First Look: Canoe's Taste Quebec Menu

By Suresh Doss  |  March 27, 2014

To celebrate all things Canadiana, chef John Horne and his brigade of cooks at fine-dining giant Canoe are putting together regionally themed menus.

The tasting menus will rotate throughout the year, with each menu spotlighting a different province in the country. Horne debuted the tasting menu series with Taste Québec a few weeks ago. "I wanted to start with Québec for a few reasons. One being that I wanted to start with a food experience outside of Toronto. Québec has a very European feel to it. And I also wanted to start with Québec because maple season is currently underway."

Horne has sourced a variety of ingredients from all corners of the province to create a multicourse tasting menu that takes classic dishes to new heights, in typical Canoe fashion. "Every course has something that was new and interesting as we dug into Québec ingredients, from smoked sturgeon to wild rabbits and dairy products from the eastern townships."

The tasting menus will be changing every seven-10 weeks. $100 per person, $150 with wine pairings. Participation of the entire table is required.

We recently had the chance to experience the tasting menu. Here is a play-by-play on what to expect.

After Taste Québec, Horne expects to take diners on a romp through BC to celebrate spring. 

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  • Split Pea Soup

    Aside from transporting your taste buds through the province of Québec, the tasting menu is also a visual experience. For starters, Horne carefully dresses the bowls dry with smoked sturgeon, bagel crumbs and Canton-de-l’Est ricotta. The soup is finished tableside as the split pea purée is poured gently from a teapot. The smoked sturgeon brings a distinct ham-y flavor to the creamy base, and the ricotta brightens it up with a touch of acid.

  • Terrine

    Raised on a farm, Horne loves all things game. When he recently got his hands on some wild rabbit, he was excited to create this dish. "Wild rabbits are very hard to get, wild meat in general, that is inspected and approved for sale. So this was extra special to me." He created a terrine (a loaf of pâté) with wild rabbit and foie gras. It's layered with jelly made from chokecherry and served with wild plum and pain d’épices (spiced bread). 

  • Monkfish

    The most colourful dish on the menu is the proscuitto-wrapped monkfish. “When I think of Québec, I think of meat. This is a meaty fish dish; the monkfish is wrapped in prosciutto. Pork is such a big part of Québec’s food culture. We couldn’t do a menu without Montréal smoked meat, which we’ve made in-house along with some sauerkraut.”

  • Chantecler Chicken Poutine

    "Chantecler chicken was bred in Québec and it's very winter hardy. I love cooking with it and wanted to present it like a poutine." Chicken legs are rested on pommes maxim (blanched, thinly sliced potatoes) and stuffed with plumps of fresh cheese curd. The dish is served with turnips that are braised in apple cider and finished with a rich gravy that is poured on top of the curds.

  • Rafraîchir

    It's finally spring and we have the perfect palate cleanser from our Taste Québec menu, a rhubarb rafraîchir. “Hothouse rhubarb at this time of the year is crazy good. It’s a great little pick-me-up intermezzo - a spring fling," says Horne.

  • Sugar Pie

    Pastry chef Robert Gonsalves created the dessert for the Taste Québec menu. At the center is a slice of sugar pie that is accented by rye berries, almond cake, coffee foam, creme fraiche and chestnut purée. 

  • Tire sur la Neige

    Taffy is a big deal in Québec during maple season. For the grand finale, the staff presents it tableside. Hot maple syrup is gently poured onto a bed of snow, and guests are then encouraged to wrap the cooling taffy with a small popsicle stick.