Published with permission from LuxuryWeb.com
Experiencing the culinary scene in Québec is not only a delight for gourmands, but also an encounter with serious gastronomic craftsmanship. The city is brimming with traditional Québécoise restaurants, each promising a distinctive journey through classic French recipes, enhanced by locally sourced seasonal ingredients.
Yet, a new wave of culinary innovation has swept through Québec. The advent of modern gastronomy, with a touch of molecular flair, has started shaping the creativity of the younger generation of chefs. These culinary artisans, equipped with their inventive kitchens, serve dishes that can compete on both inventiveness and quality with the renowned European and Asian gastronomy, making them worth every epicurean’s exploration.
Attention to detail
During our gastronomic journey, three restaurants caught our attention, making us savor every bite of their creative output. Our first stop was Chez Rioux & Pettigrew, a nostalgic venue where we had the pleasure of dining a year after its inauguration. Situated in the old city, this restaurant, presently offering brunch and dinner, entices diners with their regionally inspired seasonal menus, readily accessible online.
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Under the adept hands of Chef Mathieu Jans, the art of cooking reaches new heights. Navigating through the open kitchen on our way to the table, we were offered a sneak peek into the culinary choreography behind each beautifully designed dish. Indeed, as the adage goes, “You eat with your eyes first.”
Our culinary adventure began with a plate named Tik-Tak-Tok, a delicately assembled Salmon Tataki with témari, honey mayonnaise, lemon-marinated armillaires (honey fungi), and herbs. The main course, “Le bouc des montagnes”, was an exquisite serving of roasted Québec lamb dressed with cumin jus, corn salsa, fried polenta, and fresh butter. The feast ended on a sweet note with “Symphonie des Douceurs.”
Our second gourmet escapade led us to the newly opened Melba Restaurant, where Alexandra Roy and Charles Provencher Proulx, along with their vibrant kitchen team, have curated a melange of sweet and savory seasonal delights. Their dining concept is a “family-style” experience, where a plethora of appetizers, main courses, and desserts arrive at the table.
Their monthly menu featured 6 appetizers, 6 main courses, and 3 desserts. Standout starters included the Deviled Egg with Snow Crab, Avocado Paste, and Sorrel; Fiddlehead Fritters with Béarnaise Mayo; and Grilled Whelk Skewers with cucumber and confit garlic. From the main courses, the Bison Tartare, Steak with Black Garlic, Spinach and Blue Cheese, and Salmon with Vichy Carrots, Fennel and Smoked Mussels were a clear winner. A delightful Pavlova with marinated strawberries and strawberry ice cream rounded off the meal beautifully.
Our grand finale was a farewell dinner at Tanière3, a hidden gem tucked away in an unmarked building in the heart of Old Québec. We had savored a lunch at their sister venue Bora Boréal in rural Ste-Brigitte de Laval, so we anticipated an extraordinary culinary experience.
True to our expectations, Tanière3 served a six-hour epicurean extravaganza, featuring 16 innovative tasting dishes. Pushing the boundaries of traditional Québécoise cuisine, they presented a brilliant blend of unique ingredients and superbly crafted small plates, rivaling the standards of any three-Michelin-starred restaurant.
A fine dining experience
Once you’ve managed to secure a reservation, you’ll be greeted by a nondescript yellow wooden door. As you enter the code into the keypad, your culinary adventure awaits. The restaurant is bustling from Thursday to Sunday, from 5:15 pm onwards. The seating arrangements include a chef’s table in the kitchen for those keen to watch the chefs at work, and comfortable spots in the dining room and its cellar.
Under the expert guidance of Chef-owner François-Emmanuel Nicol, dining room director and owner Roxan Bourdelais, and Maître d’Hotel and General Manager Hubert Garneau, Tanière3 ensures an attentive yet unobtrusive service. Dishes are delivered with panache, and the creativity and culinary skills on display are truly impressive.
We were presented with individually addressed menus sealed with wax. The journey started with a glass of sparkling wine, followed by a slew of dishes, each paired with thoughtful wine or mocktail recommendations. The star attractions were the salmon caviar on emulsion pillows with meringue flowers, exquisite pork belly and duck breast dishes, and a selection of fine seafood dishes.
Additionally, the Bone Marrow with Nettle Condiment, Lobster with Prickly Ash Pepper, Quail with Preserved Lemon and Grilled Cucumber, and Foie Gras with Wild Strawberries were all exceptional.
As I’ve mentioned before, the apt motto for Québec City should be “On mange bien ici” or “We eat well here!” A testament to the city’s flourishing culinary landscape and its dedication to superior gastronomy.
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