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Michelin *** in the province?


My wife and I are looking for a Michelin three star experience during our visit to the province of Québec. Hopefully the fact that there is no Michelin Guide Rouge will not be an obstacle, nor price, as we're willing to spend what the equivalent meal would cost in France. Location is also flexible, lets say within three hours drive of Montréal, to include Québec City. The right meal will hopefully be worth the journey, as they say.

I realize there may be too many options, so to help narrow it down: Lunch is better than dinner. A location in a city or with attached lodging is preferred. Luxe surroundings are nice, but creative food is better.

Your thoughts? Thank you.

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  1. As far as I know, there are no Michelin starred restaurant in Canada, either, 1, 2, or 3 stars.

    No restaurant in the Province will ever cost as much as what you can spend in France; except maybe when you add in the alcohol taxes...

    That does not mean there are no _very_ good restaurants.

    Europea, Toque! and La Chronique in Montreal.
    Laurie Raphel in Québec.
    L'Eau à la Bouche in St-Adèle.

    Have a look at the "Relais et Chateau" in the province.

    1227, rue de la Montagne, Montreal, QC H3G1Z2, CA

    L'Eau à la Bouche
    3003, Boulevard Ste- Adele, Sainte-Adele, QC J8B 2N6, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: Maximilien

      Thanks, we're looking for the best, in a style that may not exist, and I appreciate the pointers in response to my admittedly very broad request.

    2. if you are looking for creative food, the ever so popular Au Pied De Cochon might fit your bill. If you need recommendation, there are over 20 threads in this forum discussing about the in and outs of this restaurant.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mak2k

        APDC is the antithesis of michelin dining though

        1. re: mak2k

          Not at all what I was asking for. However, it was also exactly what I was looking for. ;) That is a definite must-do, thanks for pointing it out. Man cannot live in the rarefied air of pricey hotel restaurants forever. Thanks.

        2. In Quebec would suggest the Initiale or le St-Amour more than Laurie and Raphael which is a little bit outdated.

          3 Replies
          1. re: phyero

            Le Saint-Amour is a lovely resto, but it's *maybe* 1-star quality. That said, it's definitely where I most enjoyed eating in Quebec City and I have recommended it many times. It's got a beautiful dining room, the service was good, and the food was lovely. However, Michelin stars set the bar *really* high and I'm not sure that anywhere I've eaten in Quebec would consistently match the level of the Michelin-starred restaurant I've eaten at in Paris.

            Another of my favourites, this time in Montreal, is DNA. I highly recommend it, but again, I'm not sure that it would meet the Michelin guide standards for a star.

            1. re: eoj

              Agreed. Having eaten at several starred restaurants, none in Montreal would qualify for higher than 1 (maybe) or Bib Gourmand (again maybe). Though one could justifiably argue that the standards are different in each city they review.

              1. re: eoj

                Eoj, Thanks, I was not sure there was such a thing, and it is good to know so our expectations can be set appropriately.

            2. Hi wnissen,
              I don't know where you are, but it seems you are travelling to Montreal to enjoy some time together with the wife.
              Montreal certainly has much to offer, but as an alternative (or addition), maybe a drive north to the Laurentians (1-2 hours). This could be a mini get-away from the city, provide great scenery, and maybe a very memorable meal.
              I will admit that I rarely do the fine dining thing, and know little about Laurentian restaurants (maybe others can chime), but there are a few gems out there. I have not tried these places myself, but heard good things:
              Bistro à Champlain in Ste-Marguerite
              and l'Eau à la Bouche in St. Adele (also with hotel/spa)
              and maybe Les Zebres in Val David
              Depending on where you stay, a 2 day, 1 night trip outta the city with meals might cost the same as a Paris 3 star meal.

              1 Reply
              1. re: porker

                Dear Porker, We live an hour east of San Francisco. We spent our honeymoon in France, but for our anniversary we will fly into Montréal for a week. Once we're there, we plan to drive or take the train and see at least one other part of Québec. Part of the idea of throwing open our restaurant search to a large area is to choose where we'll travel. Even if there aren't restaurants « vaut le voyage » ("worth a journey") it will be a special experience. Thanks for your input.

              2. When are u travelling? There is the festival Montreal en lumiere coming up and they invite chefs from around the world to cook in several restaurants

                2 Replies
                1. re: isa1

                  We'll be there the week of 29 May. I think we avoided all the festivals, actually!

                  1. re: wnissen

                    Don't bet on it, as theres always a "festival" going on somewhere in Montreal at any given time. I think the beer festival is around the end of May. Also a "bike fest" (?), and Montreal Free Museum day sometime in there, MUTEK, International Music Competition, Festival Transamerica, Fringe Festival, and a Latin and Iberian Festival...
                    Not much in the way of food, though

                2. I feel that uber fine dining is not really done well in Montreal. It seems to me that it's not in high demand by the majority of locals. However, this city absolutely shines in the context of mid-priced and casual dining. The best matches for your request have already been mentioned but I would suggest embracing what the city does best and jumping headlong into the MANY reasonably priced bistro-like places.

                  1. I'm surprised to see that XO has not been mentioned yet. However, if it is indeed true that chef Michele Mercuri is on the way out, then I would wait to see what reviews are like in the coming months before making any reservation.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: explevi

                      In Quebec, there is also a restaurant called L'Initiale it is a Relais et Chateaux, didn't think of it but yes if I consider my foodie experiences in Paris and Monaco would give them a Michelin star either for the food and their service.

                      1. re: explevi

                        Thank you for that hint; they were on my list but I will have to wait for the replacement to get her bearings.

                        Restaurant La Chronique
                        99 Av Laurier W, Montreal, QC H2T2N6, CA

                        XO Le Restaurant
                        355, Saint -Jacques street, Montreal, QC H2Y 1N9, CA

                      2. Although I haven't been there myself yet, I recommend a relatively new restaurant, Toroli which is Japanese-French and has only eight tables. My spouse was recently hosting a London foodie for work and took him there. This gentleman has a well-known chef brother and has eaten in many Michelin starred restos. He loved it, said he needed to bring his brother there and even went back the next night when he was on his own. http://www.toroli.com/

                        421 Rue Marie Anne Est, Montreal, QC H2J 1Z9, CA

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: maviris

                          I think that Toroli, while being really good, is to casual for michelin stared experience, which, by my understanding, its what the OP is looking for.

                          421 Rue Marie Anne Est, Montreal, QC H2J 1Z9, CA

                        2. I second L'Initiale - IMO, one of the best (if not the best) in Quebec City - beautiful presentation of the cuisine and creative use of seasonal ingredients. They would definitely deserve a Michelin star or two if they were rated by the guide.

                          For Montreal, I would also suggest Le Piment Rouge. They undertook big changes last year - completely gutted and renovated the restaurant and brought in a new team of top Chinese chefs. Spectacular dining room in the old Windsor hotel facing the park, and a huge wine list. I read somewhere on the Chow site that they recruited chefs from Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons in Hong Kong, the only Michelin three star Chinese restaurant in the world. Fine Chinese cuisine and polished service at a level that I haven't seen at any other Chinese restaurant in North America.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: panpam

                            I need more reviews of the new Le Piment Rouge to be convinced they're producing great Chinese food. Le Devoir restaurant critic praising Le Piment Rouge recently, not sure I can trust him that he knows great Asian food.

                            1. re: BLM

                              not long ago I went to the related Mahjong whose caliber of chinese is no better than the Yangtze but at 3 times the price. Horrible ambience as well. I haven't been to Piment Rouge but by that experience, I wouldn't go. L'Orchidee de Chine is decent - I went to a reception there not long ago and thought the food was well prepared - but then again, it didn't hit the spot as would some of my favorite low key chinese places

                              1. re: celfie

                                I've eaten at Mahjongg a couple of times and liked it. Also do takeouts from Yangtze all the time. Both serve Chinese food, but not the same type of restaurant. Yangtze is a diner and take-out place that really needs a renovation, but decent food for takeout. Mahjongg is an classy place for a nice dinner. Yangtze doesn't serve or allow you to bring wine or alcohol, but Mahjongg has a good wine list and nice cocktails/martinis.

                                Celfie, your price comparison is not correct - Mahjongg is not 3 times the price. I have in front of me a take out menu from Yangtze and a bill from my last dinner at Mahjongg two weeks ago: Yangtze style Ruby Foo ribs 11.00 (Mahjongg's equivalent dry garlic ribs 14.50). Steamed rice Yangtze 2.25, Mahjongg 2.50 (though Yangzte's bowl I think is a little bigger), chicken dishes 8.00-9.00 at Yangtze and 11.00 and 15.00 at Mahjongg for the two I had, but Mahjongg's portions have more meat and less fillers. Cantonese lobster 26.00 (1.5 lbs) Yangtze, 42.00 (2lbs) Mahjongg. I don't mind paying more at Mahjongg for the more elegant ambience, and IMO higher quality food.

                            2. re: panpam

                              celfie, comparing Yangtze to Piment Rouge (by association to Mahjongg) is one of the strangest comparisons I've seen. It's like comparing Kojax (or the now defunct Picasso) to Milos. Yeah, there both Chinese, but they're as Greek as Kojax/Picasso and Milos are all Greek. Doesn't make sense to compare a local diner to a world-class fine dining restaurant especially when talking about Michelin stars.

                              I travel a lot overseas for work and my wife is from Beijing. We both worked in Hong Kong and Tokyo for five years before we moved to Boston (for her grad school) then to Montreal. We've tried many of the Michelin starred restaurants in HK (Tang Court, Fook Lam Moon, Lung King Heen, etc.) and Piment Rouge is in the same tier as those restaurants for food and/or service.

                              1. re: panpam

                                Are these all recent visits to Le Piment Rouge since the big makeover? I'm guessing celfie compared Yangtze to Mahjongg, as both restaurants mainly attract caucasians(it's not for serious Chinese food fans). If you say, Le Piment Rouge has done a serious change, upgrading their Chinese food then I'm open to it(just need more feedback from different people).

                                1. re: BLM


                                  I didn't think mahjongg was anything to write home about. The ambience was kind of trashy and the food not so good. I know Piment Rouge sells itself as a world class restaurant, but I don't know a single person who has been impressed. I haven't been but if they've actually updated, perhaps I will try it.

                                  1. re: celfie

                                    You tried any of the Ruby Foo's dishes at either Yangtze or Mahjongg? At Yangtze, they make their Ruby Foo's eggrolls & Ruby Foo's spareribs. While Mahjongg has a full menu of Ruby Foo's favourites, besides their own Chinese dishes.

                                    1. re: BLM


                                      i am ashamed to admit that i grew up with the yangtze ruby foo's dishes
                                      i can't remember specifically apart from the pu pu platter and spareribs what we had (had some drinks) but most of it was unmemorable, and in my opinion, not better than the yangtze. I thought this restaurant would be similar to the PF CHANG chain in the states - that would rule, but it's just hotel food. Perhaps if I still worked in the area, I'd give it another shot, but I'd never go out of my way for this restaurant - or yangtze for that matter.

                                      1. re: celfie

                                        celfie, saying PF Chang's serves great Chinese food is like saying Olive Garden and Macaroni Grill serves great Italian food. They are Americanized Chinese and Italian served in every mall across America. Are you serious?? Honestly, I don't even know why you are talking about PF Chang, Yangtze and Mahjongg in a discussion about Michelin starred restaurants.

                                        1. re: VinnyRW

                                          3 ounce shots bucko
                                          i know chinese food bro
                                          still love pf chang

                            3. Can you give an indication of where you've eaten already in the US and what kind of comparable restaurants you want

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: marblebag

                                Sure. Our favorite restaurant is Manresa, a ** south of San Francisco. Very, very creative food, tasting menu is $170. Not exactly super-luxe surroundings, it's more the service that makes the difference for us. The * Ubuntu in Napa is nearly its equal in food, though obviously the atmosphere is not up to the same standard. One Market (*) in San Francisco is very good, as is The Village Pub (*) south of San Francisco.

                                We've been to Taillevent in Paris a couple times, and it is an outstanding experience, but the food fell short the last time, in 2005, when it was still a ***. Blue Hill in NYC (*) was quite good, with more interesting food it could be **.

                                I guess my preferences are creative first, telepathic service second, luxe surroundings third, and view not even registering. Does that help?

                              2. Maybe the closest thing to Michelin stars, other than the Relais&Chateau distinctions would be the AAA 5 diamonds award.

                                They have 3 restaurants listed as 5 diamonds in Québec, Nuance and Toqué in Montreal, and Le Baccarra at Casino Lac Leamy in Gatineau

                                Both Nuance and Toqué are great restaurants, with top notch service. And Nuance also offers a really nice view of the city (last floor of Casino de Montréal, looking towards downtown)

                                1. I saw Nicole Kidman dining at Piment Rouge about 6 or 7 summers ago. While the owners catered my parents wedding and are friends of the family (we often go for large family dinners) I have to admit that if nothing else, in the past their meals could never have been considered either authentic nor innovative or especially creative. Always high quality and extremely tasty to be sure, but I've never been overly impressed. Unless drastic changes have occurred... I would never consider them as world class anything.

                                  Now I've eaten there once since the makeover and at the time their dining room was in transition and we sat across the hall/lobby from where the restaurant is normally situated. I don't know if the new chef had arrived yet but I have to admit that the food tasted exactly the same as always. It was good and I had an enjoyable dinner, but nothing special and never a place I would venture to on my own. Perhaps this is the fault of my non-adventurous family for ordering the usual cantonese staple dished, I guess there's only so mucht hat cane be done with those items. To their credit, they at least do them better than any other in the city... I'm curious to go back and try their more "creative" menu. It'll have to wait for the next family outing though.

                                  Does anyone recall that the same owners also opened up a "dine dining" asian restaurant int he Ruby Foos complex off Decarie? I don't know if it's still around but frankly, I'd be surprised! We ate their once and it was not good at all. The place was also empty. I don't know why anyone would assume that would be a good location for a place like that unless they are living in the 70s. I'm sort of anxious to go back with my family though so that I can order the degustation menu (while everyone else enjoys their hot & sour soup and spare ribs) and see what the buzz is all about.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: OliverB

                                    That's Bistro Mahjongg(mentioned above) at Ruby Foo's Hotel, off Decarie blvd. It's still there.

                                    1. re: OliverB

                                      Like OliverB, I've also eaten at Piment Rouge many times over the years. It's interesting to see them evolve and thrive over 30 years when so many restaurants fail in our city. Their longevity and seemingly perpetual ability to attract no-names like myself but also celebrities like Nicole Kidman (see OliverB's comments) and Prime Ministers (I've seen Chretien and Mulroney recently eat there) tell me that they must do something right because these celebrities have infinite choices of where to eat and have seen the world. Piment Rouge's willingness to renovate and do drastic changes (with all the risks associated with it) regularly tells me even more about their focus on wanting to improve the customer experience.

                                      BLM and celfie, does it really matter whether an ethnic restaurant attracts customers of its own ethnicity? In my opinion (and I have a Chinese wife and children who are half-Chinese, so don't call me racist), the reason that many recent Chinese immigrants flock to certain restaurants in Chinatown and elsewhere is because these restaurants provide excellent value - decent (not always the best food) for low prices. Kam Fung or Tong Por are good examples. This may sound judgmental, but many recent (Chinese or otherwise) immigrants cannot afford to eat (or they say that they are unwilling to "waste" the money to eat) at Piment Rouge or any other fine dining restaurant in town - some of my wife's Chinese aunts and uncles don't want to pay more than $10 a person for ANY meal at ANY restaurant, or else they cook at home!

                                      Here's another way to think about it. I think Ferreira, Milos and Jun-I are excellent Portuguese, Greek and Japanese restaurants respectively, but the last time I ate at these places I did not see Ferreira flooded with ethnic Portuguese people, nor did I see Milos crowded with lots of Greeks or Jun-I overrun with the local Japanese population. Yet, I still think these are great restaurants. And by the way, Milos serves sashimi (not "authentic" Greek), Jun-I has mayonnaise and milk cream (not "authentic" Japanese ingredients) in their menu items, and I've had wasabi-mashed potatoes and drank American wine (neither "authentic" Portuguese) at Ferreira. So what does it really matter how "authentic" a fine dining ethnic restaurant (like Piment Rouge) really is, so long as it's great food, good service and you love the decor and ambience for the right price? I really don't care, but maybe it's because I'm a hyphenated Irish-Italian-French-Canadian mutt!

                                      I've eaten at Piment Rouge several times since their big makeover in the summer/fall 2010. I don't think they have ironed out all the operating issues yet with all the changes with the new chefs and some new servers (had one slow service experience and one luke-warm food experience), but it's overall very good though not perfect. And yes, they still have their not "authentic" items on the menu like General Tao's Chicken on the menu, but like Oliver B says they do it the best in town. Not my cup of tea, but to each his own. But since their renovation, they've added a long list (25+ items) of new, innovative (call it more "authentic" if you must) items on their seasonal tasting menu that better suit my palate - my wife and I love fish and vegetables especially, though not exclusively. Some of my new and old favourites:

                                      - Chinese pumpkin soup with roasted walnuts and coriander - amazing layers of flavour

                                      - Grey sole house special - they debone the entire fish and quick saute the fish fillets with seasonal vegetables, then deep fry the bone rack and turn it into an edible crispy basket and place the tender fish fillets back in it, really beautiful presentation.

                                      - Peking duck - there is this ongoing debate about who does it best in town. Piment Rouge hands down does it best, with table-side service and all the traditional condiments. The duck is cooked perfectly and available anytime.

                                      - Rack of Lamb with Gobi desert spices - so tender that I eat this down to the bone! I don't know of any other Chinese restaurant in Montreal with a grill, and the spices are complex (we taste coriander seeds, peppercorns, anise, but not sure what else is in there).

                                      - Szechuan spicy peppercorn soup with shrimp - home made egg noodles in a lightly spicy fish broth with sauteed shrimp, crispy shallots and baby bok choy. I sometimes have this one only for lunch.

                                      I probably spend more than I should on eating out given my income level, but I spend at Piment Rouge because it's excellent food and I really don't care whether they have General Tao's Chicken on the menu or not in the same way I don't judge Milos, Jun-I or Ferreira for not having only "authentic" ethnic items on their menu.

                                      By the way, I recently saw the Chinese Ambassador to Canada at Piment Rouge hosting a big Chinese delegation at Piment Rouge. They told me that it's his favourite restaurant in Canada and Piment Rouge even sends chefs to the Chinese embassy in Ottawa for cooking dinners at official functions. That tells me a lot more about the quality of Piment Rouge's food and service than than the quantity of Asians/Chinese vs. Caucasians eating there.

                                      1. re: panpam

                                        the real question, is it "michelin star" worthy ?


                                        why should it be recomended to a visitor from San Francisco.?

                                        1. re: Maximilien

                                          I answered those questions before up above. If Michelin were to rate our province, I think Piment Rouge would deserve at least one star, maybe two - it's on par with some of the Michelin-starred Hong Kong Chinese restaurants from where Piment Rouge recruits their chefs. Not a perfect, flawless dining experience, but very good at Piment Rouge and certainly better than any other North American fine dining Chinese restaurant. San Franciso has a lot of great Chinese restaurants, but few if any that I would consider fine dining, except Tommy Toys (not at Piment Rouge's level of finesse) and Yank Sing (good Cantonese and dim sum, but not really fine dining).

                                          That being said, IMHO, I don't think any restaurants in Quebec rise to the Michelin three-star level, though some of the better restaurants that were mentioned (L'Initiale, Toque, Nuances, etc.) would deserve some some stars. I spend way too much on dining out when I travel, but have tried Lung King Heen (*** HK), Alain Ducasse (*** Paris), Per Se, Daniel and Masa (all three are *** New York), and Joel Robuchon (*** Las Vegas) and I don't see anything at that highest level here locally.

                                          1. re: panpam

                                            Not only do no Montreal restaurants deserve 3 star recognition but Toque is a one star restaurant at the very best and Piment Rouge certainly does not make the list. The Montreal restaurant scene does only one thing well: mid-scale bistro fare. For everything else, it pales in comparison to what the OP could find in SF.

                                    2. I live in the Laurentiens, wnissen, and would just add a little to porker's post. The Laurentiens is beautiful country, but never the less country. It is not the city or hotel style food. This said, Eau a la Bouche is very consistently very good food in a setting that would never betray the excellent cuisine from the outside (read surpirsingly non descript exterior). Bistro Champlain is one of, if not the best, wine cellar in North America with good service and good but not outstanding food in my experience. The setting is very nice and the art work is an added plus as the owner was a friend of a well known Quebecois artist, Riopel. I would suggest both of them if you were looking for a few romantic days in a more relaxed setting out of the city. Hope that helps.

                                      1. I had a fabulous meal at Toast in Quebec City. I think it might be a one star worthy place.

                                        1. I am surprised Toqué! is not mentioned more often.
                                          There is Graziella, of course Milo, and le Club Chasse et Peche. (And many more)

                                          One way or the other from L'Épicier to XO, there is awesome dining to be had in Montreal!

                                          San Francisco is hard to match I have to admit, I absolutely love going there and the surrounding Marin County Area! But we do really well for ourselves and more than well, Montreal is a gem when it comes to great dining.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Richelle

                                            But not anything worthy of three stars. If Michelin ever did Eastern Canada, I'd be hard-pressed to think of any restaurant in the province which might score two stars (nothing we have will hit 3), but we would get a lot of single stars including Toqué and La Chronique. Would I intentionally travel 4800 km to go eat at Toqué or La Chronique? No…

                                            We do inventive food, we can do fine dining, and we can sling butter, duck fat and foie gras with the best. Where Québec's dining scene falls down on is the level and consistency of service that one receives at a starred establishment. There's a big leap between 1 and 2 stars and I can't think of any establishment that`s willing to invest to both attain it and maintain it.

                                            The locals (that would be us) don't routinely support this type of dining; the evidence is that people flock to the bulk of new restaurant openings which are generally offering up a menu carrying house charcuterie, some reinvented comfort food and biodynamic/organic wines.

                                            For wnissen (the OP), the best may be to approach the trip as a way to explore the best of our regional cuisine, and never mind the Michelin.

                                            1. re: wattacetti

                                              I agree, I would go for regional before the stars.

                                              Good points!