
Day 2 Complementary Cocktail: at hotel
The hotel also offers a complementary cocktail time between 5 to 7 pm. Although we have dinner at 6:00 pm, we still couldn't resist trying this at least once. We arrived at the separate lounge and find that it is also a buffet style snack bar which offered: baked chips with guacamole, shrimp cocktail, olives, fruits, wraps, smoked salmon. The only thing that I thought was good is the home-baked chips with the guacamole. Shrimp cocktail is a bit small, and seems thawed; they just don't have the "crunch". Wrap was dry, and the chicken is also dry. Too bad we can't take much alcohol, as they do have a bartender serving cocktails for the duration of the cocktail time.
Day 2 Dinner: - Restaurant Panache
It was a very tough desicion to pick Panache as there were I believe two other restaurants that receives very postive reviews often in this board. I checked and browsed all the available menus from the restaurants recommended here in CH. Finally decided on Panache as it was easy for me to make reservation through OpenTable.
Due to the frequent one-way streets and a confused GPS, we were actually late for our dinner at 6:00 pm. Fortunately, the hotel it is attached to does offer valet parking, and we were still one of the first guests inside their restaurant. We were seated by the front windows overlooking the harbour in the upper level. Decoration is a mix of old style and contemporary decor. It is very interesting, and quite comfortable. We had ordered the tasting menu here, and in my opinion, great value. Service is quite good, and the servers did take their time to explain each dish in english to us, since our French is, let's say, very poor.
First dish was a foie gras terraine with brioche. Very generous portion, very tasty.
Second dish was a butter poached lobster claw with butternut squash ravioli. Lobster is perfectly cooked, and the ravioli is very tasty.
Third dish is venison two-ways: grilled and braised. We find the braised venison a bit dry, and way too sweet; although the grilled venison is cooked to perfection. A bit chewy, but still quite good.
Fourth dish is a apple+celery topped pastry served with a cheese mousse. The cheese mousse is very strong, very flavourful. It goes very well with the cripsy apple, celery and the very well baked pastry.
Fifth dish is sort of a cleansing dish: chopped strawberry in riesling with shaved ice. Very refreshing, the taste is fantastic.
Last dish is the dessert, also a chocolate brownie. Very well executed, very chocolaty. It is much better then the one we had at MC Lounge.
Day 3 Dinner:- Restaurant Le Saint Amour
This is one restaurant that I was unsure about as the review is VERY mixed in the CH board. The main reason why I picked this over the others is because their advertisement in the Quebec tourism booklet claims they "specializes in foie gras" - another of my gf's favourite.
We arrived on time, but it seems that they were not ready for any guests, as we were waiting for someone for their valet service. I actually had to walk in and ask if they do offer a valet service, which I thought is somewhat strange. Again, since we are early, we are the first guests seated. The decoration for the restaurant is quite interesting to us; I remember someone mentioned their room is dated and quite tacky, and I somewhat agree; although, in my opinion, it's not as bad as I thought it would be. The soaring ceiling is quite impressive in my opinion.
It did take us a bit of time to study the menu and order our food. The server is a bit indifferent as he was also serving a group of 3 who had already had quite a bit to drink prior to us ordering our food.
"Fantasy" - which consisted of foie gras prepared 7 ways (it was really 4 ways, as 3 were, I believe almost like terrine, there were a creme brulee, macarone, a foie gras "ball" and other variety of terrine looking type foie gras served in various shapes. Presentation is excellent, and looks great. Taste wise, my gf loved it, as she also likes foie gras very much.
Pan-seared foie gras - it was a bit disappointed for me, since it was not "melt in my mouth", and supposedly a bit overcooked to my liking; although the sauce that accompanies the foie gras is very good, as it does help soften the "richness" of the dish.
Squab - quite good, prepared well. The wild boar bacon flavours the squab quite well.
Hawaiian Tuna wrapped with eggplant, seared - suprisingly, the tuna does not really have any flavour to it, and wrapping it with eggplant doesn't really do much to the dish either. The sauce did help to give the tuna more flavour, and the black lentils are very good. I enjoyed the lentils very much.
Blueberry creme brulee - it was way too sweet to our taste; although the flambe marshmallow is a very nice touch.
All in all, it is not spectacular, but the food is prepared well; The bill for our meal here actually was more than our previous night.
Day 4 Lunch:- Le Billig
Yes, we actually went back for more! I originally planned to drive back to Toronto after breakfast, but the lunch at Le Billig got both of us smittened and yearning to go back. So we delayed our departure and returned for lunch! This time, we ordered the Egg Benedictine, their signature duck crepe and a chocolate banana crepe.
The Egg benedict is cooked very well, the hollandaise sauce is tasty; although I find the ham (or was it a pemeal bacon? I already forgot, but I was a bit disappointed at the "meat".
Their signature duck crepe is excellent, the caramelized onion and cheese compliments the dish very very well. It is very enjoyable.
The dessert - dark chocolate banana crepe is excellent, not very sweet, and of course, we enjoyed the sweet crepe very very much.
All in all, we enjoyed our "food tour" very much (I think it was, more than a city tour), as we have hard some great food in Quebec City, and would love to return again for more crepe, and fine dining at other restaurants.
Hope this isn't too long to read.
Le Saint Amour
48 Rue Ste-Ursule, Quebec, QC G1R, CA
526 Rue Saint-Jean, Quebec, QC G1R1P6, CA
10, rue Saint-Antoine, Quebec, QC G1K 4C9, CA
3400 Chemin Sainte Foy, QC G1X 1S6, CA