Microbrasserie Le Saint Pub
2 rue Racine
Baie-Saint Paul, Charlevoix, Québec
Chef Hats: 2.5
Casual Dining: Cost $60.67
While on holidays in Charlevoix this summer, we visited the neighboring town of Baie St Paul one afternoon. After a long stroll on this hot summer day on la rue St Jean-Baptiste, a sort of art colony with its multitude of art galleries and novelty stores, we got very thirsty and hungry. So we made a pit stop on Rue Racine at Le Saint Pub Microbrasserie. A local microbrewery that makes great local beers like Dominus Vobiscum, Vache Folle and Flacatoune. All their brews are Belgium or English inspired, for all tastes in mind. Upon entering the pub we spotted a couple having a sampler of beers which were placed in a row on a wood board in cute shoot glass type beers mugs. I suggested we do the same to get a full spectrum of the microbrewery’s products. What a great way to taste test most of their beers I thought, without committing to a more expensive and larger glass or pitcher. I went this route at Forquet Fourchette in Chambly one year during the annual beer festival and the experience was an eye opener. I got to sample all their beers and to this day I have my favorites and purchase them once in a while.
At Pub Le Saint, for only $ 7.50 for the tray, you get four mini beer mugs with about 3 oz. each of Blanche, triple, stout and rye beer. Not only was the sampler a good bargain but a great introduction to each beer; which have all their own distinct flavors and special coloring. We were completely satisfied with our choice and it was also enough for me.
The Pub also has a great terrace and one of the busiest ones in La Baie St-Paul. It also has an indoor dining room for colder weather and for those who prefer dining indoors in air conditioning. Today we sat on their terrace under a big red umbrella in the shade sipping our beer. The service was fast, polite and professional; our bilingual waitress took our order in both languages. I found the people of this region very friendly and surprised to hear them switch to English as soon as they heard you speak it. I found this to be very hospitable, almost strange in a way, and very different from the francophone’s of Montreal, where in some areas they threaten you with the fact you don’t speak French.
For lunch I wanted to taste something that incorporated their beer, so it was recommended I try their Legendary smoked BBQ chicken at $ 15.95. I also replaced the fries with Poutine done à la biere at $ 3.95 extra. The chicken was a little dry but the smoky flavor was in fact legendary. A half chicken on a huge platter with coleslaw and side order of fries, cheese curds and gravy boat of sauce made with beer.
Frenchie, my partner in crime had homemade smoked meat platter which was also marinated in beer, with coleslaw and fries. Smoked meat is really popular in these parts judging from Joe Smoked Meat across the street. I wonder why? There are lots of other fine local eating establishments, but these two seemed to be the most popular filled to the brim with a multitude of people overflowing on their terraces. All in all this was a very good experience and I definite recommendation, while visiting the area.
990 rue Richelieu
La Malbaie, Québec
Chef Hats: 3
Sometimes you want to enjoy some comfort food in a hip cool modern restaurant that also has a great view. Allegro is the place in La Malbaie.
Set across the street of the bay on rue Richelieu, which is the considered, the fancy restaurant row in La Malbaie. Allegro’s setup can be described as a conglomeration of styles. It emanates a lounge vibe feel with its multi colored décor, white walls, white leather sofas; black leather chairs and bar which are reminiscent of Montreal supper clubs of late 90’s early 2000. The décor with its purple and blue hues, multi colored lights, silver fixtures and tiles and mirrors transports you back in time and the feeling of having stepped into a time warp to the retro kitsch disco era. What I found out of place in this restaurant was the fireplace with its silver tiles and back drop in the main dining room. A little over the top and I like bling! A little cheesy, but then it could have been the mozzarella on the pizza!
I got a distinct feeling that Allegro was trying real hard to be the coolest joint in La Malbaie. Half willingly it was cool. If you compare it to the stuffiness of the local traditional five star local hotels and their some dining rooms. But toning it down a little would have made it a much classier joint. Allegro is not for the weak at heart or not for those with epilepsy. (Smiley face). It is for those who are young at heart. I liked Allegro because it brought back lots of memories I just expected to see a more rustic country atmosphere in terms of restaurant decor in La Malbaie and this place was a total surprise. So I have said enough about the decor and to the task at hand which is all about the food.
For dinner we keep it simple. Not being too hungry from our big lunch at the Pub, we decide to skip the entrees and just order pizza. After all it was only one of the few local pizza joint listed in La Malbaie. We both ordered Marinara pizzas at $ 17.00 each, basic pizza with tomato sauce and mozzarella only. For drinks we opted out for a bottle of wine and just ordered a corona beer at $ 4.50 and a glass of red Cabernet Fontina from Italy for $ 7.00. We were satisfied with just our pizza, it was simple but tasty. Not the melt in your mouth gourmet type of Italian style pizza from Naples with the authentic mozzarella di Bufala and fresh basil sort, but better than some pizza I had back home in Montreal of late.
The service was quick, courteous and friendly. The place offered a nice view of the bay and the sunset. I was just the sort of thing we needed that evening; relaxing. We had the place to ourselves, with only a handful of patrons inside and out. The music was not too loud, nothing too complicated or offensive. A definite recommendation for a simple life!
Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu- Le Bellerive
181 rue Richelieu
La Malbaie, Québec
Chef Hats: 2
Lunch- Cost; $ 68.43 (for 2 persons –tip included)
Le Fairmont -Chateau Manoir Richelieu is as grand and picturesque as its photos in the travel magazines. Set along the bay in La Malbaie. Towering high above the cliffs, hidden in the trees, it exudes opulence. Transported back from medieval times, this castle is gorgeous inside and out. The drive alone up to the hotel is majestic, with its winding roads. The Casino de Charlevoix located next door to Le Manoir brings in the money and the high rollers with their fancy cars, which line the entrance of Le Manoir Richelieu.
A room at The Fairmont will set you back about $ 220.00 a night, maybe not too much of a steep price to pay for some of us who like to pretend that we are in the ranks with some of the high rollers. Depending which category you fall into, sometimes pretending is good, it does wonders for our ego. But unfortunately I had not booked this excursion to La Malbaie, so beggars can’t be choosers. But The Foo Foodie was on a mission, as is every time I travel. So I set out for lunch with Frenchie in tow to sit on the terrace at the Bellerive, which is one of the six restaurants at the Manoir Richelieu. Frenchie and I have developed a taste for the finer things in life. Unfortunately our budget does not always allow for these little frivolities, but today we played the part. I with my big sun hat and sunglasses and Frenchie with his Polo outfit, we looked like real “vedettes”
We started by ordering a Long Island Iced Tea, and a Corona to quench our thirst. The waitress came to ask me what goes into making a Long Island Ice tea, as the bartender working that afternoon was not sure. This was not a good sign to start off with, as it showed me that the personnel here lack experience or guidance. Nonetheless it was listed on their menu of cocktails. There is something called the Boston Bartender Guide that I believe an inexperienced bartender should have next to him at all times if his skills are not up to par. Also in a big first class hotel such as the Fairmount it is incomprehensible that the bartenders are not of top caliber. When applying for a job in a big chain hotel, Hospitality Management 101 has always been a prerequisite. This was not the case this afternoon at The Fairmount which boasts to have some of the top fine dining restaurants on site. The Long Island Ice tea arrived very watered down with just rum as a base, a very expensive drink at $ 13.00 a pop. We did not want to complain as we were in a good mood and didn’t want to spoil the afternoon by making a fuss. We just wanted to enjoy the magnificent view of the bay, so we resigned ourselves in believing the beautiful view alone compensated for the lack of alcohol in our drinks and inexperience of the staff. The mood on the terrace was very relaxing and casual and on this sunny day and we were here to enjoy ourselves. We hoped the food would compensate for the drinks.
Next we received in unison the Bruschetta and Chop block of Cheeses. The bruschetta came with four long slices of baguette bread with pesto spread and chopped tomatoes. The pesto was overpowering and the diced tomatoes pieces were flavourless and bland. No hint of olive oil or fresh basil, which would have done this dish more justice than pesto from a jar, no sign of onions or garlic either to lift the taste of fresh tomatoes to another level. The entree was not authentic, just put together with no thought in mind.
The chop block had a sampling of four local cheeses from Charlevoix region mostly from Fromagerie Maurice Dufour and St Fidele, I am guessing because these are the biggest cheese producers of the region and the most popular. The cheese platter contained two hard cheeses, a semi soft and a brie. Unfortunately the types and names were not listed on the menu and the waitress also could not tell me what they were. So I am at a loss here “dommage” because it would be a great way to promote their local cheeses with all the tourists coming from different areas.
The chop block also had two glasses filled with mixed nuts and dried cranberries which complimented the cheeses well. The lunch was not a memorable one, and be prepared to eat mediocre standard hotel food. Thank God we did not go for the buffet. What you are paying for at The Fairmount is the view and the cost of maintaining such an expansive hotel. Do not expect to be wowed with quality food here. The decor may be nice, the rooms comfortable, but the dining experience at the Bellerive was not of high quality and a big disappointment.