Le Toast! is celebrating its 10th anniversary. For the occasion, I was invited (along with a few bloggers/journalists) to taste the restaurant’s ten-service anniversary menu concocted by Chef Christian Lemelin. The menu is an impressive time-travelling culinary journey inspired by the Toast’s most popular dishes of the past decade. Every dish presented was paired with a wine selected by the co-owner, Maître d’Hôtel and sommelier Stéphane D’Anjou.
We were greeted on their superb terrace, one with a very romantic feel avoid of the usually very cliché and sombre tone of most Quebec City old port restaurant terraces. The Toast!’s is located behind the restaurant in an interior court surrounded by stonewalls. A charming setting decorated with drapes and flowers where one can easily imagine passion-filled evenings, lively cocktails and/or friendly dinners. Definitely one of the most beautiful terraces in Quebec City.
But the piece de résistance, the reason why the Toast! is one of the best restaurants in Quebec City, is Chef Christian Lemelin. For the past ten years, he has charmed the most refined palates with his creativity. Everything Lemelin presents on a plate has a raison d’être, a careful selection of flavours (sometimes very subtle, for you refined palates!) combined to emphasize season-fresh produce. To this day, the Toast! has never disappointed me. This ten-year anniversary menu is definitely not an exception.
Here then is a somewhat visual journey of this wonderful 10-service meal I was blessed with last week. These are appetizer-size portions, the same size as every other item on the Toast!’s menu. As a result, you get to taste more than one dish per visit. And before we go any further, you must have foie gras when you visit the Toast!, it is the best I have tasted in Quebec City thus far.
Here comes the #foodporn …
1-Hen sweetbread with fresh parsley and truffle oil.
-Dishes 1, 2 and 3 were paired with a glass of L’Orpailleur Brut.
Parlsey is underrated, and in this bite it shined. Sweetbread is so delicate that bold flavours easily overwhelm its delicate flavours and unique texture. One bite, three distinctive tastes that set a harmonious tone for what would be the best press invitation dinner I’ve experienced thus far.
2-Deer tartare, blue foot mushroom duxelle, black garlic and root celery pudding topped with whipped foie gras.
That pudding! All this served in a light yet crispy and not-a-single-taste-of-fried-oil cone.
3-Gaspé snow crab, cumin carrot pudding, Riopelle cheese spume, dill oil, olive oil emulsion and Meyer lemon.
No two bites were alike. A collage of flavours that proved Lemelin’s ability to work with even the boldest of flavours that ultimately made the Gaspé crab stand out. The best bite featured cumin, crab and dill oil.
4-Salmon rice croquette, tuna and scallop tartare, lemon oil, garlic, coriander, pepper agar, chorizo and fried capers.
-Paired with Pruner’s Reward Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, 2012.
Lemon oil to go please! It gave a nice pat on the back of the croquette. The chorizo could have had a little more attitude, to kick things up a notch. Loved all the different textures in this dish, especially fried capers alongside the tuna and scallop tartare. A classic pairing, but served here with a creative effort.
5-Butter poached lobster risotto, with a browned chicken juice and crème, maïtake mushrooms, leek, tomato and Parmesan.
-Paired with a 2003 Viré Clessé Domaine de Bongran.
I’m still salivating as I am writing this down. Tout en douceur et en saveurs as I would say in French. A very sophisticated dish. Risotto and lobster cooked to perfection. With the very first bite, the crème lit up my taste buds while the tenderness of the risotto settled gently on my teeth. Fireworks of fresh lobster juices entertained every possible emotion in my mouth. This dish is very sensual and every bite proved Chef Christian Lemelin’s outstanding talent.
6-fresh mushroom crostini (oven roasted shitake, maïtake, honey armillary and paris) mozzarella di bufala, truffle oil emulsion, basil, topped with a poached quail egg and arugula.
-paired with a Rully vieilles vignes Domaine de la Thalie, 2009.
Unfortunately this was not the most vivid of the ten dishes and should be served before the lobster risotto. All the ingredients settled in the same area of my mouth, probably because it was expecting a little more emotion. The ingredients complimented each other, no more, no less. And it would have been the perfect timing to add pimento. Or had there been a little more vinegar to the egg…
7-fried veal sweatbreads, sweet patatoe mash, asparagus (Quebec grown finally!) and oyster mushrooms au beurre with foie gras bubbles with a side of pan seared foie gras.
-Paired with Barbera d’Asti Ca Di Pian, La Spinetta, 2006
Perfection exists and featured in this dish: Christian Lemelin’s foie gras. When you taste this dish, emotion will win you over and make you celebrate life. This carefully elaborated dish will bring you so much pleasure, you will have to stop for a second, sip on La Spinetta and think about life. Thank you life for Christian Lemelin’s foie gras! Foie gras IS life (na, na, na, na, na).
8-warm goat cheese, fresh thyme, truffle oil beets and roasted pecans.
-paired with Attention Chenin Méchant Anjou
Warm goat cheese. What more can I say? Honestly, at this point, I am completely overwhelmed by dish #7.
9-mapple soufflé, cedar-flavoured ice cream, crunchy nuts and maple lace.
-moscatel de Sétubal Colheita, 2011.
Who makes cedar-flavoured ice cream? Bold Chefs who know their customers! Daring palates and adrenaline seeking taste buds, this desert wants you!
This special 10th anniversary menu is available for a limited time only.
17, rue du Sault-au-Matelot, Québec