We just spent 2 days in Quebec City, a make-up date for the weekend trip we were meant to do for Lindsay’s birthday but had to cancel due to getting COVID.
A quick flight off the island into Quebec City landed us in a place with even more snow than Toronto. We stayed at the Hotel71, in the Basse-Ville, Our room was big and beautiful with high ceilings and a view of both the river and the Chateau Frontenac. It also had an Enomatic wine dispenser in the lobby. So.
We needed lunch, and after a brief wander around the neighbourhood, settled on Lapin Sauté. We got warmed up, ordered a bottle of 2013 Thaddeus Morgon Gamay, and ate some belly-warming fare: cassoulet w/ duck sausage and braised rabbit leg, and rabbit pot pie served with a fruit chutney. It was a tasty, cozy little find.
We slid back along the icy sidewalks and hung out back in the room for a while, took a bath to keep warm, had a nap (side note: I never nap), and got ready for dinner.
Said dinner was around the corner at Chez Muffy, the Saint-Antoine hotel. It was the kind of standout meal we’ve had too infrequently since COVID started, and ostensibly 3-course (but in reality many more) feast with so many memorable bits we were still talking about them the next day. Not to mention the service: in general, which was spot-on, and from our server, who was fantastic.
- Glasses of Réserve Grand Cru Jean Lallement et Fils Champagne
- Amuse-bouche number one
- Amuse-bouche number two, paired with a white blend from Languedoc
- Char from La Rivière aux Renards w/ sea urchins and sweet potato, paired with a light Italian red I hadn’t heard of, but which reminded me of a less fruit-forward Gamay
- Oysters w/ potatoes, leek butter hollandaise, and caviar, paired with a skin-contact white from Languedoc
- Deer loin Rossini w/ pâté en croûte, mushrooms, squash gnocchis, paired with a red blend, again from Langedoc
- Grapes from La Marianne farm w/ oat, rice, and honey, paired with a white Rioja
- Poached pear, paired with a dry Alsatian Riesling that had some lees contact
- Petits-Fours, paired with some kind of fermented maple sap
With that, we stumbled around the corner to our hotel, and went right to sleep.
We were still full the next morning, so we didn’t eat again until well after noon. Lindsay found a place that appeared to be popular for breakfast, even among locals — Le Buffet de l’Antiquaire. I ate a bunch of pain doré and sausage; Lindsay had poached eggs. We also drank our weight in coffee, squeezed in amongst the other hungry patrons. It was precisely what we needed.
We decided we had to do something other than eat, so we visited the Musée National des Beaux-Arts de Quebec. We covered a lot of ground, but my two favourites were featured exhibitions of work by Evergon and Manasie Akpaliapik. Afterward we walked around the Plains of Abraham a bit, and tried not to freeze. It was cold in Quebec City this weekend…even the locals said it was much colder than they’d expect in mid-November.
We didn’t really have a plan for dinner; we kind of defaulted into Louise Taverne & Bar à Vin. It…didn’t go great.
- The salmon tartare w/ tomato vinegar, Gaspesie seaweed emulsion, crostini, and salad. (This was okay. Just okay.)
- Mozzarella di Bufarella in butternut squash puree w/ parmesan, ravigote vinaigrette, and charcuterie. (Yuck. Just yuck. We couldn’t figure out why it was so bad, but…it takes a lot to make us leave mozzarella on the plate.)
- Fish & chips. (Sure, fine.)
- Vegetarian bowl: spaghetti noodles, zucchini, hazelnuts, (This was an error. Lindsay thought she was ordering pasta. It was not pasta.)
- 2019 Domaine Fabrice Gasnier La Queue de Poelon Chinon. (OK, not great. Heavier than I expected given the varietal; I tried to order something midweight when I thought pasta was coming to the table.)
- Crème brûlée dulce de leche. (Good.)
- Glasses of Jurançon. (Excellent.)
We really did try to recover at the end, but…meh. Not a memorable meal, except for the wrong reasons.
After checking out of the hotel, we had some time to kill. First we had coffee at Smith. Then we stopped in at Galerie Beauchamp to ask after an istaymute piece that had caught our eye, and ended up buying it. Then we were off to a brunch reservation at Chez Rioux et Pettigrew. This meal…wow. It was outstanding. Made better by all the mimosas and kir royales, sure, but top to bottom with incredible flavours:
- Maple wood smoked fish, fresh cream, blinis
- Foie gras crunchy french toast
- Pork rillette & mustard caviar
- Homemade bread & pastries (note: this was accompanies by several spreads, one of which was the best raspberry confiture either of us had ever tried)
- Artisanal herbs sausage (possibly the best sausage I’ve ever had)
- Tartufatta scrambled eggs
- Beauceronne style baked beans
- Pulled ham cooked in crust (surely the best ham I’ve ever eaten)
- Bacon & onion potato rosti
- Old fashioned fried crepe
The vibe was also really great…cozy tables, chill service, classic rock (mixed with Quebec folk), and they were perfectly happy to let us sit there getting silly for two hours. Strong recommend.
After that we headed back to the gallery to finalize the paperwork, then picked up our bag from the hotel. As we went outside to wait for the taxi in the middle of a snowstorm, a metal plate on the door ripped open my left index finger. As Lindsay begged the front desk for bandages, I dripped blood onto the steps. It looked creepy in the snow too, like when Jon Snow gets stabbed. Anyway, it didn’t stop bleeding until we were at the airport and the Porter ground staff gave me a proper band-aid.
Our flight was a bit late taking off, and about 30 minutes from Toronto I had a very intense and bizarre (and fleeting, thank goodness) wave of nausea, complete with flopsweat, but other than that it was fine. We got home, reassured Kramer that we had not abandoned him, ordered some food, and went to sleep.
It was barely 48 hours, but it was pretty fun. And now that we’ve experienced that weather, I don’t reckon much we’ll be phased by much of what Toronto throws at us for the next few weeks.