One can’t claim to have visited Quebec City unless they have taken a moment to pause over a steaming bowl of poutine. On my recent trip to the provincial capital I bee-lined to a new local favourite where boisterous burgers, freshly whipped milkshakes, craft beer on tap and inventive poutine menu offer a next level interpretation of the classic French Canadian indulgence.
The Chic Shack is located a hop, skip and a jump from the funicular, a stones throw from the city’s iconic Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. The restaurant is located in a historic building attached to the Musee du Fort and features two casual dining rooms. Ruby red chairs are tucked in to stainless steel tables which are topped with rolls of paper towels and wee buckets filled with mustard, ketchup and spare utensils.
The team in the kitchen have done a great job at sourcing the very best local ingredients in an attempt to showcase the regions bounty while expanding our repertoire for the humble burger and poutine. Local artisan baker Éric Borderon produces the sweet fluffy brioche buns which sandwich each burger, milkshakes are blended to order with gelato aficionado Clara Langhi’s artisanal ice cream and each poutine is made with crispy, hand-smashed potatoes, house-made sauces and local cheeses.
I hop up on a stool overlooking the kitchen while sipping from a liquid trilogy. A rich 70% dark chocolate shake is served in a mason jar and topped with whipped cream, a fizzy mango soda is prepared with freshly squeezed juice and offers a thirst quench before I slurp down a pint of sudsy Joufflue White Belgian Wit care of Archibald Microbrewery.
The burger menu has a bit of something for everyone and fans of beef can have their sandwich glorified with maple-smoked bacon, porchetta, fried egg, tabasco hollandaise, smoked meat and spicy coleslaw. I spend the eve enthusiastically tackling Le Robuste, a towering sandwich featuring bison, roquefort, madeira mushrooms, peppery arugula, tomato, steak sauce and creamy horseradish aioli.
Poutine fans have an opportunity to choose from five different offerings and I of course felt the need to sample each one in order to find my favourite. La Classique pays homage to the original recipe and is prepared with black pepper gravy and fresh cheese curds. La Braisee features sweeet red-ale braised beef, La Coq au Vin is muddled with bordelaise chicken in red wine sauce, smoked meat tops La Fumee, and wild mushroom ragout offers a hearty vegetarian option via La Forestiere.
I exerted a slow sigh before rubbing my distended belly. Staring down at five sloppy bowls, covered in a web of stringy melted cheese I couldn’t help but muse, “I polished off those nicely.” My mug was smug when I realized that the umami forward mushroom offering made my heart the most happy. Shock and awe for yours truly who was certain the carnivorous options would have me swooning. An important lesson: sometimes one must eat through an entire menu to discover a hidden gem.
70% Dark Chocolate Shake
Archibald Microbrewery Joufflue White Belgian Wit
Le Robuste Burger
bison, roquefort, madeira mushrooms, arugula, tomato, gentleman’s steak sauce, horseradish aioli
Poutine La Classique
black pepper gravy, cheese curds, fresh herbs
Poutine La Braisee
red-ale braised beef, parmesan, cheese curds, pickled onions, horseradish aioli, fresh herbs
Poutine Coq au Vin
bordelaise chicken, red wine sauce, cheese curds, creme fraiche, shallots, parmesan, fresh tarragon
Poutine La Fumee
smoked meat, chic sauce, cheese curds, swiss cheese, pickled onions, fresh herbs
Poutine La Forestiere
wild mushroom ragout, parmesan, cheese curds, shallots, fresh herbs