Auberge des Falaises
250 Chemin des Falaises
La Malbaie, Charlevoix
Tel: 418 -665-3731
Chef Hats: 4.5
Cost: $166.85- (tip and wine included-for two people)
Charlevoix, Quebec is a great quiet picturesque region located in La Belle Province to plan an escape to for some relaxation or for a long weekend. Only four and a half hour drive from Montreal, it is situated on the north shore of the St Laurent River at the mouth of La Malbaie River. Formerly known as Murray Bay, named so by the Scottish feudal lords who settled there in 1760; today the area is predominantly French speaking and best known for home of famous Fairmount Manoir Richelieu and the Charlevoix Casino. La Malbaie has become a popular vacation spot among the stressed city dwellers of Montreal and Quebec City and tourists alike. I was surprised to see lots of tourists from France coming to La Malbaie or Tadoussac to whale watch.For the summer break we decided to spend a week at Auberge des Falaises this year. Nestled in the town of Point au Pic, high above overlooking the bay, this little country inn is considered one of the regions gourmet destinations. It not only is it a pleasure on the visual senses with its unique view on the bay, it is exceptional for those with refined gastronomic palates.
The Chef at the Auberge des Falaises, Alain Morel does a great job at honoring all the local regional products, paired with local cheeses and excellent wines. The service is top notch and professional, with most of its staff hailing coming from France. Gratuity is included in the price of and meal here and with good reason. I prefer this as it guarantees good service.
The atrium has got to be one of the most romantic spots I have dined at in a long time. I noticed it when we checked in and automatically wanted to sit there for dinner. Separated from the main dining room, this oval shaped atrium holds about 6 private tables with white linen tablecloths, covered chairs with pink ribbon sashes and a perfect view of the bay. A few armchairs and a couch sit in the corner for you to come enjoy a night cap after dinner. In the evening with its windows open you get a whiff of a gentle summer breeze or the overhead heaters will warm your hearts. The experience that evening was majestic, quiet and very romantic.
So exclusive is the Auberge and its dining room that the cutlery is imported and designed by La Tavola in Italy. Each meal is displayed on individual plates of different design and array of colors. Everything is so visually appealing and so aphrodisiac in taste as well.Included with the first night sojourn at the inn, was the $55.00 tasting menu, wine was not included.The meal consisted of five courses, perfectly orchestrated and creatively displayed. We started our meal with a wine from Spain-Tempranillo-Miguel Torres at only $ 34.00 a great price.Maybe a little too bold and full bodied for some dishes, but it did not overpower any of the food.
For a teaser we had an amuse bouche of Pate de Volaille and a dollop of aioli- with a little spicy kick to get the appetite going. Nicely presented on small square clear glass plate, and served with a basket of different mixed breads.
The appetizer or starter was called -The Tartiflette – a round shaped smoked salmon and creamy blue potato scalloped tart with leeks, onions and topped with melted Swiss cheese from the St Fidele Fromagerie located in the Charlevoix region. The dish was beautifully garnished with an edible array of pansies and Endives. The composition was creative, even though the tart looked a little messy, but flavors went well together, especially the blue potatoes and leeks. Although I hardly tasted any of the smoke salmon and it somehow disappeared in the abundance of leeks and onions.
The third dish I sampled was called La Verdurette Gourmand avec Fine herbs du Jardin salad, basically a Green Salad with fine herbs, endives, radicchio, tomato and multicolored greens was a good palate cleanser with its bitterness and acidic flavors from reduced balsamic vinaigrette.
Frenchie had the Cream of Leek and potato soup topped with a dollop of sour cream. Served in a large plate resembling a well, this has got to be one of his favorite soups, which reminds him of days gone by in The Eastern Townships. It was creamy and perfectly seasoned.
For my main meal, I had a seared Trout de Mer; in a fish stock butter reduction they called verjuice with a side of summer squash vegetables such as zucchini, baby corn and mini squash and black rice. The trout was crispy on top and tender and not too dry on the inside. The crunchy fresh summer vegetables a perfect accompaniment and not too overcooked. Again, the dish came beautifully garnished with herbs from their garden.
Frenchie had the Onglet de Boeuf, tender sliced morsels of beef flank, cooked and topped with sliced onions cooked in their juices. Accompanied with the mini casserole of puree of yams au gratin, green beans, zucchini, summer squash, and carrots. The flank steak was so tender; a knife was not needed to cut it. The onions and juices adding extra flavor to the meat. The puree so smooth and creamy topped with a local cheese that added an extra kick. The flavors melded well and the dish was heavenly.
La piece de resistance the dessert: A Crème brulée infused with lavender, garnished with berries, raspberry syrup, icing sugar and a piece of homemade chocolate and praline square and two espressos.
I am not particularly a fan of anything lavender, as I feel Lavender in food taste like soap. Maybe it’s my taste buds are playing tricks on me, but this was a pleasant surprise and I really enjoyed it. I noticed that the fields in Charlevoix are filled with lavender and Lupines growly wild everywhere. Quite spectacular.
The second evening at the Auberge des Falaises we went with the Table Hôte. I was curious to try emu. Something you can find on many menu in this region, along with Alpaca and lamb.
I had for starters the St-Urbain Ballottine d’ému- two Phyllo dough shaped rolls with glazed morello cherries and ginger emulsion sauce , garnished with a pieces of candied ginger and red leaf salad and garden herbs. The emu was not gamey at all as I would have thought, an original idea to have it served with crispy phyllo dough like spring rolls.
For my main meal I had the Le duo de Crevettes et Petoncles avec risotto Style Paella. This dish consisted of three shrimps and three scallops atop a bed of smoky red peppers, garnished with asparagus spears. On the side stood a creamy risotto, made of large rice granules so creamy and smooth I could have eaten a whole dish of just risotto. The smokiness of the red peppers is what made this dish Spanish in any sense of the word.
Frenchie main dish was the Quebec raised veal done Orloff style, layers of veal with Parmesan cheese shavings in between and a wine reduction sauce with two dried polenta triangles as a side. The Veal Orloff came garnished with whole carrots and white asparagus spears. All was very savory and the veal very tender.
Wine for the evening was 1/2 bottle of red a Chianti Senesi from Italy at $ 27.00. No dessert only espressos.
Service and ambiance was impeccable for both evenings. A mix of good conversation about the area ensued with tips on where we should go visit and a must see. Yet the conversation remained very professional. The waiters went out of their way to make the dining room comfortable for us as the night progressed by turning on the heat lamps as we lingered till the wee hours, drinking our wine till we were the last ones to leave. We then moved to the terrace outside and enjoyed a night cap lounging on the comfortable chairs next to the fire pit to discuss the next day’s agenda. At midnight, when all got too quiet, we retired to our tastefully decorated country inn style room on the top floor of the auberge to enjoy another night cap on our balcony overlooking the bay.