L’aubergiste – 58 Rue Principale (Aylmer) Gatineau, QC J9H 3L4 – (819) 557-3858
I visited l’Aubergiste for the first time on August 15, 2014 and was quite impressed overall. We were a party of 4 and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience. L’Aubergiste is one of those little places that oozes charm in a “country meets urban” kind of a way. It is set in an old house on rue Principale in Aylmer. The owners, Pierre-louis Poulin and Simon Prud’Homme have definitely incapsulated their passion for great food in this tiny little gem. The menu offers unusual dishes which is quite refreshing: seems every where you go these days, the menu is relatively the same. Not so at l’Aubergiste! Granted, you will find popular favourites such as steak-frites, fish&chips and poutine but done in such a way that old seems new again.
The tone was set for success by the extremely pleasant and knowledgable young waitress. I LOVE it when the servers know the menu and can deliver the chef’s art to the guests before having even tasted one morsel. Service these days often falls flat where servers are often hired for their looks over their ability to provide the ultimate guest experience… We settled for some of the daily offerings and others that were on the regular menu. My sister and I shared 2 appetizers: a red tuna tartar served over a luscious fresh herb cream and accompanied by a cilantro snow ( like a salty granita) and a grilled octopus and citrus salad. While the components of the tuna tartare were spectacular, they unfortunately overpowered the delicate taste of the tuna. Nevertheless, the dish was quite exquisite and beautifully presented. The grilled octopus salad, in my opinion, did not quite deliver: the octopus was a bit chewy and compared to the tuna appetizer, it did not have quite the oomph neither in presentation nor in taste. I particularly enjoy grilled octopus but this one left me longing for a really good one. I think the dish dish was lacking a bit of acidity to round it up well. Our two other table companions skipped the appetizers.
As for the main dishes, our selection was a bit all over the map: fish & chips, steak frites from the regular menu and the evening’s version of surf and turf which featured a veal medallion and shrimps. I have one word for all the mains: spectacular! Presentation, taste, originality, temperature: everything met if not exceeded our expectations. The fish & chips featured cod with a homemade remoulade and perfect hand cut fries. The steak frites was served with an awesome deeply rich sauce and a just as good vinaigrette for the accompanying salad. However, I must say that the star of the evening was the surf and turf: it was soooo good! The veal medallion was served over a potato and parsnip puree that was divine and paired with a perfectly balanced and rich sauce au Porto. The garlic infused grilled shrimps came on a bed of sautéed vegetables beautifully paired with crisp salty pancetta and olive tapenade. If vegetables were always done that way, no one would have trouble eating their minimum daily dose!
We did not stay for dessert. Somehow, the offerings did not entice my dinner companions although I would have been happy to try the brownies with salted caramel. Seems I will have to return to l’Aubergiste to sample this one of these days. If our experience was overall fabulous, I will say that I am not fond of the style of furniture; at 5’2″, the popular style of high chairs and tables is difficult to access. Because the restaurant is tiny, the tables are also crammed closely together which is not the most comfortable. Will this keep me from returning to l’Aubergiste? Heck no!!! If anything, I will probably make sure to return in the near future. I think you should go!