Simple food, bold flavours: Brunch at Chez Eric in nearby Wakefield

Cafe Chez Eric

There’s just something about a lazy Sunday, when the spring is starting to show signs of turning to nicer weather, that makes you want to get out and explore.

Brunch Board

So when I got the chance to get out of the city and in the Gatineau Hills — and all in the name of breakfast, no less — I was thrilled. Three friends and I headed off to Wakefield, Que., for a leisurely (read 2.5-hour) brunch and afternoon of coffee-drinking. In a stroke of luck, it was one of the days where rain was kept at bay and the temperature was sitting at around 12 degrees. But driving up into the Hills, snow could still be spotted between the trees and there was a noticeable drop in warmth. (I think the weather just added to my exploratory mindset, adding a non-city freshness to the air.)

Lasagna with Grilled Veggies and Homemade Bechamel

Our destination was Chez Eric, a small bistro-style restaurant located right in Wakefield. While it boasts only a smattering of tables, the constantly changing menu focuses on seasonal and local ingredients, many of which are sourced from the rural area surrounding Wakefield. When we arrived just after noon on Sunday, Chez Eric’s owner Che Chartrand was outside smoking duck breast and making prosciutto.

I believe everyone should make the trip to Wakefield for its beauty alone. However, on a weekend, brunch at Chez Eric is a must. The cozy restaurant has a ridiculously friendly staff, large portions and a menu that offers something for everyone. Between the four of us, we managed to select veggie lasagna, a burger, eggs benedict with homemade trout gravalax and a fine herb and feta quiche. Not only is the food delicious — and it could be the air — but the flavours were standout: bold and plentiful in all the dishes that were otherwise quite simple.

Spinach and Feta Quiche with Fine Herbs

From my experience, the food at Chez Eric is all about balancing flavours. My eggs benny, for example, weren’t overwhelmed by the taste of the trout, which was sweeter in flavour than I was expecting. The richness of the homemade hollandaise sauce accompanied it well. And the bit of lasagna I stole seemed to burst with bright tomato sauce, but the freshness of the veggies — especially the mushrooms and the zucchini — was also quite apparent in the dish

Eggs Benny with Gravalax Trout

And the restaurant is on this little piece of land that has spindly trees around the property line, with a small brook running across. In the summer, the outdoor patio makes it a beautiful place for dinner on a warm night. The shop also sells a few cute culinary add-ons, like flavoured salts, rubs and jams.

We left much later satisfied and relaxed. A trip to Wakefield will do that for you — no matter when it falls. Though the town is  significantly more lively in the summer, when people stroll along the shoreline and pack the waterview patios along Wakefield’s main drag.

Also, be sure to check out Cafe Molo for a great cup of coffee and the famed Black Sheep Inn, which features live music on Sunday afternoons.

Any just-out-of town trips that you’re particularly fond of? Drop us a line!