Last Updated on January 9, 2023 by Pamela
It’s official, Le Clan is Old Quebec’s newest (and best) fine dining destination. Opening its doors in September 2021 on rue des Jardins, steps away from bustling rue Saint-Louis, Le Clan marks the return of famed Quebec chef, Stéphane Modat.
When I learned of Modat’s departure from Château Frontenac’s Champlain restaurant after 10 years, I was equally sad and intrigued. Sad that I could no longer enjoy his food at Champlain but intrigued by what he would do next.
I still remember the first time I dined at Champlain when chef Modat was at the helm. At the time, I chose to skip the tasting menu and order à la carte – I still remember the halibut with puréed parsnips and the palate cleanser that tasted like Thrills gum (oh, the nostalgia!).
Modat’s passion for ingredients indigenous to Quebec is well known. He’s an avid fisherman and hunter, and has spent time in First Nations and Indigenous communities learning cooking methods and techniques. In other words, Modat has done his homework, he has sought out the experts and treats the knowledge he’s gained with respect.
This dedication and passion for Quebec cuisine continue in Modat’s restaurant, Le Clan.
The first thing you see when walking through the door at Le Clan is the open kitchen, with its shiny stainless steel surfaces, and a chef’s table to the left of the doorway. On the right, a smokey grey glass door slides open, revealing stairs to the second level.
Upstairs, the tables are covered with crisp white tablecloths, glass globes with vintage light bulbs hang from the ceiling, and the black leather chairs are actually comfortable. My eyes, however, are immediately drawn to the large piece of art hanging at the far end of the room depicting Stéphane Modat as Christ at the last supper, Quebec icons, and well-known cartoon characters. It’s the perfect centrepiece.
On the other walls are black and white photographs of Quebec, and producers with whom he has worked. And the dishes used during service are crafted by Wendat ceramist, Line Gros-Louis.
It’s Easter Sunday, I’m dining alone, and I’m saying yes to whatever my waiter, Jean-François, suggests. Hello, six-course tasting menu with a wine pairing curated by Master Sommelier, Pier-Alexis Soulière.
The current tasting menu highlights ingredients found throughout Quebec. In fact, each course description is accompanied by the longitude and latitude of where the ingredients were sourced. On my visit, the menu featured Chateauguay, Gaspé, Havre Saint-Pierre, Saint Jules, Saint Hyacinthe, and Nutashkuan.
My evening begins with a glass of Paul Dangin & Fils champagne, and a delicate artichoke terrine amuse-bouche. Followed shortly by my first course, Sturgeon from Jamie Duquette with washed corn panna cotta and grilled sunflower seeds. It’s a small plate, served with a glass of Les 2 Dindes Bourgogne Chardonnay. The sturgeon is tender, and the crispy fish skin was the perfect topping.
The next course is meant to be scallops, but I’ve sadly developed an allergy over the last few years. Instead, I was served lake trout that I am still salivating over. I mean, it was so tasty that I basically forgot the dish description. The wine, however, was Mont Rubi White (xarel-lo), a light fruity wine.
The third course is Turbot from Greenland with porcini mushrooms in meat sauce, red beet purée and brown butter. The fish is perfectly cooked, and I found myself gently carving the mushroom to ensure I had some with each bite. It’s the last fish course, and the first one with red wine, a glass of 2019 Vincent Bachelet Gevrey-Chambertin.
Next up is my waiter’s favourite dish, a snowshoe hare ravioli with smoked potato mousse and juniper berries. Then it’s the main course, a grain-fed veal fillet with celery root, cabbage and mushroom duxelle, morel cream and fiddlehead purée. The wines, both reds, are a 2020 Laurent Combier Crozes-Hermitage and 2015 Vietto Panerole Barolo. The Barolo is my favourite, which is saying a lot as I’m not a fan of red wine.
Of the two meat courses, the grain-fed veal was my favourite, especially with the fiddlehead purée (I want it with all of my red meat meals in the future).
As I wait for the dessert course, I say yes to a glass of Groult 8 years old Calvados Pays d’Auge, a fine woody digestif from Normandy. A bite of Queen Elizabeth cake is offered shortly after, followed by the main dessert, Innu omelette with almond biscuit, cloudberry and Swiss meringue, which is set alight moments before being served.
The Innu omelette is cut in half and served one half at a time. It’s soft with a little crunch, light and an ideal end to an incredible meal. The second half of the dessert, however, was placed out of my reach and my waiter took it away before I could eat it. It was a sad moment, but not one I’m worried about.
experience fine dining in quebec city with le clan
Each spring, I make my rounds through Quebec City’s food scene. On occasion, I’ll go to a restaurant where every dish I order is delicious and haunts my dreams for several nights afterwards. Le Clan is one of those places.
For the best experience, be prepared to say yes and treat your tastebuds to an unforgettable culinary journey. Le Clan is, in my opinion, the best fine dining in Old Quebec City.
where: old quebec (vieux-quebec) • 44 rue des Jardins • restaurantleclan.com • 418-692-0333 • $$$ – $$$$ • reservations required