Nov 13, 2008

La ous-qu’y sont, tous les raftsmen?

I used to hang out quite a lot at “Les Raftsmen” on St-Raymond in Hull.  Half-tavern, half-brasserie, half-night club.  It looked old, it looked rough, it smelled like beer, bands would play there, you could drink and dance and have a lot of fun very loudly.

They renovated a few years ago, and in “Les Raftsmen” building now you can find a neat little place called Le Quai Saint-Raymond.  With a menu focussing on seafood, but simple meals with no pretention, a decor focussed on Alexander Keith’s accessories such as umbrellas hanging on the ceiling. It is definetely a blue collar place.  And I think Keith’s is a sponsor.  Hell, even the window frames have the Keith’s design on them.

You’ll often see workers from neighbouring shops, hotels and even the Casino end up there for a cold one after their shift.

What I really love about Le Quai is the fact that some tables are equipped with their own beer tap!!  Cheaper than if you order it from the bar, you pay for what you pour and it is always cold!

Your beer is getting warm?  No worries, top it off! You are very thirsty?  No waiting for the waiting staff, it is right there! Careful, though, it can be dangerous…  and costly in the end.

But nevermind, it is a great concept, and of course at Le Quai, it is fresh cold Keith’s that is available for you to enjoy.

I know of only one other place that does this in the National Capital Region, and it is at Le Pêle-Mêle in Old Hull.

There, however, you get to enjoy Coors Light from the tap.

We went to le Quai last night for a late dinner, and we found the place extremely busy, surprisingly so, for a Wednesday night.  Turns out, unbeknownst to us, that Le Quai was celebrating its fourth anniversary that day.  Unfortunetaly for us, it was a 5 à 7 party, and we arrived too late to enjoy the free hors-d’oeuvres, the door prizes and the free Keiths.   But fortunetaly for us, a table with a tap was open, and we seized it with great enthusiasm.

Mel ordered the Mexican Pizza.

Le Quai has only a handful of choices when it comes to pizza, and they come in individual sizes.

I have never been disappointed, their pizza is pretty good, and around $10. Nothing fancy, though a nice effort with the presentation, as you can see.

The cheese was nicely golden and caramelized on the edges. There was pepperoni and ground beef, not in enormous proportion, but the right amount.

The green peppers were nice and crispy, but the onions were not cooked enough.  It is often the case when onions are used in pizza, especially red onions.  That is why when I make pizza, I usually fry the onions a bit first, in order to make sure they are not too raw.

Mel’s pizza was pretty good overall, but I am not clear on why it is called Mexican.  There was no flavour that reminded us of Mexico, no hot peppers of any kind, no salsa despite the claim of a spicy sauce.

I decided to go with the Paëlla. A new item on their menu, and at $16.95 it is one of the most expensive items on the menu.  That was a risky choice.  Paëlla is a Spanish dish, originating from the East Coast. It is cooked in a special large round shallow pan, which is called a paellera.  I somehow doubt that Le Quai has any paellera in their kitchen.

Surprise, here came the Mexican twist, as the paëlla was obvisouly cooked with corn chips sprinkled all around.

I had never seen that before.  As expected, the chips were overcooked and the flavour totally didn’t work with the paëlla.  So I discarded them promptly.

Their simple but fairly generous seafood mix included mussels, scallops and shrimp.  There was also some sausage, which added a nice zip to it all. The rice was plain and  quite starchy, and the tomato flavour was strong but not too overpowering.

It was certainly not the best paëlla I’ve ever had, but it was nevertheless surprisingly good, considering.

I probably won’t have it again, as they do other better stuff, but it was certainly not a disaster.  A meal for two, including the beer tap flowing freely, ended up costing us $40.08 before taxes and tip.

Le Quai St-Raymond on Urbanspoon

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