I love the Café du Clocher Penché. Any day of the week, at any time of day, le Clocher is my go-to restaurant for exquisite food, impeccable service and creative local flavours. Chef Mathieu Brisson and his brigade work magic with Quebec City’s surrounding terroir.
I’ve recently come to realise that the restaurant I visit the most has never been featured in this blog. Shame on me. I admit it, it took a few reader emails to realise that the restaurant I was recommending the most didn’t even have the slightest mention or picture in this soon-to-be three-year-old blog. Again, shame on me.
Time has come to rectify matters. Let me begin by tempting your eyes.
The Café du Clocher Penché is the bistro that best defines Quebec City’s flavours. This city has been doing farm-to-table even before it was a trend.
Some of the province’s most fertile regions are located all around: Île d’Orléans, Côte de Beaupré, Portneuf, Charlevoix and the Beauc, known as the epicentre of maple syrup production in Canada. Fruits, vegetables and meat come easily accessible, in high quality and almost anytime of year. Almost. Weather is definitely the biggest challenge. But, restaurants like the Clocher Penché have managed to adapt to these challenges in order to serve local and fresh produce during any season.
What are the first things you notice when looking at the above pictures? Apart from the fact that they are cellphone pictures, you probably noticed lots of colour and texture in my plates. Chef Mathieu Brisson’s portrays his skills by using contrasts in colour -often served on dark plates- which makes the food tremendously appealing. Just writing these words ghrelin is on! Each meal is served in an environment defined not only by the textures of the many wood essences that decorate the restaurant, but with the subtlety of the textural dynamics used to enhance the customer’s experience. Not one dish is alike, not one week tastes the same. Every season is a new playground.
Chef Brisson is a disciple of Normand Laprise Chef and owner of Toqué! He is renowned and greatly appreciated for his use and promotion of Quebec’s terroir. A philosophy where the essence of a culinary experience begins with the relationship they have with their producers. Relationships that in return affect the quality of produce and benefit greatly the customer’s experience.
Brunch at the Clocher is among my favourite meals, but it’s the salmon tartar that keeps me coming back for more. Served with pickled beets, grapefruit emulsion and a vivid fennel salad, the dish is simple yet created in finesse and beauty. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder you say? In Quebec City, I believe beauty takes place in the mouth of whoever eats at the Café du Clocher Penché.
Look around when you eat at the Clocher, take the time to recognize the large picture frames at the entrance. Appreciate the artwork displayed on the walls. These details speak for themselves and portray the restaurant’s philosophy. I have not seen another restaurant in town feel the same way about the “customer experience”. I believe these little attentions make the Clocher Penché‘s gastronomy one of the most honest forms of art in Quebec City.
If you had only one restaurant to visit to truly understand what Quebec City’s culinary culture is, the Café du Clocher Penché is your essential destination.