Hmmm, something strange is happening in Quebec City. Before heading over that way late last month, I did a search on Urban Spoon to come up with some recommendations for restaurants in Quebec City. I can’t help feel that they are having a laugh when the #1 dining establishment is Chez Victor – a flashier version of McDonalds. #4 on the list is also a burger joint. Surely this must be a joke? My theory is that the locals are keeping the good places a secret to keep the pesky tourists out. My guidebook didn’t come up with much either and so we spent a lot of time walking around, reading menus and sizing up restaurants. Some were very disappointing and many were extremely “touristy”. Here are the two that are actually worth a visit.
Le Lapin Sauté
52, Rue du Petit-Champlain
+1 418 692 5325
Their specialities are rabbit and duck. The atmosphere is very cute, cozy and romantic and there is a great little outdoor patio that overlooks a garden and the picture-perfect rue du Petit-Champlain. Prices are extremely reasonable, the service was good and the food was decent. I’m not a big fan of rabbit but I did try the rabbit pie. I appreciated their efforts but unfortunately the flavour of the rabbit was just too much for me to enjoy the meal. Note to self: you don’t like rabbit. My sister had the lamb and thought it was good but it didn’t compare with the lamb from Au Pied de Cochon. Try to make a reservation – it is pretty popular.
Le Cochon Dingue
46 Boulevard Champlain
T: +1 418 692 2013
Le Cochon Dingue (or Crazy Pig) has been around since 1979 and is extremely popular. You would be wise to book ahead for this one – the restaurant is big but so is the line-up. Decorated like a French farm-house, the ambience is cozy and romantic all at the same time. The menu balances a perfect mix of options; steak frites, pork tenderloin, salmon, 3 different types of pot pies (the chicken one was fabulous), mussels, maple house-smoked ribs and various soups and salads. Most prices came in at around the $16-$20 mark – very reasonable considering the large serving sizes. Service was speedy and friendly on the both times that we visited. Tip: Do not go past dessert – they make their cakes daily at Le Petit Cochon Dingue (their smaller spin-off) and the carrot cake was unbelievable (and HUGE!)! This was my favourite dining experience in Quebec City, for sure.
Also, if you have the time whilst in Quebec City, there are two other foodie visits that are worth making an effort to get to.
J.A. Moisan (www.jamoisan.com) prides itself on being North America’s oldest grocery store. Even if it didn’t have this acclaim, it would most likely win as the cutest grocery store in North America. Located a short walk from the Old Town on Rue Saint-Jean, the store is visually captivating and a visit here is like stepping back in time. Deli counters over flow with cheeses, meat and olives, wooden shelves are stocked with quality European chocolate and shelf after shelf offer an abundance of alluring food delicacies.
Almost directly across the street from J.A. Moisan is a chocolate museum and chocolate store, called Choco-Musée Ѐrico (www.chocomusee.com). It is an interesting place to pop in for a look at the small, but thorough, museum. Through a window into the kitchen, you are able to watch the chocolatier prepare the chocolates that are available for purchase in the attached store. This was mesmerizing. I could have stood there for hours watching…hmmm, perhaps I should be a chocolatier! Best job ever!