When Toqué! opened in 1993 it stood local haute cuisine tradition on its head, replacing old pretentions with a sense of fun. The idea endured because in the kitchen, chef Normand Laprise was also busy hatching a new culinary style—what he calls “une cuisine de produits”—ingredient-driven cuisine helped along through intense collaboration between chef and supplier. If all that no longer seems revolutionary today, Toqué! deserves much of the credit. From Palmex foie gras to pré-salé lamb from Isle Verte and St-Canut porcelet, all of the great Quebec products you find now on our best restaurant tables coast to coast were introduced here. Chef treats them with respect; he likes them to taste of what they are. But he advances that culinary message with unusual and playful juxtapositions of flavour (think seared foie gras in pear water, lamb tartare with melon sorbet, or duck with camomile). Instead of abating over the years, his inventiveness has only increased, advancing in step with his self-assurance and finesse. The cooking is perfectly matched to the colourful and slightly quirky décor, and the discreet, professional service, runs like clockwork under the watch of business partner and front-of-house manager Christine Lamarche. For a less formal experience, dine at the burnt orange bar.