Restaurant Toast: Report: Quebec City
Went to Restaurant Toast in Old Quebec. It was a group meal with a set menu, but you could choose from several choices, and most of the food we ate comes off the main menu. We had the small private room, a beautiful room stone walls and a view of the courtyard white with snow. Very intimate and warm atmosphere.
Amuse-bouche was a small mouthful of raw tuna served with a fennel salad, very well executed. We had a Chauvigne Domaine Richou , a crisp white from Anjou.
I chose the fois gras de la ferme du "Canard goulu" stuffed and cooke "sous vide" and served with a grilled piece of brioche. The fois gras had an ultrasmooth texture, and was delicious on one of the best brioche I've had in a long time. The preparation was simple but perfect with a Pacheranc du Vic-Bilh. I normally prefer fois gras poele (a large whole piece that has been pan-fried), but this was one of the best fois gras torchon I've had, and I would happily eat this instead of Fois gras poele! My partner had the mushroom crostini with buffalo mozzarella and emulsion of "jus de volaille truffe". It was delicate and elegant, but a touch salty.
Then we were served a soup of celei-rave (celeriac) with asparagus foam and pickled courgette (zucchini) The soup was a fabulous veloute, and I was impressed by how smooth they were able to make the soup. The asparagus foam was good but I am not generally very excited by foam. The pickled zucchini were a very original and tasty accent to the soup. The soup was one of the highlights of the evening. I know that sounds strange, but I do actually believe a good restaurant pays attention to the small details. I'm not at all saying that the rest of the meal was average. But it is nice to eat a meal where the soup is not just a throwaway course. I would go back to this restaurant for the soup alone, even with the foam thing, because this soup was unique and fabulous.
I then had the cote de veau grille (grilled veal chop) served with polenta, dried tomatoes and baby carrots. By the time I had gotten this course, I was thinking "I am too full to eat anything more" (my appetite has been a bit down lately). It is a testament to the skill of the preparation that I ate the whole plate! This was a huge veal chop. It was tender and delicious. The polenta was wonderfully creamy and the dried tomatoes were a flavourful but not overpowering accompaniment. The dish was very refined and balanced, and went very nicely with a Chateau de Monthelie 2003. My partner had a grilled tuna served with risotto, jamon serrano and basalmic vinegar, which he enjoyed, but I did not taste, as his portion was much smaller than my cote de veau.
For dessert I had "croustade de betteraves jaunes confites a l'ecorce d'orange avec caramel au chocolat et foam d'Amaretto". It was a very interesting dessert, and I chose it because it seemed quite original. It was essentially a crumble made out of yellow beet cubes, and the crumble topping had citrus zest in it. It was accompanied by a caramel sauce which was delicious but which didn't have enough chocolate flavour to merit calling it a "caramel au chocolat". The Amaretto foam was interesting. As I said, I am not a huge fan of foams, as I think they have been overdone and not done well by most restaurants. But the foam was served in a separate champagne flute. It was a substantial foam, almost mousse-like. When you taste it alone, it is very bitter, almost unpleasantly so. But when you match it with the rest of the dessert, it adds a haunting savoury almond note to the rest of the dessert, and the bitterness becomes muted and balances out the sweetness of the caramel. It was a very interesting sensory experience. The beets were surprisingly good as a dessert. The dessert was very original, and again, well-executed and well-balanced. I wouldn't crave this dessert, but it was an excellent experience, and it was fun to see how the whole dish came together. Partner had the chocolate cake filled with lemon cream and served with hazelnut ice cream, the cake had a very crispy, almost crispy crepe like exterior, and molten chocolate cake and lemon cream on the inside. Very elegant and delicious, but not as original as the beet dessert.
Overall, I would highly recommend this restaurant for a elegant evening out. They pay a lot of attention to details. They are masters of texture, all the food had a texture that I have rarely seen achieved by other kitchens. The execution of classic dishes is also masterful, but there are enough original ideas in the cuisine to keep you interested. Cost is approximately $60-70 per person for entree, main course and dessert before wine tax and tip. The wine list is well chosen, and the mark-up isn't bad (maybe a little over 2x retail cost) with many importations privees. I'll go again! Even if they keep th efoam thing going!
Oh that would be a good deal!!! But it seems they will only start doing lunches again in April of 2008, at least that is what they have on their website. (wish they'd kill that annoying music on the website...) Lunch is likely something they offer in summer tourist season. But I am surprised as I was there during carnival...
they have an amazing brunch lunch, very similar items but simplified witha great price. I live part time across the street (50 feet away) and I often hang out in their amazing courtyard. I brought the office for a week to stay at Priori hotel, we actually had all our meetings in the private dinner room.