Diva #1 has walked by L’ Auberge Saint-Gabriel countless times but she’d never gotten around to eating there. Built in 1668 by a French soldier, it’s the first auberge in North America to receive a liquor license, in 1754. The design is gorgeous, with many twisting halls opening into rooms, an ode to Quebec history. With plenty of halls for private receptions like weddings, a catering company, large restaurant and Velvet Speakeasy, L’Auberge Saint-Gabriel offers quite a lot under its very old roof.
Diva #1 and Peaches walked into this gorgeous restaurant and were surprised by how warm and cozy it felt on a cold winter day. The walls were stone, a fireplace was burning, books were on one side of the dining hall, a spit roasting Cornish hens was behind the bread display; generally the place was warm, inviting and reminiscent of French Revolution France, with a few modern touches. The mood was set, and we were soon remarking that this was the perfect spot for a date.
We rarely comment on service but the service at L’Auberge Saint-Gabriel was exceptional. The sommelier helped us choose a full bodied dry wine off the extensive, yet daunting, wine list. Two waiters would constantly visit our table, one with an impeccable French accent, both described the dishes, the menu and gave us recommendations. We ordered the small charcuterie platter and it was delightful, with prosciutto, white ham, smoked duck, salami, gherkins, dry sausage, and mustard with a potato salad with lardons.
Our sommelier explained to us that since we were eating fondue, we should not opt for an oaky wine but one with fruits so that it did not change the taste of the fondue. We love that our sommelier explained exactly why he had chosen our Bordeaux. Our waiter explained that the charcuterie always comes before the fondue, as is the way of the Swiss. We also ordered a pâté en croute which was made of foie gras, sweetbread, bacon, pork and enclosed in a pâte feuilletée instead of the usual fatty jelly. It came with an arugula and frisé salad that was lightly dressed and refreshing.
The Swiss fondue was for a minimum of four people but they graciously prepared one for two. We were given plenty of white bread and a multigrain bread that had hints of lemon and herbs; we loved every morsel. Our waiter explained that we should crack pepper on our plate and dip the cheese soaked bread into the pepper, or dip our bread into the generous glass of Kirsch that was provided, before dipping it into the cheese. Using the pepper and Kirsch interchangeably offered us two very different flavours, all by using the same pot of cheese. Diva #1 and Peaches were a little boozy from the wine and kirsch, and very pleased with the incredible evening.
L’ Auberge Saint-Gabriel you are the perfect cozy winter spot, and the cheese fondue is perfection. You must love strong smelling cheese as this is not for the faint of heart. We ended our meal with a vacherin pastry, so French, and so lovely. Made with vanilla ice cream, raspberry sorbet and very tasty meringue. We were impressed on all counts, food, service and atmosphere. We cannot wait to return with friends, and if we aren’t too full, continue our night at Velvet Speakeasy.
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays
Tagged: 426 Rue Saint Gabriel, Auberge Saint-Gabriel, Auberge Saint-Gabriel Montreal, Charcuterie, Date Night, Fondue, French Food, French Restaurant, H2Y 2Z9, Marc Bolay, Montreal, Old Montreal, Old Montreal Restaurant, Pâté en croute, Romantic, Swiss Fondue, Swiss Food, Vacherin, Velvet Club, Velvet Speakeasy, wine