Pat Retro reminds me of my high school years in suburban Quebec. I often cycled out there for lunch. The food was better than the boiled vegetables at the high school cafeteria, and there were usually a few cute private-school girls in their tartan miniskirt uniforms hanging around.
And then there’s the dubious Celine Dion link…
Yes, the restaurant has the distinction of being schmaltz-mistress Celine Dion’s favourite in Quebec City. Rumour has it that Celine’s husband recently bought the old broken Scopitone video jukeboxes that played 60s Quebec yé-yé classics in the restaurant for most of the 1990s.
Pat Retro was recently sold to a new owner and went through a full makeover. The results of the makeover aren’t bad, but I miss the old Pat Retro. The new one feels a bit too sanitized. They laid on the retro vibe a bit too thick and brought in fake vintage furnishings. It lacks the gritty homey second-hand junk store feel of its previous incarnation. Moreover, it seems to get tackier with every visit, the latest horror being giant heavily-pixelized decals of 1960s pop stars obscuring the windows.
But I can forgive this flawed makeover because the poutine may be better than it’s ever been. A marvel, in its own quietly-efficient way, although a relatively inconsistent one.
Fries: Great fries. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, though my colleague seemed to think their colour was a bit too dark. They were lacking salt on my second visit, but were still relatively flawless. 26/30.
Gravy: The secret is in the sauce. A classic brown sauce with a few complex undertones. It quietly enhances the flavour of all the other ingredients without going into sodium overload. Wow! Unfortunately, it’s inconsistent, and was a bit too salty the second time around. 46/50.
Cheese: Squeaky fresh, nice chunks, and good (not great) portions. I think they gave me the bottom of the bag on my second visit, with lots of unsqueaky pebbles of cheese 16/20.
TOTAL SCORE: 88/100
Verdict: Further proof that Quebec City beats Montreal on the poutine front, and this one may even beat the local Chez Ashton standard, though it is inconsistent.
Value: Slightly more expensive than your average poutine, especially for a restaurant without table service, but well worth the price.
Opening hours: 10:30AM to 11PM or midnight.
Location: 1983, rue de Bergerville, Québec, QC, right off rue Maguire, Sillery’s main street.