Au bonnet d’âne (The Dunce Cap), is one of the nicer cafés in Quebec City. It is located in the artsy progressive enclave of Saint-Jean-Baptiste. The wood furnishings, wood fridge, and tin ceiling give the place a nice cozy feel. There are display cabinets with school-themed memorabilia. This is appropriate, as the Grey Nuns used to run a school across the street–my mom went to grade school there in the 1940s and likes to point out where they took out the school door and replaced it with a window. Look closely–you can still see it.
The restaurant also has a nice terrace out back.
Food is slightly above average, albeit unexceptional. The menu is a conservative mix of nachos, burgers, pasta, pizza, poutine, and meat dishes, some with an inventive twist. There are several varieties of poutine on the menu, including one with curry sauce, another with cajun cream sauce, and the oxymoronic “poutine française” with a tasty creamy peppercorn sauce.
Fries: The fries are astringent and seem to dry out the palate. They have a slight floury texture and the skin adds a hint of bitterness. Home-cut and home-cooked but rather unexceptional 17/30.
Gravy: The “Québécois” poutine has a rather average brown sauce. The taste and temperature are generally OK, though it is a bit salty and nothing to get excited about. 33/50.
Cheese: Excellent squeak and good quantity 18/20.
Verdict: Average. There’s better stuff on the menu. If you must have a poutine, I’d recommend the “poutine française” instead. Worth a stop for the atmosphere.
Price: A bit high, but not obscenely expensive: $7.25 before tax.
Opening Hours: winter: SUN-WED: 8AM to 10PM; THU-SAT: 8AM to 11PM – summer: 8AM to 11PM every day.
Location: 298, rue Saint-Jean, Quebec, QC. 15 minute walk west from the old city (note to tourists: this is a nice walk & well worth getting out of the old city tourist circus into an authentic lived-in neighbourhood).