Restaurant: Restaurant Le Continental
Cuisine: French/Fine Dining
Last visited: November 7, 2011
Location: Quebec City, QC (Quebec City)
Address: 26 rue St-Louis
Price Range: $30-50+
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 2.5-3 (based on what I tired)
- Since 1956
- Fine dining
- Old fashioned setting
- Famous for flambé
- Traditional French cuisine
- Traditional service
- Table side cooking
- Extensive wine list
- Lunch/Dinner menu
- Mon-Wed 11:30am-10pm
- Thurs-Fri 11:30am-11pm
- Saturday 5pm-11pm
- Sunday 5pm-10pm
**Recommendations: Beef fillet en boîte Gran Special
It was my first dinner in Quebec City and this was probably the most stereotypical French restaurant I could have gone to. I probably wouldn’t have chosen it on my own, but I was invited to Quebec City on a culinary tour and this was on the itinerary. Restaurant Le Continental, commonly known as Le Continental, was established in 1956 and it really felt like it. Comparing it to something at home in Vancouver, BC, it almost felt like visiting Hy’s Steakhouse and it would make Bacchus seem very modern and new.
It’s definitely dated with the carpeted floors and generally old fashioned in the atmosphere, but it is considered a classic for older generations. I did a little outside research and asked some middle aged locals about it and the general consensus was “it’s where my parents would go to celebrate their anniversary”. Oh. Well that certainly put things into perspective.
Nonetheless atmosphere is one thing and food is the other. Oh wait! I almost forgot to mention service! The service is a big highlight here. The good thing about traditional old fashioned service, is that it never fails. They’re experienced and a lot of dishes are prepared table side. One of the things they’re actually most famous for is…
Flambé! *Clap hands*… and again all together! I swear that’s what I felt like doing when the flames went up… and then I wanted to tilt my head up with one hand on my chest and give an opened mouth laugh. It was that kind of place.
The food and recipes are very traditional and predictable and it probably hasn’t changed much since 1956 too. What was “classic” came off as simple and a bit rustic to me. I love classic French cuisine and flambé, but their interpretation for it wasn’t really my style. The only other place I know doing flambé in Quebec City is Le Champlain, the restaurant at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac just walking distance away. I’m not sure if the quality is comparable, but that style and atmosphere is a bit more for me if I was looking for flambé.
I wouldn’t say it’s pretentious, but it is a bit stuffy, although the service is genuine and warm. I see it more for business meetings or 50th anniversaries, which isn’t a bad thing, but I’m just not the demographic for it. However I should mention that almost every single Prime Minister has eaten here except for one (I don’t know which one), and it’s pretty much part of Quebec City tradition. It was a “Happy Birthday Mr. President” kind of place, so if you care for eating where the “president” has, then be my guest! Or be their guest, I guess!
To be fair, I should mention that the other side of the restaurant is the newer side. It’s modern, younger and more like a classy bar/lounge. I was almost looking for the piano player. This portion of the restaurant sparked my interest a little more.
On the table:
- It was served cold, like they normally are in France, but I kind of expected this restaurant to serve it hot since it was a bit “steakhouse” like.
- The baguettes were soft and a bit chewy and I kind of hoped they would be crusty.
- Brioché and candied vegetables
- It’s a long process to make Torchon style foie gras, and it’s almost like eating it raw.
- It should have a blubbery raw texture (it’s cooked quickly) and it should be strong in foie flavour, but this one was firm and almost like a chilled stick of butter in flavour and texture.
- It was very oily, but not foie gras oily, and I couldn’t taste the liver so I just found it okay.
- There was some grainy mustard, caramelized onions and candied carrots, but I was hoping for some pickled fruit or fruit puree.
- The brioche was soft, but a bit dry and it was just a bit of a basic interpretation of the dish. I was hoping for more details and presentation.
- Personally, I preferred the Que l’Odeur des Bois Sature (Foie Gras Torchon) at La Traite in Wendake, Quebec.
All the flambé dishes are prepared table side by their very experienced servers. It’s all very old fashioned, but it’s entertaining and makes for a personal and memorable experience.
- $45 (At least 8-10 ounces)
- This is perhaps the star of the show on their flambé menu, and also their entire menu.
- I usually only order steaks if I’m at a steakhouse, but if this is their claim to fame, I had to try it!
- Filet Mignon is my favourite cut of steak too, so I was really looking forward to this!
- It was pretty much swimming in a pool of gravy.
- The gravy was very old fashioned with a traditional rue base (flour + butter), and I’m really not keen on flour thickened gravies.
- It was very thick, creamy and starchy with a red wine reduction, beef stock and some freshly cracked black pepper.
- It tasted like the flavours of French Onion soup and I prefer my gravies much more syrupy and more like an au jus.
- Had it been a flourless red wine reduction or demi glace, this would have easily been a 6/6 for me.
- I still ate and used the sauce and it had good flavour, but it’s just not the kind I prefer.
- The big parsley garnish was just a bit dated again. I know it’s “classic”, but I couldn’t really appreciate it.
- The steak itself was probably one of the best I’ve ever had to date. It was as good or even better than the one I had at Gotham’s.
- The quality of the Filet Mignon is premium and the fat was incredibly well marbleized. I could witness that when they brought it out raw.
- It was cooked perfectly to my requested medium rare and the texture was smooth like butter.
- It sliced like butter and melted in my mouth like cheese. Delicious!
- It didn’t have a crust, but it was seasoned with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Again, loved the steak, but not the sauce.
Side Vegetables – It was served with a side of seasonal veggies which included carrot puree, mashed potatoes, baby carrots, red pepper, cauliflower, green beans and a parsnip chip. The potatoes were quite bland and just buttery and everything else wasn’t particularly seasoned, but it was what it was.
The restaurant has a huge dessert spread (18+ items) featuring cakes, tarts, and various other desserts. They’re famous for their Crèpe Suzettes which are again prepared flambé at your table side, so the decision was made!
- I rarely order Crèpe Suzettes, but I do like most desserts, however I also don’t like overly sweet ones.
- For what it was, it was very good, but I probably wouldn’t order it again because it’s not a dessert that I love.
- They’re doughy soft egg crepes which are prepared in the back kitchen, but the sauce is cooked at table side.
- The sauce was very sweet, tangy and syrupy and it tasted like a burnt caramel and orange sauce.
- It was made with orange juice, Grand Marnier, lots of sugar, and maybe some brandy.
- The crepes were quite chewy and a bit thick for me and they just got a bit too soggy from so much sauce.
- Some actual orange zest or segments would have been nice, but again they’re very simple with what they do here (for the style at least).
Digestif - To continue the flambé theme, there was more flambé! *Clap hands*. It tasted like Sambuca or Ouzo which I’m really not keen on. It pretty much tastes like black licorice. It was good for the 8000 calorie meal I had though, so it did its job!