Last Updated on December 21, 2023 by Pamela MacNaughtan
Louise Taverne is connected to Hôtel Port Royal in Old Port (Vieux-Port), which is one of the reasons why I waited so long to dine there. It is slightly ridiculous, I know. Many restaurants at hotels are good! This one, for example, is one of my favourite restos in the city. Still, I was hesitant, deciding to visit restaurants in other parts of the city.
This year, however, I am focusing on the many restaurants found within the Historic District of Old Québec (a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985). From the fabulous to the quirky tourist traps – they are still in business for a reason, I’m curious as to what that reason may be!
My first visit to Louise Taverne was for drinks with a hotelier from Upper Town. I was curious about Louise’s cocktail list, and he was okay with going to a restaurant attached to a hotel that was not his.
We sat at the end of a white marble-topped bar – a good spot for observing staff and diners alike. Jeff, who runs the restaurant floor, is a fun conversationalist. Banter was exchanged, jokes were shared with staff, and soon I was sipping a Paloma (and then a chablis).
Before leaving to dine at a competitive restaurant down the street, I made a reservation to return to Louise Taverne for dinner. I was intrigued. The restaurant is beautiful, with its upscale Parisian tavern vibes.
I returned two days later. My day had been overflowing with errands, and thinking I wouldn’t make my 6 pm reservation, I cancelled, not wanting to inconvenience the restaurant. The day was a rollercoaster, and by 3 pm I was frustrated and decided to postpone the rest of my errands. When I saw the terrace at Louise Taverne was open at 4 pm, an hour before dinner service, I decided to take my chances.
Yes, they still had room for me, but I could only order drinks until service began, and then I had to be out by 8 pm (they had a reservation for my seat at that time). Parfait! I ordered a bottle of Parés Baltà Blanc de Pacs, organic white wine from Spain, and settled into my seat at the end of the bar.
Nikolas Couture is the chef at Louise Taverne, and owns the restaurat along with Simon Jobin and Blaise Fortier. Couture worked in restaurants like Le Yuzu, Le Cercle, and Le Saint-Amour (where he was mentored by Chef Jean-Luc Boulay) before opening Louise Taverne, and it shows.
I started with the salmon tartare, which was buttery and lightly flavoured, and was accompanied by quite a bit of salad. Normally the tartare portion is larger than the salad, but not here. I admit to being a little disappointed at first, but my next dish was quite large, so it balanced out in the end.
I decided to order the fish special for my main course. An oblong white plate filled with Israeli couscous, rapini, cauliflower, zucchini, and morels, with a large piece of monkfish panfried in butter in the center, and a Nordic shrimp salad.
If you don’t know what monkfish is, I would not google it before eating. I thankfully did not do that (damn, it’s an ugly fish). The fish was quite good, tender and light, and the grilled vegetables were perfectly cooked. The morels, which tasted as though they had taken a long bath in white wine, were too strong in flavour in comparison with the rest of the dish. Without the morels, this dish would be perfect.
For dessert, I ordered the grapefruit marmalade tartlette, and sipped a glass of Belle de Brillet, a pear liqueur from France.
Overall, I enjoyed both of my visits to Louise Taverne. The atmosphere is laidback and fun, and the menu is a good mix of classic French and family-friendly bistro (burgers, fish n’ chips, etc.). I’ll be back, whether it is to enjoy a bottle of wine and a book or to eat through more of the menu. I will definitely sit out on the terrace and enjoy the view of the neighbourhood.
dine at louise taverne & bar à vin
where: 48, rue saint-paul • neighbourhood: old port (vieux-port) • 418-780-7255 • louisetbv.ca • reservations recommended