Travel: Old Town Charm – Day 8

in Old Town, Quebec

Full gallery of photos

It was another cold, clear morning for us in Québec City. Our plan for the day was to spend a bit more time touring Old Town. This was partly strategic because we found out upon arriving that the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade (yup, they’re still going) would in part be parading down one of the streets nearby to our house, so we thought we’d try and get around it before it started. We opted to walk down Old Town, instead of taking transit, in part because our bus passes had expired but also to take in the city. It was, however, exceedingly cold on our walk (that wind really kills you), but the view was certainly lovely. We made our way down to our brunch stop of the day at Le Lapin Sauté, known, unsurprisingly for their rabbit dishes. Located in the heart of Old Town, on the famed Rue Petit Champlain, it wasn’t hard to find the cute little restaurant.

DSC05264

It was a charming, snug little place, and we were soon salivating over our choices on the menu. Because I couldn’t resist having at least some rabbit, we ordered a rabbit pâté to start. It had good flavour but kind of a bizarre, spongey texture. Our mains, however, were super delicious. David had rabbit rillettes with potatoes (fried in duck fat) and eggs. I had a sugar loaf (which resembles French toast) with maple cream, maple flakes, a fried egg and foie gras. I absolutely loved the combination of sweet maple bread and savoury foie gras that just melted in your mouth. Nomnomnom. Our waitress, who had originally spoken to us in English, kindly humoured David and spoke with him in French for a bit, saying she was happy to let him practice his French and that any time an Anglophone speaks French, she considers it a win.

rabbit rillettes with potatoes and eggs at La Lapin Sauté
rabbit rillettes with potatoes and eggs at La Lapin Sauté

Full of delicious brunchiness, we headed back out into the cold to explore Old Town. Rue Petit Champlain was fairly well tourist-trafficked and had a suitable number of classy tourist shops to match, selling local art and clothing. You could even pose with a “fur trapper” decked out in full regalia from the  early years of Canadian history and was even flanked by two arctic dogs. We made our way out to the river and stared up at the looming Château Frontenac. The cold was starting to get to us, so we continued moving through the Old Town streets, passing charming antique shops and beautiful old buildings. We eventually made our way out of Old Town, somewhat unintentionally, so wound our way back, climbing a rickety set of wooden stairs (which could have been dubbed the ‘Breakneck Stairs’). We heard the trumpeting call of bagpipers not far away, which meant we’d accidentally made our way closer to the parade route than we’d attended.

along the St. Lawrence river in Old Town
along the St. Lawrence river in Old Town

We figured we’d take a peek and saw that the crowds weren’t completely blocking the sidewalks. Funnily enough, the first pipe band that came marching around the corner was the Chicago Police Department Pipe and Drum band. It was particularly funny because the previous night at Le Hobbit, our bartender asked, when he found out we lived in Chicago, whether we were police officers. Apparently the Chicago Police pipe band had been playing next door at the Irish pub the night before. So it was particularly funny to actually have gotten to see them march in the parade. We lingered for awhile, admiring the Irish wolf hounds wandering about and witnessing a mock battle of Viking-like warriors, before moving on our way.

Chicago Police pipe band in the St. Patrick's Day parade
Chicago Police pipe band in the St. Patrick’s Day parade

We had toyed with the idea of going back to the delicious cocktail bar inside the Château Frontenac; however, it didn’t open for another 45 minutes, so rather than bum around in the cold, we decided to grab a drink at L’Inox, the brewery that was a short walk outside of Old Town. We trekked up the street and grabbed a high-top table near the bar. It really is amazing how much cold and up-hill walking can fatigue you (we must be getting old). We happily nursed our drinks and perused the interweb while we warmed up and re-charged. I ran across a site that mentioned another place for good cocktails which happened to be across the street, so we thought we’d try having another drink there. Bistro L’Atelier had quite a bizarre style, a mix of faux-industrial and bohemian chic. David ordered a cucumber-gin cocktail (which came with a syringe filled with cucumber paste that you then squirted into your drink), and I went with a framboise/strawberry fruity drink. We were, in the end, somewhat underwhelmed by our drinks, so we moved along after our first round.

book and record sale in a church
book and record sale in a church

On our walk home, we passed a church for sale and noticed it was being used as a temporary book and record store. We poked our head in because it was just so bizarre and kind of awesome to see this beautiful old church re-purposed to have rows and rows of boxes filled with cheap books. Very cool. We continued on our way and walked back up Rue Cartier, the bustling restaurant-filled street near our apartment. After all of the gluttony of the past week, we thought perhaps we’d enjoy an appetizer and a drink at Bistro B and then head home for a  light dinner at home (cheese, bread and charcuterie). As Bistro B didn’t open for another 45 minutes, we popped into the Halles des Petit Quartier to see if we could find a baguette and cheese. The boulangerie had unfortunately run out of baguettes but we did manage to pick up some fabulously smelly cheese.

in Bistro B
in Bistro B

When Bistro B opened, we managed to snag a pair of seats at the bar again. We took a look at the menu written on chalkboards above the kitchen and quickly realized that we really would be basically having dinner there because it all too delicious to pass up. I ordered an appetizer of foie gras and calvados (my second foie of the day), while David started with veal sweetbreads. My foie gras, surprise surprise, was divinely good, and I happily savoured every bite of it. David’s sweetbreads were similarly tasty, though they had breaded them, which wasn’t David’s preferred method of preparation. We sat and enjoyed the kitchen show, watching the busy goings-on of the chefs, as they efficiently prepared the meals. It was a fascinating ballet of buttering, broiling and plating. Our mains soon arrived, and I eagerly dug into my risotto with mushrooms and bacon (which was superb). David enjoyed a second appetizer of pork belly, also excellent. We enjoyed the post-gluttonous glow of yet another gastronomical win before rolling down the hill back to the apartment.

pork belly at Bistro B
pork belly at Bistro B

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>