Review - Le Baccara, Casino Gatineau
We recently had the pleasure of dining here again - our last visit was almost seven years ago. Let me just say, it was just as wonderful this time as the last time. We even had the same server! His name was Matthieu and we asked him how long he'd been working there - 10 years. He said many of the servers had been there for between 10 and 15 years. This says something to me, about job satisfaction.
When we arrived at the restaurant, I was greeted by name (as I was the one who made the reservation and approached the host) and we were promptly led to our table. We were led past an impressive wine cellar and the busy but relatively quiet open concept kitchen. Once comfortably seated, our server Matthieu presented the menus, and left us to deliberate over the menu.
We were a group of four and ordered a la carte. Although there were several options for different types of Table d'Hote menus, there wasn't a particular combination that we wanted. Regardless of our choices, the food was delectable.
I started my meal with a Cosmopolitan. I order these at many different restaurants and have had them all over the world. It's amazing what some bartender's interpretation of a Cosmo is! This one had a perfect balance of vodka, cranberry and lime with a hint of orange from the Cointreau. Que bueno!
We placed our orders and were then presented with a selection of breads and some creamy butter. We were served a delicious rare beef amuse bouche - garnished with peppery micro herbs also, before dinner arrived.
For my starter I ordered the Bison tartare from la Petite-Nation with ewes’ milk cheese and truffles, quail egg tempura and beet vinaigrette. The tartare was incredible! I wouldn't ever have made a tartare for myself with cheese, but it worked. (The vinaigrette was a little tangy for my taste, though). The most spectacular part of the dish was the quail egg tempura. It arrived on top looking like a little white pillow. When I cut into it, there was a perfectly cooked tiny quail egg in the centre. The tempura had been lightly salted and added a nice touch. The textures were lovely. Crispy outside, slightly chewy tempura layer then the egg inside. I truly could have eaten just this egg, it was that good.
For my main course, I ordered the fine porcini mushroom crusted seared beef tenderloin, fingerling potato cake, grilled leek and braised endive, with port beef jus. The dusting of the porcini powder on top added a nice earthy flavour to what otherwise could have been a bland piece of beef. Most tenderloin doesn't have that much independent flavour, but this piece was beefy and delicious. The grilled baby leek on top was tasty as well.
After all of this dining splendour, I couldn't possible have eaten dessert. Some opted for coffee (which I heard was excellent) and I just finished sipping on my wine. No one ordered dessert, but while we were finishing up, they brought out a small tray of chocolates and candies. The tray was decorated with a beautiful spun sugar flower. A nice touch and a nice way to end a meal.
I've been to Le Baccara three times now and each time I've been it feels like a special occasion. The service, the food, the atmosphere. For me it's the type of restaurant you get dressed up to go to. All the wonderful details just make the evening special. Greeting the guests (with reservations, of course) by name; friendly and knowledgeable waitstaff; the choreography of presenting each person's dinner cloche at the same time and the timely unveiling; nuts and nibbles with your cocktails; fresh flowers. Worthy of a repeat visit.