What do you get when you cross southern American BBQ with traditional Quebec cuisine? At Faite á l’os (French for “Made to the bone”) we found it is some of the most well-executed barbecue we have ever experienced. When I spoke to people of our plans to visit a barbecue joint in Quebec City, most ended up with a puzzled look on their face. Being from Kansas City, BBQ sauce runs in our veins and we take this specific cuisine very seriously. After speaking with Emmanuel Cote, one of the owners of Faite á l’os, I quickly realized he has dedicated himself to creating a masterful version of regional American dishes.
Once we were in Quebec City, we found ourselves dining at some amazing eateries. Being a French-based population, they take pride in the execution of their dishes, and many could be considered works of art. With all of this attention to detail, we were wondering how it would be applied to the smoking of meats. After all, many Americans have been doing it for years and still struggle with consistency. As the days and meals were checked off of our itinerary, the anxiously awaited time for our visit finally arrived.
We want to thank Quebec Cite Tourism and Faite à l’os for hosting our visit. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
The Total Experience
We had arranged to meet for dinner at Faite á l’os. When speaking with Emmanuel, I had mentioned lunch, but he was quick to point out that the barbecue is only served at dinner time. The restaurant is designed to handle a certain number of guests and he wants to ensure that all receive an amazing experience. This particular comment raised my expectations since it was clear that he understood the importance of delivering an out-of-this-world experience.
When we entered the restaurant, we were immediately impressed with the mix of urban and homey decor. The southern rock soundtrack playing in the background added a bit of grit to the atmosphere. Emmanuel came out of the kitchen to greet us and give a little more background on his barbecue philosophy. We discovered he’s not some guy who read a bunch of BBQ books and decided to open a restaurant. He spent time in the United States honing his craft for making outstanding ‘cue. Of course, knowing that we were from the BBQ capital of the world, he was interested in hearing our opinion.
Surf & Turf
In cases like this, we are open to uncovering the menu at a pace chosen by staff. Emmanuel asked if he could serve us a variety of plates so that we would have a good feel for the extent of his mastery of barbecue. Obviously, the opportunity to sample a broad spectrum sounded like a perfect way to get a true feel for his style. After all, we have tested many versions of barbecue and found that each comes with its specific notes of flavor.
His first dish was Surf & Turf. This little gem does not have a permanent place on the dinner menu, but he brings it out when the mood hits him. We were certainly glad that he was in the right mood because this dish was a perfect way to start a meal. This delightful plate is a combination of smoked bacon and scallops, topped with a jalapeno sauce. The addition of dollops of lime sour cream helps add a creamy texture to this smoky appetizer. It’s hard to describe how flavorful such a light dish can become with the right chef at the helm. Clearly, Emmanuel has a grasp on seafood.
Smoke on the Water
To show his flexibility with water creatures, our next dish was Smoke on the water. This well-dressed appetizer is created with a slice of smoked trout that has been seasoned with bourbon and maple. Situated on a bed of celery rémoulade, fennel, and sour cream, it had such a delicate smoky flavor that played on our taste buds. Even Crystal, a person adverse to any seafood or fish dish, couldn’t get enough of this one. We could see that this evening was going beyond the standard ribs and fries of a Kansas City BBQ joint.
Bad to the Bone
With the main course up next, Emmanuel took the time to walk through what we were about to be served at Faite á l’os. The Bad to the Bone combo is usually designed to feed two people. He continued by saying what he means by “feeding two people”, is that it stuffs them, and many have left-overs. Since ours was to be a four-course meal, he wanted to make sure we had room left after this serving. To accomplish this, he was cutting the servings about in half, so that we would still have all of the tastes of the standard platter. When he brought out the tray, my mouth just about hit the floor.
This heady platter was filled with scrumptious delights. Half of a smoked chicken weighs down one side of the tray, while the balance is brought with a thick slab of smoked brisket on the other end. Both of these meats were tender and flavorful, which shows Emmanuel’s grasp on the fine art of barbecue. Two tasty bones of St. Louis-style ribs are ample proof of his ability to deal with pork. To stay true to the BBQ lifestyle, he adds sides of Coleslaw and potato salad to round out the platter. There was even a couple slices of cornbread on the plate, as well as two types of barbecue sauce.
Let’s get something straight. When I first identified a barbecue restaurant in Quebec City, I did not hold high expectations. For me, it seemed more of a novelty to find this cuisine so far from our home. The original goal had just been to show that different cuisines can be found all over North America. Now I was facing the fact that this Canadian chef had taken one of my favorite cuisines to a level I had never experienced. As he spoke about his smoking methods, it all seemed so precise, like what would be found in a college chemistry textbook more than a recipe card. It was becoming clear that Emmanuel was bringing the French style for precise results to bear on one of my favorite foods.
Sugar Pie Honey
With our heads reeling from our evening of smoky delights, we couldn’t imagine any way Emmanuel could add to our pleasure. After clearing the table, he brought out one of the only things that would keep us eating, dessert. Once again, he outdid himself by serving up two options that struck home with us. The Maple Sugar Pie ended up being a delight for Crystal. She described it as being similar to the base flavor of the best Pecan Pie she has tasted. Filled with rich Quebec maple flavor, it was fun watching her gobble it up.
Once the plate was photographed, I did a quick spin, so it landed the Carrot Cake in front of me. Little did Emmanuel realize, but this is one of my all-time favorites. The flavor of this slice was hard to beat. It had all the hearty flavors of a nutty cake sandwiched between layers of sweet cream cheese frosting. All of the taste was there without being too sweet to taste the rich tones of the cake. What a great way to end a perfect evening of
American, err…Canadian cuisine.
Visiting a Quebec Smoke House
We will be the first to admit that we are not barbecue judges, but we have been to our share of contests and tasted plenty of versions of this smoky cuisine. After dining at Faite á l’os, it was obvious that they had taken barbecue to a new level. By bringing the intensity of French cooking to bear on this cuisine, they have created some unbelievable dishes. During our conversations with Emmanuel, he noted that the passion they have for barbecue is meant to be sampled in manageable numbers. They aren’t pushing to expand to serve huge numbers. For them, the idea of perfecting their BBQ skills and offering up memorable experiences are the main goals. We have to admit that those are pretty lofty goals, but they are definitely on the right track.