The streets of Quebec City were covered in slush as we marched along the salty sidewalk and slipped through the garland adorned doors at Chez Boulay.
We were first greeted by a smiling bartender who pulled back a few sudsy pints before gently sliding them to a date night duo. A transparent wine rack and charcuterie cupboard glowed in front of petite open kitchen. Sparkling yellow circular chandeliers cut through the dinning room, reflecting light off of the mirrors that hang from bright white painted brick walls.
Celebrated Chef Jean-Luc Boulay and his accomplice, Arnaud Marchand are the captains of the kitchen at Chez Boulay, offering a nordic-inspired cuisine that features regional products which ebbs and flow with the seasons throughout the year. The Chef duo focus their energy on presenting elegant dishes inspired by the boreal forest, sourcing their ingredients from the 50th parallel or above.
We all unanimously chirped “yes!” when offered the cocktail of the moment, a classically Quebecois muddling of rum, absinthe, apple and maple.
Over the course of the next few hours our forks and spoons whisked through a parade of plates which perfectly expressed the tastes and textures Quebec has to offer in the dead of winter.
I warmed up with a bowl of cappuccino onion soup which was topped with a crispy crouton covered in melted fromage produced in nearby Charlevoix. A colourful plate of pink and yellow sliced beets sat on top a slathering of alexis de portneuf goat cheese, a hint of sweet fruit offered by drizzle of cherry syrup. The mushroom trilogy offers umami fans an unusual adventure featuring boreal grain risotto fritters, porcini sponge, oyster mushroom milk and a muddling of seasonal marinated shrooms.
Larger plates began to plop under our noses, providing a hearty sustenance care of confit goose meets duck, seared venison covered in a fine walnut crust, halibut from the North Atlantic paired with tart apple cider and creamy hollandaise and bison cheek which sat smiling in a wee cast iron over celery root, lobster mushrooms and pearl onions.
It was if we sat steeped in our savoury gluttony, heaving and panting as a tempting dessert menu was softly placed in our palms. There was a moment of silence where I felt everyone wanted to just skip sweets and waddle home but I broke the hesitation with an urgent call to sample. We sluggishly pulled our spoons through a frozen maple and green alder parfait topped with sweet crumble and sliced through a rich chocolate offering filled with tart honeysuckle coulis. While the weather during Quebec’s winter might force a few frowns the flavours are undeniably bright.
La Pomme Choquee Par Eli
rhum chic choc, absinthe canadienne, puree de pomme, jus de pomme, sirop d’erable
Cappuccino Onion Soup
crouton with melted hercule cheese from charlevoix
marinated with cherry syrup, alexis de portneuf goat cheese
Confit Goose and Duck Leg
scalloped parsnip and valerian root parmentier, pumpkin seeds, garlic flower pesto and cooking jus
Beef Flank Steak
nordic compound butter, pont neuf fries, seasonal veg
boreal grain risotto fritter, porcini sponge, oyster mushroom milk, seasonal marinated mushrooms
black walnut crust, root veg and rhubarb salad, cooking jus and pine forest spikenard vinaigrette
Seared Halibut From North Atlantic
organic spelt risotto, boreal hollandaise with apple cider and chanterelles, cooking jus
braised in organic red currant vinegar, celery duo (celery root puree and grated wild celery root) lobster mushrooms and pearl onions
Frozen Maple and Peppery Green Alder Parfait with Crumble
Chocolate Surprise and Hazelnut Cookie with Blue Honeysuckle Coulis