She’s Danielle Guay, origin Quebec, chef-proprietaire of Vices Versa. He’s Eric Bertrand, origin Alsace, chef-proprietaire Vices Versa. He’s pictured on top with his unique basket of ingredients, she’s on the bottom with hers. That is until you turn the menu around, or stand on your head and look at the restaurant sign, in which case they’ve reversed positions. Together they are the husband-wife team who, since 2003, operate Vices Versa, a handsome restaurant in La Malbaie.
We are told he likes butter and cream and bacon and sauces; she likes herbs and spices and emulsions. He’s a soup enthusiast, she’s a pastry queen. He’s a mushroom man, she prefers greens. Or so goes the story. In short, they have divided the kitchen in two: each has his own stove, her own menu. His is the Vices side of the carte, hers the Versa. You may choose his table d’hote or hers (both $60) or you are permitted to cross the dividing line and nibble off both. It all works very well as a gimmick, and – oh joy – it works very well on the plate and the palate. This is exceptionally good food, but it is cooking for the gourmand. There is little choice on either menu for the finicky eater.
As with every other restaurant worth its salt in this region, the cuisine at Vices Versa is a celebration of local food and farms. And so there is Foie gras from La Ferme Basque (au torchon with a spiced apple-pear jam from Versa; pan seared with a dark, brooding sauce scented with anise and cardamom from Vices). There is a magnificent chowder of fresh and smoked fish (his). Then venison with lentils in a sage and bacon sauce (his) and Charlevoix veal in an Earl Grey sauce (hers). Dessert seemed to be a collaboration? Crème brulée as perfect as that perfect dessert can be.
Our server speaks very little English. But she is keen to practice and her knowledge of the food is deep, her enthusiasm unlimited.
If you go…
How to get there:
From Quebec City by the provincial road 138 to La Malbaie, Turn right at the traffic lights closest to the bridge in downtown La Malbaie (by the drugstore). The restaurant is 200 m on the right. Parking on the street