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Need additional dinner option for Quebec City end of March

Already have reservations at my favorite tables in the city but need one additional dinner, looking to try a place I haven't yet been. Requisites are: intimate ambiance (preferably in the fortification) and fresh regionally sourced / farm-to-table preparation a big plus. Nothing overly stuffy or formal/classic french in terms of culinary direction; ie. onion soup, escargot and steak-frites service on large empty plating over white table cloths for zee garcon is o-u-t! An innovative kitchen with modern fare strongly preferred. Not opposed to hearty rustic Quebec fare at all, so long as the focus is towards fresh/unique produce (not doused in heavy sauces and creams!) with interesting approach. Atmosphere and decor are a big deal. It's my girlfriend's first time north of the border, and I want her to experience all the pastoral charms of Old Quebec.

Restaurants I have not yet dined at:

Le Pain Béni
Toast!
Laurie Raphaël
L'Initiale
Le Continental
Louis Hébert
Le Cremaillere
Café du Clocher Penché
Crêperie Le Billig
Le Hobbit

We only have one additional evening meal to add to our itinerary, and cost doesn't factor. I'd like to stray far from touristy QC culture (I attribute this with something like Le Café Du Monde, though I've never been) and find the ideal balance from the above list (and other welcomed suggestions!) between the best, most interesting kitchen in Quebec and a charming dining room evoking the fairy-tale surroundings of the old city. Your advice is most welcome!

Thanks.

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  1. I should add that we're eating at Panache, Patriarche, and even though I said I'm against the stodgy old formal eateries, we're doing Le St-Amour one night too because I happen to really like it there. Brunches are at L'Échaudé and Le Lapin Sautée. Plus the usual pâtisseries and boulangeries tour of the city. What to do for our second meal though? I've read mixed reviews of Pain Béni, despite this forum's leanings. I've heard fantastic things about Toast! but was never sold on the atmosphere. Perhaps I should give it a chance?

    PS - I think I've narrowed it down to the following three:

    L'Initiale
    Le Pain Béni
    Café du Clocher Penché

    2 Replies
    1. re: OliverB

      I feel like a broken record, because I usually always suggest the same restaurants, but I'd add "L'affaire est ketchup" (46 Rue Saint-Joseph Est) to your list. (I swear I don't work there, and I wish I'd get 10% off every time I recommand it). It's not in the wall and I don't think it fits your "charming dining room evoking the fairy-tale surroundings of the old city", but it's totally "fresh regionally sourced / farm-to-table" although don't go imagining Quebec produce any fresh vegetables in march.

      I think there's a sort of contradiction between : "stray far from touristy QC" and " fairy-tale surroundings of the old city" though. I don't know any restaurant that's not a least a bit touristy in the walls.

      Café du Clocher Penché is also a favorite of mine, but it's also outside the walls.

      Billig and Hobbit are pretty good also, and a bit closer to the walls.

      Btw in your "pâtisseries and boulangeries tour of the city" don't forget Boîte à pain and Croquenbouche, on St-Joseph est also.

      -----
      Cafe Du Clocher Penche
      203 Rue Saint-Joseph E, Quebec, QC G1K3B1, CA

      Hobbit Bistro
      700 Rue Saint-Jean, Quebec, QC G1R1P9, CA

      Le Billig
      526 Rue Saint-Jean, Quebec, QC G1R1P6, CA

      L'affaire est ketchup
      46 Rue Saint-Joseph Est, Quebec city, QC G1K 5T3, CA

      1. re: dominiquep

        Thanks but I think I'm adding Le Hobbit to one of our brunches instead and would really like to try and stick to the specifications above.

        I really feel like it's a toss up between L'Initiale and Pain Béni for dinner. I might be convinced to try Café du Clocher Penché if you sell me on it though!

        Can anyone comment on Initiale or PB comparatively?

        Thanks again!!

    2. I really enjoyed "le moine échanson". I feel like it fits your description quite well.

      8 Replies
      1. re: isabella.g

        Isn't Le Moine a wine bar though?

        I feel like I've stopped in before while doing the Palet D'Or, Paillard, Pain Gruel, J.A. Moisson, Choco Musee circuit for a glass and small cheese plate... Is this recommended over either Pain Beni and/or L'Initiale?

        Thanks

        1. re: OliverB

          I went there for a meal on a quick 2 day trip. I'm a Montreal foodie that just happened to stumble upon it when visiting Quebec City. We were surprised by the quality of the food and the service. I had a great time and ate very well.

          1. re: isabella.g

            I went to the Pain Beni on my last trip and Initiale the one before. The Initialeatmosphere is on the cool even cold side that is not for me. Initiale is formal gastronomy and Pain Beni bistronomic food!
            For Moine Echanson, more or less 10 tables and so little space that you eat in your neighbourg plate! More or less a wine bar.

            1. re: madamebatignolles

              How did you enjoy your meal at Beni and would you expect sufficient options for the non red-meat (but not vegetarian!) eater who still does fish, duck, chicken, etc?

              If you've been to any of the similarly mid-to-high end restaurants serving upscale regionally-sourced modern bistro and creative QC rustic/comfort terroir fare (ie. Patriarche, Panache, etc) how would you critique your meals comparatively?

              1. re: OliverB

                Panache: Paid 600$ for 2 including wine pairing and really felt cheated. For that price could have gone in a 3 stars Michelin. You pay for the decor and .... the food
                Patriarche t he ambience and decor of the restaurant was warm and welcoming - pity the same couldnt be said for the cold and unwelcoming reception and greeting we received. We stood for what seemed like ages before we were greeted and taken to our table. The place wasnt even busy, with only 3 tables occupied.

                The house aperitif of Sparkling Wine with Orange and Maple Syrup was delicious, however after that - everything went downhill (apart from the good espressos)

                We chose the Table D'hote 5 course menu (an additional $28 to the price of the main course).

                Carrot and Cumin Soup with Orange Foam was tasteless - a slight hint of cumin but no sweetness of carrot whatsoever.

                The Trio of Fois Gras was just about passable, apart from the gingerbread which overwhelmed the fois gras. Neither my husband or I finished any elements of the trio.

                Vermouth & Grapefruit Granita was a glass of ice, devoid of any flavour whatsoever.

                For me the Quebec Lamb - disgusting. I barely touched any of the three elements. So much so, our waitress asked if there was a problem - not that she did anything about it! The Ravioli was a stodgy gloup of a mess of thick, rubbery layers of pasta with a layer of shoulder devoid of any flavour, the loin was overcooked to the point of being a thick rubbery, chewy inedible lump of meat and the stew was so immerorable that I cant remember what it tasted like at all. The same heavy, cloying jus accompanied the three elements.

                My husband opted for the Milk Fed Veal. The risotto croquette which accompanied the Medallion was overcooked, black and dried out. The Liver, was overcooked, and the Flank was "ok".

                Deserts again, were a disappointment. Peppered Pineapple for me was a Stodgy spongy Rum Baba and other concoctions not worth mentioning. My husband fared a little better with the Strawberry, Raspberry and Champagne concoctions. Again, I didnt finish any element of my course.

                I don't know if the Executive Chef may have had a night off, but the sight of a chef hanging about the bar area chatting to waiting staff wasnt a particularly nice sight to see whilst we were dining, and possibly resultant in the less than inspiring food we had. A chef's place is in the kitchen!

                We had little or no engagement with waiting staff, and unfortunately our initial negative impression of Quebec city was based on our experience in Le Patriarche and the expense in the city. So much so, that we contemplated leaving a day early and heading out into the countryside. Thankfully, Quebec city redeemed itself with the other incredibly friendly people we met whilst there - not to mention the incredible dining experience we had at Laurie Raphael the following night.

                We partook in the Food Walking Tour of Quebec City the following day - our tour guide had a job in trying to convince us that Le Patriarche deserved its visit (we didnt want to go). A visit to their wine cellar didnt redeem the restaurant. Good wines and good espresso dont make a good restaurant.

                A memorable dining experience for all the wrong reasons and a waste of $320 and in hindsight we should have queried the bill, based on the fact that I barely touched my main course. In fact, neither of us finished any of our courses. We should have asked for the removal of my main course if nothing else - or it should have been removed as a goodwill gesture from the restaurant based on the fact that the waitress commented about me not eating it.

                The worst fine dining meal I have ever had. We actually laughed passing Ashtons on the way back to our hotel when my husband asked me if I would like to try some Poutine to fill me up. Should have done instead of Le Patriarche and saved over $300 too!

                Pain Beni : as they change menu 3 times a year cannot comment on this one but we loved our meal and went on their website and surely their is on it many options for you! Enjoy!

                1. re: madamebatignolles

                  Just to add in our last trip Pain beni was even withf Laurie and Raphael.... totally different but totally good each other.

                  1. re: madamebatignolles

                    Thanks so much, and I'm surprised by both your exorbitant bill and feedback of Panache, as it's always been one of my favorite restaurants in QC. I've eaten there twice and had great meals both times. I don't think I ever spent more than $150 p/p. I did hear that the head chef left recently though (this past year) so that could have effected things. I hope our dinner fares much better!

                    It sounds like Pain Beni will likely be the 4th dinner choice afterall; thanks so much for your feedback!!

                    1. re: OliverB

                      600$ included taxes, service wine pairing 2 champagne cocktail and one glass of port for cheese. Don't remember the price of wine at Patriarche but maybe 75-80$
                      and only one cocktail
                      Went to Bistro B, of former chef of Panache good very good food, terrible service, not romantic a pretty high bill.
                      Continental is also a favorite of mine ... to go back in my childhood.