Le Fin Gourmet in Saint-SĂ´ is a must!

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Le Fin Gourmet is one of the restaurants we propose in our “Nomad Gourmand” package. To present this address to you as well as possible we asked Pamela MacNaughtan to spend an evening there. Pamela is a travel and food writer based in Quebec City. She writes freelance stories, has updated guidebooks for Michelin Green Guides and DK Eyewitness, and runs a website on Quebec called Urban Guide Quebec. Pamela is a self-acclaimed croissant snob and devours all things lobster whenever possible.

Tucked deep in the residential heart of the Saint-Sô  (Saint-Sauveur) neighbourhood, Le Fin Gourmet is one of the best restaurants in Québec City. You won’t find it along rue Saint-Vallier Ouest with the trendy restaurants run by young Québécois. Le Fin Gourmet is a destination in its own right.

I visited this small corner bistro on a Wednesday night, gliding past the cozy outdoor patio, and to a small table in a corner near the bar. The perfect place to soak up the restaurant’s ambiance. The bar in front of me is tiny, with room enough for 2 or 3 diners. On the wall across from me hangs a collection of bicycle seats and handlebars disposed to look like mounted steer heads. Québec artistic expression at its very best.

I’m served by Enzo, who has a delightfully infectious laugh. After a brief introduction to the menu and wine list, I’m left to contemplate my choices. I start with a French 75 cocktail, then weigh my dining choices.

Marina Bhérer opened Le Fin Gourmet in 1996, at a time when Saint-Sô was a working class neighbourhood and not much else. In 2018, Marina was joined by her daughter Elsa, and now the two of them run the restaurant together, along with Enzo who handles the dining space with ease. The fact that the restaurant has thrived over the last 26 years (including a global pandemic), is impressive, but not a surprise.

The food is sensational. 

The menu, much like the restaurant itself, is small and unpretentious. From small dishes to tapas and sides, flavours of Québec can be found throughout the menu. Another reason to love Le Fin Gourmet. 

I began with fleur de courgette, grilled zucchini flower stuffed with ricotta, lemon and Parmesan, served in thinly sliced zucchini. It’s delicate and light, a fine appetizer choice. I was not, however, prepared for the love bomb that awaited in my next dish. A white bowl with a wide brim arrived with grilled morels bathing in a tarragon cream sauce. The mushrooms were tender and meaty, and the sauce was well-balanced. I swooned after my first bite, then tried to eat the rest as slowly as I could. When all the mushrooms were gone, I used the warm slices of country bread I had been given to sop up every last drop of sauce.

The wine list, for the most part, features wines from France and Italy, with a few bottles from the US, Portugal, Austria, and Slovenia. With my cocktail gone, Enzo suggests a glass of MO Rot, a red Zweigelt from Austria. It’s light and a little fruity, and while I prefer white wines, I quite like the MO Rot. 

Next up, is the duck gravlax and a side of grilled vegetables followed. The duck is topped with shredded Brussels sprouts, grated egg yolk, slices of potato, cubed beats, pickles and Parmesan. The duck is tender and easy to cut, and the toppings add a bit of tarty sweetness. The grilled vegetables, as a side, is small, but accompanies the main dishes well.

 

 

I should pass on dessert, but with so many tantalizing options, it’s hard to do so. I whittle my choices down to two; carrot cake (a personal weakness) and the apple pie with a crème brûlée type finish. My waiter suggests getting a little of both, and I say yes. Personally, I prefer cakes at room temperature rather than straight from a fridge, but both desserts are good. I do wonder if the cheesecake would have been a better option. I guess I will need to go back to find out!

Overall, Le Fin Gourmet is a can’t-miss restaurant in Québec City. The food is delicious, and the ambience is relaxing and homey. Come for a light lunch on the patio, or treat yourself to a leisurely gourmet dinner.