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Arvi: Breaking boundaries between kitchen and table

February 2, 2024
More than the feeling of simply dining out, Arvi provides an event-like experience – which starts the second one makes a reservation

Tucked away within Quebec City’s Limoilou neighborhood, Arvi’s 30-seat restaurant, which opened in July 2018, provokes a feeling that is very much akin to taking part in an immersive multi-sensory show, and it’s one that does not disappoint.

Watching the multi-talented restaurant brigade move seamlessly from kitchen to table is an awe-inspiring, palpable experience – on both a culinary and human level – and the presentation of its five-course regular, or vegetarian, tasting menu is the obvious star attraction.

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This sensory feeling becomes excitedly conversational when one of the chefs preparing your dishes walks over to your table – there are no physical boundaries between the large counters where the food is prepared and the dining area. The same team cooks, plates, serves and pours the wine, and explains both the dishes and the wine pairings, detailing not only the ingredients and wines but the producers and winemakers behind them. For lack of a better title for each member of this polyvalent brigade, storyteller is one that each wears brilliantly.


(Photo by: Maude Chauvin) Arvi over-delivers on its goal of abolishing the boundary between kitchen and table.

With a clear focus – from the service to the choice of producers and the winemakers that they feature on their wine list – on returning to the essence of human experience in food and beverage, Arvi over-delivers on its goal of abolishing the boundary between kitchen and table and does so with flawless execution.

The space is spare, modern and industrial, yet also warm and inviting; the menu is purposefully concise and deceptively simple – think ‘scallop, celeriac, vermouth’ or ‘duckling, carrot, grape’; and the beverage pairing of mostly, but not exclusively, wines is a beautiful complement to each course. The first of the five-course menu, ‘trout, camelina, lens’, shows up as a gravlax of Nova Scotia trout that is lightly flame-seared and served with homemade crème fraiche, camelina tahini, red lentil hummus and puffed trout skin powder. The bar is set extremely high and continues to rise with each course.

“We don’t listen to Mozart, ballet or opera music here.”

The feeling that this is a perfectly orchestrated ballet or theatre is present in every detail, yet “we don’t listen to Mozart, ballet or opera music here; the vibe remains true to ourselves,” chef-owner Julien Masia tells me when we meet. “It’s gastronomic, yes, even though I don’t love that term, but accessible and that is true to who we are as a team.”

And there lies one of Arvi’s defining elements: that casualness in the intended vibe and the renovated skateboard shop locale, the friendliness in the service, all with an elevated level of seriousness put into the composition and plating of every dish, into the preciseness in the flavours and pairings. Masia’s background in both fine dining establishments and bistros is combined in what can only be called the perfect meeting spot of both.


(Photo by Maude Chauvin) At Arvi, dishes are at once deceptively minimalist in their names and presentations, and complex in their layers.

That philosophy of offering a human-centric approach extends to both the products and the wine and beverage lists. The food is fresh, seasonal and as much as possible, local. The flavours are clean, and each ingredient tastes like what it should, and the dishes are at once deceptively minimalist in their names and presentations, and complex in their layers, while allowing each element to shine. It’s an experience akin to having dinner with extremely talented friends where you feel both welcomed and at home, but with a sense of growing awe with each new dish and pairing.

“Our consciousness of the people and the agriculture behind the products and the wines guides our menu and wine list, and defines our vision as restaurateurs.” – Julien Masia, owner, chef

The beverage menu is a thoughtfully curated list, featuring mostly private import wines, as well as local aperitifs, beers and ciders, and beautifully crafted cocktails. It continues the menu through-line of focusing on the people behind the products and is at a minimum organic, as much as possible natural, and focused on pairing with the menu.

Masia and his partner Ariel Pinsonneault recently purchased a vineyard, Bel-Chas (currently being rebranded as Domaine Arvi), in Saint-Charles-de-Bellechasse (our last pairing with the dessert ‘Chocolate, pistachio, quince’ was their sparkling Pommette Summerset 2022). And although he admits to having some affinities for the Savoie and Jura regions, the team allow themselves the freedom to experiment and usually offer at least two wines from Quebec in their pairing menu.

A last bit of advice? Although an extra, it would be a shame to pass on the restaurant’s signature dish of lightly toasted homemade brioche bread, foie gras gravlax and birch syrup. It’s, like Arvi, warm, welcoming, deceptively simple, yet complex and perfectly orchestrated.

Arvi. The name itself, a Savoyard term (Masia is from Lyon) that translates to mean ‘see you soon’, sums up both the experience of dining at Arvi and the feeling that you have upon leaving: a mutual invitation and promise to return to the place and to the experience.

See you soon, indeed.

Dinner service is open Tuesday through Saturday evenings. 

519 3e Ave, Québec City, Quebec G1L 2W4
(581) 742-4202


– Alana Lapierre is a Le Cordon Bleu trained food & wine writer and is VineRoutes’ regional editor for eastern Canada 


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