Quaint little Quebec City. Well, the area in and around Vieux Quebec is certainly quaint. The area is also very touristy and as such, I took a somewhat cautious approach to finding food. I asked friends who had been to the city and I trusted the reviews on sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon. I didn’t want to get sucked into a cozy-looking restaurant with a great menu showcased outside (this is a great thing that restaurants in Quebec City do) only to find that the food isn’t good and I’ve pretty much wasted more money than I wanted to on a bad meal; it’s happened to me before, particularly in touristy areas where not-so-delicious places manage to stay open just on one-time tourist visits. All of the places that we dined at either had English menus or the servers were very helpful with the French menus if we had questions.
75 St-Joseph Est
I admit, it’s a bit ironic going to a ramen shop for my very first meal in Quebec City but coming from Ottawa where good ramen is non-existent, I was willing to give it a go first thing. We found the restaurant at around 6pm on a Friday night and looking through the window, it looked like all seats were taken. This was in great contrast with a lot of other restaurants we had passed by, which were largely empty. Anyways, we were lucky enough to grab the last free table!
They have a few featured appetizers and drinks, so we had the pirikara wakame for $4.50, which is a slightly spicy cold algae salad with some thinly sliced smoked scallops on top, to start.
We had the miso and shoyu (soy sauce) ramen. They come with chashu (braised pork), corn, alfalfa sprouts (I found this a bit odd), nori (seaweed), chikuwa (fish cake), bamboo shoots, and a soft-boiled egg. Their men, or noodles, are pretty good and the broths were decent. Consensus was that the miso broth was better than the shoyu. The volume was just right and overall, I was quite satisfied with the meal. The ramen ranged in price from $10.50 to $13.
We finished off with a scoop of ice cream each. There were five flavours to choose from: green tea, azuki (red bean), soy sauce, ginger, and ume (Japanese plum). Yes. You read that correctly. Soy sauce. So we tried it, along with the more common offering of green tea. Turned out that the soy sauce ice cream tasted more like salted caramel…so we are now inspired to try to recreate soy sauce ice cream at home using the ice cream ball, just to see what it tastes like when we try making it.
Le Cochon Dingue
46, boulevard René-Lévesque Ouest
This restaurant was recommended to us by friends and as we happened to pass by it on our way back towards Vieux Quebec from the Plains of Abraham, we decided to stop in for lunch (there are actually 4 locations in Quebec City).
Many of their breakfast items come with cafe au lait or hot chocolate, which is a nice touch. We had the crepe au gratin (breakfast item) and the pork baguette (lunch item). Both were delicious in their own ways and I absolutely adored the presentation of the pork baguette platter. The crepe also came with a shot of smoothie: a very nice touch!
Overall, a very relaxed atmosphere. The perfect spot to have a nice brunch or lunch with friends or family.
145 rue St-Jean
This restaurant was also recommended to us by friends and though I hardly find myself craving burgers, we decided to try this place out. There are numerous Chez Victor locations throughout Quebec and they claim to be the burger specialists. The particular location we visited had nice ambiance and a relaxed set-up. Loving homemade lemonade so much, I had to try their house lemonade. It was delicious but tasted more like orange than lemon, had a bit of grenadine in it that made it quite sweet, and came with a maraschino cherry (love them!).
We had two burgers: Le montagnard with a side of green salad instead of fries (an extra $2 for the swap) and Le saumon with a side of fries and pesto mayo (there were 5 different types of mayo but I was trying to practice my French and couldn’t really catch on to what the other 4 were).
The volume of the sides was insane. The salmon was cooked just right and the flavour of the mayo and the salmon went so well together; I might rank this as the best burger I have ever eaten, for the texture and the flavour. Yes, it was salmon and not beef, but was it ever delicious! C’etait magnifique! Le montagnard had goat cheese and apparently it was very strong (which is why I didn’t taste it) so if you don’t like strong cheeses, maybe try one of their many other burgers.
Aux Anciens Canadiens
34 rue Saint Louis
Located within the fortified walls of Vieux Quebec, this restaurant is in the oldest building in Quebec. A colleague told me that she always eats here when she visits Quebec City, warning me that it is a bit kitschy but is worth a visit once.
The menu is in both English and French, reflective of the very touristy area that they are located in. The service is good, the ambiance is comforting (like a rustic cabin?), and the decor is interesting.
The dinner menu was quite pricey so we opted to go at lunch time, where there is a table d’hote option. It isn’t cheap but it’s much more reasonable than the dinner pricing. We decided to go with the recommendation from our server: l’assiette de degustation Quebecoise. A tasting platter that they suggest is for two, although our server informed us that she has seen customers eat it all themselves….
The platter was $19.95 per person, came with a starter (it was cold outside so we both had a bowl of cream of chicken, their portage du jour), a glass of wine or beer, and a dessert. There wad bread to start, which was a few slices of white bread (think supermarket white sliced bread) and three pieces of garlic toast. The soup was decent though it reminded me more of canned soup than homemade soup. The platter had good variety, with tourtière, meatballs, half a baked potato, pork rind, their special ketchup, braised pork hock, and beans on something like a chip. However, it was extremely salty. Not unexpectedly, the platter was also quite heavy in the stomach and I was full within a few mouthfuls. For dessert, we had the maple syrup pie (how could we resist!?) and the strawberry sorbet. The sorbet was extremely sweet, a bit too sugary (think white sugar sweetness) for my liking, and tasted like strawberry flavouring not real strawberries. The pie was sweet as you would expect and quite tasty, in good contrast to the very salty platter.
Overall, I liked the feel of the restaurant and it is worth a visit, more for the experience than the food. I’m glad I went once but I probably wouldn’t visit the restaurant again.