What can I say about a weekend away in Quebec City? Well, to start, my last memory of the city is when I was in my second semester of Grade 9 and forced my parents to take me to a piercing studio and allow me to get my belly button pierced. Since we were on a brief city stop on the way home after a family skiing trip at Mont Saint Anne, I’m pretty sure they only agreed to ensure I would shut up on the rest of the drive home to Toronto.
I believe this to be such a prominent memory of my experience in Quebec City because I really haven’t returned since then. Also, my belly button ring ended up getting severely infected and it was an overall bad experience throughout the course of the next year of my life.
Despite this chapter of my adolescence, I was still quick to accept a recent invite to Quebec City with a stay at Auberge Saint-Antoine in the Old Port for a weekend away.
Considering my last experience in Quebec City, you might be surprised that I would be open to revisiting a city where I hold such mixed memories (did I mention I also went on a high school trip (also in Grade 9) to Quebec City? Yeah.) but, I am the type of person who is always up for jumping in the car, or on a plane, for an impromptu adventure, no matter where to.
This weekend visit, however, would erase all of those unfortunate teen memories with one quick swipe. Here’s what happened:
After a quick flight on Porter from Toronto to Quebec City, our visiting group was greeted by the Auberge Saint Antoine team with pure liquid hot chocolate for an extremely warm and delightful welcome to the boutique hotel on a cold day. Honestly, when was the last time your hotel greeted you with a chocolate on your pillow never mind a fresh cup of culinary liquid ‘gold’?
If the initial greeting was a sign of what was to come, we were certainly not disappointed once we settled in. First on the agenda was a Food Tour around the city where we visited everywhere from fine dining restaurants to the chocolate museum, Erico, and best maple syrup shop in the city called Maple Delights.
One of my favourite stops on the tour was at a great new and modern restaurant called Tournebroche for a tasting of some delicious Quebec white wine, and a wild boar topped crostini that was out of this world. Because of the low temperatures in Quebec, the province is well known for its white and ice wines — a perfect pairing with their delicious local cheese!
Saturday was spent touring the beautiful old city. Often in Canada its easy to forget just how beautiful our cities can be. What I love most about Quebec City is that you get an old world and very European feel without crossing the pond. From adorable cafes to shopping, and even winter sports, this city has got everything you need for a relaxing weekend city getaway. And of course you can’t miss the city’s infamous landmark: the historical Chateau Frontenac.
Even though the Food Tour from the night before was over, there was no stopping us from continuing to eat and drink our way through the weekend. Can you blame us? The people of Quebec City are as obsessed with using local produce as they are with creating incredible food with it for you to enjoy. If there is one word I would use to describe the people that inhabit Quebec City it would be the word ‘proud’. I have always got the sense that people in Quebec City are incredible proud of where they live and what they offer. Best of all they share it all with you with a huge smile on their face. These people are also amazingly friendly.
If a vast selection of great wines and delicious tapas are your thing, I would highly recommend a visit to Le Moine Echanson. This place was such a great discovery on our Food Tour that we decided to go back the next night before dinner at Panache. This wine bar reminds me so much of restaurant in Paris where I stayed until 4am drinking wine. I’m pretty sure Le Moine Echanson isn’t open that late, but I would live in there if I lived in Quebec City.
Despite all of the great restaurants and bars we discovered on our Food Tour, we had little reason to venture away from the hotel for our meals. And trust me, this is where some of the best meals in the city are to be found. On night one we enjoyed an endless array of artfully crafted hors d’oeuvres that tasted as good as they looked. The vast sampling was to get a true taste of everything Aubert Saint Antoine’s Cafe Artefact — located just off the hotel lobby — can bring to the table.
From breakfast to dinner, the rest of our meals were enjoyed inside the hotel’s main restaurant, Panache. In an atmosphere that reminds of being in a luxurious and rustic ski cabin, Panache’s city-renowned food is the proud creation of the talented French man, Chef Louis Pacquelin. At just 24 years old, Pacquelin brings his forward-thinking to the table in a way that brings a higher level of sophistication to what it means to eat local and seasonal. While some Chefs might turn their nose up to the idea of using seasonal winter produce such as root vegetables, and more specifically the turnip (considering them to be ‘boring’), Chef Louis does not. Instead he makes it his mission to explore all the ways you can reinvent what it means to cook, serve and eat one of winter’s humble offerings. The results are surprising and exiting. This man’s gorgeous food is as gorgeous as he is. Ladies, the reservation is worth it not only for food, but to catch a glimpse of the Chef himself.
At Auberge Saint-Antoine the fun doesn’t stop at Cafe Artefact or Panache. Now on selected Saturday afternoons you can reserve a spot to take part in their indulgent afternoon ‘Fashion Tea‘ event with family and friends. This fun event of course involves tea and a selection of tasty treats, but also a fashion show that runs through Cafe Artefact and the lobby lounge so everyone in attendance can take a look at what’s on show. At the very first Fashion Tea event we saw looks from Longchamp, MYEL and Inukt. The monthly event that’s on now through May will feature designers that include Montreal’s mo851, Anne Marie Chagnon, and Antonio Ortega Couture.
On the last day of the trip we further indulged with a trip to Le Chic Shack — a great burger joint owned by the same family that owns Auberge Saint Antoine. With their gourmet burgers, fancy poutine combos, whiskey-infused milkshakes (click HERE for the recipe!), and a name like Le Chic Shack, is it any surprise why I fell in love with this place?
Since Le Chic Shack and The Chic Canuck are a match made in chic Canadian heaven, we wrote about it on The Chic Canuck blog! Click on the images below to check out our write ups on eating at Le Chic Shack and staying at Auberge Saint-Antoine.
Thank you for an amazing stay in Quebec City, Auberge Saint-Antoine! Can’t wait to be back!