Where Desert Tastes Like Unicorn Tears

IMG_5120Limoilou is one of Quebec’s most popular neighbourhoods for locavore enthusiasts. Everything one needs is at walking distance: butcher, bakeries, cheese, chocolates, pastries and coffee. In the summer, Limoilou even has its own farmer’s market.

Limoilou is home to a unique array of artists and their workshop: ceramists, painters, musicians and Québec City’s jewelry school. And after a few visits to Limoilou, the effervescent 3e Avenue will become a weekly visit; La Folle Fourchette will be your favourite all-things-kitchen store, Article 721 is where you’ll buy your friends birthday cards and La Boîte à Pain, your daily bread. Nektar will grind your coffee, or Sobab maybe, and you’ll have eyes for no other butcher than Croc Mignon.

In Limoilou, Community is indeed spelled with a capital “C” because of its family-oriented lifestyle. It’s where children play in the back street alleys, where you’ll find a parking for pedestrians, a public piano and year-round calendar of musical events. Limoilou is the trendiest neighbourhood in Québec City.

Its emblem is a wolf named Limoiloup and its hashtag is #Limoilove.

iX pour Bistro

Capture d’écran 2016-05-20 à 10.16.10Set apart from the more effervescent sector of Limoilou is IX pour Bistro, a small 22-seated restaurant located on the 18th avenue. It is surrounded by apartment buildings, shadowed by a train track overpass. It is so small customers often drive by thinking there must be something wrong with the address on Tripadvisor.

iX setting has nothing touristic about it. But, its customer reviews on TripAdvisor has made it the most popular restaurant in Quebec City. Tables are sold out weeks ahead of time and there is more than a month’s wait for weekend dinning. It’s quite a powerful statement considering locals know almost nothing of this restaurant.

Entertaining dinning experience

We arrived after sunset in a part of town where I could have easily believed was Brooklyn. The near-industrial feel of the surrounding, the nearby train track and the large number of English-speaking tourists left me completely disoriented. I know the city like the back of my hand, and drive on the 18th street very often. I’ve never felt disoriented like this before.

View from the counter
View from the counter

Only two employees man the restaurant: Ben, the Chef, and Vincent the waiter. The ambience is that of no other restaurant in Quebec City. The waiter’s distinctive loud laughter echoes to the chef’s pots and pans almost in synch to a pleasing soundtrack: Phantogram, Beach House, Lana Del Rey. A very hipster feel, which fits perfectly with the setting. Vincent says it’s the “evening chill” list on Spotify. It creates a relaxed atmosphere with a friendly feel.

I never dine alone the first time I try a restaurant. My partner Marie-Eve is always with me. First, I know se won’t appreciate not being part of a «first», and second, she’s as curious as I am. This kind of creative gastronomic experience is what we crave the most. Thanks to my friend Emilie who rubbed the exquisite value of the iX pour Bistro experience in my face a few times, it’s now my turn to bite into it.

iX’s menu is simple: soup, scallops, duck, pork and beef. Two of the restaurant’s back walls are painted black and list an impressive selection of privately IX-4-imported wines, bourbons and scotch.

We began the evening by sharing and entrée: Céline scallops served in a hazelnut and lemon froth sprinkled with poppy seeds. As a main dish, I ate the duck confit stuffed pork loin (!) with a side of légumes du marché, grilled buckwheat, corn and endamamés on top of a raisin and Szechuan pepper purée. Felt like fireworks of flavours in my mouth!

The dishes were paired with a bottle of Domaine de Joÿ from Cotes de Gascogne in France. A perfect fit, especially with Marie-Eve’s trout filet served with crispy (!) vegetables. For dessert, weI shared a deconstructed lemon tart. Mag-ni-fi-cient tang and incredible umami. Yes, umami! Most definitely from the crust.

The best part of the evening was offered from our seat at the counter. We got to talk and see the chef at play. We feasted our eyes on his ability to whisk, sauté and grill. A master at multitasking!

iX pour Bistro is a real show, especially for the papillae.

The bill came out to 70$ each, tip included. Highly recommended.

iX pour Bistro
1104, 18e avenue
Québec, QC
G1J 1Z1
Reservation: 418-914-8525

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