Thursday, December 09, 2010

A essayer! Lapin et ris de veau (Thanksgiving sans Turkey part deux)

Tourists are scarce in Quebec City this time of year, even in the Quartier Petit Champlain where hordes of them crowd the tiny alley with all the artsy shops. The snow and bitter cold wind probably had something to do with it, but that didn't matter to me. A more pressing concern was my growling stomach, and since it was just about lunch time, I started to peer closely at the restaurant menus displayed outside each dining establishment nearby.

Upon the advice of my guidebook, I checked out the offerings of Le Lapin Sauté first, but seeing that it was somewhat busy and having second thoughts about eating their specialties - rabbits (lapin in French)- although the maple and raspberry rabbit does sound terribly divine, I walked around the corner and almost as soon as I started perusing Bistro Sous le Fort's menu, a staff member came out to beckon me inside their restaurant. How could I resist?

rabbit meat egg rolls

My adventurous palate was hankering for something unique, so I mentally checked off the egg rolls de lapin (rabbit meat egg rolls). Perhaps I had a twinge of regret in missing out on the highly-rated Le Lapin Sauté, and considered this the next best thing. The words A essayer! ("Must try!") tipped the scales in favor of the egg rolls over a plateful of comparatively humdrum escargot. They proved to be quite tasty- a tad on the spicy side but the flavor was balanced by the honey and ginger sauce. Definitely an significant upgrade from your greasy Chinese takeout egg rolls.  

calf sweetbreads (ris de veau)
It proved much harder to choose a main course. Initially I debated between two of my favorite standbys, steak frites and duck confit, and those ginger and root beer spare ribs sound mouth-watering ("vraiment savoureuses (really tasty)!", exclaimed the menu).These superlatives notwithstanding, I found myself muttering "ris de veau (calf sweetbreads)" to Rafa, my engaging waiter who insisted on conducting our dialogue in French.

Mind you - the sole occasion I had tasted sweetbreads (pictured above) was at an Argentinian steakhouse in Queens, where those innards came as part of a mixed grill. I didn't even know what they were at the time, and when a subsequent Google search revealed exactly the assortment of animal parts I had just eaten, my amusement just increased. I found the taste of sweetbreads agreeable though, and they were soft and chewy, so who cares what they really were?

Now it was time for an encore - I enjoyed Bistro Sous le Fort's version of calf sweetbreads as well, devouring every last bit that even Sherlock Holmes would be hard-pressed to find traces of the crime. I did go easy on the potatoes though. (you know, carbs). Rafa offered some dessert or coffee, but I declined, content to sip my beer and ponder the tasty alternative Thanksgiving meal I just had.

Bistro Sous Le Fort on Urbanspoon

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