Last Updated on December 24, 2023 by Pamela MacNaughtan
Last night, I was reminded why I need to dine at Bistro L’Orygine more often. I mean, I live across the street – my apartment overlooks the side of the restaurant where employees often gather late at night after their shift. It’s close enough to hear conversations, and curse the kitchen staff when the salivating smells of bacon, garlic or grilled meat waft through my open windows.
Bistro L’Orygine (part of La Tanière Group, which includes restaurants Légende and Tanière3) opened its doors on 14 July 2018 in the neighbourhood of Place-Royale. This is the neighbourhood where the colony of New France began in 1608, and many of the buildings that stand today were built in the mid-18th-century. The building housing Bistro L’Orygine, for instance, was built in 1757 for Joseph Charest, a merchant. The building is inspired by French classicism, and the façade walls are made with Beauport stone. The window frames are painted yellow, with wood shutters of the same colour perched beside the windows on the first floor.
Inside, exposed wood beams stretch across the ceiling and large round teal banquets take centre stage, with square white tables and chairs scattered around. The bar at the far end of the bistro curves like a wave, and glass shelves filled with spirits and liqueurs seem to sparkle under the lights. In summer, a large patio space with its own bar is a popular retreat.
The restaurant is bright and calming, the wine list is extensive, the cocktails are inspired, and the menu is a tasty culinary adventure.
Bistro L’Orygine, known for its organic menu and dedication to working with local ingredients, is headed by Chef Sabrina Lemay. A co-owner of the bistro, Lemay hails from Shawinigan, a city of around 50,000 people, 145 km (09.10 miles) from Quebec City. Lemay loved being in the kitchen as a girl, and began her official studies at the Centre de formation professionnelle Bel-Avenir when she was 18 years old. She’s worked in the kitchens at Le Saint-Amour, Baluchon, and Sales Gosses, honing her skills.
The menu, which includes a couple of vegan dishes, changes with the seasons, and includes both à la carte and tasting menu options. On my most recent visit, the bartender, William, convinced me to try the Discovery tasting menu. It was honestly the best recommendation I have received in a while.
Shrimp and whelk aguachile was the first course. The cucumber and hot pepper cold soup was topped with fresh and roasted radish, shrimp, whelks, pickled shishito, small tostada rounds and sour cream. Slightly spicy and absolutely satisfying, I devoured every drop while also thinking of the bowls of aguachile I ate when living in Mexico years ago. Beef gravlax was next, with fingerling potatoes, grilled vegetables, crispy chips and a homemade barbecue sauce.
The third course, Halibut and cavatelli pasta are ridiculously good. The fish sits in a pool of lobster bisque, snuggled among cavatelli pasta, salicornia, toy choi, pickled and grilled fennel, and a little shellfish oil. It’s a little salty, but the fish is perfectly cooked, and surprisingly, the lobster bisque is a perfect compliment. If it was possible to lick the bowl clean without anyone noticing, I would. Instead, I asked for a little bread.
The fourth course ushered in another foodgasm (of sorts). Piglet loin & grilled eggplant was a dream. Wild boar bacon was wrapped around the medallion, which rested on puréed white bean and eggplant, surrounded by garlic confit, grilled crispy brussel sprouts and grilled corn. On the side, a piece of sourdough bread with corn and a scoop of house-made butter with browned butter. The pork was tender, and the surrounding flavours were delicate, creating a perfect marriage.
While the pork was very good, I really need to talk about the butter. Yes, butter. It’s regular butter mixed with a little browned butter, forming one insanely delicious butter. Like, I would bathe in this butter, gladly!
For dessert, a deconstructed frozen cheesecake with raspberry, fennel meringue and candied fennel sitting on a semi-crispy wafer. I never imagined garnishing cheesecake and raspberry gel with fennel, but that’s why Sabrina Lemay is a chef, and not me.
The summer menu at Bistro L’Orygine will be leaving soon, so I definitely need to go back and order a full-size Halibut & Cavatelli, and possibly beg for some bread and as much of the butter with browned butter as they are willing to give me. I mean, I think about all of these foods on a daily basis now.
In my experience, it’s rare to dine at a restaurant where every dish is good, but on my recent visit to Bistro L’Orygine, that’s what happened. Will that be the case when the autumn menu makes its debut? I guess I’ll have to go back and find out. Chef Sabrina Lemay is a flavour goddess, so I’m guessing the next menu will be as delicious as this one.
Have you dined at Bistro L’Orygine? What do you think?
lgbtqia2s+ safe space
vegan options available
eat at bistro l’orygine
women-owned + lgbtqia2s+ safe space • neighbourhood: place-royale • 36, rue saint-pierre • 418-872-4386 • lorygine.com • reservations recommended