It didn’t take long to find my kind of restaurant in Quebec City.
In a city filled with cozy cafes and fancy restaurants – meaning $35 entrees and even pricier wines – I sought something different.
The waiter at my first Quebec breakfast became my lunch counselor. As he described how to get to a farmers’ market, he mentioned one of his lunch favorites on a street filled with antique shops.
Le Buffet de L’Antiquaire, he said, had “food of the region, good food, you’ll like it.”
It was easy to find, and it lived up to my waiter’s praise.
Unpretentious barely describes it. There’s a simple sign and one step up to a solid meal at 95 Rue Saint Paul.
Its universe is small – booths and a few tables, plus eight barstools outside a counter that give you a close view of chef-proprietor Gilles Boulet in action.
Boulet and others are there for you at breakfast, lunch and dinner. They dish up hardy, not haute, cuisine.
The grill sizzles, glasses clink, plates rattle and silverware clatters. It’s noisy and friendly and filling.
Lunch plates offer a powerful amount of food at modest prices (about $15). I split a “full lunch” that started with vegetable soup, continued with boudin, apples, onions, peas and a salad, and finished with a piece of pie. I was quite content.
Meat pies, pork stew and veal liver were other choices, and there were five ways to order french fries. The variations included cheese curds, gravy, hamburger steak, chicken and sausages. Just smile, enjoy and keep your cardiologist on speed dial.
I spoke no French, and Boulet, the cashier and the waiter spoke almost no English. It didn’t matter a bit. We shared the common language of good food.
(Quebec City visitor information is right here.)