Quebec City and Montreal Dining ?
I'm looking for a little guidance on where to eat while in QC and Montreal. I'm looking for unique experiences...i hear the crepes are wonderful, I've read about Canadian cuisine (not quite sure what that is), and maybe a poutine. If you have a great place in either city for any (or all) of those types of food, please let me know! Also, if you have tips on what to see or do (I'll be there from 5/23- 5/27) please advise!
The same names usually come up when discussing fine dining in Quebec City: L'Utopie, Le Panache, Le Toast!, Laurie Raphael, Le St-Amour. They all gravitate around French/Terroir cuisine with their own whimiscal touches. My personal favorite is the Panache (located inside the very stylish Auberge Saint-Antoine). I've also heard rave reviews of L'Utopie on St-Joseph (part of the hipster Nouveau St-Roch neighborhood) but I've yet to go there (my regular dining partners are too set in their ways, alas). I've been to the Laurie Raphael recently and while everyone will tell you it's a great experience (and my first visit way back when certainly was), I couldn't help but be disappointed. I jokingly tossed out "He must've taken a vacation in Spain" when service came around to serve us an eggyolk-like spoon made of orange juice and the hostess quickly pointed out "Yes, he visited El Bulli". I tried to feign surprise but I'm not that good of an actor. Quebec cuisine can stand on its own feet, frankly. Le Toast! is our next destination, so hopefully it also lives up to the hype (the executive chef trained under Keller at the French Laundry).
The St-Amour is a sentimental favorite but is getting a bit long on the tooth. It is still top-shelf cuisine, though.
Mind you, all of these destinations are somewhat expensive (100-200+ CDN per for the "menu gastronomique", including service) but once every few months is worth it. You only live once. ;)
Another thing of note in regards to Quebec City establishments: The sushi is surprinsingly good. The Eddie Sushi Bar (Metropolitain) is our personal favorite, but the Enzo is a nice change of pace for some more "exploratory" versions of sushi. Genki is decent but I hate the layout and the sushi bar seems a bit forgotten compared to the yakitori tables. My job calls me to travel a lot and sushi is one of my mainstays on the road. I've visited the best the West Coast has to offer (from Vancouver down to San Diego) and I must say I'm really surprised it stands up so well to the more cosmopolitan cities.
I visited Montreal in April with friends. Le Club Chasse et Peche was our favorite experience all around; we had a grand lunch at Bonaparte in Old Montreal one afternoon, too (also a good value for a rather large midday meal). I also recommend Le Premiere Moisson on Rue Sherbrooke for great morning pastries.
We went to Au Pied de Cochon and had way too much food, though a charming dining experience, sitting in the open-air front of the restaurant. Order appetizers or be ready to face a huge and very rich entree!