Sunday, February 28, 2010

Duck Galore in Quebecois Cuisine at Cafe du Lac

Followers of this blog know that I have some certain favourites for food - duck, foie gras, truffle. Anything with those three really can't go wrong! Last night, Tony and I ventured out to Etobicoke to visit Cafe du Lac, where the Quebecois cuisine features duck in many ways, poutine with short ribs, and foie gras that can be added to every meal! Our friend Stella had advised us to call ahead to book the "duck in a jar," which without ever seeing the actual description, I trusted would be a good bet (I totally get caught up in the exclusivity factor that I have to order ahead of time).

I regret that our visit to the mall earlier in the day meant we already had some "low class" poutine from Hero Burgers, and so we passed on the delicious sounding appetizer. We opted instead for the Farmer's Pate, created by the chef, and the blended mushroom soup that came with Tony's prix fixe special. The soup was delicious and reminded me of the great meal we had in Paris at Cinq-Mars. The arrival of my duck in a jar was an ordeal for the entire little restaurant - the chef came out to witness the "unveiling" of the duck, making the waiter just a little nervous that he wouldn't screw up this masterpiece. The duck is literally cooked in a jar, and served upside down on a plate, to be carefully removed by the waiter to maintain its standing shape. Applauses around were heard as the waiter successfully removed the jar and no tumble of duck was heard. I should mention that this didn't happen EVERY time this main was served, maybe it's just because I was extra excited, as was the table beside us, and we broke out in applause and cheers together. The arrival of Tony's special, boar chop, seemed ordinary in comparison! Our two mains couldn't have been more different - my duck was rich, decadent, fatty, and delicious (did I mention it was stuffed with foie gras!?), and Tony's boar chop was surprisingly simple, yet distinct in taste, and I loved that it was served with colourful vegetables. Truth be told my duck was a little tough to cut through, but every bite was heavenly, from duck, to foie gras, to cabbage and mashed potatoes. We left nothing un-eaten!

We are mostly downtown snobs, too lazy to make the trek outside to eat very often, but Cafe du Lac was definitely worth it. It sits in a little strip mall - in fact, you'd easily drive past it without knowing what you are looking for. It is fine dining food in a neighbourhood establishment, with friendly and personable staff that is excited about their food. In fact, we had arrived early for our reservation, and the waiter did not realize that we had already claimed one of the limited duck in a jars we called ahead for - I was pleased that they were still saving the main for us (even though by then we would have been incredibly late), and in the end, meant that the table next to us got a chance to snatch up the "freed" duck. Cafe du Lac is a wonderful little restaurant with modern Quebecois cuisine that we will certainly be back to...although maybe not so soon as I am still feeling full the day after!

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