Ouroboros: Market cuisine & living wines in Quebec City

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Ouroboros opened in May 2023 on rue Saint-Joseph — the main thoroughfare in Quebec City’s Saint-Roch district — and offers lively, creative market cuisine and wines to match.

In the beginning, there was Le Voisin, a defunct restaurant that we loved in Saint-Roch, a working-class neighbourhood of Quebec City in perpetual motion. It was there that sisters Mélina and Coralie Paradis, who were co-owners, met sommelier Daniel Lee McCartney and chef Emmanuel Muñoz D’Avila, two alumni of Le Moine Échanson, another of our favourite addresses, which closed in 2019.

After the closure of Le Voisin, the four partners wanted to continue contributing to the life of the neighbourhood. So they decided to set up shop together in the former space of the African restaurant Chéri Coco, another victim of the pandemic.

Eternal renewal

Present in many cultures, from ancient Egypt to the Vikings, who called it Jörmungand, via China and ancient Greece, the Ouroboros is a mythical animal, sometimes a snake, sometimes a dragon, which bites its own tail, symbolizing an eternal cycle, a perpetual beginning.

“A vegetable starts with a seed, a vine with a cutting. After the work of the market gardeners, winemakers and cooks, a table is set. What remains unused in our process goes back into the compost, which will nourish the fields the following year. And the cycle can begin again”, the restaurant team explains. What is earth returns to the earth.

It’s a name that perfectly matches the vision of the four partners: to offer cuisine that showcases the work of artisans, particularly those from their own farm, Jardins du Nique, in Stoneham-et-Tewkesbury, in a spirit of pleasure and sharing. With wine made with respect for the land and the vines, of course.

“We also wanted a name that wasn’t too easy to pronounce,” they add with a laugh.

From field to plate, from vine to glass

At Ouroboros, the menu is constantly changing, according to the seasons and Manu’s moods. Of course, the beautiful vegetables from the Jardins du Nique have pride of place (in fact, during the harvest season, the restaurant hosts a small market every week where you can buy them). As is often the case these days, the chef offers small dishes that can be shared between several diners. We were more than happy to do this, so we could try a bit of everything!

We indulged in the plump accras, served with a yoghurt and green onion dip, and the homemade terrine, which we liberally spread on homemade sourdough bread. This was followed by a colourful plate with the poetic name of ‘garden abundance’, which gave us a good overview of the harvests of the Jardins du Nique.

Next came the Arctic char, served on a layer of zucchini and accompanied with a fish skin chip and a delicate, creamy dill emulsion.

Then, to finish, a small heap of potatoes buried under a foam of Louis d’or and topped with julienned onions and a tuile of cheese.
These were lovely little dishes that reminded us of the glory days of Le Voisin and Le Moine!

On the shelves behind the large circular bar in the centre of the room — also reminiscent of the shape of the Ouroboros — are the bottles selected by Daniel. “Natural wines, made in symbiosis with the land, respecting biodiversity and with as little intervention as possible. Never forgetting that this is fermented grape juice, no fuss,” he says. Wines from here, wines from elsewhere, all made with the same philosophy.

We chose an orange by Stefan Vetter and a rosé by Alexander & Maria Koppitsch, both represented by Ward & Associés. Just what was needed to keep our palates alert!

A wonderful evening, which makes us want to come back very soon to do it all over again, in true Ouroboros fashion.

Photography by Mikael Lebleu

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