(Wendake) On December 2, 2018, La Sagamité, a true institution of the Wendake community, was completely destroyed by fire. Four and a half years later, against all odds, the popular restaurant reopens its doors on June 24, bigger and better, keeping at its heart its mission to share the traditions of the First Nations.
“It was touching to read the testimonials we received through social networks, by phone, by email, or when we met people,” owner Steeve Gros-Louis tells us as he gives us a tour of the facilities. “People, they come here, then it seems like they remember the good times. That touches us, because the original idea was to create a place where we can all be together to share a good meal and discover with our eyes and ears what is the rich culture of the First Nations, whose Huron-Wendat. »
The new restaurant on boulevard Bastien will indeed continue its vocation launched in July 1999, in particular by keeping on its menu several typical First Nations dishes such as sagamité soup, game yatista or karakoni with confit wild turkey. But we plan to take advantage of the many bright spaces to organize even more interpretation activities. “It’s fun to be able to sit people down, tell them the little-known story of the Wendat people and demystify the importance we had in the creation of Kanata or in today’s Canada,” says Mr. Gros-Louis, who also acts as president of Aboriginal Tourism Quebec.
The place is thus decorated with hundreds of artifacts, some from the personal collection of Mr. Gros-Louis – he is also the owner of the Raquettes et Artisanat boutique, a Wendake institution since 1939. “I took over of my father (Antoine) in 2001 with my sister and we make a lot of symbolic objects of traditional dance, teaches us the one who is himself a dancer. So, you have access to a lot of artifacts, in addition to having purchased a lot of trappings and props used in Barkskins, a National Geographic TV show that I filmed in with my family. »
We also managed to save a few pieces of the old restaurant, including two impressive totems that are found on either side of the imposing foyer of the bar section.
“He was an outstanding hunter-trapper, we made a room really worthy of what he was. We installed the two large totems 16 feet high that we managed to recover from the rubble. It’s near the top of the stairs, a nice happy hour space for happy hours.”
The restaurant also has a few rooms that can accommodate families and groups; there is even a VIP lounge on the third floor accessible directly by elevator.
The other important novelty is the imposing industrial kitchen in the basement, with a completely redesigned execution chain to maximize manpower. Thus, although it is primarily intended to serve the approximately 340 guests that the vast restaurant can accommodate – 40 seats are added on the terrace in summer -, it was also designed to do the initial preparation of the dishes served in the Old Quebec branch of La Sagamité, in addition to servicing the pub and the microbrewery, which will open in Wendake by the end of 2024. “It’s no longer my son who will be responsible for the microbrewery,” says Steeve Gros-Louis, who is also a member of the Quebec National Capital Commission. “We have already started having good negotiations with brewers, then our tanks are already ordered. The pub and microbrewery will be built right next to the new Sagamité. You can also see the brewing tanks from the walkway at the top of the restaurant’s main staircase.
The microbrewery’s beers will be sold in the boutique, which is also scheduled to open at the end of 2024, which will also offer homemade sausages, terrines, marinated meats and other game pâtés, all prepared from game pieces delivered to the restaurant. in whole quarters – the debitage is done on site by the butcher of La Sagamité. “Previously, the shop was on the ground floor level, so it was an employee or a waitress who provided the service, but we thought that there was no better adviser than a cook for respond to people,” says Gros-Louis. It also pleases the cooks who have been with us for a long time, because they used to work in an open kitchen on the first level, they are used to seeing customers. »
All of this will make La Sagamité one of the greatest restaurants in Quebec. Too ambitious? “The question is not whether we will be able to fill the restaurant, it is rather that it will allow us to refuse fewer customers, maintains Steeve Gros-Louis with sincere humility. In the early 2000s, people didn’t know what it was, Wendake, because we had just found our name – we had already been referred to as the village of the Hurons for 150 years. But if you said you were going to eat at La Sagamité, everyone knew where it was. We bet that is still the case today.