Last Updated on January 16, 2021 by Pamela
Chez Tao, a cocktail bar in Saint-Sauveur, has been on my food & drink hitlist for quite awhile. Sure the rumors of their inventive cocktails played a big role, but as someone who has spent a lot of time in Southeast Asia, chit chat about their menu was just as intriguing!
Thinking a Thursday would be a ‘slow‘ night, I rolled into Chez Tao the moment the doors opened (yes, I was embarrassed to be that early!), grabbed a table and waited for a couple of friends to arrive.
Opening at the end of 2017 on rue Saint-Vallier Ouest in Saint-Sauveur, Chez Tao is a small narrow cocktail bar with red paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, creative cocktails, and a small food menu inspired by foods found in Thailand, Lao, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
The brainchild of mixologist Vincent Thuaud, Chez Tao has captured the hearts of locals throughout Québec City, including Top Chef competitor Sébastien Laframboise, Executive Chef at Le Bonne Entente, and appeared on Canada’s 100 Best: 50 Bars list in 2019 (no. 29).
Needless to say, Chez Tao is one of the hottest cocktail bars in Québec City!
My embarrassment of being the first person to walk through the door was quickly dashed. Within 15 minutes of my arrival, this cozy cocktail bar was filled with Québecers looking for a Thursday night escape.
The four of us poured over the bright orange menu, flipping through four pages of cocktail choices that ranged from refreshing and tropical to powerful, smokey & spicy.
Of course, a selection of negroni’s and old fashions also made an appearance, as well as tasty ‘placebos‘ for those not drinking alcohol.
While I love a good negroni, I opted to try something a little more showy, a Roody à la plage – a fruity and woody cocktail with 100% rye CC Whiskey, Jim Beam Bourbon, Amontillado sherry, Guava, and pineapple served in a coconut. The second most expensive cocktails on the menu, at $20.95 CAD, which is meant to be shared among two people. Sshhhh…
It was… Good! I savored that cocktail for as long as I possibly could, and secretly wished it would magically replenish itself. Maybe next time? LOL
The Bloody Pen Pineapple Apple Pen and Daiquiri Floridita were tasty as well.
Equally as exciting as their cocktails, the food menu at Chez Tao features foods found in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Indonesia; dishes enjoyed by Vincent Thuaud during his travels in Southeast Asia.
As someone who has spent quite a bit of time in Southeast Asia, living in Thailand, and travelling throughout, my tastebuds began to dance the moment I read the menu.
Som tam (green papaya salad), pad see ew, and tom kha gai piquing my interest – all of which I have enjoyed many times in Thailand.
On this visit, however, I decided to try their Banh mì, a sandwich I crave quite often, and have difficulty finding at times – especially in Québec City.
While not served on the typical crusty French baguette, the Banh mì at Chez Tao has a generous piece of perfectly cooked Nagano pork belly, rillettes, pickled carrots and daikon, and springs of cilantro. Quite tasty, and a fairly good deal at $10.95 CAD.
I couldn’t resist ordering a bowl of peanuts with makrut lime leaf (see why I don’t use the word kaffir, here), chili and garlic. I have been obsessed with chili, lime, and garlic peanuts since I first came across them in a market in Chiang Mai, where I ate huge bags of them on a fairly regular basis.
While not completely the same as in Thailand (honestly, how could they be, the foods we eat while travelling is enhanced by nostalgia and rarely taste the same elsewhere), the bowl of peanuts was small and packed a delightfully spicy punch.
Our table also ate the Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice), fried chicken pieces, and sauntéed Chinese broccoli.
Honestly, every dish we tried was quite good, there is a good chance I already know which dishes I want to try on my next visit!
Note: The menu also features several vegan dishes, as well as some which are gluten-free. I do not know if the gluten-free food is prepared in a completely safe zone, and therefore cross-contamination could be an issue. Proceed with caution.
Chez Tao lived up to the hype. A lively bar with excellent cocktails and delicious food. The staff is quite friendly, and most speak some English, which is always a lovely bonus when venturing outside the walls of Old Québec City.
JJaques Oyster Bar in Saint-Roch is owned by the same team, and while the cocktails are of a similar caliber, Chez Tao is definitely more my scene, and I will happily come back again, and again. And again!
Pricing: $-$$ The cocktails are $9.95 – $16.95, with the exception of the two large cocktails for two people which are $20.95 and $21.95. The food menu is $5.95 – $15.95.
104, rue Sainte-Vallier Ouest
Mon, Wed, Sun 5:30pm – 1:30am, Thurs–Sat 5:30pm – 3am
Disclaimer: The opinions in this review are entirely my own. The staff at Chez Tao did not know I would be reviewing the bar and nothing was comped.