St‑Hubert is chain of Canadian casual dining restaurants best known for its rotisserie chicken. It is most popular in Eastern Canada with many of its locations inside Quebec, where they originated. The first restaurant opened in 1951 on Saint Hubert Street in Montreal, hence the name.
Although now available in Ontario and New Brunswick, I have only seen the brand in grocery stores back home (Vancouver, BC). They offer their poutine and chicken gravy in tins and their chicken nuggets frozen in boxes. However here in Thetford Mines and in most of Quebec it is every where. Its name instills the same look in everyone’s eyes and the same smile on their lips. A pleasant memory of a delicious meal once had and another one to come.
My first taste was at the Montreal-Trudeau International airport, where its express location was part of the airport’s food court. So desperate for a taste of his childhood my partner had us leave the airport arrival area, to exit the building and re-enter to access the space that the “St Hurbert” stall was at. A walk that would later require us to clear security again, to wait 15 minutes to have our bags and persons scanned again. In hind sight I agreed that it was worth all the work. Immediately the menu reminded me of “Swiss Chalet” the rotisserie franchise monopoly holder in Vancouver. Though their chicken does not hold a candle to “St Hurbert” I am not a fan of white meat and chicken breast, but their preparation had the meat tender and each bite juicy, even at a food court establishment run by teenagers.
Two days since our original arrival in Quebec and off to get some more “St Hurbert” Chicken. This would be visit number two at the restaurant located in Theford Mines and we were grabbing take out. The restaurant has two sides. They serve so many take out orders that they needed a separate counter just for the service. On the other side, is their sit down restaurant, for you to eat your favourite chicken in a more formal setting. My partner explained this was considered fancier dining in his home town. I would later learn how true this was. Peaking through both sides you could see that today it was more popular to take your order to go. With sturdy and handy take out boxes they were certainly made to travel the distance. Each bright yellow box was adorned with cartoon chickens. Their mascot, a white feathered chicken with red comb and matching wattles. Here he was advertising his new racing ap game.
Today the counter was run by one girl. She took requests and received completed orders from the kitchen. Her line was steady, her coworkers were fast. The menu a quick read, back lit. Chicken sandwiches, chicken entrees, chicken on salads, and chicken in poutine. Everything chicken and everything with fries, the epitome of fast food sides.
We ordered their most popular menu item, the quarter chicken meal. It comes with your choice of dark or light meat, with a side of herbed rice or French fries. We had the white meat with French fries. Each order comes with a serving of coleslaw and gravy. Pre-made and pre-scooped coleslaw in easy to pack containers, it was available in either traditional or extra creamy. Like “Swiss Chalet” gravy their gravy was on the watery side with a peppery bite. Not the lumpy kind you pour on mashed potato, like I was expecting. Actually there was once a “Swiss Chalet” in the town, but it didn’t do so well, not well enough to stay open anyways. Considering its competition, with its loyal and patriotic fan base I can see why “St Hurbert” was the last rotisserie chicken kitchen left standing.
The club sandwich with fries is another popular order. Made with three slices of bread, their rotisserie chicken breast, tomato slices, lettuce by the leaf, and a generous helping of mayonnaise. My partner even goes so far as to ask for packets of mayo for an additional creamy tangy in his sandwich. As a pretty classic sandwich, it is the chicken that really sets it apart. I personally prefer my clubs with the addition of crispy and salty bacon.
This would be our third time back to St. Hurbert in Thetford Mines, and this time we decided to dine in. We choose the bar for lunch, for its lively atmosphere. Immediately I was uncomfortable walking in, me in my patterned yoga pants (how Vancouverite of me) and graphic tee. What my partner said days ago wasn’t wrong, this was considered fancier dining. I was dressed for Thetford in warm casual layers, just not dressed up enough for the “St Hurbert lounge. I should of known they were dressy. You could tell by the wall of wine bottles at the entrance, the waitresses is their all back tops and skirts, the loudly playing music over head, and the vignette of wine bottles by the crates and corks in jars above the bar. There was even a stage for a live band to play on. Apparently this place is bumping Friday and Saturday nights.
And much like the decor the menu was much more in the actual restaurant. Much more than just concession snacks. Bar favourites with beers and dinners with wine, fit to take a first date on. There were ribs by the rack, chicken grilled on skewers, wings for dipping into ranch, gourmet sandwiches made with ciabatta bread and chicken dressed in a whisky BBQ sauce. There were even share platters allowing you to have a bit of everything. For the diners wanting a more upscale dining feel there were an array of fresh soups and dressed up salads, large steaks with potato sides, and grilled chicken over herbed rice meals to sort though. They also had an impressive listing of wines and cocktails with coloured visuals. And a dessert menu boasting over eleven options. I was impressed. It blew my mind and changed by opinion on this chain. They were a causal chain comparable to Earls or Moxie’s. They were more than just fast food. I now understood the popularity of the place.
Here at 12pm we were in time for, so took advantage of their lunch specials. Your choice of main with a side of their standard traditional coleslaw, and either your choice of a soup or a dessert. I was tempted to try something different, but it was my last day here and I couldn’t go home without another taste of their rotisserie chicken. I fear my life at home in Vancouver, BC would not be the same without St Hurbert. Without chicken this moist and skin this crispy, all at a price this fair. I wanted to order something more exciting to blog about, but didn’t. Sigh the blogger’s plight, taste over visual. What I want to eat versus what I want to write about.
The coleslaw was familiar at this point. Kept cold it was creamy and tangy, the perfect palate cleanser in between bites. Mouthfuls too rich and spoons too greasy. This eas one of the only things I found not too salty on this trip.
Cream of chicken soup with whole white breast meat. The soup was standard, I would have liked it more thicker and a lot more creamier. Given its name. I found its vegetable taste more prominent over the chicken, and my partner deem the whole lot not salty enough.
The chicken noodle soup too had pieces of stringy chicken breast. They were as generous with the noodles and the chunks of carrots. This was the classic country soup. The go-to for when you are not feeling well, as it reminds you if home and warms your insides thoroughly. Not a surprise, it was a little too salty for me, and I wasn’t able to finish because of it.
My quarter chicken leg meal with the upgrade of criss cross fries. The latter was something not offered back in the day, according to my partner. Why have ordinary fries when they can be breaded and cut in a fun to eat criss cross pattern?Sadly my highly anticipated chicken it was dry this time. Normally I don’t use the gravy as I find the chicken great on its own, but today I needed the moisture it would provide.
My partner had the 11oz BBQ ribs with regular fries. You could smell the tangy BBQ sauce from the ribs as the plate landed on the table. The smell caused your mouth to well up with saliva. The meat was fall off the bone tender. Well seasoned, it definitely didn’t need the gravy it was served with. Instead my partner used the gravy as an accompaniment to his chewy fries.
Despite this being my third exposure to “St Hurbert” I am baffled about the inclusion of half a hamburger bun with any entree. I know the French like their bread but why this of all the choices a hamburger bun? The bun was pressed flat and toasted with butter. It was good but an unusual to this foreigner.
We made a mistake thinking it was soup and dessert for the lunch combo, so when our meal ended we tacked on a brownie for dessert. A dessert my partner remembers fondly. “Mont choco” translates to a mountain of chocolate, and it was as accurate a name as it was a description. A chewy brownie topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, drizzled in hot fudge, and sprinkled with chocolate balls. It was sticky and sweet and a great end to the decadent meal above. A good way to end my last “St Hurbert” meal.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Overall, all my visits to “St Hurbet” have been good. And although all the North American style restaurants I have visited in Quebec have been standard, this definitely came out as the best of the bunch. As far as succulent chicken goes this has been some of the best, and certainly the most memorable of the trip. We need one of these in western Canada. Don’t deny your cravings.