Restaurant Charles Baillairgé (Hôtel Clarendon)
57, rue Sainte-Anne / Des Jardins
Québec City, Quebec
Tél. : 418 692-2480
When I fell in love with Frenchie , I fell in love with Quebec city. So I make it a ritual that once a year we spend a weekend there just visiting, walking around, trying little cafes, shopping and dining out. I would love to stay at Chateau Frontenac which has been on my bucket list for the longest time ,but instead we stay at this quiet little boutique hotel called Hotel Clarendon, which Frenchie knew about many years back. Upon entering the hotel for the first time in 2010, I fell in love with this cute little place and its old world charm. Through our window we could see la rue des Jardin lined with flowers and people walking to and fro. It was the closest I could come to Paris at this moment. The rooms some rather small are quaint, well furnished and the toiletries alone were of high quality that one can revel about.
On this visit from the onset, I had started a cold on the drive down. Not a good sign, as I had a list of top restaurants I wanted to visit, like Panache, Le St Amour and maybe Laurie Raphael again. It never fails in November as soon as the onset of flu season arrives I always get sick. This season was no different, even though it was spring, I managed to hold off till now and bang on an important weekend out of town I sat there in my hotel room nursing my wounds.
I did manage to muster up enough energy to haul my carcass to the ground floor for a quick bite to eat at the Hotel dining room restaurant called Charles Baillairgé. With the plethora of good restaurants to try in Quebec City, I had never thought of eating here before and found no need to either. But tonight was an exception, as I did not want to descend into the bitter cold and windy alleys of Quebec City with the way I was feeling.
The restaurant really evokes the typical Parisian cafe with its dark wood and mirrored paneling, wainscoting, white tablecloths and dim lighting. Next door you will find a comfortable lounge done up in the same feeling with a fireplace ,leather arm chairs and baby grand piano and the sounds of a live jazz band playing on weekends.
Here you can sip cocktails if you are tired and don’t want to leave the hotel after walking the streets of the la rue Petit Champlain or the climbing hills of Old Quebec . My suggestion save the cover charge and sit in the restaurant sipping a digestive after your meal, you can still enjoy the sounds of the music filtering into the dining room.
The menu at Restaurant Charles Baillarge boasts having a mixed menu of both local “du terroir” and international cuisine. The chef Yan Dekytspotter brings an interesting choice of menu to the table with new trends and inspiration from local products and some of the old classical crowd pleasers from France. There is plenty on the menu to please all ages and taste buds. A must try is the local cheese, ciders and vegetables from Charlevoix, and the fish from Côte-Nord.
What I liked about the menu upon opening the front cover is the historical tidbit about Restaurant Charles Baillairgé and the hotel. Built in 1870, it is one of the oldest operating hotels in Québec City and maybe in North America; and the restaurant is one of the first in the area. For those of you who are wondering who is Charles Baillairgé , he was an architect, land surveyor, civil engineer, and an author born in Quebec city from 1826- 1906 . He was from a long line of sculptors, painters, and architects that began with his great grandfather, Jean Baillairgé. Who left an indelible mark on the city, therefore it was only befitting that they name part of the hotel after him.
The hotel which looks inside and out, very turn of the 19th century with its art deco style , is very reminiscent of the old world luxury of times. Some of the interior has been refurbished in art nouveau styles, most notably in the public areas, and some rooms have period touches, and others are more modern, but each have their own charm and are in good taste. The hotel offers all modern day amenities. The restaurant and lounge area a little cache conserves the charm of yester years.
We started our meal this evening with two glasses of Lindeman’s 99 –Shiraz from Australia at $ 9.00 a glass and a potage of leek at $6.00 each. The soup was creamy and velvety with the right consistency of leek; this was warm and comforting on a cold spring day. It hit the spot and made me feel much better. I could have had a cauldron as in medieval times with two loafs of rustic bread. The wine bold and warming spread some heat through my veins.
Not having much of an appetite I settled for a Salmon tartar at $ 12.00, that I thought would be light and not upset my stomach. The tartar was overly spicy with pepper and served with Ritz crackers, really! After a few bites I couldn’t have any more, my stomach was starting to rumble and swell. The level of spiciness was too much for me in such a delicate state. I ate the fresh cucumber slices and crackers and Frenchie finished it off for me. He waved it off as me not feeling good. He said he enjoyed it and although spicy hot, he said it wasn’t too bad for him.
For is main meal Frenchie ordered the Poitrine de Volaille, at $ 22.00. This came with a large sautéed carrot and herbs and creamy very creamy mashed potatoes. He enjoyed his meal, but wondered about the potatoes as they had more the consistency of grits; but then it was a French restaurant not southern. I write it off as maybe the cooks hand slipped and added too much milk and pepper. Even the best of kitchens have an off night. I was having an off weekend. For dessert, I had a warm tea and off to bed to sleep.
I would not completely write off Le Restaurant Charles Baillairgé, the prices are very reasonable for hotel dining and I have had much worse. Our waitress Nicole , had the whole dining room to serve, although empty when we got there , she kept her cool ,served us efficiently ,with a smile ,made sure we were comfortable and had all we needed. If you are a guest at Hotel Clarendon, this is worth a try. On a good night, the dining room and jazz are worth it alone.