What is the first dish that comes to mind when you think of Quebec? I bet it’s poutine. Our famous French fry fast-food creation draws a lot of attention, thanks to chefs from London to Los Angeles who have created their own variations of the signature dish. However, the association with a calorie-laden comfort food displeases many Québécois, who would prefer other, more refined specialties to represent us on the world culinary stage. I personally love poutine, and I firmly believe a visit to Quebec is incomplete until you try the dish, but yes, visitors should also seek out the fine cheeses, ice wines, and craft beers that win international prizes every year. The following places like 1608, Vignoble Sainte-Pétronille, and Resto-Bar à bières Le Projet promise memorable tastings of dishes—and for a sweet ending, don’t miss desserts like the traditional sugar pie at Le Petit Cochon Dingue.
Never tasted poutine before? This is the place to get acquainted with the concoction. A local chain, Ashton has 24 locations around the city, including one right on Grande-Allée. Hand-cut local potatoes, homemade sauce, and fresh, perfectly squeaky cheese make Ashton’s poutine a great introduction to the dish.
Local Cheeses (1608 ‒ Wine & Cheese Bar)
In the newly renovated Château Frontenac is an innovative bar concept: the 1608 makes wine and cheese pairings its specialty. Over 30 different cheeses, some of which are exclusive to the bar, are aged in a temperature-controlled “cheese room”. Served on rustic boards along with charcuteries, if desired, the cheeses can be matched with a wide selection of wines sold by the glass.
Ice Wine (Vignoble Sainte-Pétronille)
Our winters may give our wine producers a hard time, but they also allow us to create our specialty: ice wine. Ice wine is a type of dessert wine produced with grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. This freezing concentrates the sugars, producing a sweet wine with a refreshing acidity. Sample this delicacy at the beautiful Vignoble Sainte-Pétronille, on Île d’Orléans, a 15-minute drive from downtown Québec City. The tasting room and terrace overlook unfurling vine hills, and there is no better setting than the Montmorency Falls for enjoying the winery’s delicious creations.
Local Beers (Resto-Bar à bières Le Projet)
The province of Québec can count over 120 microbreweries that together produce more than 3300 different beers. Want a taste? Head to Le Projet, a “beer bar” that serves a province-wide selection of craft beers to enjoy with affordable and excellent burgers, poutines, and fish and chips. The bar’s ornate room makes an interesting contrast with the casual atmosphere of the place, a new favorite of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste neighborhood.
Traditional Sugar Pie (Le Petit Cochon Dingue)
Donuts dredged in powdered sugar, sucre à la crème (a blonde cream fudge), apple pie… All delicious desserts that many Québécois grew up eating. The luckiest among us still have a grandmother churning out childhood favorites; for all others, there’s Le Petit Cochon Dingue, a bakery in the Old Port. If you can’t sample everything—you are not to be blamed; portions are impressive—opt for the traditional sugar pie, a single-crust pie filled with a luscious cream, butter, and maple syrup concoction.