There is no restaurant in the world like the one at the Auberge Kanio-Kashee Lodge in Waskaganish. I say this because I am positive there is no other restaurant that comes closer to combining the dining experience with the religious experience. I know this sounds incredible but let me explain.
I swear the place has such an appearance and atmosphere of a place of worship that I actually fell on my knees and prayed that I be granted a free meal. Obviously my prayer was answered in advance because I had found a soaking wet $20 bill in the snow earlier.
The only thing standing in the way of the restaurant being a church, besides reality, is the absence of a crucifix, other religious paraphernalia and the Vienna Boys’ Choir. Also, the sound carries so much that you can almost hear the Escargot Bourgignon (that’s snails fried in garlic butter for you and me), which go for about $18, crawling across your neighbour’s plate. The building’s acoustics would make it a great concert hall, and a pipe organ in the dining room wouldn’t look out of place. Oh well, on with the review.
The appearance of the restaurant wasn’t the only thing close to holiness. The morning I was there my friend Charles, a member of several 12-step programs, took advantage of the fact that I was in a generous mood and ordered the most expensive item on the breakfast menu, “The Hearty Appetite” ($8.95). I had “The Polar Bear Breakfast” ($6.95), which comes with two eggs, choice of sausages or bacon, homefries and a bottomless cup of coffee. I don’t know if this is what polar bears eat for breakfast but was it heavenly. “The Hearty Appetite” is similar to “The Polar Bear Breakfast,” but with slightly larger portions if I remember correctly (I have to get into the habit of taking more detailed notes for these assignments). Asked how “The Hearty Appetite” was, Charles, no slouch in the eating department, said, “It was pretty hearty.” He’s a million laughs, that Charles.
Breakfast went well but was nearly ruined by a maid, who shall remain anonymous, and her insistent vacuuming of the carpet outside the dining area. Don’t they schedule these chores after or before hours? I guess that’s what they mean by Indian time.
Other interesting items on the menu you can choose are The Rainbow Trout (no, I don’t think it’s indigenous to the area) for $12.65, the 10-oz. New York Steak or the 10-oz. Roast Prime Rib Au Jus (around $22). I never got to taste these dishes but I hear they’re scrumptious. If you’re in the mood for a light snack, a slice of pizza goes for $2.45 and sandwiches am under $5. Brunch is available every Sabbath from 11:30 ’till two in the afternoon. The cost is $16 for adults, $9 for kids and free for children under two. The restaurant also offers daily specials that range in price from $15 to $19. All include dessert and coffee or, if you’re feeling British, tea.
Now I’m going to start whining. When I first walked in and saw caribou and moose antlers displayed on the fireplace and walls, I thought, “Great! Looks like someone shot some wild meat. I hope the moose is fresh.” You can imagine my disappointment when I saw the menu. No moose, no caribou, no rabbit and no roast goose. Snails yes, but no other native food. Talk about false advertising. Don’t you look forward to the day when you can walk into any restaurant and order moose or caribou steak? Or my personal favourite, rabbit with dumpling the way my mom makes ’em. We have the resources. Why not use them? Maybe then we won’t have to pay so much for snai… er… excuse me… Escargot Bourgignon.
All kidding aside, the Auberge Kanio-Kashee Lodge (how’s that for a name?) is a great place, not just to eat but to sit, gossip, smoke cigarettes and enjoy a spectacular Waskaganish sunset while savouring your steaming, bottomless cup of Colombian coffee.
NOTE: Due to a spelling error on my part, the byline for the Geronimo review in the April 14 issue of The Nation should have read Neil Diamond.