Wine and cheese with a view
A massive chandelier hangs overhead in the 1608 – Wine and Cheese Bar at the Chateau Frontenac and the open concept is broken only by the wall of wine bottles that serves as the back of the bar. But, the best part of the bar reveals itself only as you walk around the room and past that wall. There is a massive bay window, with room enough to sit (but no one does) stretching along the entire back half of the room. Heavy curtains are parted along the eight panes of glass and through it the St. Lawrence as it flows past Quebec City.
Snacks and water are delivered in little black plastic bowls that look like they have been cut out of paper and folded to make the dish. There are faux snaps along the faux seam and it makes for the perfect fit for the 1608, which borders expensive, but remembers it is a hotel bar with the best views of the river in the city.
A glass of prosecco will run you $10, a pint of Keith’s $8; a great gin ($7-15) and tonic ($3-7) is designed to fit your tastes. The munchies are free and a cheese plate with cheeses like El Nino and Tomme Joyeux Fromager, will start at $25. Worth every penny, as it comes with spiced nuts, dried fruit and figs. (If meat is your thing they can do an all charcuterie plate or a mix).
The chairs are the kind that are so inviting that you feel as though you can’t get up. I once heard that the perfect chair in a restaurant is one that is comfortable enough that people will want to sit and order food and drink, but not so comfortable that they don’t want to leave after an hour or so… The people behind the 1608 have clearly not heard that – as these chairs do not encourage one to wrap up and get going. They are the kind of chairs, with the black leather and comfy cushions that sing a sirens’ song, “go ahead, order another drink, or two. You are on holidays and let’s be honest, you have nowhere else to be. Stay, sit, relax.”
Sitting in those comfy chairs inevitably leads one to engage in the popular pastime of people-watching. The big group of guys from the conference at the hotel, in a wide variety of dress – those who have the full suit, those who have ditched the tie and unbuttoned a few buttons and those who inexplicably wear baggy, light-wash jeans and a polo shirt, who mingle and one up each other when it comes time to pay.
There is the group of three women who manage to get in a glass of wine and a cocktail each before their husbands come to join them. They are older, distinguished, have beautiful fur coats and can’t stop taking photos out the windows, of each other and – naturally – themselves.
Whether watching the river or the people there is no better place to stop in for a drink in Quebec City.