Québec City weekend, April 2023

We are in Québec City just for the weekend. We were last here in the fall of 2019. This trip we are revisiting some of our previous favourites (La Buche, Chez Gaston, 1608) and trying out some new (to us) places.

Last night, we dined at Bleu Marine.

This place was started by two sommeliers, one of whom handles the kitchen and the other handles the beverages. There are only tasting menus, a 4-course ($79) and a 6-course ($95). Both offer the same amount of food and they can adjust to dietary preferences (which was helpful as one member of our party didn’t eat pork or shellfish). You can get a wine pairing for $60 extra. The restaurant is located in Old Quebec and is a cosy small space. Service was very attentive and informed, with detailed explanations of the dishes and the drinks.

We chose the 6-course menu with the pairing:

We started with an onion macaron - quite interesting as it was sweet like a standard macaron, but was very onion-y also.

The first course was a lovely carrot salad of sorts: carrot purée with ginger and kaffir lime, smoky roasted carrots, and fermented slices, with bacon crumble and black garlic aioli. A fun juxtaposition of textures and flavours. No pairing came with this.

Then confit leeks stuffed with tofu, parmesan, and artichokes; the cores of the leeks with an egg yolk sauce; luscious panko-crusted deep-fried egg yolk; and a Parmesan cheese foam and fried leeks. Great dish overall, sweet and mild.

This was paired with a glass of Santamaria Patrimonio 2017, a vermentino from Corsica - a very nice light, low acid wine, with grapefruit hints and some petrol. We couldn’t detect the herbs and salinity mentioned.

The third course was apparent inspired by Québecoise yellow pea soup. It featured a mille-feuille of carrot, rutabaga, mushroom, potato; a chunk of roasted pork belly; smoked chickpea purée; pickled trumpet mushrooms; bay laurel purée (green dollops); with a caramelized morel mushroom sauce. It was very nice, though it could have had a touch more salt.

It was paired with Speri Valpolicella Sant’Urbano Classico Superiore 2018 - 3 local grapes (Corvina Veronese e Corvinone 75%, Rondinella 20%, Molinara 5%). The grapes are dried first, so it had some of the baking spices and dried fruit notes similar to an amarone. Lovely, with mild tannins.

The next dish was a spin on risotto: Arborio rice, sweetbreads, endive with gré des champs (cheese), salad with confit pear, chestnuts and bacon, and tarragon on top. This was perhaps the highlight, with a correctly timed and flavourful risotto, creamy sweetbreads with a crispy exterior, and a mix of sweet, salty, and nutty overtop.

It was paired with Philippe Viret “Post Laborem Scientiam” La Coudée d’Or, Terre de Cosmoculture, a decanted, unfiltered white wine from the Rhone Valley. It has a blend of 5 grapes (Bourboulenc, Clairette, Grenache blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier). It had lots of peach overtones and enough acid to match the sweetbreads.

To transition to dessert, we had a little waffle with strawberry and port wine jelly, foam of foie gras, and Serrano ham. It was nice, though not as interesting as the previous dishes. It was paired with a port: Barros Porto Colheita 2007, with notes of maple syrup, dried fruits and nuts.

Dessert was a riff on a piña colada - choux with coconut pastry cream, candied pineapple, parfait with coconut and dehydrated pineapple slice, and a coconut tuile. Very fun, not too sweet. This was paired with a great stout from Montreal Boréale brewery, with vanilla and chocolate notes.

Overall a fun and enjoyable experience. Some dishes were excellent and none were less than good. The pairings were all interesting and well-explained. Worth a try if this kind of experience is up your alley.


Since we were staying in an Airbnb just off Rue Saint-Jean, we decided to have breakfast in.

There were three coffee roasters within a few blocks. However two of them were storing their beans in those glass-fronted display containers, which meant a lot of air exposure and increased risk of faded flavours. So I went with deTerroir, a new place which had all its wares sealed in bags. They source their beans from various small producers and then roast them locally. While I waited for them to grind my beans, they offered a free espresso macchiato, which was fragrant and nicely sour in that wine-y way some coffees can be.

Finca La Soledad from Guatemala, which was medium-roasted, kinda chocolate-y and nutty.

We then gather some baked goods from Boulangerie Epi’Fanny: a chocolate brioche, fluffy and light, speckled throughout with dark chocolate; a ham and cheese croissant, light and flakey; and a pistachio croissant, with pistachio butter inside and then pistachios outside with a light glaze. All very nice.


If you have the time and interest, visit Ile d’Orleans! I love that little island.
I usually stock up on blackcurrant goodies and jams.

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Alas no time to do so. A number of things we ate apparently originated on Île d’Orléans, but that’s as close as we got.

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Had a small lunch at Casse-Croûte Chez Gaston, which we’ve been to before and returned to for our poutine fix.

This time we had the Sylvie: steak haché (ground beef), fatty bacon, fried onions, and the usual double-fried fries, huge squeaky curds and tangy gravy.

This tided us over until about 4:00, when we slipped into 1608, the bar at the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac. We’ve enjoyed drinks there before and while they are très chers, we think they are worth it.

Cask Mates: barrel-aged Campari, Cointreau, Talisker 10 Year-Old, St-Germain, bourbon-aged maple syrup, saline solution, Orange Angostura - complex bitters, orange hints, with maple coming through.

Fanta-Barbara: Tequila La Dama, mezcal, sea buckthorn, carrot and honey cordial, purple carrot, soda - smokey, tangy, balanced with a bit of sweet.

And because we needed a little snack:

A 5-charcuterie plate, not explained by the serving staff. All meats were from Charlevoix: turkey; a sort of dried beef/bresaolo; a hugely anise-y prosciutto style ham; a paler citrus-hinted salami; and a darker fennel-y, smokey one. All were delicious. They were accompanied by green apple, fresh figs, black tuile, a tuile-like piece of cheese, a raspberry sauce, a sort of apple-fig chutney, pickled onions, not-too-sweet bread-and-butter pickles, micro greens, candied almond, hazelnuts, and pine nuts. Hit the spot nicely without spoiling the dinner experience to come…


Then it was off to our evening engagement at Restaurant Tanière³. Charles already documented his dinner experience here, so I will try not to be too redundant. The Tanière family of restaurants all focus on local Quebec ingredients, some of which are foraged.

We arrived at 7:00 PM to the unlabelled door on Rue Don-de-dieu, where we entered the secret code so we could “enter the vault”. They seated us in a dark corner of what we thought was the main dining room.

They started us with a non-alcoholic cocktail of dulse, rose, and cow parsnip seeds - salty and also sweet and floral, and a gorgeous dark rosy red colour. Although a bit odd on its own, it went well with the sea-flavoured bouchées that started us off:

(Left) Tartelette with local shrimp and miso mayonnaise - light, with sweet tender shrimp.
Kombu in pot with fresh cream, whelks and lobster powder - for spreading on kombu wild rice chips (far above right), with a cute wooden spoon. Lots of fresh sea flavours.

For pairings we chose the more pricey The Collection (which they said could be ½ to ¾ of a bottle) and a non-alcoholic pairing for variety.

Our first drinks were fresh apple drinks in a shot glass inside a bowl. One shot glass had gin Menaud, Entre Pierre at Terre apple vermouth, verjus, apple juice and the other shot glass had dealcoholized whiskey. You drink the shot glass first and set it aside, and then drink from the bowl which had smoked homemade bitters (rose, sweet clover, glasswort, Piger Henricus reduction) and fake sand (powder of parsnip, sea parsley seed, maple sugar). An elaborate sensory experience all-around.

These drinks went with the next bouchées:

(Right) Cow parsnip with black-apple sauce on mussels (grilled on the hibachi) on a stick - the caramelized apple flavour went well with the mussel.
(Left) Mugwort (Artemisia) gel with milk and oyster emulsions on smoked herring bone and edible plastic on top (to remind us of the problems in the ocean) - odd sounding, but quite delicious.

Next bouchées:

Wild rose gel, pickled petals, rabbit rack tempura on a beautiful platter of rose petals - tender juicy rabbit perfumed with rose.

Sweetgrass sauce mornay inside a gnocchi fritto with tuna prosciutto on top - lots of umami.

At this point we were moved from the first room to a semi-circular counter, with a view of the cold prep area and a partial view into the kitchen:

Our next drinks were both delightful:
Camy Québec Reserve 2021, St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Vallée du Richelieu Chardonnay - aged in neutral oak - green apple, tart and crisp.

‘Magic foam’ of chickpeas, sumac on top, prickly ash pepper, white cranberry juice.

These went with the first of the slightly larger dishes:

“Season Spring” Snow Crab - sweet crab segment with bisque emulsion, salad with prickly ash pepper (tastes of orange rind), beautiful fern-shaped radishes, potato roll with crab salad inside. A highlight among highlights.

Next drinks:

  • Mélilot, Foin d’odeur, cream soda from a seltzer maker - using sweetgrass and white sweet clover to mimic vanilla, infused into dealcoholized white wine - quite incredible, despite kind of a weird smell - possibly the favourite non- alcoholic drink.
  • Champagne Pertois-Moriset, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Les Quatre Terroirs Grand Cru, NM; blanc de blancs (chardonnay) - brioche, bright acidity.

They then gave us a key to the little drawer beside us where there was a spoon and a little note:

Our drinks paired with:

“Building Noble” Wild Caviar from Lac St Pierre - from sustainable yellow sturgeon, only 11 licences available. This came over slightly butter poached scallop slices, Raphaëlle potato cubes from Isle of Orléans, with roasted scallop powder and beurre blanc, and chips that were a riff on rice chips but made with potato water - delicate and fabulous.

Next drinks:
Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Bianco 2021, Calderara Sottana, Randazzo, Sicile - carricante - citrus, thyme salty, and a bit of oak giving it some nuttiness.

Cucumber juice, and Grove Seedlip, confit Montréal-grown preserved lemon, with a lemon piece on a nasturtium leaf, and a cucumber slice - many subtle and refreshing elements.

Brined quail breast slice from Isle d’Orléans with preserved lemons from Laval, reduction of wild celery, on warm brioche bread, and hibachi-grilled cucumber pearls, Thai basil and breadcrumbs - multiple flavours and textures complementing the juicy, supple meat.

Alongside the quail came:

Hibachi-grilled Guinea fowl leg, with cucumber powder and burnt onion - like a fancy bar snack.

Next drinks:
Salcheto Riserva Nobile di Montepulciano, (Sangiovese) 2016 - spiced, leather, no new oak, smooth, licorice, warm black cherries.

Sauge, courge, érable: sage-infused clarified squash juice with pickled squash roll-up and pea shoot; tiki inspired, over ice in a tiny barrel - a little odd on its own, but it went well with:

“Tradition Three Sisters” - confit butternut squash (with pea shoots over) grilled on the hibachi, green beans grilled raw on hibachi with sage oil and tamari, over braised venison with marvellous consommé poured around, and some burnt sage infused butter from a butter candle that they poured over. This was accompanied by:

Corn, white wine and cream “butter” with freeze-dried corn on top, with lovely homemade sourdough with corn flour.

Next drinks:

  • Hermitage Domaine du Colombier, 2020, Rhône valley - all Syrah - blueberries, blackberries, peppery, smoky bacon.
  • House dealcoholized red wine ‘par Simon Faucher’ - they add tannins, shiitake mushroom brine, lavender, blackberries and blueberries - a very complex juice.

"Artisan Seaweed Fed Lamb” from small farm in Gaspésie - two pieces - loin and a square of flank and shank together, with pickled shiitake and tuile, black apple gelée and spirals, lamb jus - rich, lamb-y, cut nicely by the pickle and sweet apple.

Next drinks:

  • Lactofermented plum juice with homemade fernet, slightly smoked with rim of powdered hazelnuts.
  • San Rustico Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2015: dried figs, chocolate, plum - gorgeous.

“Classic Pithivier” Duck - breast in centre, with creamy mushroom; ground duck thigh on the outside, pate crust, lined by collard greens on the inside - more like a beef Wellington than pithivier and jus was unfortunately too salty - really the only misstep of the night. This came with:

Bouquet of bibb lettuce with pickled king oyster mushrooms, plum paste, and chives holding the bundle together; and two dipping sauces - black walnut emulsion with dollop of lactofermented plum in the middle.

Next drinks:
Cidre de glace, St-Henri, Québec (Carvi) - couldn’t pick up the caraway, but still lovely.

Pears and physalis juice, with little tin of confit physalis (preserved but not salted or pickled) - tasting strongly of caraway.

These came with the “cheese course”:

Thin slivers of Clos des Roches (cow, aged for 36 months), alternating with parsnip chips (sort of like the leaves around the physalis berry). Creamy cheese in the centre with beautiful physalis coating and caraway flavour (caraway from Gaspésie).

They then moved us to our final room for desserts:

For drinks they served us “aperitifs at the end”:

  • Torelli Chinatum Vino Aromatizzata alla china - Piemonte aperitif with barks roots herbs, dulcetto d’alba base of red wine, and licorice, in a cute little brandy glass.
  • No Amaroux aperitif - gentian root is the base and they infused their own herbs, rhubarb etc but also Seedlip spice 94, Lyre’s American malt, bitter caramel.

First dessert was a riff on agnolotto:

Bitter caramel ‘pasta’ stuffed with Jerusalem artichoke and foam of milk, with essence of smoked cherry tuile (almond flavour), over malted barley crumble with marinated cherries and pumpkin seeds. The server grated Jerusalem artichoke ice cream over as a reference to grating truffle over pasta. Good, though a bit more appealing to the eye than the palate.

Tea - wild rose, goldenrod, raspberry, raspberry leaves (from Bourdelais farm) and cow-parsnip.

Mignardises in a stack of lovely boxes:

First on top:

Tartelette with barley pudding (and grains) in sweet clover milk and dulce de leche - and paw-paw confit on top.

Then a scone with sea buckthorn marmalade, prickly ash pepper mascarpone and homemade agar tiny pearls made with flowers (marigold petal caviar).

Then a “smoked taco” presented on unpopped popcorn - pepper ice cream and pepper jelly and homemade ‘fake chocolate’ - black apple and black beets, prickly ash pepper, candy cap mushroom (like maple), and hazelnuts - interesting and quite spicy.

And finally a “Gold Nugget” gummy with pineapple weed - remarkable, so herbal and just like the weed smells.

To finish:

“Icy Lollipop” with verjus and creamy turmeric - like lemon cream with Italian meringue.

Then came a wax sealed booklet detailing all the food and beverages:

Spruce candy came with the bill:

All in all a fabulous and wondrous experience. As Charles mentioned, this is definitely worthy of a Michelin star and getting closer to two. It certainly was as inventive, intricate, elaborate, and delicious as others in the two-star ballpark. The focus on boreale cuisine and Quebec-specific ingredients makes it very much grounded in its location and not really comparable to other fine dining elsewhere. Service was generally impeccable (though I wish they would stop refolding napkins when you leave your seat for a minute). We get why Estufarian says this is favourite restaurant in Canada.


Why am I just learning about this dish now.

This is like Lipitor’s kryptonite on a plate.



Great review Doc!
Lovely write-up and mouth-watering photos!
Glad you enjoyed the food, wine and ’ Harry Potter ’ experience.
Pity it’s a bit far of a drive. I’ll definitely make it at least a semi-annual visit if only its closer in say Ottawa or Montreal.


Thanks for the write-up. I could never take such detailed notes - it interferes with my enjoyment of the ‘experience’. IMO the best expression of ‘place’ in Canada.
Have to schedule another trip - maybe this Fall.

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My wife likes writing down the details, so that part just happens. In this case though, they provide you with a detailed summary at the end as well.

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Breakfast again from Boulangerie Epi’Fanny on our last day:

A croque monsieur, with crusty bread, ample cheese, and supple ham.

A danish with light, delicate custard plenty of sweet raisins.

For lunch, we revisited Restaurant La Bûche:

You could argue that this place is just a tourist trap homage to a cabane a sucre, with decor of toboggans, snowshoes, and maple syrup cans…

And you would be right. But we still find it fun and the food is hearty and enjoyable. Plus we weren’t going to top the previous night’s extravaganza.

Classic pea soup with smokey ham and crispy fried chick peas.

Croquettes de pâté à viande - meat pie nuggets, nicely fried, good crust and delicious moist meat filling, with coleslaw and an apple chutney.

Crêpes Salées - truite fumé maison, fromage de chèvre, épinards et sauce Béchamel - and a big spear of asparagus over top - trés yummy.

Framboisier de l’île d’Orléans - nice raspberry layered white cake with cream.

Café la Buche - Rhum Chic Choc, crème Coureur des Bois, sirop d’érable, café (decaf), et crème fouettée - very fun and quite strong in terms of alcohol, but all we had next was a cab ride to the airport.