A few months back, our good friend Zeus mentioned a restaurant that we should check out. We got excited when we read the menu and, despite our combined intelligence, we failed to notice that this restaurant was in Quebec City. In all fairness, we would be willing to go far for a great meal…but perhaps not that far on a regular Thursday night. It was an easy mistake since one of the Toast! restaurants is located on St-Paul … in Vieux Quebec. We thought this meant “Old Montreal,” in our defence the Divas had never been to Quebec City. Only when we tried calling the restaurant to make a reservation for an upcoming Thursday did we realize that the area code was long distance. To make the situation even more embarrassing, we had mentioned the restaurant to both Sweet Pea and Calvin who had gotten excited after seeing the menu. They too were disappointed that the restaurant was not in Montreal. Therefore it was quite clear that when the Divas decided to spend the weekend in Quebec City, we knew exactly where we were going for dinner, Restaurant Toast!
Like many restaurants in Vieux Quebec, Restaurant Toast!, which is attached to Le Hotel Priori, and had an ice sculpture on the outside, an ode to the Winter Carnival. Toast! offers two dining room options, one for a quieter night and the other with a bit more hustle and bustle. As they took our coats we were given the choice of which room to dine in before being seated. We opted for the louder of the two rooms; we were not there for a romantic dinner. The busier of the two dining rooms was filled with artwork, a fireplace and a large window looking out onto the pedestrian only street.
Seated in the soothing red glow of this small dining room, our gracious waiter brought out bread and olive oil, and took our order for a dry, red wine from their wine list, heavy with private French imports. The Bordeaux was a great wine with a lovely aftertaste.
The descriptive menu at Toast! offers their classics all in appetizer size which was great for us since we love trying as much as we can at a new restaurant. Especially when we are away from home and cannot easily return to Toast! And to top it all off, the bottom of the menu reads “offrez-vous un extra de foie gras poêlé de 60g à 15$ sur l’entrée de votre choix!” Brilliant, we could add foie gras to any dish. Our waiter suggested choosing four dishes to start, so we made our selection. Before long our first Toast! specialty had arrived.The deer tartare was the first to arrive and was served flat as opposed to the usual taller molded tartare that we are used to. It was very well-seasoned and redder than beef tartare. We had had deer tartare before and were impressed with this appetizer. It sat on a celeriac puree which was good but a bit strong for the Divas’ taste but the dollops of foie gras mousse and hollandaise sauce on top were splendid. You really tasted the rich differences between the two mousses and we were soon wondering which of the two, hollandaise or foie gras mousse, did we prefer. The grilled asparagus spears were a nice touch, as was the crisped baguette formed into a circle. Although we always opt for more baguette crisps, there are rarely enough for the Divas.
Next up, our waiter had recommended that we try the Buffala mozzarella. We could not decide on a fourth appetizer and he recommended this dish as a house specialty. This appetizer was very good and the combination of flavours was great. The grilled red peppers, prosciutto slices, moist cheese and parmesan were wonderful and the sauce was so good, especially when we dipped the grilled country bread in it.
Our waiter then brought us the bone marrow appetizer. The majority of plate was divine except the stuffing/crumb topping in the bone, it seemed to overpower the marrow itself. We couldn’t appreciate the chunks of bone marrow; we saw them but barely tasted them because the stuffing was so strong. The seasoning should have enhanced the bone marrow, not overpower it. The sweetbreads were delicious and the mushroom ravioli were also nice, and the toasted almond slivers added a nice crunch to the dish. This was a good dish but the stuffing was not necessary.
Our last dish was undoubtedly the best. The rabbit shoulder was wrapped in “jambonette”, a flavourful, crisp and salty bacon-like ham. The foie gras sitting on top was a generous piece and perfectly seared. Adding to the richness of the dish was gnocchi with rabbit confit and earthy mushrooms. This was our favourite dish and it was everything that was promised. Looking back, we should have added pan seared foie gras on all of our dishes, but that is just the glutton within us speaking.
When we see certain words on a dessert menu, we must order the dessert that is being described. Caramel is one of those words. We indulged in a warm « pain Génois » along with complimentary glasses of apple cider as a digestif. The rum-caramel center of the pain Génois was great, and the praline gananche and Valrhona sauces paired very well with the cake. The buttermilk ice cream and crunchy almond bark completed the dish which provided everything the description promised. This was an enjoyable dessert and along with the apple cider, provided the perfect finale to our meal.
The chef, Christian Lemelin, is both the owner of Toast! and a kitchen consultant on the show Salut Bonjour. If you’re looking for more of a lounge vibe, Toast! also opened Simple Snack Sympathique (known as SSS) on St. Paul which we heard has fun eats but Toast! is for those looking for more of a culinary experience.
It’s impossible to go wrong when a menu allows you to add foie gras to any dish, and what a piece of pan seared foie gras! And at Toast!, the Divas came away with a great meal in a cozy atmosphere. We were surprised that Toast! did not have a beautiful bar (besides a small service bar), which you expect from chic hotel restaurants. Our only complaint with Toast! is that their menu was very descriptive and listed many ingredients per dish, although this intrigued us to order some of the dishes, once they arrived we did not necessarily taste all of the separate flavours. Sometimes less description is better because then you know what is dominant and what is not.
The Divas ended their night with a toast to Zeus for his restaurant recommendation and headed out to enjoy the crisp Quebec City night and the festivities of the Winter Carnival.
Our Rating: Splendid
Tagged: Appetizers, Apple Cider, Bone Marrow, Christian Lemelin, Cocktails, Confit, Deer Tartare, Duck, foie gras, Foie Gras Mousse, Foie Gras Poêlé, Le Priori Hotel, Mozarella di Buffala, Old Quebec, Pain Génois, Private Imports, Quebec, Quebec City, Rabbit, Reservations Needed, Restaurant, Salut Bonjour, Sault-au-Matelot, Seared Foie Gras, Simple Snack Sympathique, Splendid, SSS, Stéphane D’Anjou, Sweetbreads, tapas, terrace, Toast!, Vieux Quebec, wine