The dining room of the Museum of Civilization has moved and been rechristened. It used to be called Café du Musée and it used to be housed in a separate, administrative building overlooking the River. Now the restaurant is in the museum proper, where the gift shop used to be. It has a less thrilling outlook, over rue Laurier, but it is inarguably more accessible, and likely makes a lot more sense in terms of attracting both museum visitors and hungry pedestrians sauntering down the Avenue.
In the open kitchen of the new Bistro Boréal is Chef Georges Laurier, whose career on the Gatineau side includes – among other stops – the iconic Café Henry Burger and the lamented Laurier sur Montcalm. My first taste of Bistro Boréal was lunch. And it was an impressive one.
If I came back, I’d order the fish cake with shrimp and the crème brulée trio and not bother with a main dish. The cake was substantial enough on its own. The presentation was pretty: the fat, well-seasoned and dill-flecked cake featured smoked salmon in its mix of fish, sat on a simple rémoulade of celeriac – that lovely gnarly root vegetable that’s so much more interesting than its upright cousin – and came topped with three nicely undercooked shrimp, a toupé of micro greens, a chive spear. A warm, thick pot of beurre blanc (God love the French) was a splendid complement. Next course was a duck confit with spinach and quinoa, the flesh moist, the skin crisp, the whole rich, the flavour clear. The quinoa was neither here nor there, and the spinach a bit stringy, though we liked the cider-caramelized onions and the cider-sweetened demi glace dotted with a perfect brunoise of apple.
I’ve been a on a lucky ride with crème brulée lately. Suddenly everyone seems to have eschewed the short cuts. This presentation of a trio was generous (perfect for sharing) and textbook delicious.
Cost: fish cake $9; duck $19
Open: daily for lunch, Thursday to Saturday for dinner
Bistro Boréal, Canadian Museum of Civilization, 100 Laurier Street, Gatineau, 819-776-7009 www.civilization.ca