Travelling in Time at Quebec’s Restaurant le Louis-Hébert

For a London, Ontario, tourist exploring Quebec City, this authentic French dining experience felt like stepping into the past.

Thanksgiving in Quebec CityPhoto: Carol Ducharme

The Magic of Restaurant le Louis-Hébert

In October 2017, my sister Gail and I took a Great Canadian Bus Tour to Quebec City for Thanksgiving weekend. We chose to spend the afternoon of Thanksgiving day itself in the Old City. We wanted to have an authentic, memorable meal for Thanksgiving, so we wandered up and down the Grande Allée checking out all the restaurant options until a waiter invited us to enter Restaurant le Louis-Hébert. It was a magical place.

Stepping through an ornate iron gate into a cobbled courtyard filled with autumn flowers, a stone path led us to a heavy wooden door that creaked with age as we stepped into an inviting low-ceilinged room. The stone walls were two feet thick, and the wide-planked floor shone with years of loving care. The tin ceiling reflected the glow of candlelight onto the huge timber beams.

Four handsome young men dressed in formal black pants and shirts with matching vests greeted us with smiles and expressions of welcome as we were whisked to a table by the window. The windowsill was wide enough to be a seat and the multi-paned casements were folded back into the room, allowing a soft warm breeze to mingle with the dizzying aromas wafting from the kitchen. The candlelight seemed to flicker in time to the softly playing music.

Restaurant le Louis-HébertPhoto: Shutterstock/Our Canada

The deep red of the Cabernet matched the colour of the tablecloth as I settled a starched linen napkin over my lap. The bowl of golden-coloured soup placed before me was pure ambrosia. My empty bowl was replaced with a plate featuring delicate beef medallions smothered in a succulent, peppery sauce, along with crisp, allumette-cut potatoes. The arugula salad was dressed in a piquant vinaigrette that made my taste buds dance.

As the mist turned into fog outside the window, I took a sip of water to cleanse my palate and picked up a silver teaspoon to enjoy dessert—crème brûlée. I gently broke through the caramelized top to the cloud of golden custard beneath. Taking a last nibble of the delicious dessert, and a final sip of coffee, I reluctantly gave up my seat to waiting diners before returning to the misty street—and the present day.

Next, check out the 10 most iconic Canadian dishes—and the best places to have them.

Originally Published in Our Canada