Twenty years ago, my grandfather discovered this gem of a restaurant in Quebec City. Since then, our family has frequently made pilgrimages to Quebec, often just for supper at the restaurant. When we went there this weekend, I decided it was time to share our love for Le Continental in a blog post 😉
The restaurant characterizes itself as Franco-Italian Cuisine, and when you go, you want to make sure at least one person orders something flambé, because then your meal becomes a show. I peruse the menu every time I go, and although my parents and grandparents will often try something new, I always go with the exact same thing, because…why mess with perfection?
For starters, we always get Caesar Salad. They bring all the ingredients to a little tray at your table, and make it from scratch in front of you. My family is kind of fussy, so we always have them make one with anchovies and one without. The waiters insist that you can’t taste the anchovies if they do it right, so this time I decided to just order it as they intented, but my parents still got it without. My verdict is that I can’t taste anchovies, in the sense that there is nothing fishy, but it definitely has a kick to it that my usual salad doesn’t. Either way, it is an entertaining and delicious start to our dining experience, and one of the best Caesar salads I’ve ever had.
While most of us had salad, a few people also opted for escargots, a french cuisine staple, which I like to forget means snails. I didn’t order any, but I did try one of my dad’s, and it was delicious, with the perfect texture (as in not rubbery at all), although slightly salty for my taste. I am not a fan of salt though, so I wouldn’t judge it based on me. I would judge it based on the 3 people who ordered it and used their breads to mop up the garlic butter left in their plates afterwards. My grandfather also had a misshap with one of the snail shells once, so the waiter had them take all of his snails out of the shells for him. That is what I call service 😉
My grandfather was the only one who didn’t order his meal from the flambé section, so we gave our waiter, Denis, quite a lot to do. The meals were Scampis Newburg and Filet Mignon en Boite, so Denis came to show us our raw proteins before cooking them in front of us, including the mouth-watering sauces, so we knew exactly what we were eating. My scampis had their fair share of butter and cream, but the end result makes all of it more than worth it.
Also, the waiters are completely used to you taking their picture, especially while they are flambéing. This is the only restaurant for which I have a repertoire of the staff on my phone. Plus, since our orders demand a lot of attention, we get a lot of face time and actually get to know them. I expect the meal to last more than a couple of hours, so it would be nice to go with people you like, especially if you haven’t seen them in a while and have a lot to catch up on.
The meals all come with a little plate of vegetables, and the scampi comes with rice and a beautiful tomato rose. My grandmother isn’t a fan of vegetables, so she asks for fries, and they bring her an entire plate that they put in the middle of the table. I am absolutely stuffed long before I have finished my plate, but I still have at least a handful of those fries, because not only are they delicious, they are perfect for mopping up every last drop of my sauce 🙂
After our meals are done, I feel like I don’t have to eat again for at least a week, but we came all this way and the dessert menu starts calling my name. I rarely order desserts in restaurants, but at le Continental, every single time. I personally alternate between Poires au Pernod (pears in a black licorice liqueur) or Fraises au Poivre ( Strawberries in Pepper). I am not a fan of pepper, at all, but this item isn’t written on the menu, and the first time they offered it, I misunderstood Poire instead of Poivre, and thought I would get stawberries and pears. I did not, but it was soo good that I have consistently ordered it every time they have fresh strawberries on hand 😉
This is the part of the meal where you might not want to watch as the ingredients go in, but maybe wait until the flambé part, because there is a lot of butter and cream and sugar that make these desserts so heavenly. They are meant for 2, but you can also get a half order, so my dad got Crepes Suzette, my grandparents shared Cherries Jubilee, and my mom and I had the Fraises au Poivre.
We stuck to regular tea and coffee this time, but if you are a fan of Specialty Coffees, you get a whole new experience with very tall flames and delicious beverages. My grandfather recommends the Brazilian Coffee.
When you think of the location, the taste, the presentation, the preparation and the experience involved with a meal at le Continental, it is no wonder that this is our favorite restaurant in the world 😉
Disclaimer: The prices do reflect the awesomess and prestige of the establishment. I went on a road trip with some friends from high school right after we graduated, and everyone thought it was more than worth it, but be prepared to splurge.