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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cafe St. Malo, Quebec City

The bar/counter area of Cafe St. Malo
I haven't posted here in a while; I've been so busy working on my third book, which I continued to do WHILE on vacation in Quebec City. Vacation? No rest for the wicked here! In all seriousness, there were so many wonderful things about Quebec City, and so many truly sincere things to comment on, I didn't have much time to write anything down. I finally just decided to spin the wheel and put my finger on one: the restaurant that provided the best meal and loveliest dining experience we had there, Cafe St. Malo (or Cafe Le St. Malo, it seems to go by both). It's located in the super-quaint "Low Town" (Basse-Ville) in Old Quebec (Vieux Qu├ębec). Because Low Town is so cute and charming, it's crawling with tourists and rife with pricey shops, not a situation I would exactly call sincere, but Cafe St. Malo is a bit off the beaten tourist track. Just walking in, I sniffed sincerity in the air. Built solidly of stone, like most buildings in Low Town, (because it's the area of QC first settled) with low ceilings supported by massive wooden beams, and filled with interesting accouterments, each table feels like it has it's own nook so that you're not right on top of someone else's dinner. We were eight people in all, so that's not an easy feat to accomplish in a restaurant that maybe seats 25 at a time. Oh, wait! I forgot to tell you about how I made the reservation partly in French and how tolerant the hostess was of my limited skills in that language! As a matter of fact, I tried to make the reservation for 6:30 but they asked that we come at 6:00 since we were such a large party. We were late, of course, but they didn't blink an eye, nor at the fact that we didn't all show up at once, or that we had two little ones with us. The restaurant manages to be both elegant and family friendly at the same time. The prices were surprisingly reasonable, and for an additional $8 or so, one could add a soup or salad, and dessert, so many of us did.
My adorable niece Chloe, and my lovely mother Pat at Cafe St. Malo

And the food: oh my gosh. We started with a couple of orders of escargot and foie gras. Perfect. We decided on a carafe of the house red, and they brought us an oversized bottle. It was also...perfect. Then the main course: most ordered the steak frites, my sister's boyfriend ordered liver (ack!),  and my sister and I ordered mussels and fries. Let me just mention that the special of the night was horse. Yes, horse. None of us went there. Anyway, when our buckets of mussels arrived, my sister and I realized we probably could have split one. There must have been 100 mussels in that thing! And they weren't the tough, rubbery ones. They were tender as butter, and redolent with garlic and white wine. Neither of us wanted to admit defeat before we'd made it to the end of our buckets, which we did; plus we ate a fair number of our fries - stuffed, but happy. The eaters of the steak frites, and even of the liver, were thrilled as well - I tasted the steak and it was superb. The only tiny complaint I have is that the fries didn't come with mayo or vinegar, and when we asked, were given a run-of-the-mill version of both. But that's OK. Every other detail was attended to and the service was flawless. We were especially amused by our waiter who spoke English extremely well but sounded like Kermit the Frog, a fact my nephew very nearly announced out loud to the whole restaurant. Dessert was dee-lish, and we left completely happy, full beyond belief, and declaring it was one of the best meals we'd ever had.

Evaluation: Very sincere

75 Rue St-PaulQuebec CityQuebecCanada

(418) 692-2004
(One can find a full rundown of all the great things we discovered in Quebec City by visiting the post I wrote for Indie Chicks Cafe: http://indiechickscafe.com/oh-so-charming-quebec-city/)

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