When a friend called a few months ago - from the restaurant - and insisted I add this to my list, I thought it would be pretty good. But I was absolutely flabbergasted by this experience. I am rarely surprised, but Tanière³ got me from the moment it began. Generous. Sublime. Expert. Emotional. Brilliant. Pick an over-the-top adjective and it applies.
From the very start - you are texted a code to enter into a keypad at their nondescript, unmarked door. You descend into a fully designed space focused on nature. Trees. Bird sounds. It's beautiful and captivating. And you personalized code allows the hostess's greeting to be completely personal. "Welcome Mr. Shacket! We are glad you are here. Right this way..."
Ushered into the first of three spaces this evening - the bar. An underground stone-arched area that feels more like a speakeasy (with the bar and jovial bartender - who heartily greets you upon entry - at one end). The initial server (Rox) was an instant best friend. I don't say that because I'm special. I say that because he surely connects with every guest in the same way. His affect made you welcome, at ease and excited. I asked about the non-alcoholic pairing and he lit up light a Christmas tree. "You want to get that! He's a genius." My slight hesitation at what I thought was an oversell disappeared when that jovial bartender set down my first drink not even a minute later. One of the most beautiful creations I have ever seen.
The initial bites were incredible. This restaurant served not a SINGLE thing that is not local (or at least, regional). Nothing has olive oil because there is no olive oil made in Quebec. No chocolate - same reason. They don't champion "local". They are 100% committed to it.
These bites at the bar showcased that commitment. From a fresh and crunchy foraged daylily shoot set in edible soil (made from mushrooms and cheese) to perfect (and perfectly grilled) fiddleheads to venison carpaccio with nettles. This food sang local. You can't help but feel the connection past the kitchen to the foragers and land beyond the restaurant.
The dinner continued at the chef's counter. And what a design! Breathtaking and modern but with a clear (continued) homage to the land. If it wasn't clear enough, the bathroom sinks are set in glass with live terroir underneath. These guys aren't playing. They are not pretending. They are fully committed to their craft, their region and your experience.
These main bites were exception. Lucious. Beautiful. Perfectly cooked. Brilliantly seasoned. Expertly crafted. Each dish was better than the next. And generous? Lobster. Scallop and caviar. Quail. Arctic char. Lamb. Wagyu. Fois gras. All local. All house made. All unique. All special. All delicious.
Every dish came with extensive descriptions - not simply of the ingredients. But of its inspiration. Where it came from. Why it is in front of you. From their signature scallops as a homage to the original nobleman that owned the building in 1686. To the way they cook the arctic char:
"Our staff was on a camping trip and caught Arctic Char but forgot any cooking implements." (I asked if he was making this up. He assured me he was not.) "So we grabbed some spruce bark and cooked it on there. We found the spruce sap beautifully added to the flavor of the fish. So when the chef's girlfriend's sister had a spruce tree fall on her property recently, we knew we had to bring the tree here and use it to recreate that experience for you tonight."
Um...get the fuck out of here.
Yet...there was the fish on the spruce bark. After transferring the fish to the bowl, the bark is offered to you to examine and smell so you can connect more with the process. And of course, the land.
Who does this?
Who does this in Quebec??
Their jus were things of beauty. Accompaniments were so beautifully cooked - supportive and cohesive. This reached its height with the wagyu. Those various mushrooms, including a duxelles hiding under the chip, were out of this world. The jus so sticky and tacky and gorgeous I had to video it to assure myself it really happened.
The incredible drinks continued, by the way. House made cream soda "champagne". Homemade "red wine" infused with mushrooms and rose petals. Cucumber cocktail with a rim of salt bitters made from burnt fireweed. Each was as delicious as it was inventive.
Desserts were in the third space - a room designed as a forest, from the floor to ceiling trees to the randomly curved wooden tables, fit together as a puzzle.
"How about we do a sweet anolotti and create ice cream to look like white truffle which we shave with a gloved hand as you would do with actual white truffle?" said their chef at one time. Here I am the recipient of such insane creativity and commitment that it was emotional.
It was at this moment I thought "How much am I paying for all of this?" Because I don't remember it being insanely expensive. So I pulled up their website right there in the dessert room. $240. But wait. That's in Canadian dollars. US? This experience cost $180.
I called the server over. "You know this should experience should cost twice that amount, right?" He acknowledged yes, but that Quebec wasn't there yet. I told him I had no idea how they were making money at that price point. He explained that by fully using nose to tail on their ingredients, their food costs were around 20% (rather than 35-40% which is normal). He explained:
"We purchase an entire tuna once each year. 700-800 pounds. (Local, of course.) Most restaurants use the choice cuts like the belly and utilize about 40% of the animal. We turned cured some cuts into pastrami for our restaurants, utilized others for stocks and oils. We used 90% of the animal. We make our product investments go as far as they possibly can."
I've never seen a restaurant that is so well run - from a vision standpoint, a business standpoint and an execution standpoint. They are firing on all cylinders in every way. It's an insanely impressive operation.
The menu they provide? Custom wax seal. Personalized (of course). Robust graphic design and explanations. Even more to bring you IN to their vision and cooking.
I can't say enough about this place. It lands at #3 all time, ahead of some of my very favorite places on earth. This is a 3-star experience (and they would get a green star as well).
You need to get here.
Replying to Steven Smith
What do you think? I'd love to hear from you.