On Saturday, after a beautiful drive along the St. Lawrence shore, we started to look for a place to have a nice dinner. Leon was in the mood for traditional Quebecois cooking and I wanted some place where we could enjoy the ambiance without having to drive back into downtown Quebec. Besides, our search for the Royal Hotel on the previous evening had left me disappointed. We had driven past Auberge Baker while finding the ancestral lands and noticed a very busy parking lot. I reasoned that they must be hosting a wedding. Leon suggested we drive by again after our visit to Montmorency Falls to peek at the menu and enquire about a table for dinner. Turns out we were in luck.
The menu had a lovely selection but our waiter, Olivier, suggested I try the table d’hôte, while Leon was set on a trio of traditional dishes. We ordered wine by the glass from the local vineyard – Isle de Bacchus, a winery we had visited a few years earlier located on Ile d’Orleans. I ordered the white, Leon had the red. I am not sure of the actual grapes but I do remember that they are especially grown for their hardiness in the cold climate of Quebec.
My dinner consisted of a salad of fresh greens and a cream of vegetable soup to begin. I shared both with Leon. My only disappointment was the bread, which was small wedges or slices of toasted bread. I would have expected fresh bread from a local bakery at the very least. The main course was médallions de veau (veal medallions) in port sauce with asparagus, patates dauphinoises (scalloped potatoes), a few grilled vegetables and an unusual wedge of mousse, which turned out to be a flan of carrots and parsnips. Yum!
Leon’s meal was traditional tortière, tortière du Lac St. Jean (more a beef stew in a pot pie) and porc and meatball ragoût. The dishes were accompanied by beets, traditional tomato ketchup (a sweet salsa) and a few grilled veggies like mine. I tried all his dishes and found them to be quite authentic and mostly tastier that my own recipes. It seems the pastry has a lot to do with the final flavour. I stopped making these dishes years ago as I didn’t have a talent for pastry dough.
Dessert was a terrine of dark and white chocolate with vanilla ice cream. Leon ate the ice cream, I “managed” with the rest, finishing my meal with a cup of herbal tea.
The evening had a lovely quality thanks to the decor, the friendly service and Leon’s continued use of French. He managed to tell me all about an unusual lamp that was on an old piano behind me. It was “trench art“, a brass lamp made of a bomb from WW1. Many soldiers would create carvings of some sort using found materials, in this case brass munitions. I remember Donna (in Australia) had some trench art, her grandfather had created, displayed in a cabinet. Leon noted that the lamp was marked with the initials CFA (Canadian Field Artillery) which was used in the first war, whereas RCA (Royal Canadian Artillery) has been used since WWII. We asked Oliver what he knew about the lamp’s origins and he confirmed that Mr. Baker (the previous owner of the inn) had sent it back from his time serving in Europe during the war. It was a perfect time for us to ask a bit about the name of the inn. After all, we were in the cradle of North America, a town where French settlers had arrived in the 1600s to colonize the new land. How did the inn come to be owned by a Mr. Baker?
It seems the inn was first the elegant farmhouse of the Lefrançois family, built around 1840 near Ste. Anne de Beaupré. Alvin Baker came along 1935 and opened The Baker’s Inn. It ran for many years, changing hands many times until the present owners. You can read all about the inn’s history here.
Thanks to the chef and staff of Auberge Baker. We had a lovely evening and would certainly return for another visit.