Although Pain Béni was located right in our hotel, we only managed to make it down for our complimentary breakfast each morning, as well as one late lunch on Wednesday afternoon.
All four mornings at Pain Béni were alright, with the most memorable item for me being a lovely bowl of creamy oatmeal served with maple syrup... yum.
Each morning we were given a list of about 8 items to choose from, all ranging in price from $6 to $8. Service was always a bit strange, as I think they simply pulled it together to serve hotel guests, so we were often in for lengthy waits outside receiving our food.
The 'Holy Bread' breakfast - french toast and bread pudding
At any rate, I think we were both glad to have the breakfast offered at the hotel - the food was always good and since it was included with our stay, it made for leisurely, care free mornings.
I was glad to see in my Chowhound searches that Pain Béni was popping up on the board repeatedly, mostly with a mention of lunch. So on Wednesday after a lengthy morning stroll, we were happy to head back to Place d'Armes, drop our rain gear in our room, and enjoy a relaxed lunch indoors.
We were eagerly greeted and sat at a table next to the window, perfect for watching the rain storm that had moved into the City. Our server quickly provided us with a McEwan's Scotch each (I really wish that they would have had some local microbreweries on the menu), and left us for a few moments with the lengthy menu.
With items all over the board, likely to satisfy the tourists crowding rue Sainte-Anne and the immediate area, Charles decided on Spaghetti Bolognese while I went for a fresh lobster and shrimp sandwich.
Our mains arrived and we happily got right into things. Charles' spaghetti turned out to be the perfect warm comfort food to match the rainy, grey day outside, and he happily got through the plate in no time. My sandwich was also lovely, with the sweet lobster and shrimp, sun dried tomato, salty feta and cilantro all mingling well on a nice crusty baguette. The salad that came with my sandwich could have been taken or left, with a little too much dressing and not much else to note.
There was no question of moving on to dessert at Pain Béni - with items like maple and tonka bean cookies, cilantro and apricot sorbet, and coconut risotto with wasabi pea crumble, I probably could have lived off of their dessert menu alone for most of our stay. Charles was in for the chocolate and so was I - a warm chocolate cake with a creamy white chocolate centre, along with goat cheese ice cream, beet and rhubarb sauce and soft caramel... yum.
The dessert was fantastic, with the smooth, warm chocolate cake and cool, tangy goat cheese ice cream providing a perfect contrast.
Although I'm a little disappointed we didn't get to Pain Béni more, particularly to sample more of the dessert menu, we were both happy with the dining choices made during our stay. As for the Auberge Place d'Armes itself, we loved the little room with the dormer style window providing perfect people watching opportunities. And although the bed was a little firmer than either of us prefer, we would certainly stay again for the friendly staff and central location.
View from the window
Auberge Place d'Armes and Pain Béni
24, rue Sainte-Anne, Vieux-Québec