Sunday, September 5, 2010

Le Clocher Penché Bistrot

One of our dinner reservations in Québec City was at Le Clocher Penché Bistrot, a quick jaunt out of Vieux-Quebec down Saint-Joseph Est. After trudging through the rain, we finally found the restaurant situated in an old bank building on the corner of Saint-Joseph and Caron. Arriving almost 20 minutes before our 8pm reservation to a packed house, we were glad to be seated and rid of our wet coats.

The tables are incredibly tight in this place... almost uncomfortably tight, as we found with the couple next to us moving closer and closer to one another across the table as their wine bottle emptied. At any rate, we settled in with our short list of food items, a lengthy list of wines and a small dish of olives placed on the table to munch on.

We decided to start with a beer at the suggestion of the server, as the house beer on tap comes from La Barberie, a microbrewery just a few blocks from the restaurant (I really wish we would have stopped by this one). Charles had an espresso stout that was amazing, while I went for a blonde that was enjoyable, but a little to grainy for my liking. Food wise, I decided on a fresh, house made cheese to start, with a main of fresh scallops from Îles-de-la-Madeleine. Charles, ever the red meat guy, decided on beef and beef - the beef carpaccio to start and sirloin steak second.

A basket of some lovely grainy bread appeared on the table pretty quickly after ordering, and we were left with our beer until appetizers appeared, which wasn't long at all. My cheese dish was lovely and light - fresh, tart cheese that was the consistency of yogurt, served with thinly sliced radish and a salty prosciutto that contrasted with the cheese and radish nicely. Charles raved about his beef carpaccio, served with a dressing of truffle oil, horseradish and tarragon.

As we polished off our starters, I eyed the cocotte at the table next to us with envy. Every evening a dish for two is featured, and that evening it happened to be fresh shellfish from Îles-de-la-Madeleine... Charles doesn't do shellfish and there was no way I could have tackled that thing on my own. So another time, another cocotte.

Our mains arrived along with a sauvignon blanc for me, so I didn't spend too long ogling the dish next to us. My scallops were soft and perfectly cooked, so that they melted as they were eaten. Served with Chanterelles that provided a rich, earthy contrast as well as some beautifully coloured red and golden beats, I loved every bite of my dish. The beef side of things went well too, with Charles steak perfectly cooked and served alongside some fresh vegetables.

Rounding 9:30 and with much success with our first two courses, we decided to head to dessert. Waffling between the lemon and raspberry options, we eventually decided on the latter, along with the sparkling rosé paired with the dish. The combination of the Labrador shortcake with bright raspberries and rich orange sauce turned out to be the perfect way to finish our visit to Clocher Penché, and the rosé set everything off nicely.

I'm certainly glad we ventured through the rain to the Clocher Penché - with amazing food, wine and beer, it was definitely memorable. With dishes changing daily on both the lunch and dinner end of things, both Charles and I agreed we wouldn't hesitate to return next time we're in town.

Le Clocher Penché Bistrot
203, rue Saint-Joseph Est
Québec City, QC
418.640.0597 (reservations a must)
Open daily for lunch and dinner; Sundays brunch only and Mondays closed

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