Wow, I’m worse at blogging than I thought — I’ve only just realized that I never properly wrote about my sweet birthday adventure! Here’s how it went down. I’m a super hard person to surprise (what can I say, I am so good at guessing surprises!), so Adam was extra stubborn about keeping my birthday a mystery. All he told me was to pack an overnight bag. Things started out very promising, with a big pizza lunch at Via Ristorante (which I reviewed for Slice), and a really fun road trip up to the Laurentians, a stunning mountain range north of Montreal.
We pulled up to H2O Hotel and Spa, a cozy hotel tucked into the side of a mountain (pictured in the top image). The real reason for our stay soon emerged: it also happens to be home to one of Canada’s most famous restaurants, L’eau a la Bouche. Adam is a smart cookie — he knew that I wanted to eat there because it is also home to Quebec’s most famous ladychef, Anne Desjardins. And he was right. I was SO excited! After checking in, we spent a leisurely, perfect afternoon lounging around the hotel’s natural pools, sauna, and jacuzzi (complete with waterfall!). There was nobody there. It felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.
Finally, dinner. It was one of the finest, most artful, epic (and boozy) meals of my life. I was even welcomed by Anne Desjardins herself. Her style is not the most cutting-edge, but she has a loving, thoughtful touch with ingredients, and a way to draw out character that makes food seem even more like itself. We shared roast chicken with a juniper berry sauce, which tasted so thoroughly like chicken it was as if I had never had a chicken before. We drank a strange, friendly wine paired with beets and the two were so happy to be together it was as if all beets, from now until all eternity, should be eaten with this particular wine. It was all a revelation.
The next morning, hangover-free despite the massive amounts of wine consumed (must have been the after-effects of the exhilarating mineral springs and mountain air!), we went on a quick hike through the woods and then reluctantly left for the city. Montrealers, if you’re ever looking for a quick night away or a romantic dinner in the mountains, get yourself to L’eau a la Bouche. It’s an unforgettable experience — and one of my best birthdays ever. If you need another reason to spend the night there? They offer grilled cheese sandwiches for breakfast.