This lower-town bar in a converted theater draws in Quebec City’s small cultural crowd. It’s okay on most nights but it does get mildly pompous on Tango Sundays (unless you enjoy watching pouting upper-town 40-year-olds dancing the Tango next to your table). We went on a Wednesday and it was eerily deserted, even by Quebec City standards.
I’d heard the poutine here was fantastic since they make the sauce from scratch using the leftover juices from their roast beef dinners. I later heard this wasn’t true. Unfortunately, poutine is nowhere to be found on the menu. How am I supposed to order something that isn’t there? I did it anyway. “Of course we have poutine,” said the waitress “We have the best poutine in town!”
Although the Old Fashioned I ordered with my meal was quite possibly the most poorly-mixed drink I have ever ordered, the poutine was outstanding. This was not only the best poutine in town, but the best I’d ever had. Unfortunately, subsequent visits showed me that standards were inconsistent. I’ve been served up some sub-par poutine.
Fries: These thin fries have a light crispy coating. They’re tasty at first but are floury toward the end. Fortunately, the sauce counters the starchiness. Not too greasy, nor too salty, and still tasty. The skin does not have the earthy taste found in some fries. Unfortunately, the crispy exterior mushes up slightly toward the end of your poutine, but this is a mild flaw in an otherwise surprisingly tasty non-greasy fry. 26/30.
Gravy: When they get it right, this homemade gravy is indeed outstanding. On my first visits, it seemed sweet with a spicy BBQ edge at first but there are underlying complex undertones to round off the taste. There was a slight taste of red wine in the sauce. It was not as salty as other gravies but managed to be very flavourful, refined, complex and original. Unfortunately, it was too heavy and salty on other visits. Temperature is also inconsistent, at times too cold. 39-48/50.
Cheese: On my first visit, there was a good quantity with a slight squeak, though the chunks were rather small. On a later visit, chunk size had improved but the cheese had no squeak and was unforgivably out-of-the-fridge cold. 11-16/20.
Verdict: Outstanding on a good day, okay on a bad day. On a good day, this poutine manages to taste great without being too greasy – a rare feat! Definitely worth the experience. The complex gravy provides an original touch without veering away from the traditional essence of poutine. An excellent introduction for those with more refined palates. This poutine was so good, I immediately went to Chez Ashton’s to compare with my other top poutine. The result: two very different poutine experiences, but both of them equally good in their own way. Unfortunately, standards seemed to have gone down in later visits.
Price: Surprisingly good – $5.75 for a decent size, despite the atmosphere. Cheaper than most drinks.
Opening Hours: Open from dinner to 3AM between Wednesday and Sunday. Closed for the entire summer tourist season (from the end of June to the beginning of September).
Location: 263, rue Saint-Vallier Est, Quebec City, QC. In Saint-Roch, a 15 minute walk downhill from the old city.