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Aug 21, 2009 09:48 AM

Quebec trip report: L'Utopie and Toast!

Hey all! Just got back from 3 nights in Quebec and wanted to share our best experiences. Thanks to all the posters who recommended L'Utopie and Toast!

First night: L'Utopie. Very cool modern dining room. Cheery and enthusiastic server (who is also the sommelier). We chose the a la carte menu and opted for wines by the glass chosen by the sommelier for each course. He took great care of us! First courses--pigeon and snow crab. The pigeon was more exciting than the snow crab, but both were solid. Main courses--black bass and venison. Again, the red meat was more exciting than the fish (isn't it generally, though?). The fish actually needed salt, which we asked for and that fixed it. It was quite enjoyable when salted properly. The fish came with a side of truly excellent and simple risotto (the secret there was mascarpone; I asked). The venison was great and I'm sure I would have more to say about it but I just had a bite or two. THE CHEESE COURSE (not mentioned on the menus, but they come around) was astounding. Definitely the highlight. They offer four cheeses, all produced in Quebec (I love Quebecois pride in their produce, have noted this in Montreal as well), all astounding. My favorite was a goat milk cheddar, but all four were amazing. One of the best cheese plates I've ever had. Dessert, non remarkable chocolate thing, but I was still reeling from the wines. All of the pairings were pitch perfect. We had a fabulous time.

Last night: Toast! Toast is serving exclusively on their back patio right now. No service in the dining room. That's fine, because the patio is covered and quite romantic. Service at Toast! was competent, but the pacing of the whole meal was quite slow. I didn't check my watch to see how long we waited for bread, but it was a while. It wasn't clear if the lag was with the servers, the kitchen, or a bit of both. But anyway, we forgave them all because the food was awe inspiring. We chose the 4 course service. Started with the mushroom crostini with mozzarella and poached quail egg. Heavenly. Husband had lobster risotto, equally amazing. Main courses were duck and rabbit (with blood sausage, no less). Both were rich and decadent and stunning. The cheese course was a soft (actually liquidy) sheep's milk cheese for two. It is eaten like a cold fondue. Quite delicious. Desserts were excellent--cashew tart with salted crust for me, ice cream and chocolatey thing for him.

So, in summary, two great meals. Toast won our highest regard for food, but L'Utopie for cheese, wine, and service (their food had moments of greatness, but not as great as Toast). I would go to either again...and again... With wine pairings for each course at L'Utopie, and just some apertifs and a 50 dollar bottle of red at Toast, the total bills were each about the same, somewhere between 250 and 300 after tip.

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    1. Also went to Toast saturday and the experience was splendid. A few minutes after we were seated, a large group (3 tables, 24 guests) started next to us and they were loud. We asked to be moved farther as we wanted a quiet dinner and they kindly obliged. Our server was passionnate about his wine and had fun working while being professionnal. My rabbit croquette was to die for while my GF saled was really good ad quite large. I had the cassoulet. The beans were cooked al dente, the tomato sauce was really tasty and the pigglet was cooked perfectly. My GF beef was equally good and the veal cheek was melt-in-your-mouth smooth. The dessert were something else. Some sort of cold soufflé with riz-au-lait and a light brownie and a crispy dulce de leche tart with cashews and fleur de sel crumble that was really good. The pacing of the meal was perfect other than the fact tat we, too, waited a while to get bread. All in a all, a really good meal.