Saturday, 26 September 2009

Ô Québec, ouch!

English below, I thought I'd make a double post for this one, in the usual rewriting fashion...

Ma belle-mère m'a fait découvrir l'existence d'un restaurant de spécialités québécoises en France, appelé Ô Québec. Après avoir jeté un coup d'oeil au menu, je ne crois pas qu'on ira la prochaine fois qu'on va en France. En fait, à en juger tant par le site que par le menu, j'avais un mot pour qualifier ce qu'on essaie de faire passer pour typiquement québécois: l'horreur, l'horreur. Passe encore les bois d'orignaux, les uniformes d'officier de la GRC et quoi encore, c'est quétaine mais j'imagine qu'on ne peut pas totalement y échapper. Mais j'ai peine à croire qu'il n'y ait RIEN de typiquement québécois dans le menu. Où est la vraie tourtière, où sont les pâtés à la viande (pourtant pas bien compliqués, ciboire!), le ragoût de pattes de cochon, le ragoût de boulettes, le pâté chinois, le pouding chômeur, les grands-pères à l'érable? Au lieu de cela, on a des variations inutilement compliquées de mets traditionnels et des plats génériques auxquels on rajoute un ingrédient considéré, à tort ou à raison, comme québécois. Et le menu pour enfant s'appelle "Davy Crocket" (sic), lequel est bien sûr américain...et prend un deuxième t à son nom de famille. Pathétique! Si les proprios sont québécois, ils devraient avoir honte. S'ils sont français, alors ils devraient s'éduquer un peu la prochaine fois qu'ils vont au Québec. Je suggère un tour à la Binerie Mont-Royal, ils peuvent aussi s'inviter à souper chez des amis québécois, si jamais ils en ont, calvaire!
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For my English readership, this is not only a rambling, it is also a crash course in Québec gastronomy. So my mother-in-law made me aware of the existence of a restaurant chain in France specialised in Québec gastronomy, called Ô Québec. I don't think I will ever get there next time we go to France, judging by both the website and the menu. It looks simply dreadful! I could live with the tacky, kitsch décor, with stuffed moose heads, log cabin look and waiters with freaking RCMP uniforms, but the menu is a travesty! Where is the real tourtière, the meat pies (pork pies, it's not bloody complicated!), the pig feet's stew, the pouding chômeur (recipe of this delicious dessert here), the grand-pères à l'érable? They did two things, both unforgiveable in my eye: they modified and made overly complicated and unrecognizable traditional meals and they completed the menu with generic meals with a Québec twist (basically some deer meat or maple syrup). Oh, and the children's menu is called "Davy Crocket" (sic), who is of course American and as far as I know never set a foot in Québec... oh, and he has a second t to his name. They don't even get their mistakes right. Pathetic. If Quebeckers started that chain, shame on them. If not, I suggest the owners visit the Binerie Mont-Royal next time they go to Montreal. Or just have dinner with their Québécois friends, if they have any.

8 comments:

PJ said...

Habillé en police montée... Câlice, hostie, bonyen, tabarnac, calvaire, calvasse, viarge, hostind'beu, etc. Ici, les serveurs des restaurants français ne sont pas habillés comme Marcel Marceau, en mime avec une moustache, un béret, une cigarette au bec et une baguette sous le bras, torrieu! Non mais...

Wendy the (Very) Good Witch said...

Guilluame...
How very funny to click over here and find this post. I was going to come over here and ask you your opinion of what to see, do, eat etc. in Old Quebec City, as we are contemplating heading up there in the next 2 weeks while staying in New England. We just got our passports and are dying to try them out, so we thought we'd drive up to Canada. Since we will be staying in Vermont, Quebec City seems to be the closest point of entry. Although we could possibly do Montreal as well. But I thought Quebec looked very European and quaint, so it would feel as though we had traveled far away. I thought I remembered you saying you had been there, so I came to search your blogs and found this post.

So do you have any suggestions for us that we could aim for in a days visit? And would you recommend Quebec over Montreal? I do hope you have some insight. I am searching on-line now to see what I can find out. Thanks! :o)

Wendy

PJ said...

Montreal is much closer to Vermont than Quebec City, no matter what road you take (though the I-91 will take you far from both). So if you aren't staying for a night, Montreal is the better choice for a one day visit.

Wendy the (Very) Good Witch said...

Thank you so much PJ. I just figured that out today as I was Map Questing it. Dang...I REALLY wanted to go to Quebec, but Montreal will probably be the better choice. Although we may just change our reservations and stay in Montreal for 3 days and then drive over to Quebec City...arrgggghhh! What to do, what to do! Thanks again!

Guillaume said...

Wendy, as my brother said, I think you might find it easier to go to Montreal. I know this city more than Quebec City, especially when it comes to restaurant.

Anyway, for the suggestions... In Quebec City, you can go to Le petit Coin breton, which we loved when we were kids. It's a chain specialised in Breton gastronomy and it's quite nice, especially with children. Then there is the Café du Monde which I love, the Cochon dingue, the Lapin sauté. If you want to go to a fancier and more expensive place you can try the restaurant of the Auberge Saint-Antoine, which made one of the best chocolate dessert I ever had...and a delicious "tartare d'émeu" as a starter.

Now, in Montreal, you can find lots of places, simple American-style diners with a twist like L'Anecdote and Frites Alors and bistro type restaurants, like Le 940, les Folies, El Dorado, etc. Le Pied de Cochon has a big reputation, it makes haute cuisine versions of Quebec classics, but I have never been there. If you want something typical and affordable, I suggest you try La Binerie Mont-Royal. I used to go there every Friday at lunch time when I was a first year university student. They serve the best trifle ever, the meat balls stew is delicious and their sheperd's pie is not bad either. And I recommend the pea soup as a starter, especially on a cold Autumn day. You might want to try some vegetarian restaurants too, like Chu Chai or Aux Vivres, which is my wife's and mine's new favourite. If you prefer meaty places, you might want to try Scwartz's, they make a delicious smoked meat. There is also Saint-Viateur Bagels Cafés, which makes maybe the best bagels in the world. Montreal bagels are certainly superior to any bagel I ate anywhere else in the world. And of course there are many Italian, Mexican, Moroccan restaurants that are worth a try, not to mention bakeries, fruiteries and sausages shops. I suggest you have a look around my blog, you might find more info about those restaurants.

Veggie Carrie said...

Hi Wendy, I think if you want to go to Quebec City, you could fit both QC and Montreal into your trip as they aren't far away from one another. QC is about a three hour drive north of Montreal. G & I went to QC for a few days in 2005, we visited the Citadel, and spent most of our time wandering the streets in Vieux Quebec, where there were lots of street entertainers.

Montreal is also very nice & has quite a European feel too. Vieux Montreal is worth visiting, it's one of my favourite place in Montreal. I also like wandering around the streets and quaint shops in the Plateau (Mont-Royal metro stop). Also the botanical gardens are nice if you have a spare half day (lovely Japanese and Chinese gardens) as is the Biodome, and Park La Fontaine. With restaurants in Montreal, you can't really go wrong as there are a lot of good places to eat, depending on what you like.

Wendy the (Very) Good Witch said...

Oh Wow you guys...thank you SO MUCH for giving me such a detailed response. I am going to copy and paste your entries into Word, so that I can print it out and take it with us, because I will never remember those French words...ha! In fact, I am a bit worried about how we will do there knowing very little, if any French at all. We will have no clue what we are even ordering..ha!

This is when I realize what a blessing it is for those of you born in other countries, because you all learn so many different languages from a young age and Europeans are so well traveled. Outside of Costa Rica and the Virgin Islands, we've never visited any other countries. I must admit I'm rather intimidated. And Canada wouldn't be difficult except that we are wanting to go where most of the people are French. We got along fine in Costa Rica because I can speak and understand Spanish enough to get by and my Dad had a second home there. But French? Well this will be an adventure to say the least. We figure it will be a good testing ground to see how we will fare in Europe...ha! I LOVE exploring different cultures and Europe is on our list now that we all have our passports!

Thank you all so much for the help. My family and I are looking forward to the cool weather and to a place completely new to us! Have a great Wednesday! :o)

PJ said...

Don't worry, Montreal is heavily bilingual (and still mostly Anglophone in certain parts), especially in the touristy parts. Really, many tourists will ask a question to a random local in English right away without first asking if the local speaks English; and most of the time they'll get a response in English. Just in case you do stumble upon a unilingual francophone, you might want to ask whether the random bystander speaks English first out of courtesy. People in the service industry are almost always bilingual, with the exception of public transit (they can be surly sometimes; which reminds me that, on a note unrelated to language, if you go to Schwartz for smoked meat, the frequent borderline rudeness of the staff is part of the charm).

Quebec City is not as bilingual, but again, it shouldn't be a problem (assuming you do go there).