Montreal AND Quebec City
- Alex Ray
Howdy! I will be traveling to Montreal and Quebec City
in September and would like some restaurant
recommendations in the middle price range. I already
read the recommendations posted a few days ago for
Montreal. I'm looking for either second opinions on
Montreal places or any opinions at all for Quebec City.
In Quebec city, we have very much enjoyed both the
food and the atmosphere of Aux Anciens Canadiens,
which should have felt touristy but didn't at all.
They have an excellent prix fixe lunch deal which, I
believe, goes on all the way to 6pm. Very traditional
french canadian food, and an especially delicious
maple sugar pie.
Le St.-Amour at 48 rue Ste.Ursule looked good and is
highly regarded, and friends I recommended it to found
it excellent.Apsara, a southeast asian restaurant run
by a Cambodian nearly is well-regarded locally and
included in Where to Eat In Canada.
We drove past several times, but unfortunately (we had
kids in tow and were camping) didn't visit Auberge La
Camarine on Boulevard Ste Anne in Beaupre, 20 minutes
or so east of Quebec City, which is one of the most
highly regarded restaurants in all of French Canada.
A drive in the direction of Beaupre, which is itself
of interest for its massive pilgrimage basilica of Ste
Anne, has its interests, and if you travel beyond
there, to the east of Quebec just an hour or so more
of driving takes you into the lovely Charlevoix
region, with glorious scenery both wild and tame
(complete with painters with their easels) and Le
Mouton Noir in Baie St. Paul and other good
restaurants. Very few anglophile tourists penetrate
this far into quebec, but the guest book at that
pleasant, riverside restaurant (also with a good lunch
deal) recorded many visitors from france, guadeloupe
and other french-speaking zones.
In Quebec, a trip to the supermarket can produce a
rewarding meal, with excellent pates, meat pies
(tortiere), apple and berry pies of surprisingly
decent quality, little pastries with raspberry
filling, local and french cheeses (including Oka and
the migneron de Charlevois, both soft ripened cheeses,
and very good), Canadian fruit, including local
"bluets", and often pretty good french bread from the
For further recommendations in Quebec and Montreal,
look at a recent copy of Where to Eat in Canada, an
excellent guidebook which I have recommended over and
over on this site, and at the Quebec provincial dining
guide (most frequently available only in french)
produced by their liquor authority and available from
provincial tourism offices. Both are very good for
guiding you to excellent places in different price
ranges which are esteemed by locals, but less known to
the US guidebook writers, which, for Canada, do a
particularly terrible and superficial job.
re: jen kalb
While I wish that I could remember names, it's been ten years since I was in La Ville du Quebec (Quebec City), but I can tell you that that la vie gastronomique is superior there to any other place that I have ever been on the face of the earth. I would dearly love the chance to go back: To wit -- the banquet food in the hotel where I stayed was better than that served in many restaurants in the states. That should give you some indication of the standards. (I did, however, gather that Aux Anciens Canadiens catered more to tourists than to gastronomes, and suggest that you might want to look elsewhere).
As to specifics: There are innumerable restaurants off the Grand Allee -- in the area of the Loew's Hotel (assuming that it still is such) -- that are absolutely superb. I had venison that I can still taste, and the quail that I had the second night was one of the most memorable meals of my life. My wife also had a tomato soup -- made from green tomatoes and served cold -- that was exquisite. From the reports that I got from others in the group, the food elsewhere was equally remarkable.
Unfortunately, I cannot offer anything about Montreal. (Hull -- across the river from Ottawa, is another story -- if you are going there, let me know, and I will make appropriate suggestions).
Quebec City is perhaps the only European City in North
America. The Old City (inside the wall) is mostly
touristic rather than real-life at this point, but it
is still enormously charming and atmospheric - stay
inside the wall if you can, there are many small,
pension-like hotels in old houses behind
Chat.Frontenac, on streets like Ave. Ste. Genevieve
which to my mind are infinitely superior to the larger
hotels lining the grand allee (that is the best way to
get into the Old City however, through the St. Louis
Gate.)I found the Grand Allee Scene, with its scads of
tourists, tour busses and sidewalk cafes offputting.
I will defend Aux Anciens Canadiens to the end. It
does have a touristic appeal, being in an old house,
with waitresses dressed traditionally, but the
building and decorations are real, not fake, and the
food is real, interesting French Canadian food of a
high quality, not French French, and not at all fakey.
It is also a mellow, comfortable place for a long
lunch or dinner, a welcome respite from the touristic
In addition to the places I mentioned previously, my
WTIIC guidebook (a little out of date) also mentions
for Quebec City Laurie Raphael, in the Vieux Port, Le
Continental, Le Melrose (in Sillery), Primavera,
Michelangelo and Le Taniere(both in Ste. Foy).
Other good choices for good cuisine and pleasant
atmosphere in the province include Le Mouton Noir (a ,
in Baie St. Paul, Auberge Hatley (much recommended as
a lunchtime stop (or overnight, if you can afford it),
their lunch is also a wonderful three-course deal, in
beautiful surroundings, overlooking the lake in North
Hatley - a convenient stop if you are heading north or
south via I-91 in Vermont, indeed a strong reason to
go that way), Gite du Mont Albert in the Gaspesie (a
wonderful place to stay by the way, in a comfortable
chalet with a kitchen, and fireplace, with delicious
french cuisine, including game dishes, and great
hiking and scenery in the Chic-Choc mountains, all at
a reasonable price). Auberge du Fort Prevel near Perce
is particularly recommendable to sports fanatics(we're
not) , with a beautiful site in an area with many
natural attractions, its own lovely golf course and
quite good French food in the restaurant.
There are many other good places recommended in Where
to Eat in Canada, as well as in the excellent
apamphlet publication called "repertoire de Bonnes
tables au Quebec" [put out by the Societe des Alcools
du Quebec and available, from Quebec Tourism]. If you
haven't already, obtain their detailed Tourist Guides
to the province's major cities and touristic regions;
food is taken very seriously throughout Quebec, and
many of these guides (they differ somewhat from region
to region in contents) will indicates restaurants with
characterist regional cooking or those using local
products, agro-tourism sites, including wineries,
cheesemakers and specialty farms).
Finally, I can't resist suggesting your stopping and
having a pancake or "crepes" breakfast, served with
maple syrup, sometime during your trip, or giving a
try to poutine. Both are great favorites and readily
available at roadside places.
Have a great trip, and tell us what you find!
re: jen kalb
Thank you so much for your thoughtful recommendations -
you really went above and beyond the call of duty!! Aux
Anciens Canadiens sounds interesting - I really have
no idea whatsoever what qualifies as "French Canadian,"
so that might be a good introduction. As far as
accommodations (seeing as you mentioned it), we'll be
staying in an old converted monastary (?) from the
early 1800s called Apartments B&B, located inside the
wall. Your description makes it all sound so romantic
and enticing - can't wait to get there! Thanks once
again for everything!
re: Alex Ray
Fr. Canadian cooking has its distinct regional
specialties, of which 3 of the most commonly found are
tourtiere (meat pie with spices) and yellow pea soup,
and the maple sugar or syrup pie (tart au sucre or
sirop d'erable). They also like very sweet baked beans
(feves) for breakfast and at other times.
I forgot to suggest that if you get tired of the
touristic area of Quebec, you can follow the main
artery called Rue St. Jean out through the Port St
Jean and into the St. Jean Baptiste neighborhood.
Ignoring a couple of ugly commercial blocks you come
soon into a somewhat bohemian and charming mixed
residential and commercial community with some
interesting shops and, perhaps places to eat. We would
have liked to have explored this area further. It was
wonderfully devoid of tour groups and gift shops.
re: jen kalb
Re recommendations from Where to Eat in Canada (which
is an excellent guidebook, I agree) posted by Jen Kalb:
Had a very good dinner at Laurie Raphael 2 yrs ago,
innovative cooking, delicious fish, particularly skate
- and an interesting atmosphere - a window onto mid-
to haute-Quebecois bourgeoisie. Very welcoming staff,
also. Prices not bad considering the level of the
cooking and the general experience.
Used to go quite often to Serge Bruyere when QC was a
relatively convenient refuge from 2 yrs enforced exile
in far northern NY (Potsdam...helas). When he was
alive it was great - the best French restaurant in the
US in my experience up to that point - but went back
on the same trip 2 yrs ago and it was ho-hum at best.
Anybody been there since?
Aux Anciens Canadiens is agreeable and less hokey than
one would expect.