Breakfast in Quebec: In Search of a Decent Meal

Breakfast in QuebecIt had been a terrible week of eating in Quebec. While things started off well in Quebec City, where steak frite at L’Entrecote Saint Jean was as wonderful as the succulent ribs that fell onto the bacon-topped side Caesar salad at Cochon Dingue, there was a foreboding in the air. The twenty-below temperatures that dipped at night were part of the problem. And venturing out into such frigid conditions with our teething daughter, who had already guaranteed us that she would not sit through a meal, helped us to fail gastronomically. Finally, staying at ski resorts, where good food is as commonplace as Abominable Snowman sightings, made our ingestive experiences as flavorful as a trip to a Soviet-era spice market.

 

In fact, the best eating experience I had involved the things I chose to avoid. We were staying at a sleek mountain hotel with a chic restaurant. When I read their menu, I salivated over the words steak tartare. But I had a uncommon moment of food-doubt and for some reason I followed my wife’s order. Together, we ate the worst burgers either of us had had in ages. If a restaurant can’t cook a hamburger correctly, then they have little business serving up raw steak. Needless to say, I was nauseated with my meal and entirely pleased that I had settled on such horrid, cooked meat.

 

The next morning, we spent the day driving from Mont-Sainte-Anne to Mont Tremblant, wanting nothing more from our day than a halfway decent lunch. But we couldn’t find a thing along the way, and gambled on an exit, where the best we could come up with was bread slathered in ketchup, topped with unmelted cheese, and described as pizza. Their fried chicken was nuggets.

 

Actually, I need to correct myself: the best thing that we found was after that meal, before getting back on the highway. Next to the gas station stood a Tim Horton’s and I snacked on an average, artificially-enhanced doughnut.

 

That night we arrived in Tremblant. The wonderful ski mountain had a sprawling village at its base with myriad food options. But in collusive distaste, all of the restaurants decided on serving the same over-priced, beautifully sounding dishes of bleh. (I ordered a chile that had more cheese on top than meat and beans beneath. Harper’s chicken nuggets from the children’s menu were literally the store-bought, animal-shaped frozen kind. There were plenty more gustatory offenses.)

 

I wound up getting sick, (not from the food, though I’ll make it my scapegoat). I was dreading the flight home. To travel while sickly with poorly packed backpacks–I lose packing skills when I’m ill–and a teething infant was a certain disaster. I needed something to take my mind off the impending awfulness. The tasteless hotel we spent our last night at recommended a restaurant down the road in St. Jovite, but luckily–see the aforementioned tastelessness–it was closed until the spring.

 

“Do you know of a good place to grab breakfast?” I asked a woman stepping into her cross-country skis outside the shuddered restaurant.

 

“Ah, yes,” she said after squinting her face to hear me better. “R.O. May.” She gave me easy directions, which consisted of two turns back to the main road.

 

“There’s a place that’s serving breakfast,” my wife said as we drove the main road twice looking for R.O. May. “We might as well just eat there.”

 

We drove for a bit longer and failed to find R.O. May. Fine, I said, realizing that we only had an hour to eat, returning to the place she had seen from the car window. “What’s it called?” I asked.

 

“It started with an L, I think.”

 

When we arrived, the restaurant did start with an L. L’Arome. Or phonetically, Lay R. O. May.

 

Breakfast in Quebec

 

Breakfast in Quebec

 

The quaint little breakfast place, set to close at two, had diners seated before stuffed omelets and stacks of pancakes. We ordered an omelet and artisanal waffles. (I had asked on Instagram what an artisanal waffle even was. Someone cleverly replied: it’s when they only use part of the waffle iron. While this might be true,) the waffles, served with ramekins of homemade peach-mango and raspberry-cranberry jams, had an artist’s touch. Everything was wonderful, even the piles of fresh fruit and thick slices of seeded bread. Each plate cost about twelve dollars. (My daughter’s adult-sized-portion off the kids’ menu was half that price.)

 

Interestingly enough, it was also the first time that Harper behaved in a restaurant and didn’t reject her food, leading me to believe that my daughter’s emotional reaction to cuisine is similar to a Zagat’s rating. The longer it stays in the mouth the higher the score. I was leaving Quebec sick, but satisfied.

Posted on by Noah Lederman in I Ate What?

2 Responses to Breakfast in Quebec: In Search of a Decent Meal

  1. Minna kapp

    Sorry you had such a bad gustatory experience. We’ve been to Quebec many times and found the weekend buffets at
    Bigger restaurants were delicious and we also had wonderful lunches in old montreal. Love their escargot.

    • Noah Lederman

      Thanks for the note, Minna. I’ll use that tip the next time I’m in Quebec. I’ll also spend less time at the ski resorts, where the slopes are fine and the culinary peak rises somewhere between a bologna sandwich and a pizza bagel.

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