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Category: French Page 2 of 4

Provence Marinaside Celebrates Sweet 16

Today I was invited to attend the sixteenth anniversary of Provence Marinaside. This February 20th marked their sweet 16th, and Chef/owners Jean Francis and
Alessandra Quaglia invited us to stop by to see first hand what they had in store, and to help celebrate. My role: the plus one to James of @hellovancity.

As their name suggests, the restaurant with a view offers the perfect marriage between the “flavours and seafood of the South of France and our Canadian West Coast”. Located in Yaletown, your time with them comes with waterfront view of the Marina. Ideal for people watching and the gentle sway of boats at dock. Although it may currently be too cold to enjoy their patio, they do have bright pink fleece blankets for all those who dare.

But today, the elegant dining room was more than ideal for our seating. Especially with how festive they had decorated things. Walking towards the restaurant you knew there was a celebration within. You could see the live band setting up through the window, and the balloons that hung in bunches of pink and white from the ceiling. The staff where even dressed with pink details to match the theme.

Towards the back of the restaurant were the inflated words “sweet” and the number “16” in a metallic gold. They matched the matte gold detailing of the establishment. The gold gilded taps, the golden decor piece made from criss crossed metal lines, and the candle set at every table flickering with a golden flame. All together the room felt very festive and warm. A setting befitting a landmark birthday. I have never been to the sweet 16 of a restaurant before, and now found myself wondering why this isn’t more common of a thing?

Our meal had us choosing our three courses, with appetizers and entrees specifically from their “Sweet Sixteen” specials. These were a handful of dishes that have been on “Provence’s” menu since they first opened. Dishes that have withstood the test of time and continue to be favourites of their customers over the years. So to celebrate their popularity and to get new customers in to see what “Provence Marinaside” is all about, they will each be 16% off from Feb 20th, 2018 to the end of March 2018. The discounted price is listed in a golden starburst on the menu for easy identification.

And speaking of the menu, they had a new one specially printed with new matching business cards to commemorate the landmark. It was a whimsical presentation with cartoon scallops and shrimp in a bowl, a crab wielding tongs, and even a plump frog twisting his moustache.

But before we get to the actual food, when it comes to a media tasting, plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

Our meal began with a welcome sparking wine and some olive tapenade with crostini to sip and nibble on.

The the chef tickled our taste buds with an amuse bouche of foie gras (slightly fattened duck or goose liver) mousse and quince jelly, over a puff pastry round. It was salty and sweet; a meaty dish with the pate, yet dessert-like with the sweeter jam.

Next we continued to graze of the slightly warm basket of herbed focaccia with butter for spreading.

For appetizers we decided to share a larger one that best highlighted the quality of the seafood that you would expect given their proximity to the water’s edge, and their reputation. The “Plateau de fruits de mer” normally costs $85, and it is suggested that you share it between two. However during their Sweet 16 promotion you get it 16% off for $71.40. It is an impressive platter covered in ice, topped with 1/2 crab, prawns, oysters, scallops, smoked salmon; and a seafood salad of scallops and squid with salsa served in the shell of a crab. Ours was brought to our table by Chef/owner Jean Francis, who steadied the serving on a wire stand.

To feed more bodies with more food, you have the ability to add on another tier with half a lobster and a trio of crudo (tuna, steelhead, scallops). Normally this would cost you $50, but during “Sweet 16” it is only $42. We didn’t get the add on, but someone else did. So from now to the end of March this two tier tower of fresh seafood is only $113.40, whereas you are typically paying $135 for it!

For entrees we went with fish and beef, with the proper glasses of white and red wine to compliment it.

The “Seared Lois lake steelhead” was some of the tastiest fish I have ever had, if not the best salmon. It is well worth its normal price of $32, and a deal at 16% off ($26.88). Prepared with baby kale, lentils, pickled shallots, and turmeric scented cauliflower purée. However, I was more than content in enjoying the well season piece of fish as is. James described it best when he called it a “juicy fish”. Whereas I was not a fan of the wilted vegetables or grainy lentils, he found them helpful in balancing out the “fattiness” of the steelhead.

Similarly the “AAA Canadian beef filet” was tender and flavourful. Although here I found that the braised root vegetables and smoked mashed potato sides were most helpful in balancing out the intensity and tang of the red wine peppercorn jus. I also enjoyed the varying starches for their different textures, and how they paired with the light hickory flavour I got from the steak. Normally the 6oz cut is $38, but at 16% off it is currently only $31.92.

For dessert I was sold on the “Berry and white chocolate clafoutis”, as soon as I heard that the recipe comes from James’ mother. There is nothing quite comforting like a baked pie that your mom made. Their version of the French classic comes with a dollop of vanilla ice cream that add milkiness to the buttery dough, giving each bite a luscious finish. I really enjoyed it and could have taken home a whole pie to finish later. Whereas James could have done with less crust to better highlight the tart berry filling.

We also shared their special of the day, an apple crumble. This too was comforting, but in a familiar way. Cinnamon apples topped with baked granola, and finished with a generous scoop of ice cream. My only critique is that I personally would have liked it baked longer for a more crispy topping, a crunch that better contrasted the melty ice cream and gummy apple slices.

And when we thought we had finished our meal, everyone also got a mini pink frosted in their pretty in pink theme.

The night concluded with our hosts,Chef/owners Jean Francis and Alessandra Quaglia giving thanks and saying a few words, before inviting everyone to raise their glasses and give a “cheers”.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
If you haven’t visited the before, I definitely suggest this opportune time to do so. A little over a month to see what they are all about through their proven menu items. And when summer rolls around, don’t forget to return to enjoy the unique vantage point from their patio. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PROVENCE MARINASIDE
1177 Marinaside Crescent, Vancouver BC, V6Z 2Y3
604-681-4144
provencemarinaside.ca
Provence Marinaside Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Louis Gervais Fine Foods & Catering Bistro

This evening I drove all the way to North Vancouver for a long table meal at “Louis Gervais'” cafe and catering workspace; and it was worth the effort.

Here I got to learn a little more about the Chef behind the business. How he originally hails from Montreal, and has accumulated over 40 years of experience. He moved to Vancouver when he was 20 to help open the “Wedgewood Hotel” as an executive sous chef. And rest of his resume was as impressive, working in several well known kitchens and winning a few culinary competitions here and there.

Currently he and his team operate a bistro, feeding the surrounded office spaces for breakfast and lunch. This space includes with it a view that faces out towards the water in the distance. It makes them a unique destination worth driving to.

Today’s tasting menu would be a true reflection of the French, Swiss and, Spanish influences in his cooking. With a focus on quality of ingredients, identified through the different organic suppliers that they employ.

We were seated around a long table, dressed in a white table cloth with matching napkins, along with all the accompanying glasses and cutlery needed for a fine five course dinner. But first, we were given the ability to mix and mingle like one does at the beginning of any classy dinner party.

To start, servers brought around platters of hors d’oeuvre to drum up our appetites. And when it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

The “Peanut crusted schezuan chicken strips” wrapped in a cucumber ribbon, with a gochujang glaze was definitely a feast for the eyes. However, the chicken meat itself was dry, having missed the cucumber or any of the aforementioned sauce. It would have been nice to have more of the glaze on the side to use as a dip to perk things up.

I really enjoyed the taste and the aesthetic of the “Beef carpaccio in a pecorino nest”. Although I took in more cheese than the carpaccio or the Dijon aioli and fresh capers it was topped with.

The “Scallop ceveche” served on endive leaves with lime caviar, would have been more ideal at the start. A light ramp up the the heavier flavours before it, in order to not have it so muted now. Although it did also work as a palette refresher for the rest of our sit down meal to come.

Everything was prepared family style for us to dole out ourselves, as their casserole dishes were past along.

The “Nova Scotia lobster grilled cheese on sourdough bread” was an exciting start. Add lobster to any comfort food and you have the best of both worlds. A rich and creamy seafood cream on crispy bread is pure perfection.

I also really liked the “Battered curried cauliflower”, served with a scallion mint yogurt dip. There was plenty of this to go around, allowing me to bite into crispy batter to my heart’s content. I can safely say the texture is consistent piece to piece. The curry, always an accent, well balanced by the cooling and refreshing cream yogurt dip.

The “Spanish cod escabeche” was a beautifully done dish. Mediterranean capsicum vera Pasilla pepper and olive ragout, served with truffled black linguini. It was clear that the buttery cod was the star of the plate. The sauce was just light enough to highlight it, with the linguini offering each bite some chew.

But the “Saffron brioche crusted lamb chops in vert jus bourbon broth” won my favour in presentation and taste. The lamb was perfectly prepared. Well crusted and chewy meat to rip off of bone. Highlighted by the contrast of the sweet squash that was easy to scoop soften spoonfuls of, from its oven baked rind. Just writing this now has my mouth watering.

And there was no better way to end the comforting decadence above that with this twist on bread pudding. Once again a familiar classic was taken up a notch, here with the use of croissant. “White chocolate croissant pudding”. The portion was baked in a casserole dish, then scooped out and drizzled over with warm caramel. It was on the sweeter side with a rich finish to keep you satisfied.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
There isn’t much I would recommend driving out to North Vancouver for, so after this meal Louis Gervais certainly crowns my list. The bistro closes at 4pm, where they are then able to host private dinners, such as the one we enjoyed, for smaller groups. They also cater occasions and weddings, driving as far out as Whistler to do so. So for Canadian comfort on a plate, look no further. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

LOUIS GERVAIS
850 Harbourside Drive, North Vancouver BC, V7P3T7
604-904-7720
louisgervaiscatering.com
Louis Gervais Fine Foods & Catering Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

PiDGiN

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This is one of those unique places I recommend for cocktails, a restaurant that not many have heard of and one I like to bring friends to. This was also our third stop this evening’s downtown east side cocktail crawl.

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All black exterior, all white interior. Both simple with light fixtures suspended in angles, lit wicks bobbing in clear liquid vials, and succulents in glass jars with rocks. Simple and clean. By contrast was our server in his red ball cap worn backwards, his leopard print tank top, and one of a kind gold jewelry. He gave the restaurant more causal feeling. He was great at his job and knew his menu, but it was hard to take him and the restaurant seriously, given what he choose to represent the brand.

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My guest started with the “Mary Ellen Smith” cocktail; made with gin, carbonated sake, cucumber, and lime. It was as refreshing as its vibrant green colour look. Airy with a bubbly finish.

I went with the “Pumpkin patch caipirinha” for the season, and was disappointed by the lack of actual pumpkin flavour and/or related spice. The menu listed as it being roasted pumpkin cachaca, tamarind sugar, and lime. However the cocktail tasted more like a spiked sour grapefruit cooler. There was no depth of flavour, where I was expecting something warming, a bold heat with Christmas spices. This was not so much a fall drink, but more a drunken lemonade, better suited for summer.

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With our drinks we nibbled on their “Citrus ginger duck breast”, made with confit duck leg, uneboshi beets, and pistachio. This was the small size of the small plate, and it was only a quarter of the duck at $24. You would have to pay $42 to get a half. The duck was tender and tasty, and it was no surprise that it left us wanting more of it. The side of crunchy pistachio and the smooth, soften beets did help to make this dish feel more fulsome.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I would return again, as I did tonight, for cocktails and delicious canapés. I would saving dinner for another place that would give me more value for my money. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PIDGIN
350 Carrall Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2J3
604-620-9400
pidginvancouver.com
PiDGiN Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

L’Abattoir

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The last stop on this Gastown cocktail crawl with “Drunken Noms” and “Picky Diner” was at “L’Abattoir”. This was another one that made it on to the “Noms'” must try list. Here, we had great unique cocktail to end our successful crawl on.

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The restaurant is most memorable for its bold tiled flooring and its dance floor worth of space entryway. Here, the lighting was a series of bulbs in mason jars. We were directed under it and up the flight of stairs to the left. Without the need to wait, we were given a seat on their second level. Atop our perch we had a overlooking view of the bar, the additional height allowing us to enjoy the pattern of the flooring all the much more.

“Drunken Noms” was so excited by the house gimlet that she insisted that we each needed one. Sipping and sharing was not advised here. Apparently this is one of the most famous cocktails in Vancouver. Given the health consciousness of our city, our desire to be green, and the love of vegetables; it makes sense.

We didn’t even look at anything else on the menu. This alone spoke to how highly she thought of the cocktail. Because typically, bloggers have the desire to try as much as we can and share everything, in order to maximize spend for variety.

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So here it is, the “avocado gimlet” is prepared with rosemary and olive infused baker’s gin, fresh avocado, apfelkorn schnapps, and lime. This drink had the creaminess of avocado, but not its taste; the scent of Rosemary, but not its floral nature; and the herbaceous of gin, but not its alcohol kick. This was easy to take down as it looked good for you. The colour was the most striking, like a freshly squeezed green vegetable juice.

I have been to the restaurant before and have had a few appetizers, only to leave with stunning photos, a half full stomach, and an empty wallet. So thankfully we were only looking to just snack here. At this point, after five stops, budgets were wearing thin. We actually ended on street food, at our last and only non alcohol stop.

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But here, we went with the “Pan fried veal sweetbreads on toast with sauce gribiche and veal tongue”. Our server warned us about portion size, before allowing us to commit. It would be just one toast topped with the organ meat, we were fine to share. “Sweetbreads” is the culinary name for the thymus or the pancreas of traditionally either calf or lamb. The formal name makes it sound much more appealing, and may even trick a few into trying something new. My first encounter with the delicacy had me imagining glazed bread, woven in a circle. But today in knew I was looking at chewy organ meat. This version was cooked tender with some fattier morsels. The bread gave the dish it’s needed crunch, and the green of the onion gave it some needed colour appeal. All together with the sauce, I found it too salty. This would have been easily rectified with a serving of the sweetbread on the side; and a self serve, self spread station of baguette slices and a butter knife to help yourself with.

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Most impressively, even though we had just the one order to share, with three drinks; we were still treated to a complimentary basket of bread. An assortment of in house made pastries that included anchovy and Parmesan twists, sesame flat bread crisps, and bacon brioche. Our one dish was worth trying just to have this come before it. With all it salty notes, this was a great basket of bread to accompany some drinking. Each decorative knot or bun was serve fresh and still warm, and they were considerate enough to give three of each, for each of us.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I enjoyed the iconic cocktail and would love to bring others here just to try it. And now knowing it is one of Vancouver’s most popular, I will be sure to recommend it much more. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

L’ABATTOIR
217 Carrall Street, Vancouver BC
604-568-1701
labattoir.ca
L'Abattoir Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cycling Croissant

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All the best innovations stem for people’s desire for the easy way out. A short cut to do less work and to gain the maximum output. And that is exactly what those working at “The Cycling Croissant” do. They make your breakfast pastry even more accessible by delivering it to your work place or classroom. So long as it is either in the downtown Vancouver, Kitsilano, Fairview or Mount-pleasant area. There is a $15 minimum order fee, but delivery is always free.

You start my placing your order online, then choose the time of day you want your breakfast to be delivered at. Order by 5pm to secure your meal for the next day. They cater to companies and work place offices looking to feed their employees during a morning meeting. Though parents at home, or individuals looking for a nice breakfast can certainly take advantage of their accessibility as well.

They avoid waste by producing the exact quantities of each request, so last minute orders or add ons maybe difficult, or out of the question.

My order was slightly larger then usual, a warning the owner of the company gave, when he himself made the delivery. The batch blossomed and I was able to take advantage of more food per square inch.

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Your croissant options include the below. A regular was $3 and anything with a topping or filling was 50 cent more.

The regular croissant was the perfect texture. One of the best I have had, if not the best. Absolutely fresh with that great tender and chewy texture you expect from a great buttery, flaky pastry.

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The “pain au chocolate” had the same perfect dough. But was lacking in the chocolate department. I would have liked more, not just cause the pastries were over sized, but because chocolate filling is best when it globs and oozes out. Here the nibs were tiny and they kept in their lumps, unmelted.

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The “raisin Danish” was my favourite. It was like raisin bread, but with a sugary glaze and a crisp edge.

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The almond croissant ran at $1 more and I could see why. Toasted almond slivers and a heavy dusting of powdered sugar. Plenty on top to flavour the bite through and through. This was my second favourite.

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The “mini viennoiserie” are baked goods made from a yeast-leavened dough or from puff pastry. The addition of eggs, butter, milk, cream and sugar gives it a richer, sweeter profile. These were very crispy two bites. My least favourite, just because you can’t compare a soft texture to a hard one that snapped like twigs. But this is indicative of the pastry, and by no fault of the bakers who prepared it to spec.

They also offered apple turnovers, and a croissant with a chocolate filling and an almond and powdered sugar topping.

 

Disclaimer: media tasting.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A box of 10 went far between me and my colleagues. Cut into quarters, the larger than usual size, that was their mistake, was certainly a gain for me. Once again this was some of the best pastries I have every had. Fresher, tastier, and cheaper than at any chain bakery; or from your local, convenient coffee, morning stop. All brought right to me by friendly staff, on eco friendly bikes. This is the perfect option for the consumer like me: one part lazy, one part practical, and all parts in love with sweet breakfast pastries. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CYCLING CROISSANT
thecyclingcroissant.com
The Cycling Croissant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tableau Bar Bistro

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I don’t typically visit downtown during the weekends, I prefer to avoid the crowds and the accompanying traffic. However the lure of some fine fired chicken and waffles was enough of a reason. And to my delight it was fairly quiet this Saturday morning, with an easy drive to and pull in park curb side.

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The restaurant is located within Loden hotel. I was amazing how chic both were. A doorman greets you and opens the door for you. You enter and are in Loden’s lobby. Walk forward and past a stone fire place, leather couches and throw pillows to check-in, or take a left for “Le Tableau”.

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We were given the option of a table by the window or somewhere across from their bar. The former with a view of the sidewalk suited us just fine. Though the view looking into the restaurant was the one that was preferred. The restaurant reminded me of a regal study. Vaulted ceilings with dangling lamps paired with patterned floors of brown and gold, and tiles in black and white. The dark panelled walls were decorated with black and white photographs. Scenes of motion captured in stills, happy faces, and beautiful places.

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At 11am we had our choice of ordering off the brunch or lunch menu. The latter had all the usual brunch time favourites: egg and bacon breakfasts or fruit and waffles, with accompanying morning cocktails. Lunch was more fulsome with raw seafood platters, creamy pastas, and specialties for every day of the week. We came in wanting brunch so stuck to our guns.

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“Chicken and waffles” with buttermilk fried chicken, maple syrup, and gravy. Having it presented before us, we were immediately impressed. The chicken looked as crispy as it tasted. It only took the first bite for my guest to declare she would come back, and better yet this was now her favourite chicken and waffle combo to date. The breading was evenly golden, crisp like corn flakes, hiding a juicy white centre. The chicken was well seasoned, good on its own; made more delicious with their side serving of smooth gravy, served heated in a little spouted cup.

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The equally crispy waffle with sweet syrup was a good compliment to the salty and savoury chicken. We appreciated how they provided the syrup and gravy on the side. To be able to select how much of each we wanted.

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“Eggs Benedict” with your choice of florentine (spinach), shaved brisket, and smoked salmon. Our server recommend the brisket and I took his advice without regret. Everything on this plate was melt in your mouth tender. Fabric-like folds of beef, poached eggs like jello, and hollandaise as silken as cream; all over buttery English muffins. The flavours were simple and clean, each taste distinct and sharp, coming together in harmony. Shame it wore a little thin after the first round. Though having some crisp potatoes with ketchup on the side did help to change the taste. The potatoes were nice and starchy, pan fried with crisp edges. The poached eggs were definitely the highlight of the Benedict, their luscious golden orange yolk was amazing. I just which they used larger ones.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
If brunch was this good, I could only imagine what a full dinner service would be like. My guest certainly thinks their chicken and waffles are worth trying and I vouch for their eggs. And it doesn’t hurt that their dining room was as nice as it was, with a comfortable vibe. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

TABLEAU
1181 Melville Street Vancouver BC Canada V6E 0A3
604-639-8692
tableaubarbistro.com
Tableau Bistro & Bar - Loden Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

L’Abattoir

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Pacific Northwest fare with French influences in Yaletown. This one has been on the list for a while. So just being in the neighbourhood and being hungry lead us here. Located in Gastown, the restaurant looked and felt the part.

Walking in, there is plenty of room in the foyer. The host at his booth greets you under a lighting piece created from light bulbs in mason jars. From here your seating is available across several options. Stools at the bar, narrow tables on the second floor, or booths towards the back of the restaurant, by the washrooms.

We were happy enough sitting at a high top betwixt the kitchen and the bar. Surrounding us there wasn’t any art work or really any decorative elements, but there was enough visual interest in their industrial elements, supporting the room. Red brick walls, a wood plank staircase, metal detailing, and their black and white tiled patterned feature.

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The bar on our right was a conversation starter, a wave of zig zag shelves showcasing glasses and bottles for use. It was dimly lit by tea lights in cocktail glasses and additional low hanging mason jars lamps over the bar. Some of these glass jars were short and stout, others tall and lean; all came with their metal lids screwed on tight.

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And to our left, if we arched our backs we got a good glance into their kitchen; past the tiled wall separating their busy back of house operations from us and our stillness. There, the battalion of chefs in white were steady in their craft, they hardly spoke, but moved with perfect communication. It made the meal to come all the more anticipatory.

Interestingly the menu was divided into “cold” and “hot” small plates and full “mains”. What little I know of fine French cuisine was present, minus the more stereotypical frog legs and escargot. Tartare, pāté, and sweetbreads. Though they also had more modern renditions of more familiar proteins to reflect their Pacific Northwest influence. Entrees like beef tenderloin in marrow butter, seared scallops and chicken wings, pacific ling cod, and stuffed lamb loin. Nothing read as second best, which made ordering all the more difficult.

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I was thrilled to have our meal start with a complimentary bowl of bread. As it may be expected, our dishes to come were smaller in size. I find French cuisine rich with flavours, hidden in smaller parcels. So these heavily seasoned and perfectly toasted sesame and herbed crispy sheets, the fluffy buns topped with smoked crumbled bacon, and the buttery flaky twists; were a greatly appreciated start.

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The “Torchon of duck foie gras with preserved fruit, yogurt, and sour brioche” was a pretty plate. Refined simplicity in small, self curated bites. The contrasting flavours just went; you found what you were missing in one, in the others. Salty paste, cooling cream, and sour cherries. After the first bite I understood the ratio of given bread to pāté. The meat paste was pretty mild, it could a have done with a more salt, but a heaping serving on each chewy crostini sufficed.

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The “Grilled squid stuffed with pork and herbs” was an intricate plate. It had several elements that kept each morsel interesting in different tastes and textures. Like the crunchy crusted potato with a mashed centre, the zesty mint, the refreshing cucumber, and the salty squid ink. I would have liked more cucumber chunks to break up the heaviness of the stuffed squid sections, especially with the light vinaigrette they were coated in. I also would have preferred the squid not breaded, as after each bite the taste of oil lingered in my mouth.

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“Assiette of suckling pig with grilled sauerkraut, potato, and mustard”. Our server recommend this over the duck breast roasted on the bone, as it was the largest portion of food on their menu. The word, “assiette”was described to us as being various parts of the pig depending by week and what they get in. Today it was pork belly, pork chop, marinated ham, and braised pork in milk. The pork belly was naturally fatty and easily tender. It was salty, without necessarily being flavourful, and therefore would have been better with some rice. The braised pork was light, though it was missing depth in flavour. It would have been better as an accompaniment, like a topping on brioche or a filling in a sweet bun. The ham was chewier and more heartier than regular processed meat. It’s brininess went well with the pickled and charred cabbage. The pork chop was the best preparation out of the three. It had a full bodied sauce enrobing it and you could tasted the charcoal of a hot grill scoring the meat. Though overall we agreed we would have preferred a serving of Chinese style barbecue pork instead; wherein we would have gotten more for less.

When the staff attended to us they were all courteous and polite. Each plate came out with a directed run through of its elements. Though throughout our meal no one checked in on how our food was or came to see if we needed anything. Although they were not to blame as there were no servers tending to our awkward table, other than the host who had another job to do and the bartender who was crafting cocktails for the whole restaurant.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I love the beauty of these French inspired plates and appreciate that its all about the flavour. But being a more bang for your buck girl, I truly missed the quantity. Eating like this is definitely how some women stay thin. Small portions and satisfying servings, though it all left me still hungry and craving pizza after. Everything was good, but it just didn’t hit the spot. This would be nice as a first date option where small plates mean polite eating. But, sadly we came from heavy drinking and wanted grease to coat our bellies. I would come back if invited, but not voluntary nor would I suggest it. I felt like I paid for the beauty of the plate, not the food on it. Though I am sure that they used the finest ingredients and that doesn’t often come cheap. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

L’ABATTOIR
217 Carrall Street, Vancouver BC
604-568-1701
labattoir.ca
L'Abattoir Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Pear Tree

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When service decides a return trip.

When looking for a restaurant to impress and one our foodie friendly birthday girl has never been to before, I started searching for places out of dowtown and out of Vancouver. Not many would think of Burnaby when looking for a nice fine dining option. So my search brought me to “The Pear Tree”. They have been in operation since 1998 and they don’t seem to be loosing steam based on what I have read and what I have heard from others.

The exterior looked different from all the other buildings in the neighbourhood, and inside even more so. It was polished and modern with its flat panel front. No worn awnings, no sandwich boards, and no posters plastered on the glass. It was clean and definitely spoke to the sophisticated cuisine being served within.

I arrived early and had some time to kill so found myself visiting their webpage as I waited in their lounge for my guests. The lounge was right by the entry way with a clear view of the hostess stand. It was dimly lit and only slightly brighter than the scene in the dining room, something I noticed when I looked to the other side. Here they housed several of their awards on display. Their chef was a culinary champion with the metals to prove it. He had won a bronzed plate and a silver whisk. And the restaurant he and his wife ran had been awarded a few accolades from Vancouver Magazine over the years. They were both in today, or at least I think so based on my comparing them to their online bios.

I originally came early to drop of a custom made cake in secret, only to be called a few hours before the reservation that, that was against the policy. This isn’t a new thing, but some more advance notice would have been helpful. So there my cake sat in the car melting. But the host/owner arranged one of their desserts to be brought out with a candle after dinner and we would provided the song.

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The dining room was sober in candle light and whispering conversation. This was polite dining in close quarters, and what you would expect from a fine dining establishment. White table cloths, a succulent at every table, cloth napkins, and cutlery I have never seen before. A flat spoon-like flipper with a dent and a cake cutter with our entrées. Though the restaurant revealed its age with the use of carpet and its stains, that is why you don’t often see carpet in a dining room.

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On the walls were large photos related to their name: pear trees. A lone tree in a field and leaves changing colour on a branch. Though no actual pears in any shot. They weren’t the most artistic, so I assume it held sentimental value, maybe even taken by the owners?

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All together things felt like a hotel or someone’s home, especially with the wine cellar and the kitchen adjacent. From where I sat, if I angled myself just right I could see the work that went into each place, how the entire kitchen staff huddled around each completed dish, and waited with baited breath held as the last smudge was wiped clean. It was one of the most quiet and composed kitchens I have ever seen, or maybe I am just too use to “Hell’s Kitchen or “Master Chef” concepts.

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The menu is limited as they specialize and take the time to perfect each plate they put out. If you have dietary restrictions, you can ask for the vegan and vegetarian options, on a separate menu. They offered to split everything into individual servings, knowing we would be sharing, but for the sake of my photos I had us share bites and spoonfuls at a time. After each course new flatware was dispensed. As I mentioned before, we were confused by how they look, but found it easy enough to guess their function.

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Our meal began with bread. Not served in the typical basket for everyone to share. But we each had our own slice served right to our side plates, with the butter in a dish to share. The butter was so perfectly oval, like it was set in a chocolate mould. This was in-house made brioche. Fluffy and moist, it was more like cake.

The items I ordered were recommended by friends who have already been. The three appetizers we choose ended up perfectly balancing each other. And each dish covered salty, sour, creamy, and tangy.

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The “Flamed Gin and ‘Cascade’ Tomato Soup” was served with a chive whipped cream. The two came separated and were brought together at our table, like a show. The plate had the solid dollop of whipped cream sitting over a tender piece of carrot, lone at its centre. The tomato and gin soup was then poured out of a gravy boat, over the cream. The hot soup would then melt the cream down, or you could just stir it in. I appreciated the art and the live table action. The soup itself was refreshing in its light tang. You also got the the sharp gin taste that its description promised. I would have liked a crisp cracker with seeds, or something to nibble on with this.

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Another must try is their “Lobster Cappuccino”. Even its name peaks your interest. It is a lobster bisque foam with Dashi custard and poached lobster pieces. The half soup half beverage is served in a double walled cup with a squid ink chip on the side. This chip is made from tapioca and tasted like crisp saltiness. Together they were a fun take on “biscotti” to go with the “espresso”. The foam was as its name led you to believe, light and airy with tiny bubbles on its surface. It got thick and smooth towards the bottom, where the tender chunks of lobster meat sank. Each drop was full of fishy lobster flavour. The birthday girl liked it so much that she scraped the portion clean.

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“Orange caramelized scallops with double smoked bacon risotto”. A dish so popular that they give you the option of making it an entree portion for more. The saltiness of bacon made a good companion to the mild buttery scallop, but the latter was slightly over cooked. The rice was also a little more watery than I expected, although it’s flavour was still light. This was good as a taster between three people. I don’t think I would have enjoyed a whole portion to myself, I would grow tired of its one tone taste.

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This was my favourite dish of the night. I am not typically a fan of fish, but this “Pan Roasted Lois LakeSteelhead” served with Pomme dauphine and butternut squash was amazing. It was the most buttery piece of fish with a perfectly seared crust I have ever had. It was not the least bit dry, it practically melted. Similarly were each of the tender vegetables surrounding it. I liked the cheesy potato bites the most, or at least that is what they tasted like.

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The “Braised Alberta Lamb Shank” came with Cauliflower Fritters and Eggplant Puree. Like the fish, the lamb was tender to the point that it fell off the bone. The fritters tasted like they were filled with polenta, mashed smooth, but still grainy by nature. The brown meat sauce was the most flavourful, and really hid my ability to taste the cauliflower in the purée; instead the purée simply added cream to the texture.

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The “Twice Cooked ‘Berkshire’ Pork Belly” came with a white bean cassoulet. The pork belly didn’t have enough flavour, just like the bed of rounds that accompanied it. I felt like it could have used a thick gravy instead of another purée. The meat and vegetables were already cream-like. So it was missing some crunch, an element with more chewing involved. Like crispy pork skin, instead of melt in your mouth pig fat. It was also extra dry with the sandy texture of beans and peas together, and could have used another sauce here. Overall we didn’t feel like it was special enough for the price.

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The “Carrot risotto” was off the separate vegetarian menu. It is made with fresh carrot, squash, and celeriac; then topped with shaved grana padano. The texture was smooth like porridge with the promised flavour of carrot in abundance.

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Our entrees also came with a complimentary bowl of pea shoots to share. A bite of this could have easily freshen up any plate, it certainly matched all the ones we had.

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The “Chocolate Ganache” with a crisp nut base, salted caramel, and a scoop of orange chocolate sorbet was our birthday cake substitution. If you don’t like sweet desserts, this one is for you. Rich in dark chocolate and deep in smokey hazelnut. It doesn’t look like anything more than a slim chocolate bar, we judged too soon. It was so decadent that a bite was enough to have you satisfied, we were glad to have to share it. This one would have been nice with tea to wash it down.

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But the sweets did not end there, we were again treated to in house made pear jellies with the billfold. You could taste the freshness in the fruit used. It was a little sweet for most of my guests, so I relished in having more than one piece. It was like biting into a solid pear jello dusted in sugar crystals.

I think the service stiffen and the hospitality grew cold as we began to critique. It is something I personally encourage when I dine with my guest, as I take their comments and make them my own; for a post such as this. However given the smaller venue and the quiter room, I felt that most of what we said could be heard, and offence was taken to it by the two staff that served. When discussing this later, my guests argued that such comments were within their right to make and that it is something typical when dining out. “You critique your meal, you discuss your shared experience”. “It was not like we weren’t enjoying ourselves”, we were just being overly critical for this content. As I am often too honest I will not leave any more of such thoughts here.

I truly did like the place and even more the food. And I would have liked to return again, if not for the service. Given the cold reception towards the end of our meal, I will not be returning. It didn’t help that I accidentally spilled my red drink over their white table cloth and myself, and that I had trouble trying to grab my coat from the unattended hostess booth when trying to leave. I felt like both made a scene. So now I feel a little too sheepish to dare a return trip, lest I be noticed and receive the same cold shoulder again. I truly felt like we weren’t wanted. Like when I accidentally spilled my Caesar on myself and the staff noted but didn’t flinch, it was a little shocking. I had to claim all my guest’s used napkins to dry myself off before some more were handed to me by our server. Though we felt like we earned the right to be here tonight, accident or not. We certainly paid for the time in food. We had three cocktails, three appetizers, four entrees, and one dessert; totalling over $200. It is not often I spend this much on meal, so I would like it to be as special as I can have it, given I can’t afford this place every day.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
As true to many fine dining restaurants, the portions were smaller, but were just as filling. The food was good and the service had its up and downs. Though the lack of concern and my description above won’t have me back in for a second try. But once again this shift in attitude only came after our honest to average comments. It’s hard not to judge solely on the food, as that is what a food blogger does. But this is one of those rare times where the food is great and what should be a return visit isn’t because of the experience. Sad because I had high hopes for this upscale establishment. I wanted this to be a hidden gem in an average Burnaby neighbourhood. The one to have everyone driving out of Vancouver for… Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PEAR TREE
4120 East Hastings Street, Burnaby BC, V5C 2J4
604-299-2772
peartreerestaurant.net
The Pear Tree Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chambar

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I have been to chambar before, but never to its new location. I can see why they moved one store down. The space is much larger and they are now equipped with a patio.

Given the option I choose indoors over outside. The patio was a closer and more uncountable sit next to your neighbour. Instead we were able to grab a corner booth inside. If possible always go for the corner booth. It allows you to sit closer to your guest and have not have face them. Not everyone looks good eating.

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The dining room went far back. Past the regal bar it was all red brick, wooden posts, and cement walls. It was all very rich and warm. The bar was especially impressive, something worth sitting across from.

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Their lighting was really something else. Various glass bobbles over bulbs. Single bulbs suspended by thin wires. The feature ones were a web of colour protruding from a bronze axis. It reminded me of our solar system. Very whimsical.

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Having been before I knew their “Blue fig” was worth trying. This was a cocktail made with oven roasted fig infused gin, and served with a side of blue cheese. It was definitely a unique drinking/eating experience. You take a sip and you enjoy some savoury cheese after it. Though not surprising as sweet figs and sharp cheese do compliment one another.

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The “Moi et fernet” was made with El jimdor reposado, Amer Nouvelle, fresh grapefruit juice, and a licorice twist tea syrup; and finished with a fernet branca float. I choose this for the belief that it would be like a float. It was not what I expected, but a new flavour worth trying none the less. And the best part, the liquorice wasn’t as pronounced as I had feared. Its savoury tone actual really went great with savoury dishes below.

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“Scampi”: Harissa prawns, preserved lemon, and a herb salad. The creamy sauce was unlisted, so therefore an unexpected surprise. Though if “ebi-mayo” has taught us anything, shrimp Amaya’s goes well with plenty of creamy and tangy mayo. Though here the prawns were just as good without it. Most surprising was how fantastic the salad was. I didn’t expect a salad of mint and cilantro would show up, nor did I expect us to finish every leaf. The citrus dressed salad went really well with the juicy prawns. They balanced one another out. Isn’t it always the case that that best dish of the night was the most simple?

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They are known for their mussels so we had to partake in a pot. Out of the three different flavours we choose the “Congolaise”, made with mussels, tomato coconut cream, smoked chilli, lime, and cilantro. Served in a pot with its lid, the latter would be later used as a vessel to discard empty mussels shells in. The shells were fairly large, but sadly the mussels in them not so much by comparison. The stew was like a spicy tomato broth, and would have went well with bread instead of fries. A loaf for dipping or a sandwich for eating with. Though to their credit, the fries were crispy and well seasoned.

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“Fletan au tamarin”. Haida Gwaii halibut, sea asparagus, sweet peas, mustard greens, spicy tapioca, and jalapeño pistou; in a tomato tamarind broth. The fish and its sides came first, with the broth after. A server completes the dish by pouring a spouted creamer’s worth of broth over the whole lot. It was poured over the dish right at our table, I regret not capturing this on film. The dish was light and and refreshing, filling without being stuffed. The crisp green beans paired well with the soft flaky fish. This is the first time I have had sea beans, and I conclude that I liked their wiry texture. But it was the savoury broth that stole the show. I could just drink it like soup.

Our server was a delight. She was so well spoken and so thorough with her replies. She knew the menu and painted a vivid picture of what she recommended and why. Though sadly, I find that I never take a server’s suggested recommendations. I ask because I am curious, though in reality I already know what I want. I must be very annoying. Our server was also very attentive. She checked in often and whenever our eyes met in the distance she held it with a smile. She followed up by coming as soon as she could to tend to us. I have never felt so welcomed.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I couldn’t see this as a regular dining destination. But instead, the perfect spot for a first date or any occasion. This is a good place to you take someone that you want to impress. A comfortable setting and an original cuisine like at no other restaurant. Don’t deny your cravings

 

CHAMBAR
568 Beatty Street, Gastown Vancouver BC
604-879-7119
chambar.com
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Stable House

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It’s been a while since my original visit, when they first opened. Since then, the neighbourhood has made them their local bar and they have reintroduced their menu. An easy going setting with fairly formal dishes. Good enough reasons as any to have me revisit and eventually amend my initial assessment.

After over a year, things don’t seem much different decor wise. The exterior is still draped with patio lights leading from awning to tree, it creates an archway of illuminated light. Today their small outdoor patio is left unseated, though I have often walked by to observe couples drinking and enjoying each other’s company, long into the darkness of the night. Though given the lack of view, I prefer the interior with its dim romantic lighting and its back supporting booths.

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Their breakfast nook by the front window was unfortunately taken. It was an elevated platform holding a spacious booth, that provided the diner with natural lighting. Food always looks better in natural lighting, and I enjoying consuming with my eyes before I dine with my tongue. I remembered wanting to claim the best seat in the house during my first visit too. But like before, we were directed to the seats in the back. The cushioned booth that ran against the wall was still surrounded by tile, cork, and wood paneling on its three sides. I even recalled the odd sight of tiles with horses on it and the irregular light fixture crafted from black narrow pipes.

We ordered off the chalkboard wine list posted on the wall. They offered more options on red, white, rose, and bubbles than they did in food. Though the menu does offer more variety now. I remember during my first visit most of the entrees were savoury tarts.

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Though the “Mushroom & Gruyere tart” with onion purée, puff pastry, and a green side salad was still being offered. It was the only clear option for the vegetarian of our group. The tart was built on a hearty, yet flaky pastry. The buttery crust paired well with the earthy mushrooms and the bold cheese. Though I would have preferred the whole assemble on herbed flatbread instead. The Gruyere was definitely the highlight of the dish, so we were disappointed to not have more grated on top.

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The only down side to the “Braised pork belly” with corn risotto, celery, and red onions was that there was not more of it. They definitely earned bonus points for this presentation. An over turn ceramic basket strategically placed, just for show. The pork was prepared extremely tender. It had just the right amount of fat on each piece, to literally melt in your mouth. And its overall saltiness went well with the sweetness of the corn. Though from a textural standpoint I could have used some crunch, maybe a slaw or some pickled vegetable to add a crunch and offer a change in palate.

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The “Seared albacore tuna loin” with fennel, warm barley, red cabbage, and almonds; use  to be a feature, but was so popular that they made it a regular menu item. With so many elements this dish delivered on all that I was expecting visually, textural, and flavour wise. I have never had barely prepared like this. It reminded me of dirty rice, gritty with various textures thanks to the various sized grains and nut slivers. It was definitely filling. The celery and pickled beets gave it some crispness. And the tuna was seared a perfect pink and presented to highlight it on the dish. The pickled fennel offered that tartness I wanted in the pork dish before. Together it all felt very healthy. A dish I consumed with no regrets.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Given that there is nothing else like it in the area it will continue to do well. That Gastown vibe at a slower pace, located on South Granville. The food was good, but for the price we paid, it is not for everyday dining. I recommended here more for drinks and causal conversation. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

STABLE HOUSE
1520 West 13th Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6H 1P1
604-736-1520
thestablehouse.ca

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