We were on a mission to try some Poutine, probably Quebec’s best known dish, consisting of french fries topped with cheese curd and brown gravy. It is much better than it sounds. The guide on our walking tour recommended a fast-food restaurant, which was crowded and had all the ambiance of a McDonald’s. That wasn’t for us.
We had about given up, when we stumbled on Aux Anciens Canadiens, a bastion of traditional Québécois cuisine occupying an old home built in 1675–6. One of the city’s oldest buildings, it has been a restaurant since 1966. The interior, with its thick stone walls and low ceilings, retains much of its old charm. It seems to be constantly full, and we were lucky enough to get a table on about 45 minutes’ notice.
Here (above) you see the Poutine, at CA$14 probably triple or quadruple what you’d pay in a fast food joint, but certainly well worth it in these surroundings.
We were somewhat at a loss to choose from the entrées, so we ordered the Québec Tasting Platter to share (CA$32; above), which included a bit of everything: Quebec meat pie, Lac St-Jean meat pie, meat and pig’s knuckle ragout, salt pork grillades, and baked beans—most of it very good. The various meats included the likes of bison, elk, venison, and caribou. Obviously, in these preparations one could not really tell them apart.
This was more than enough food for two people, especially after the poutine. Even without that, you’d need the appetite of a lumberjack to finish a plate this size. Service was attentive, and nobody minded that both of our orders were to share.
I don’t know Quebec City well enough to know how many restaurants serve food in this style, and I don’t know Quebec well enough to know whether its citizens ever really ate this way. Is this authenticity, or Quebec for tourists? All I know is: it was fun, it was good, and you should go.
Aux Anciens Canadiens (34, rue Saint-Louis, Quebec City))