Coming out of a particular cold and wet snowboarding session, David of @pickydiner and I were looking for something sumptuous, to make up for all the lost calories and energy. We decided to take advantage of the season and the speciality price menus that Dine Out Vancouver offers. When researching online, we kept the neighbourhood downtown and searched through the options; when the visuals of Alouette caught our eye. We called ahead and lucky for us a table was available.
This French restaurant has taken up residence in the former home of Indian restaurant: Copper Chimney, and it feels like a better match for its adjoining boutique: Hotel Le Soleil. I was immediately drawn in my its tropical decor, which helped to warm us up. Plenty of lush foliage and tanned straw accents, not to mention their cocktail menu dressed in pastel and flamingos.
But before we dove into our $45, 3 course meal at hand, we would start with some Fresh Oysters dressed up with torched foie gras. Our @pickydiner has declared this one of his top 10 favourite dishes in 2021, which compelled me to try it for myself. The oysters arrived along side our dine out menu appetizers, only to be taken back because they did not include the foie gras as ordered. It would later return with the foie gras toasted and simply added on top. Having seen David’s original photo of the dish and hearing how he had it prepared in large portions, and at a more reasonable price, this was disappointing. Especially when it came to the tiny oyster at the bottom right corner. This baby bite cost the same as the 5 others that we paid $22/half dozen for, and added on another $12 for the equally small portions of foie gras. That’s $5.67 for a single oyster with foie gras and it didn’t feel like the price married up with what we had in appearance or taste.
Maybe if we got the dish sooner and before the other appetizers, we could have dedicated our time to enjoying it while the foie gras was warm, to better highlight the contrast of warm duck liver to the chilled oyster. To enjoy the creaminess of the liver compared to the gelatinous oyster. Nonetheless, I am glad I tried it, but definitely did not see what David did in this.
As I mentioned earlier, by the time we got to our dine out appetizers, it too was cold. There was no real issue with the tartare, but the cauliflower beignet lost all appeal. Cauliflower Beignet served with house pickles and saffron rouille. It was so greasy that I couldn’t stomach any more after the first bite, especially following the richness of all the foie gras before. And sadly even the sauce did little to help cut into it. As per David, this was the result of us waiting to long to dig in.
In hindsight we should have ordered the Frisee Lardon with tomato, bacon, confit garlic, shallots, and egg; which would have been a cold appetizer.
The Signature Beef Tartare did not disappoint. If it is ordered regularly, a la carte on the menu, it is prepared table side at a larger portion. For those unfamiliar: this is raw ground beef mixed with cornichon, shallots, chives, dijonaise, egg, and pecorino. Eaten as a spread over bread. This was as expected, for those who order it, knowing what they want. We just wished that the bread came to the table warm (or maybe it cooled like everything else did, as we tended to the oysters), so that it offered a better contrast to chilled raw meat.
For Entrees we passed on the 6oz Signature Bistro Filet with garlic, shallots, red wine, and peppercorn sauce. Figuring we will opt for something more French inspired, given the locale. The vegetarian option is a Squash Galette with mushrooms, pacific rock cheese, and pumpkin seeds; which we by passed as well.
The Lois Lake steelhead was an amazing option served over a saffron fennel broth with clams, Brussels sprouts, beets, and braising greens. We would slurp up all the salty warm broth, as at this point we were aching for warm food. I tasted hints of lobster that paralleled with the saltiness of the seaweed. It offered the perfect highlight to the tender fish fillet prepared with extra crispy skin. For the skin alone, this is the one I would recommend.
The Duck l’Orange is also an excellent choice, two large pieces of perfectly prepared, medium rare duck; served with a picturesque assembly of carrots, onions, piperade, kumquat, orange, and duck jus. As the dish calls for, it was slightly sweet with a touch of citrus for freshness. The crisp vegetable offered a nice contrast in texture to the slight fatty duck meat. This was another great option to choose if you don’t like fish.
For dessert you only have one option, their Chocolate Mousse Cake. Crème anglaise, banana, and chantilly. It was great for chocolate lovers, but it would have been nice to have a lighter option to help cleanse your palate with as well. The mousse doesn’t usually come with the scoop of tart lime sorbet on the side, but we were gifted it as a little extra. It was the mouth washing end I was looking for, but it certainly did not compliment the deep chocolate notes, buttery cakey bits and the sweetness of the banana Nutella burlee.
We were further indulged with a complimentary plate of small sweet bites. Raspberry macaron, Madeleines, coconut Macaroon, a Chocolate truffle, and a Chocolate coated crispy rice bite.
In short the places offers diners a nice setting to accompany their affordable French fare. And if you have yet to try this newer restaurant, Dine Out Vancouver is the perfect time to.
567 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2E8