Jan 1, 2009

Chez Ashton, a must-stop in Quebec City

When I go back to Quebec City, there is one obligatory stop.  I have to stop at Chez Ashton and enjoy a great poutine.

Always great, always fresh.
The first Ashton opened in 1969 – it was a little snack-bar located in an old bus at the corner of Hamel and Notre-Dame. The owner, Ashton Leblond, brought back poutine from a trip from his brother’s snack-bar in Arthabasca in 1972, and it was the dish that kickstarted the expansion of the chain.  There are now 25 establishments in the greater Quebec City area – the furthest one being in St-Georges-de-Beauce.

They did try to expand to Paris at some point, but for some reason it didn’t pan out.

This Holiday Season, we were not going to miss out on a great Ashton poutine.  After a late New Year’s party, it was the perfect way to recover.  In between two familial visits, we stopped at the 1st Avenue location, in lowertown. (A favorite of mine, this location is open until 4 AM on Fridays and Saturdays - I have made a few stops there before going home a few blocks away in my university days)

Even though it was New Year’s Day, it was open, and Mel and I were very grateful.

The great thing about Ashton, is that everything is made fresh, and most of their suppliers are local.  Fries are hand cut in the morning – the potatoes are grown on the Orléans Island. Cheese curds are delivered daily.  Their branding is about how fresh things are, and it is mostly true.  Although there has been rumours about how they processed the meat in their “pain à la viande” (a hot-dog bun filled with saucy ground beef, topped with onions and ketchup).

I ordered their Trio du Lac.  A “Hot-Dog du Lac” is inspired by the traditionnal way of serving hot-dogs in the Lac-St-Jean area – with sliced cabbage, mayonnaise, and topped with fries IN the hot-dog.  Wanting to be healthy, I declined the fries option for the trio – after all, there was fries IN the hot-dog, and opted for the green salad.  The trio was completed by a ice cold Pepsi.

Eating a hot-dog garnished like that reminds me fondly of my days at the Jonquière CEGEP. In the SagLac area, hot-dogs are quite often garnished with cole slaw and fries – there are a few spots that I loved going to :  Goofy in Alma, le Pavillon du Hot-Dog in Jonquière, and the now defunct DEC Café, 50 meters from my student apartment, who offered 2 fully loaded “hot-dog du Lac” for $1.99.  Great deal for a student!

Anyway, Ashton’s hot-dog is alright.  Their sausage is fairly big and juicy.  You need to like the combined taste of mayo and cabbage, and need not to be taken aback by the fries on top.  The side salad was relatively fresh = the lettuce was crispy, and the tomato wedges still firm.  The baby carrots however were quite dry, and you could see dry white spots on them.

As a side to my Trio, we got the regular Ashton poutine, the real reason of our visit.

Now, we are talking poutine.  The fries are fresh, very tasty, with a nice crunch.  They are not too long and don’t get soggy.  The brown sauce is a tad thick, which prevents fries soggyness,  and not too much of a salty gravy compared to many other sauces out there.   The cheese curds are fantastic – as I said earlier, they are delivered daily from la Fromagerie Côte-de-Beaupré and they keep it at room temperature, making sure it will keep a perfect level of moisture, in order to melt just a little bit and yet still make the “squeek-squeek” noise real poutine connaisseurs are expecting.  And Chez Ashton, they are not cheap with the cheese.  It explains the fact the poutine is a bit pricey, but it is well worth it. The cheese has to be fresh, but since Ashton is buying 600 000 pounds of cheese every year, their provider is quite happy to deliver.

Ashton’s poutine is a classic.  You can try their variations, either with the delicious “sauce piquante”, or something a little more adventurous, such as the Dulton, the Galvaude or the Sausage.

A Trio du Lac and a regular poutine costed us only $16.00!
Chez Ashton on Urbanspoon

4 Responses

  • Mmmmm… The best one is with ground beef on top…

  • That’d be good with shaved papaya!

  • Yé! pavillon du Hot Dog Rules! Y’a chez Pauline au taxi Diamond itou!!!

  • Il faut ajouter une bonne bière de la Barberie pour une expérience ultime (J’te laisse traduire;)

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