My plan for 2013 is to eat in as many different restaurants as possible (without putting on weight will be a challenge!) and to be as faithful as I can in my opinions with regards to the quality/quantity of food that I am being served without neglecting atmosphere, service and price. I want to make this blog a useful tool for anyone looking for a great place to eat in Quebec City. I’m a foodie and I am very passionate about my city and its cuisine and therefore I want to share my knowledge with you. (Oh and I promise to bring my camera along as often as I can. This visit wasn’t planed, so please excuse my cellphone.)
The first open kitchen concept to arrive in Quebec City was introduced by former Panache Chef François Blais. Opened in 2011, Bistro B is located in a vast local on the corner of Cartier and Aberdeen Streets in the heart of Montcalm.
My partner Marie-Eve joined me at the restaurant at 6:30, and we were seated without having a reservation. Not rare for this time of year, but otherwise recommended. We sat at the counter where the bar meets the kitchen near an imposing wall-mounted cellar of privately imported wines. I wanted to feel it all, in a Feist kind of way: the action, the heat of the ovens and the artists in creation. This calls for a gin & tonic. Garçon!
The menu is written on a blackboard above the counter and changes almost daily. Entrées are less than 20$ and main dishes vary between $20 and $30. Making a choice was going to be hard: grilled cheese, cod, guinea fowl, bison, duck, ham so much to chose from. Well, Marie-Eve and I have our way of overcoming the situation; we decided to share only entrées. Bison tartare, gruyere/parmesan fondue, shitake stuffed quail and corn crusted sweetbread was our menu. Two glasses of red wine (the selection of wine/cocktails is presented on an ipad), would do the job; we chose fruity and light with a preference for Spain.
My second try ever at bison. The first time was in a Chinese fondue and was way too dry. This time the meat was tender, not too loud, with bacon bits well dissimulated, but with a little too much green onions to my taste, and I love green onions. Homemade mayonnaise and chips were served along with croutons and a vinegar/olive oil mesclun. I loved this tartare, but Marie-Eve didn’t, simple because she is not a tartare fan. Salmon maybe, but not meat.
Gruyere and Parmesan Fondue
Wow! We both wanted more of this one. Marie-Eve is a HUGE fan of this dish to the point where we have tried many different restaurants in town to find out where the best one is served. I think Bistro B has now topped our list! Its smooth filling with a crispy and not-too-thick crust made for a nice blend of textures en bouche. The blend of cheese fit perfectly with one another and didn’t leave an avid aftertaste. A quick sip of wine and the taste was gone.
Shitake Stuffed Quail
Served with pasta (al dente!) and in the meat’s cooking juices, this dish didn’t taste much. The quail completely overwhelmed the mushrooms to the point where I had no idea I was eating shitake, a variety that doesn’t usually go unnoticed in my mouth. Unfortunately, the quail was also quite little dry inside.
Corn crusted sweetbread
We hesitated for a while before ordering sweetbread, because both Marie-Eve and I felt awkward about eating an animal’s gland. See, my point exactly. I am so happy we tried it. This dish was magnificent. The sweetbread was served with a beautiful selection of morels (and other varieties) seared in olive oil with green onions and gnocchis. As you can see in the picture, the ris de veau (sweetbread) was covered in a slowly reduced veal stock based sauce. A sauce so smooth, it almost tasted like velvet. This dish was another example of how beautiful contrasts in textures make a difference. Keeping the moisture inside the sweetbread, while biting into a perfect corn crust on the outside, this dish could have very well be served as a main course. By this time Marie-Eve and I had fallen in love with the restaurant. Bistro B is a definite coup de coeur.
I noticed that Bistro B’s sous-chef is Sebastien Laframboise, a former Saint-Amour employee and a contender in the CBC’s 2012 edition of Les Chefs. It’s his passion for pasteries that stood out on the show. Unfortunatley, no creation of his was offered on Bistro B’s menu. The pastries are from Eric Borderon. Too bad the carrot cake wasn’t offered, I would have jumped right in!
Out of the three propositions for desert, we ordered pudding chomeur, a traditional Quebec dessert known for its moist cake and for being very sweet. Ours came with a blueberry/aniseed sorbet sitting on oatmeal, a delicate maple-flavoured mascarpone mousse and a thick -I want to say very consistent- cake topped with both sucre-à-la-crème and salted caramel sauces. I was definitely not going to eat this on my own.
The sorbet was the most exhilarating and refreshing sorbet I have ever tasted. I don’t usually enjoy aniseed because of its intense licorice-like flavour. The pudding chomeur was proposed with blueberry sorbet; I was not expecting aniseed. But, its delicate addition combined with the sharp, wild blueberry taste worked like magic.
The music in the restaurant annoyed me. It came from one of the cook’s ipod and varied from Family of the Year to Pink. It felt like I was listening to a top 40 radio station which in no way fit with the food I was eating. I would recommend changing the playlist as soon as possible. If you are a restaurant/pub/café owner I can help you with that. It’s my job! In addition, the restaurant’s surface is quite big and it gets somewhat noisy as the crowd increases. But, I noticed that “the noise” isn’t enough to be a disturbance during a conversation.
Our overall bill came out to 135$ including tip, two gin/tonic and two glasses of wine.