Café Babylone Quebec City: A Review

Café Babylone Quebec City: A Review

By Isabelle Soucy Chartier

Cafe_Babylone_Quebec_Wall

Escape to the Mediterranean and escape from life’s regular routine with a visit to Babylone, a hidden treasure in lower town Quebec.

Café babylone, more of a restaurant than a café, offers an interesting variety of international meals. Flavours guaranteed! Live music of various styles is also a part of the scene on most nights of the week starting at 8pm (9pm on some evenings).

Food.  Babylone’s first striking feature of its menu is the atypical variety of options. The menu specifies from which country the appetisers and main course options were inspired from.

Cafe_Babylone_Quebec_Main_MealAbout a dozen main course options are offered, and all are inspired from different wonderful areas of the world. You can order salmon tartare inspired from Japan, lamb stew from Mali, chicken Satay from India, and the list goes on with inspirations from Turkey, Iran, Chili, Mexico, New-Orleans, California, Brazil, Peru, Maghreb cuisine (from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania), and of course, from Babylon.

Regardless of the chosen meal, the flavourful accentuations of spice will turn each bite into a lasting party shy of fireworks in your mouth. You can imagine the taste of a mint-mango-lentil soup or of curry-adorned home baked potatoes. Even the side salad boasts flavour with its cactus slices and oil-based home vinaigrette. Of particular interest to the curious and adventurous, Café Babylone offers a “Voyage” option, a main course that changes and varies in flavours every month. This month, we had the pleasure of discovering a spice-laden merguez and beef risotto, the very best risotto I have had the chance to taste thus far (and I’ve been to Italy…) due to its memorable mix of flavours hinting on the spicy side. I can also confirm that the salmon tartare was very fresh and delicious, and that the maple pie tastes like authentic Canadian maple syrup.

Cafe_Babylone_Quebec_FoodFood presentation is a sure eye-appealer. Wine (by the glass or bottle) and beer are sold with occasional specials on original local brewery products (think cranberry-orange or chocolate-flavoured beer).

Service.  The staff are kind, professional, and for some reason appear to have been borrowed right out of ancient Mesopotamia (perhaps the decor contributes to this impression). They are incredibly smiley, warm-welcoming and attentive. Lunch, supper, and late-night menus are offered every day of the week, and breakfasts are available on the weekend. They also have a catering option.

Ambiance.  The decor instantly takes you into another mindset. The main wall is painted with frescoes that remind us of Greece, and likely ancient Babylon. The facing wall is adorned with hand-painted creative and colourful portraits of tribal Amerindians which are for sale for those interested. Tables are rather close to one another , which adds a noise factor and a communal aspect to your intimate experience. The place is nonetheless cozy. On most evenings as of 8pm, live music is added to your experience. Some of these live shows involve a cover charge ranging from 3$ to 12$. Consult the calendar on their website prior to your visit if you plan to stay for a show.

Price. Appetisers range from $6.25 to $13.00.  Main course meals range from $9.00 to $17.00. The quality and quantity of the food, as well as the overall experience of this outing are well worth the monetary investment.

A little history of Babylon to better appreciate the restaurant’s theme:

Babylon, Mesopotamia, is said to have been one of the first big, notable cities of the world, dating back to the 3rd millennium, BCE. Among its heritage, it is known as a forefather of public codes of lay (think Code of Hammurabi), and known for the Hanging Gardens—one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. Babylon came close to being the capital of Alexander the Great’s empire in 330 BCE, but he died three years after conquering the city, after which the empire was divided amongst his generals and was practically emptied. Today, Babylon is situated in Iraq, 85km south of Bagdad, and only mud-brick ruins and debris remain. Reconstruction of the city walls were started in 1983. It is said that UN officials and Iraqi leaders have plans for restoring Babylon. This site has been open to tourists since May 2009.

If you go:

Do use online maps to get directions. St-Vallier Est can be tricky to reach.

Do reserve ahead of time. It is a very happening place.

Do park on the street – paid parking is the only option, at a price of approximately $3.00 per hour.

Do select a plate that sounds different and adventurous (most of them are). You will very likely be more satisfied than you could ever regret your decision.

Restaurant information:

Address:  181 rue St-Vallier Est, Québec QC G1K 3P2

Phone number: (418) 523-0700

Website: www.cafebabylone.com
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Isabelle Soucy Chartier continues to respect her passion for literature and fiction alongside her scientific article writing as a current PhD candidate in the field of Clinical and Research Psychology. She authored the novel Thoughts Gone Wrong, and has many additional literary projects underway. It is with enthusiasm that she writes for “Life in Quebec”, looking forward to discovering common and hidden entertainment treasures that can be enjoyed by all in the beautiful region of Quebec! 

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