Espace Old Mill in Quebec’s Eastern Townships takes the number nine spot on the Top 10 list of Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2023.
Espace Old Mill
Stanbridge East, QC
Even before we sit down to dinner, we’ve met the shirtless potter from across the road, toured the farm and its lush greenhouse, visited the waterwheel on Rivière aux Brochets, and had a peek at the weekly farmers’ market out front. In other words, this inn and restaurant in the village of Stanbridge East in Quebec’s Eastern Townships is as bucolic as it gets.
We take a seat on the wraparound porch and take in the quiet of Jean–Martin Fortier’s agrarian dreamscape. A co–founder of the Market Gardener Institute, he’s gained international attention for his belief that small farms are the answer to food sovereignty. Something to think about as we drink gorgeous glasses of local Domaine l’Espiègle New World pinot noir and eat chef Éric Gendron’s hand–chopped Legacy Speckle Park beef with sweet peppers and nasturtiums from just outside the window.
The meal unfolds with grilled carrots with ’nduja sauce and a tumble of fresh herbs, and skewers of confit lion’s mane mushrooms that get a turn on the grill. A generous platter of free–range chicken thighs arrives goosed with chestnuts, grilled kale and a pool of jus. The evening’s kicker is a wee sundae of smoked milk ice cream drizzled with disturbingly delicious pork fat caramel. Come with the idea of hanging out, and book a room at La Cecil House, above the dining room. You’re going to want to stick around.