The first sign of spring in Québec isn’t birds returning home, but people flocking to outdoor terraces. The patio at Bistro La Cohue in Quebec City is always packed, but its 30 seats will fill up even faster this spring following its renovation several months ago.
By Julie Gedeon
“With such long winters here, people can’t wait to sit outside as soon as it gets the least bit warmer,” says co-owner Bruno Perrone. “And with few restaurant terraces in this area, there’s always a demand for our terrace seating.”
Fortunately, La Cohue has another 120 places indoors. They’re occupied just as quickly by locals who return for the quality, freshness and originality of the bistro fare. “We focus on meals that people enjoy but rarely prepare for themselves, such as calf liver, sweetbreads and black blood sausage,” Perrone says. “We also have salmon, beef, shrimp, duck and other types of tartares maison.”
Sourcing local food supplies as much as possible, the bistro is known for dishes such as its tarte aux tomates with aged cheddar and an onion confit, as well as duck breast stuffed with mushroom risotto.
The menu remains pretty much the same year-round because regulars count on having their favourites, but there is always one or two special entrées depending on what’s seasonally at its best. These specials become a real treat in the spring. “Our house lobster cake with seafood salad, for example, is always extremely popular,” Perrone says.
“La Cohue” doesn’t readily translate into a perfect English word. It represents the crowd that eagerly gathers in anticipation of a joyous experience and reflects the ambience that Perrone and his partner France Ruest sought for their bistro when they opened their doors 11 years ago.
“France and I had both worked in the business for a long time and had a good sense of what people wanted in terms of food and ambience,” Perrone explains. “We aim to make our customers feel truly at home spending time with family and friends while enjoying food that’s always a bit special.”
The co-owners have built an immense trust with their regulars by focusing on quality and innovative flavour combinations. “We have customers that leave it totally up to us what to put in the lunch boxes they order,” Perrone says.
With spring upon us, the possibilities with baby vegetables, new berries and young meat and poultry at La Cohue abound.
La Cohue’s winning bistro strategies
- Customers are never rushed. The co-owners have one seating per table for lunch and dinner at the time reserved so people can leisure over dessert and coffee or take time finishing their wine.
- A lot of time is spent cultivating relationships with local food suppliers who offer specialties such artisan cheese and homegrown pigeons.
- Customers’ comfort and convenience are always a priority. When La Cohue was completely renovated almost five years ago, a sound system was integrated into the walls so levels could be properly controlled on live jazz nights.