BAIE-SAINT-PAUL, Canada – Les Labours restaurant is inside of Le Germain, which is a Charlevoix hotel that can’t be missed.
In 2013, La Presse described the restaurant as a “beautiful farm table,” adding that there were not a lot of interesting tables in the area.
Then in 2014, the restaurant’s first head chef, David Forbes, left. But his departure did not cause much difference.
According to Sylvain Dervieux, the restaurant’s new head chef, “There is no big difference between David and me, we were already doing the menus together and we have the same principles about food. The only differences are a few technicalities and how I present the dish. But ultimately, it’s all about enjoying the experience.”
Chef Dervieux had been working in the kitchen for many years before taking the main job.
What has changed, though, is that the group Le Germain recently acquired La Ferme, which owned the hotel since its opening. Since the transaction, The Gazette, Le Figaro, Forbes and The Sun Chronicle (near Boston) have written glowing reviews about the hotel, and especially about the restaurant. I suppose that the marketing wing of the business has been quite busy!
Les Labours, a Very Good Restaurant in a Charlevoix Hotel – Chatting With The Chef
So, what’s inside Les Labours?
First, the restaurant is very spacious, airy, and modern. It has large windows made of stainless steel and what seemed like recycled wood, which gives the restaurant a slick ambiance but still reminds us of the great natural spaces around the hotel.
A large open kitchen stands out, right in the middle of the room.
“Working in an open kitchen is the best! I can see the customers’ reactions, I can talk to them while we are in the middle of service,” says chef Dervieux.
As for the food, one thing is certain, it is not something from a “farm table”.
“The menu is made according to the producers, the season, and what’s on our mind,” says Chef Dervieux. “The kitchen and the menus are more intuitive than ‘pre-programmed’. That being said, we still have to pay attention to the customers. We are in a hotel and we must have accessible dishes.”
The smoked salmon dish was my favourite. The fish comes from Fumoir Saint-Antoine and the local producers are honored on the plate with the fish being cut into larger chunks, instead of the usual thin slices. A very subtle cream cheese espuma accompanies the dish.
In fact, eating local can be a challenge in Charlevoix because, well, winters are long in Quebec! “It is better to eat frozen green beans from Quebec than buying organic green beans from Africa!”, claims the chef.
Another interesting dish is the Foie Gras Torchon that comes with sweetbread, flavored cream and pickled onions. So luscious!
“Here, we have two varieties of meat that combine their texture, the foie gras fat that brings roundness to the palate and the silky side of the sweetbread that brings out that lush, subtle taste. This is a classic combination but always works great,” says the chief.
Dessert was also elegant and delicious. The wine served throughout the meal played its role perfectly.
Les Labours, a Very Good Restaurant in a Charlevoix Hotel – Walking On a Tight Rope
The path that chef Dervieux must take comes with a lot of risk.
On the one hand, he must meet the expectations of the steak-and-potatoes eaters from the Quebec City region, and on the other, he must also present gourmet dishes for those who come from all over the world to stay at Le Germain of Baie-Saint-Paul, the Charlevoix hotel.
The region is full of tables that offer “local food”, which is so much in fashion right now. Les Labours is a restaurant that’s obviously a key player in the area since it opened. But chef Dervieux still pushes the limits of what’s acceptable to the local palate, offering more daring dishes than what is commonly done in the region. There is, therefore, something for everyone.
And the dining room is as elegant as the hotel itself!
Les Labours, 50 Rue de la Ferme, Baie-Saint-Paul, QC, Canada