Thursday, February 9, 2017

Quebec City, CANADA Edition: Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens

Au ancien canadiensIt's finally our last meal in Quebec City. And, Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens was the restaurant of choice.

Au ancien canadiensThis restaurant is a "well-worn tourist destination," serving up country cooking in a Quebec style. The historic, red and white building has small windows, low ceilings and tight dining quarters. The servers are clothed in historic garb, and the former house has lots of small rooms.

Au ancien canadiens
The historic Maison Jacquet, one of the largest houses in upper-town in its day and the oldest in Quebec, was built in 1675-76. The site was granted to François Jacquet on November 30, 1674 by the nuns of the neighboring Ursuline Convent. Its thick walls, solid joints, marvelous wainscoting and recessed cupboards are characteristic of the houses constructed during that period. The premises consist of two buildings, that on the westernmost side being the newest, and that on the east dating back to the French Regime. Several prominent figures have resided in Maison Jacquet, including the author of the novel "Les Anciens Canadiens", Philippe-Aubert de Gaspé, who lived here from 1815 to 1824. Though it is contradicted by history, the myth persists that General Montcalm also lived and died in this famous house. Since 1966, the Maison Jacquet has housed the restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens, internationally know for its fine cuisine and warm hospitality.
Au ancien canadiensWe didn't have reservations, but they managed to fit us in. I looked over the menu with precise calcualtion to see how much Canadian money I had left and what I could get (with the hopes that it would break out even with tip so I didn't have to exchange any back). There are a few things they are known for - wild game, meat pies and sugar pie. The menu has a wide range of items, though - including wapiti, which is elk and common in Quebec City.

Au ancien canadiensFirst, we were served some fresh bread, which was pretty decent.

Au ancien canadiensSo, I ordered a couple appetizers - wild caribou and bison rillettes, confit of carrots ($7) and Quebec meat pie with homemade fruit preserves ($12). I became fascinated with rillettes after being served one at a cook-off, and my fellow judges explained to me what I was eating. Rillettes are similar to pate - made with pork (or other meat) that is cubed/chopped, with lots of salt and cooked slowly until the fat is tender and easy to shred, and then it's cooled to form a paste. This was good, but not super exciting. I did appreciate the pairing of the carrots, which gave off some sweetness to the dish.

Au ancien canadiensThe Quebec meat pie elicited a similar response from me. The meat itself was fine - I think more seasoning would help? But I relied on the combination of the fruit preserves with the meat for a more balanced bite. Think of a flaky pot pie with a side of applesauce. It's fine, just not crazy amazing.

Au ancien canadiensFor dessert, I ordered the maple caramel bread pudding, which was very good. So rich, but the perfect texture and not fussy with chocolate chips or anything like that. Just mapley, caramely and thick.

Overall, I think the restaurant was OK. It was dark, and it was clearly more touristy. The food was a bit on the bland side - but traditional. So, there is value in that. But, the bread pudding made the meal worth it for me. Definitely good.

Grade: B
Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato