Located on one of Quebec City’s richest archeological sites, the Auberge Saint-Antoine Hotel literally sits atop centuries of history. The hotel integrates three historical buildings of the 18th and 19th century, as well as a wharf and battery structure that dates back to the end of the 17th century.
Directly across from the St. Lawrence River near the port in Quebec City’s Old Town, this famous hotel has been a member of the Relais & Chateaux Association since 2005. It also boasts a CAA-AAA Four Diamond rating as well as being named one of the top hotels in the world by Conde Nast Traveller since 2003. It is also currently positioned as the second best City Hotel in Canada by Travel + Leisure.
The hotel was opened by the Price Family in 1992 as a small local inn with 23 rooms. In 1988 archaeological digs were begun by the city. Ten different digs on various parts of the site unearthed more than 5,000 objects related to the city’s history. During the hotel’s final renovation in 2003, a large-scale dig yielded a number of new artifacts, some dating back to the 1600s.
With 300 years of history to its name, the Price family is dedicated to preserving the property’s history, while providing a luxurious 21st-century experience. The hotel currently has 84 rooms and 11 suites. Each of the six floors of the hotel is devoted to one of the site’s previous owners and his period in history. More than 700 priceless historical objects are displayed throughout the hotel.
Guests at Auberge Saint-Antoine can relax and workout at LeGYM, the hotel’s signature gym and health zone that features a state-of-the-art fitness center, yoga studio, saunas and spa treatment rooms offering a variety of spa services.
When Panache Restaurant debuted in July 2004, it quickly earned a reputation on Quebec’s gourmet food scene from “best new restaurant” awards to its four-diamond rating from CAA-AAA. Offering traditional French Canadian cuisine with a twist, Head Chef Louis Pacquelin revisits classic dishes with a pioneering approach and a genuine love for local produce, both simple and sophisticated, which vary with the seasons and arrivals.
“I love to be involved in everything, from all the kitchen stations to the gardener on our farm, and of course our local suppliers,” Pacquelin admits. At only 25 years of age, he comes to Panache from an impressive background in France in several Michelin-starred restaurants, such as the Hotel du Palais with Meilleur Ouvrier de France, Jean-Marie Gautier and with the Coutanceau family. He continued his training in the Alain Ducasse Group for five years before crossing the Atlantic.
I recently had the opportunity to experience a few of Chef Pacquelin’s amazing dishes which he prepared for a group of food and wine writers. Our lunch began with Mise en appétit which was Rabbit on Crostini with mint, followed by a choice of Foie Gras Casserole with candied melon with Port, or Tomato Carpaccio with ricotta cheese croquette, prosciutto and marjoram pesto.
The four entree choices included: Wild Mushroom Lasagna with sage, smoked beef and parmesan; Homemade Blood Pudding with Espelette pepper, roasted zucchini and caramelized corn (which despite my reluctance, I tried for the first time and found very tasty); Eggplant with zucchini flower fritters and tomato jam; and Pan-seared Mackerel Fillet with marinated kohlrabi and bacon.
Panache serves breakfast and dinner daily; lunch Monday to Friday; and brunch on Saturday and Sunday. The restaurant also offers a seven-course signature menu with wine pairings for $200. The restaurant’s wine list includes more than 700 different labels from 14 countries. The cellar houses over 12,000 bottles, many of which are private imports and vins de garde.
The bar of Auberge Saint-Antonine, with cozy alcoves and easy chairs by windows, boasts one of Quebec City’s top cocktail menus. The bar also offers a glimpse of the past with a display of historical objects dating from six different eras.
Special events also take place year-round at the bar such as jazz and tapas during the Quebec City Jazz Festival. Returning for its second season this year is Thé à la Mode Fashion Tea. This unique event features up-and-coming designers in an informal fashion show where models come to the tables while guests enjoy a traditional English tea with sandwiches, scones and pastries. These teas will take place at 2 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month (except December) beginning on September 20th through May 16th.
For more information on Auberge Saint Antoine, Panache Restaurant and Café-Bar Artefact see: www.saint-antoine.com.
Writer was hosted for lunch at Panache as part of a travel association conference.