Grazing our way through Quebec City…

This represents our final fulfillment of our pledge to record some of our restaurant experiences from our recent trip to assist other travelers who obsessively turn to the internet before mealtime. (Well, semi-recent. And only a partial fulfillment. This has been a slow process, and the memories of restaurants and meals are fading a bit.)

Our apartment was in the Vieux-Port area of Quebec City, and foot was always our mode of transportation during our stay.

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On the night of our arrival we lucked into seats at L’Échaude, a tony spot where reservations normally are a necessity. Service was extremely polished, and we enjoyed the rich flavors of a mussel and seafood soup in lobster broth and grilled seafood risotto.

Somehow we ended up in the neighborhood of Le Pain Béni in the old city twice at lunch time. The multi-course table d’hote menu represents quite a bargain and inside was relaxing after our long morning explorations. A crispy duck appetizer flavored with maple was wonderful. Maple seems to slip into the ingredients of numerous dishes in Quebec City. Among the dishes we sampled were a lobster-based risotto with fish and a flank steak with purple potatoes and carrots. The fruit salad was not a good dessert option, but the blueberry cake soaked with maple is highly recommended.

SSS, formally named Simple Snack Sympathique, is a popular, trendy spot in the port area and is a sister restaurant of Restaurant Toast. Weekday lunch seems to attract professionals rather than tourists. For lunch, I had salmon tartar with sesame seed and avocado, and the Mister ordered roasted lamb shank with gremolata and roasted vegetables. Both came with French fries, which you can exchange for salad or vegetables. But don’t. These are great fries.

A visit to the impressive National Assembly building was on our agenda, but, rather than go on the total tour, we checked out the restaurant, Le Parliamentaire. We had no reservations, but they are recommended. The Beaux Arts dining room with soaring ceiling is elegant, and service is formal. The table d’hote is not as expensive as one would expect in such surroundings, and the setting is worth experiencing.

We flunked planning ahead, and so often could not get in at the last minute for dinner at some of the popular restaurants in the old quarter. Part of the failure to make reservations was due to lack of hunger. Our long table d’hote lunches left no room for major dinners. We actually slipped into – true confession – a chain, not once, but twice, for lighter evening fare. The Piazzetta in the Old Port area is quite pleasant. The pizza is fine, but what surprised us was how good the restaurant’s main course salads are. We split a warm asparagus and prosciutto salad, which included grape tomatoes, olive and onions with balsamic vinaigrette; and a warm apple and camembert salad with croutons and pecans topped with a three-pepper maple syrup dressing.

As we neared the end of the two-week trip to Canada, I was beginning to yearn for a non-restaurant meal. The century-old farmer’s market, Marché du Vieux Port, was only about a block or two from our apartment and was filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats and fish just waiting to be relocated to our kitchen.

One more night, and I’m sure I would have cooked.


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