Storied French & Quebecois Country Cooking: Putting the Saint in St. Lawrence

I purposely read very little about JC Poirier’s St. Lawrence restaurant, trying to ignore all the awards and acolades it’s won. (The most recent being JC being named one of the Foodies of the Year by Western Living Magazine. Side note: it feels like Western Living is stretching when they anoint the Superflux guys as being “Chill AF Dudes”…VanMag maybe, but Western Living?? Using “AF”??? Disclosure: I sometimes shoot photos for Superflux and they are indeed chill AF dudes.)

So walking in with no real expectations except for that JC has been part of some of the city’s best restaurants (Pourhouse, Pizzeria Farina, Ask for Luigi, Di Beppe), I thought, “how good can it be?”


Mind you, I only had three dishes but the menu is on the smaller side but feels perfect for a restaurant of this size (seven starters, four vegetable, and six mains). Plus I find that I’m much more thrilled eating from the appetizer/small plates section of the menu than the mains/large format section. It seems like the excitement and creativity are in the apps while the mains become an exercise in pleasing the masses (ie. gotta cover the bases for the people who are protein picky). While the mains look mouth-watering, the prices are eye-watering, so I’ll have to save those mains for a special occasion.

Love the gold and blue palette!

St. Lawrence is kitty-corner to Sunrise Market. Yeah, you could probably say the G-word: “gentrification”. But you could also say “growth”?

I snagged a bar seat. This place is notoriously hard to get into without reservations. Not impossible, but doable with a bit of luck.

They had a daily cocktail and two beers on tap. Dageraad’s Randonneur Saison is a great choice to have on tap. Averbode is a Belgian blonde that I’ve never tried before.

It’s a Growlerwerks uKeg! But it doesn’t contain beer, it had a watermelon soda — which is a great use of this beer gadget in a bar context.

I love this room!

View of the kitchen. JC (wearing a Schwartz’s Deli t-shirt) was expediting the entire time I was there.

Must be him in there?

Le menu.

At the bottom of this title page contains a “no cellphone” symbol 😉



Mains. I’m sure it’s justified with the ingredients and all the labour involved, but those prices take my breath away.

A really intelligent beer list. Love the cheeky/nostalgic inclusion of Labatt 50. Quebec breweries like Le Trou du Diable, Brasserie Dunham, and Dieu du Ciel are represented.

French and Belgian beers round out the list. The list is divided into light/delicate, strong, brown, and sour. Whoever handles the beer here knows their stuff.

Le Trou du Diable La Pitoune Pilsner (5%). Even though LTDD got bought out by Six Pints (aka Molson-Coors), this beer is still damn tasty. Crisp, clean, with a head that won’t quit.

For the label geeks.

This lacing is what beer geeks want to see! Thrilled and impressed with their clean glassware…

…and delightful coasters.

Everyone gets an amuse-bouche! Cretons (like rillettes but more Quebec) and mustard with bread (from The Birds & The Beets?). The cretons were every bit as good as a pate or rillette or other fatty pork spread. Wonderful.

Oreilles de Crisse aka Fried Pork Rinds ($12) with maple syrup & “spice”. What is the spice? A friend said black pepper, but I got Old Bay Seasoning overtones… The crispy pork rinds are French-kissed by maple syrup but never taste cloying. They get a bit chewy if you wait too long and the maple syrup penetrates the rinds, but within the first 30 minutes, you’re fine — if they even last that long.

Adorable authentic maple syrup can!

Langue de bison fumé aka Smoked Bison Tongue ($19) with MTL spices, fingerling potatoes, and ravigote sauce. Celery leaves on top are a nice touch! The potatoes are underneath the sauce.

I could feel the perfect tenderness the moment I stuck my fork into this beautiful slab. Impressive sear on the outside. Juicy and tender tongue with enough of that chewy bounce that makes tongue such a wonderful protein. Seasoning, execution, everything spot-on. Highly recommended.

The calibre of the previous two dishes made me try another: Vol-au-vent aux champignons & sauce Mornay aka Mushrooms in a Puff Pastry Shell ($18) with Mornay sauce (like a bechamel sauce with cheese).

This dish is so far away from what I would usually order, but it was recommended by a friend and I was very pleased. It’s like a creamy, meaty mushroom pie.

There were at least a couple different mushrooms bathed in that smooth creamy sauce.

I feel like everything I tried this night was tested, refined, and practiced until it became effortless perfection. Really, I can’t think of any changes or improvements to be made to any of these dishes. So in-the-zone. “Haute country cooking” describes it perfectly. Very accessible food, where technique and ingredients merge seemlessly, without ego but definitely with story. It’s a side of French and a side of Canada I would love to explore more of.

Your stack at the end.

I thought this was pretty hilarious.

I was too happy to gasp at this bill. La fin.

2 thoughts on “Storied French & Quebecois Country Cooking: Putting the Saint in St. Lawrence”

  1. So, you’re willing to spend $12 for pork rinds, $18 for a puff pastry round with some sauce on it and $19 for a beer but not $42 for a steak and frites with bone marrow sauce?

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