La Planque is Quebec City’s newest enfant chéri. Located in the heart of Limoilou, La Planque opened in the fall of 2012. I helped out a friend recently and in return I was offered a gift certificate for the restaurant. “Can’t wait to read what you think”, she kindly said. Catherine, encore merci infiniment.
La Planque is described as a hiding place, a hideaway if you like, where one leaves behind life’s worries in exchange for comfort through food and drinks. In my words, La Planque is a place where Ray Lamontagne’s Trouble takes essence.
The restaurant is set-up as a hallway (long rectangle) of three distinctive atmospheres, but with the same soundtrack (I will come back to it later). You are greeted to a bar and long black velvet drapes that hide any possibility of light to filter from the outside. At first, the velvet felt imposing, even somewhat oppressive, but the warmth of the rustic wooden tables (maple?) and Stevie Wonder blasting out of the speakers quickly took the feeling away. The velvet doesn’t show up anywhere else in the restaurant. Baby, it’s cold outside!
The second part of the restaurant brought us to the middle of La Planque hallway construction. A few stairs led us to a seating section partially lit by a striking cellar of privately imported wines. That’s where we were seated, right next to a gorgeous hand-carved sculpture of a First Nations’ chief.
The last section of the restaurant, the furthest away from the entrance, is the kitchen. There, you can take part in the cuisine action and sit at the counter of yet another open kitchen concept in Quebec City.
La Planque’s menu is available online, but only in French. I opted for the Angus Beef entrée, garganelli as a main course and donut holes for desert. The waitress suggested red wine, a privately imported brand that sounded like “colet frisé”. (That’s how she told me she was able to remember the name. I don’t usually write down the name of privately imported bottles, because I know I won’t find them at the SAQ. But, I’ll make an effort to write them down next time.)
The entrée: Angus beef tataki. The waitress told me Chef Guillaume Saint-Pierre doesn’t like using the word tataki, but it is exactly what was served, and to perfection might I add. The dish was set up with horseradish yogurt (could have been sharper), bitter capers and light hazelnut oil; it made the beef stand out perfectly. I was expecting the meat to be a little warmer, but it was served fridge cold. The plate was topped with delicate shavings of Parmesan that didn’t swallow up the other ingredients. The entrée was filled with beautiful colours and distinctive flavours that married each other to perfection.
The garganelli were al dente! Served in a light crème sauce, I enjoyed every bite of my main course. And the meatballs tasted nothing like the blah that they looked like. The lemon zest brought the combination of light spices to a flavour-filled meal. I must say the meatballs were a little too salty for my taste, but otherwise succulent. I am very critical when it comes to lemon, because I LOVE lemon. The Chef managed to make an original, flavour-explosive dish that served my appetite for lemon! The soya beans crunched perfectly between my teeth and the pepper-bitter taste of arugula just works. I must add thought that the dish was a little too salty for my taste, but otherwise highly recommended. Unfortunately (or fortunately!), their menu randomly changes, therefore the garganelli are no longer available. But judging by the way they were able to discreetly mix flavours all while bringing out individual tastes, I say La Planque is a must!
And finally desert arrived, which in no way should I have ordered because I was full! But being there and seeing more lemon on the menu, my curiosity couldn’t resist. I ate sugar-dipped à l’ancienne donut holes, set on lemon creme. Good, but nothing I can’t bake myself. Desert making is an art and I expected a little Humph! as we experienced with our two other dishes.
I must admit I was bothered by the music. I heard a combination of cacophonic genres that did not mix with one another. For example: Steevie Wonder, Sam Roberts, The XX, Lenny Kravitz, The Stones, Gipsy Kings, Bert Dennen, Dire Straits, Black Keys and the Notorious B.I.G all played in this order. It felt like someone wanted to prove they knew about music, loved a whole bunch of genres, rather than mix a playlist for a restaurant ambiance. I had the speaker blasting the music all dinner long; I couldn’t just ignore it with conversation. Judging by the sudden looks of the four guys sitting next to us, they couldn’t ignore it either. Work to please your customers, not yourself J And please take out that horrible Hotel California cover from the playlist. Along with the jazz version of Black Hole sun that I heard at Chez Boulay, they make up the worst songs to listen to.