Le Saint-Laurent: Excellent dining at the Fairmont Manoir Richelieu in Malbaie

20 Jun

It’s a little bit far from Montreal, but nevertheless an option for a long weekend to head out to Malbaie, north of Québec City.  My boyfriend had won a night stay and supper at the Manoir Richelieu in Charlevoix, so we headed out for a long weekend together.  The hotel is very beautiful with a nice view of the Saint-Lawrence river.

There are five restaurants in the hotel, our gift certificate was for the “St-Laurent”, the french bistro style restaurant.  The restaurant’s decoration is a little dated, and there was a decidedly “family” feel to the restaurant, so I was starting to get worried about what the food would taste like.  Not only was the décor  lacking, the wait staff’s outfits were ill-fitting and looked cheap, adding insult to injury.  Luckily, the restaurant has floor to ceiling windows with a view of the Saint-Lawrence, which helped the scenery…

I started out with a home smoked salmon étagé with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes, red pepper emulsion and potato crisp.  I was very happy to see that even if the ambience wasn’t what I had hoped for, the food was exceeding my expectations.  The salmon was thick and what with it being smoked, it seemed as if the taste was condensed.  The goat cheese provided a nice, creamy contrast to the salmon and was well paired with the red pepper emulsion, delicious!

My boyfriend had the smoked duck aiguillettes from La Ferme Basque de Charlevoix, maple beets with yellow fruit chutney.  The duck was served quite cold, but was very tasty and blended well with the sweetness of the beets and the fruit chutney, though I must say the maple taste was too subtle for me to identify.

Next, we had the butternut squash soup.  While a simple soup, I was impressed with how well they contrasted the flavour of the squash.  Often, I find that butternut squash soup ends up tasting too sweet, but this was not the case here.  The salt level was perfect and they had managed to downplay the overbearing sweetness of the squash, without masking it’s flavour.  I don’t know how they did it, but it was excellent.

Next, as a main I ordered the braised Québec veal cheeks with red wine sauce, braised savoy cabbage, and parmesan risotto.  First off, I will say that I detest peas, can’t stand them, so I pushed these aside and therefore cannot vouch for how they tasted at all.  The veal cheeks, however, were amazing.  They melted in your mouth they were so tender.  The meat was also well balanced with the rich, creamy risotto which had that exact, perfect risotto texture, not too dry nor too cooked.  I would definitely order this again!

My boyfriend ordered the pan-fried bison flanksteak served with shallot marmalade and a baked potato.  I must say that the presentation was a bit lacking for both of our mains.  The big, honking potato seemed a little out of place here.  But, the meat was tender and was cooked rare, as per our specifications.  And, the shallot marmalade was caramelized and added a nice sweet touch to the dish.  Not a favourite of mine, but definitely a good option for meat lovers.

Next came the desserts.  I had the nougat glazed with Dominus Vobiscum beer from La MicroBrasserie Charlevoix, orange zest biscotti and caramelized beer syrup.  Despite all the beer elements to my dish, I can’t say that I could distinguish the beer taste here.  However, the nougat was very good as was biscotti.

My boyfriend had some homemade sorbets, I believe they were blackberry and mango.  They were both excellent and tasted very much like their namesakes, the way sorbet is supposed to taste.

In conclusion, while the décor , ambiance, and the wait staff outfits left a lot to be desired, the most important element of any restaurant, the food, was excellent.  I was surprised in such an isolated area to have such great cuisine, and if I ever go back to Malbaie, I’ll be sure to try the Manoir’s gourmet restaurant, Le Charlevoix, in hopes that it can top this food experience, which was already pretty wonderful.  So, definitely recommended if you’re in the area, this is a safe bet!

Enjoy, bon apétit!

http://www.fairmont.com/richelieu/GuestServices/Restaurants/LeSaintLaurentRestaurant.htm

181, rue Richelieu
La Malbaie, Charlevoix, Quebec
(418) 665-3703

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