Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Adored boîte hits the spot! Bravo!

Café du lac….a little neighbourhood gem!
What can I say that hasn’t been said already about Café du lac? It truly is a gem - a neighbourhood secret that is frequented by faithful patrons. The restaurant delivers service with a smile and most importantly, it is deliciously Quebecois. I love all regional cooking but the food from this region is truly unique and distinct.  
We chose a weeknight to visit. First impressions do not disappoint. Kathryn, the owner, greets us warmly and sits us at our table. It’s a bit early but she confides in us that they are fully booked for the evening. Lucky for me, my wife Michelle has had the foresight to call ahead to make reservations. Reservations aren’t always necessary but are recommended especially on a Friday or Saturday night. They have live music performances on Friday and Saturdays are very lively and business is brisk.
As this was our first visit, we took the time to peruse the food and drink menu. The menu isn’t extensive, but very inspired. There is a definite flair for the classics, but the menu also includes a few unique dishes. Serving various types of game meat and inspired by the Quebecois region for its unique flavours, the food is comforting. Drinks are ordered and bread follows. Perfectly baked and accompanied by sun-dried tomato whipped butter, the warm bread was the perfect beginning towards a great evening of service and delicious food.

The charcuterie was the first dish to arrive at our table. I must confess I absolutely LOVE charcuterie!  I don’t know what it is about cured meat, crostini and terrine/pâté that I just can’t get enough of. I love trying all different kinds. Each and every charcuterie plate is unique to the chef - many cure and make their own, and even if they don’t, it’s just interesting to see what the Chef wishes to highlight. On this particular evening, the Chef served a trio of venison cured meat selections: 1) peppercorn venison, 2) sea salt and maple glaze and 3) blackcurrant venison salami. Other items on the plate included a duck breast prosciutto and a generous portion of foie gras perfectly seared and accompanied with chutney that was sweet and tart.  A sprinkle of sea salt over the foie gras was the perfect touch to balance all the flavours. This charcuterie is perfect for two as a starter or if you’re like me… potentially it is a meal for one.  It goes extremely well with a cider or a glass of wine.

Our next dish was one of Café du Lac’s signatures – poutine with cream sauce, cheese curds and pulled beef short-ribs. The cheese curds are gooey and oh so yummy! The pulled pork is tasty and adds the ideal touch of salt needed to pull the dish together.  The fries are golden and treated with care, made with Yukon Jack potatoes, fried twice and piled high on the plate. I have had my share of poutine and this one is definitely at the top of my list. It is decadent and comforting. You also have the option of adding foie gras. 

For our main dish, we were lucky to have the opportunity to experience Canard dans une jarre - Duck in a Jar. If you want to enjoy this divine foie gras stuffed duck magret immersed in venison balsamic reduction with savoy cabbage, leeks and Berkshire pork double smoked bacon on a week night, you must pre order one day in advance (otherwise it’s a weekend special). This delicious dish will please all your tastes buds. When the jar is removed, you’ll be overwhelmed with the scent of bacon, balsamic reduction and the duck. The rustic mashed potato is the perfect compliment to the dish. Every bite I took made me smile. I crave to have it again (soon)!
Before dessert, the owner, Kathryn, came by to ask how we were doing and was beaming with pride with her kitchen staff and the menu that she has created and rightfully so! When we heard the desserts were homemade, we had to try. The dessert menu is small, but there is most certainly something for everyone. It ranges from the chocolaty to sweet to tart. Michelle and I opted for the maple tart with vanilla and lemon Chantilly and the bagatelle. I must say that I am not normally impressed with sweets and only very rarely have what I would describe as an epiphany, but these desserts gave me pause to reflect and reconsider my normal aversion to sweets. The maple tart was perfectly balanced (we were concerned it would be too sweet, but upon Kathryn’s suggestion, we gave it a try and were glad we did).  It was elegant and oh so dreamy good! The bagatelle was a lovely, a lemon curd triffle vanilla sponge cake that had a punch of tartness that was counter-balanced by sweetness of berries and whipped cream.  Magnificent and very rewarding! 
Café du lac impressed and delighted our palettes with its dishes and desserts.
Scoring 4.5/5
Owner Kathryn Ashby
Chef  Hudson Bernard
Dress is casual
Live music on Fridays
Reservations recommended
BYOW on Thursdays ($5 corkage applies)


Cafe Du Lac on Urbanspoon


  1. If only we live in Toronto, we would surely patronize Cafe du lac. Nice job on both the write ups and pictures...love the one with Michelle's eyes peeking out.

  2. I think you was the table beside us when we were there, LOL. Guess we came later so the experience was a bit different

    Great Post =D

  3. Great write up -you are amazing at reviews! wow, extensive blog, I will be back fro more visits! Thank you!

  4. Thanks A Creative Mint! Thank you for the compliment about the review. I guess that I am just really passionate about food and eating! I am a certified chef de cuisine and have my papers. Have worked in Europe and Canada so I have had a bit of experience in knowing what tastes good and what to expect when you go to a good restaurant. I hope that you will be back. I took a look at your blog and loved it! I have added you to my 'recently adored' list! Come back and visit soon!