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Sugaring Off at Érablière Meunier, Montreal, Canada

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CanadaDessertsFoodMontrealNorth AmericaQuebecReviews
Article author: michael
michael
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Cabanes à sucre, or “sugar shacks” as we call them in English, are a traditional Quebec experience. They can be a fun way to spend a day with the family, and they’re especially fun for kids.

Now if you’re not from Quebec, and have never heard of sugar shacks or cabanes à sucre before, they’re basically maple syrup-producing farms that you can visit to eat a traditional Quebecois buffet-style meal, and then enjoy some maple taffy on snow, and possibly other maple-based treats as well.

I hadn’t been to a cabane à sucre in years, and my kids had never been, so I thought it would be a fun thing to do now that spring is right around the corner - which is exactly when sugaring-off season is in full swing.

Choosing a Sugar Shack

Now, when it comes to sugar shacks, Quebec has no shortage to choose from. As such, the experience will vary from one to the next; Some are going to be more modern and adult-oriented, others more traditional and family-friendly. Prices will also vary, but from what I found, they’re generally priced from around $30 to $50 per adult tax-in.

Hours of Operation

An important thing to note is that they’re also not all open during the week, as a lot of the sugar shacks I found are only open on weekends. So if you’re planning on going during the week, your options are going to be more limited.

Locations

If you’re in the Montreal area, there are some local sugar shacks you can visit without having to go far. But as Montreal is a metropolitan city, you won’t find the real deal here, so if you’re looking for a more traditional and authentic experience, you’ll have to drive a bit out of the city.

With this past week having been March break, and my daughter off from school, I figured it would be a great time to go. For us this time around, that meant a 1-hour drive from Montreal to Érablière Meunier, in Richelieu, Québec.

Erabliere Meunier

Érablière Meunier Info

  • Address:
  • Hours: Varies - the season is from end of February to end of April
  • Cost (tickets are purchased on-site):
    • Children (0-2): Free
    • Children (2-4): $16 CAD
    • Children (5-12): $20 CAD
    • Children (13-15): $30 CAD
    • Adults (16 and over): $42 CAD
  • Official website: erablieremeunier.com
  • Official Facebook page: facebook.com/erablieremeunier

Érablière Meunier’s Reviews Online

Now generally I do my full research before going somewhere, but with most of the sugar shacks I found being closed during the week, I settled on Érablière Meunier and forgot to check the reviews before I reserved our spots.

After the fact, I did check the reviews, and they were quite mixed. Some people loved it, but a few absolutely hated it! The main complaints were about the quality of the food, and … gasp … watered down maple syrup! WTH!?

As I’d already confirmed our reservation though, and as there were still a lot of good reviews, I decided to keep our reservation and hope for the best.

Our Experience at Érablière Meunier

I reserved our spot for 12:30pm, which was the time we’d be able to enter the dining hall at. I’m not sure that you need to reserve during the week, but you do on weekends, and I figured it would be better to be safe than sorry.

I left Montreal so we would arrive around 11am, giving us a good hour to explore what they had to offer before lunch.

Things to Do at Érablière Meunier

Erabliere Meunier

One of the main reasons I wanted to visit Érablière Meunier, other than their favourable opening hours, was that this particular cabane à sucre is geared towards children, with activities such as:

  • A small farm inside one of the cabins
  • An outdoor playground
  • Inflatable play structures
  • A tractor ride

The Taffy Cabin

They also have taffy on snow, but it’s only available after the lunch service.

Érablière Meunier's Taffy Cabin

I wanted to stop-in at the taffy cabin first, which is where they appear to have a maple syrup boiler. I was hoping we’d be able to see some maple syrup being made, which appears to be noted on the website, but it unfortunately wasn’t actually available for viewing when we visited.

My disappointment was short-lived though, as after we entered the cabin we saw that this was where donuts were being served!

Érablière Meunier's Homemade Donuts

Érablière Meunier's Homemade Donuts

Before the lunch service, the cabin where the taffy is poured serves delicious fresh-made “à l’ancienne” (old-fashioned) donuts.

Now I’ll get to my review of the food in a bit, but I have to say that honestly, the donuts were spec-friggin-tacular. They were sooooo good, we didn’t want to stop eating them!

Érablière Meunier's Homemade Donuts

Note: The donuts are only served before lunch, so if you’re planning on visiting Érablière Meunier, I’d recommend getting there early so you can try them before the lunch service.

The Mini-Farm

After inhaling a few donuts, we went to the mini-farm, which was in a barn next to the taffy cabin.

Érablière Meunier's Mini-Farm

They have a few pigs, some alpacas, a goat or two, a small horse and a donkey, a few chickens, I think a turkey, some rabbits, and a few other animals.

Érablière Meunier's Mini-Farm

Érablière Meunier's Mini-Farm

Érablière Meunier's Mini-Farm

Érablière Meunier's Mini-Farm

Now, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about some of the animals being kept in small cages. I mean, the kids seem to enjoy seeing the animals, but I’m not sure how good it is for the animals to be kept in a small barn in small enclosures like this. What are your thoughts on this? Is it okay to keep animals in small enclosures like this for the sake of entertainment?

The Outdoor Playground

After the mini-farm, we went to the outdoor playground, which was a big hit with my son.

Érablière Meunier's Outdoor Playground

Érablière Meunier's Outdoor Playground

Érablière Meunier's Outdoor Playground

It’s quite a big structure, with a bunch of different sections. There’s a few slides, some swings, a couple of small climbing walls, a suspension bridge, and a few other things. It’s definitely a great place for kids to burn off some energy.

The Tractor Ride

It was now approaching noon, but I wanted to make sure we got a ride on the tractor before it was too late. So the next time the tractor passed by, we hopped on and took a ride around the forest where the maple trees are.

Érablière Meunier's Tractor Ride

Érablière Meunier's Tractor Ride

And that’s when I noticed something I found a bit odd… The only trees that were tapped were the ones that were right next to the road.

Maple Trees at Érablière Meunier

Maple Trees at Érablière Meunier

I’m not sure if this is normal, but I’m pretty sure that generally, all of the trees would be tapped, not just the ones right next to the road. At least that’s what I remember from when I was a kid.

It makes me wonder if they’re even producing their own maple syrup, or if they’re just buying it from someone else and then selling it as their own, because there’s no way they’re getting enough syrup from the few trees that were tapped to supply the amount of people that were there.

After the tractor ride, I had to go check out some of the buckets that were hanging from the trees to see if they were actually collecting sap. Some of them were definitely dripping something into the buckets, but I’m not 100% convinced it was maple sap.

Maple Trees at Érablière Meunier

The Lunch Buffet

Now, I want to preface this by saying that cabane à sucre food is not haute cuisine. It’s traditional Quebecois sugar shack food: heavy, fatty, salty. I wouldn’t even call it comfort food, as we sure as heck didn’t feel all that comfortable after eating it! 🥴

I think the original point of it was to have something to eat that was filling and would keep you warm while you were out in the cold collecting sap from the trees, but again, it’s not great food.

If you want to know what some of Quebec’s main traditional comfort food is, check out my Must Try Food and Drinks in Montreal post where I talk about some of the best traditional Quebecois (and Montreal) foods.

The Dining Hall

From the outside of the dining hall area, it seemed like it wasn’t very big. But once we were able to enter, we saw it actually stretched quite a ways back.

Érablière Meunier's Dining Hall

Thankfully it wasn’t too crowded when we were seated, but I can imagine it gets quite busy on weekends.

The Food

I say the food is buffet style, but it’s not the typical buffet where you serve yourself. Instead, you’re served by the staff, and you can ask for more of anything you want.

First we were served some pasta salad, coleslaw, and then some hot pea soup.

Érablière Meunier's Lunch Buffet

Érablière Meunier's Lunch Buffet

Érablière Meunier's Lunch Buffet

The salads were pretty decent, but the pea soup, like I’d read in some of the reviews online, was quite watery. It was also really bland and definitely needed seasoning.

Next up was the main food, which includes the typical egg “omelette”, thick-cut crispy back bacon, “oreilles de crisse” (deep-fried pork rind), ham, roasted potatoes, and (not quite pictured) baked beans and hot dogs in maple syrup… I told you it wasn’t haute cuisine! 😂

Érablière Meunier's Lunch Buffet

Érablière Meunier's Lunch Buffet

Érablière Meunier's Lunch Buffet

The egg omelette was pretty good, the back-bacon tasty but very very salty, and the ham was quite delicious. The “oreilles de crisse”, I think, are an acquired taste, and not one I’ve really acquired myself, but they weren’t terrible.

The roasted potatoes were quite good as well, with the other stuff being ok.

The Desserts

I think the desserts were probably the best part of the meal here.

They served some sugar pie - although I believe at sugar shacks it’s a maple syrup sugar pie, some cake-style waffles, some thin pancakes, and something called “Grand-père” in maple syrup, which I’ve never had before.

Érablière Meunier's Desserts

Érablière Meunier's Desserts

The sugar pie was pretty good, and the waffles, while certainly not a traditional sugar shack dessert, were tasty, albeit it bit on the dry side.

The pancakes, despite being quite thin, were actually quite fluffy and delicious. The “Grand-père” was ok, but not really my thing. A bit too sweet for my liking, and I found the texture a bit grainy, but maybe that’s how it’s meant to be?

Now, another one of the negative reviews I read online was about the maple syrup being watered down. When I first saw the maple syrup here, I thought the same thing, as it was very watery. But after tasting it on the pancakes, I can honestly say it was really delicious and full of flavour, so it seems to be the real deal.

The Taffy on Snow

Finally, after we finished eating, we headed back to the taffy cabin to try the taffy on snow.

Érablière Meunier's Taffy on Snow

Érablière Meunier's Taffy on Snow

I had read a negative review online about the taffy as well. Someone mentioned Érablière Meunier was using corn syrup I believe, and not maple syrup. Well, I’m not sure what happened when they visited, but there’s no way that was corn syrup when we were there. It was definitely maple syrup, and it was delicious!

Full disclosure - I’m not actually a huge fan of taffy, as you’re basically just eating a wad of semi-solid maple syrup! But I have to say it was quite good.

And it is after all a pretty quintessential part of the sugar shack experience, so if you’re visiting a sugar shack, you should definitely give it a try.

My Thoughts on Érablière Meunier

Some of the reviews I read online seemed to paint a really bad picture of Érablière Meunier, but I think that perhaps the people who left those negative reviews were expecting something different than what traditional sugar shack food is.

Like I noted earlier, sugar shack (cabane à sucre) food is really not that good. I’m sure some people love it, but this is not 5-star dining. Heck, I’m not even sure it’s 2-star dining! 😂
And to be clear, I’m referring to the food at all sugar shacks, not just Érablière Meunier.

Now there are exceptions, like Au pied de cochon, where they serve a more modern and upscale version of sugar shack food and the sugar shack experience, using ingredients like foie gras. I’ve never been to Au pied de cochon myself, but I’ve heard from colleagues that it’s amazing, albeit not unexpectedly, very expensive.

But as far as the traditional sugar shacks I’ve experienced in my life, Erabliere Meunier is pretty much on par with the others. The food is not great, but it’s not terrible (for sugar shack food) either.

The activities for the kids were great though, and the donuts we had when we first arrived were amazing. I think I’d go back just for those!

My Thoughts on Sugar Shacks in General

The food at sugar shacks is not haute cuisine, and it’s not meant to be. If you visit a sugar shack, in my opinion, you’re going more for the experience than the food.

They’re also all, in my personal opinion, quite expensive for what you’re getting. I mean, $40 to $50 after taxes per adult (not including tips) is a lot of money for a meal that’s not that great. I think at maybe max $30 tax-in per person it would be more reasonable and more worth it.

In the end, I think it’s still worth visiting a sugar shack at least once in your life, but mostly if you have young kids, as it’s quite a fun experience for them.


Are you from outside of Quebec and have been to a sugar shack? What did you think of it? And if you’re from Quebec, what’s your favourite sugar shack? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,
michael 😀

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