Les Fougères: Charming farm-to-table restaurant in Chelsea
Les Fougères is a restaurant that pays homage to the terroir, and is not to be missed!
Past the city of Gatineau, hidden in an enchanting wooded area, we find Les Fougères, a restaurant in the small village of Chelsea, in the Outaouais region. Once there, you will discover a true tribute to nature, where the terroir and the seasons determine the menu.
Established in 1993, Les Fougères has passed the test of time with flying colours; and with remarkable success in recent years. Its concept, in symbiosis with nature, and its honest cuisine, has allowed it to be ranked among the 100 best restaurants in Canada for the last three years. Its success is due, in part, to chef Yannick La Salle, who was crowned winner of the 2019 Canadian Culinary Championship. A local to the region, Yannick has let his love of cooking carry him across borders, including the United States, where he worked alongside Dan Barber at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and David Kinch at Manresa. It was there that he adopted the farm-to-table concept, a philosophy he has carried with him ever since.
Inspired by nature
The restaurant has cherished its relationship with nature since owners Charlie Part and Jennifer Warren-Part moved here from Toronto in 1992. Surrounding the restaurant is an abundant garden which inspires the menu, as well as a fern-lined pathway (where the restaurant’s name come from), where you can admire the wildlife.
In 2015, Les Fougères underwent a major transformation, got rid of their white tablecloths, and sought to offer customers a new experience. With a few less walls and a few more windows, the atmosphere is more down-to-earth than ever, with a magnificent view in all seasons; a change that is appreciated equally by diners and the people who work there.
Local and seasonal
The chef and his team skilfully prepare dishes that put local products in the spotlight; a passionate effort that helps encourage the local economy. Although the menu changes with the seasons, there are a few fixtures; the fern salad and the confit duck from Quebec are two signature dishes of the house. In addition, there is La Bouche du St-Laurent, a harmonious blend of scallops, shrimp, cod ravioli, and mussel and seaweed fumet; a must according to chef La Salle.
As you might have guessed, with such a gourmet menu, the wine list is equally well-thought-out. Sommeliers Louis Parisien and Marc Boucher have joined forces to build a beautiful menu; private imports, Ontario wines, and organic wines are on offer to beautifully complement the evolving menu.
In 2002, the owners opened a delicatessen adjacent to the restaurant. Here, people from the region and elsewhere can purchase local and homemade products. Today, they also have a commercial production kitchen at the back of the store. This allows them to export their specialties beyond Gatineau—a significant asset given the current pandemic.
If you are visiting the Outaouais, be sure to add Les Fougères to your list; it is certain to charm you.
For other addresses in the region, consult our list of the best restaurants in the Outaouais.
Written by Britanny Clarke