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No. 26



DOWN AMID THE tourist traps in the absurdly picturesque Lower Town of Old Quebec, behind the heavy wooden doors of what was once the Union Bank of Lower Canada (erected in 1866), you will find a glorious restaurant.

Restaurant Initiale moved here in 1998, after eight years in its original location in the district of Sillery. And it is approaching its 30th anniversary exactly where it started: at the very top of the local (haute cuisine) food chain. The setting is supremely elegant, with soft lighting, the walls and chairs are cast in shades of beige and grey, the tables dressed in pressed tablecloths and set formally—right down to the old school, restaurant insignia-embossed charger plates. The menu is at first glance classically French, especially with regard to the sauces. Where else these days would you find Albuféra sauce or grand veneur or a jus vandouvan? If you can think of another place in this country that does, rest assured it doesn’t make them like chef-owner Yvan Lebrun.
But for all his devotion to classical detail, his food is also very contemporary, and a showcase for local ingredients. A fillet of Atlantic halibut is delivered with lemon-braised endive, locally grown Sieglinde potatoes, truffled brandade and black garlic. Roast duckling gets a sublime sauce Périgueux and a sauté of shiitakes with pine nuts and—oh yes!—brioche stuffed with veal marrow. This is cooking of the very highest order, and Lebrun’s deft touch extends to his magnificent desserts. The wine list is deep, long and francophile. The front of house is beautifully run by Lebrun’s wife and partner, Rolande Leclerc. It is both welcoming and deeply professional.
Monday to Friday
11:30 AM until 1:30 PMDinner
Tuesday to Saturday
5:30 PM until 9:00 PMPhotos: Courtesy of Initial

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