We came out of an authentic Italian themed seminar that teased us with a side salad featuring authentic Italian Parmesan and prosciutto. This left us hungry for more Italian cuisine and something a lot more heartier to wrap our teeth around: specifically, pasta. We were downtown, by Gastown, and my guest knew of a quick and easy Italian cafe that we could visit to satiate our craving.
Brioche’s original location was also in Gastown, but they have since moved to the heart of the neighbourhood, with a much larger footprint. Now a two-story cafe turned bistro, with more fulsome plates; on top of their ready-made sandwiches, pastries, and dessert available for grab and go out of their glass counter.
Dine-in customers are invited to take a seat and wait for a server, although given the amount of moving traffic, you may need to approach said counter for attention or to place your order, like we did. The menu isn’t too lengthy, but all the options sound delicious, so deciding can be difficult. And my guest confirmed that many of the items were great, except the price has gone up since their move.
We did enjoy all that we had, except the sangria. We both agreed it was lack luster. Listed on the menu simply as “sangria”, we expected red or white wine with the typical orchard fruits accompanied. However, instead this was orange juice with a fruit cup assortment of grapes, hard melon chunks by the rind, and stingy orange segments at the bottom of the pitcher. You didn’t taste any white and definitely no juices from the fruit. When we inquired with our server she called it “summer sangria” made with rose and left it at that.
Everything else to come certainly redeemed our beverage choice. I especially liked the whimsical presentation of our mains, each topped with two sticks of uncooked spaghettini torched at the ends. They stood up like antenna on the plate and got our attention o approach.
We went with one of the restaurant’s best sellers: the Eggplant parmigiana with our choice of pasta. I selected the rigatoni because I like the starchy chew of a larger noodle. It came with a moat of oil pooled at the bottom of the dish. That aside, the dish was delicious, certainly worth reordering and its title of being most popular. Fragrant with herbs and tangy tomato, saucy bites with crispy salty edges. You just have to go out of your way to avoid getting a ring of grease around your lips.
The Calamari and chorizo confit was an interesting pairing. Calamari and chorizo sautéed in marinara sauce with capers. It was an intense mix with bold flavours. The sauce was peppery and zesty; the capers a standout, as per their natural tendency. All a little overwhelming if not taken with the crusty bread provided on the side, as this was a nice vehicle to have with the sauce. It was just a shame that the calamari was a little hard and chewy.
And we couldn’t walk away without trying one of their stunning looking cakes. The majority of which were already sliced, plated and ready for serving. Their specialty seemed to be chocolate cakes with a sheet of chocolate topping it. As I am not a fan of chocolate, we went for a more lighter option in the pistachio. It was as mild in sweetness as I had hoped, even despite the sheet of white chocolate crowning it. Light and fluffy, would go great with an after lunch coffee or tea.
In conclusion, a great spot for a quick bite, in a lovely neighbourhood.
Brioche Ristorante & Catering
117 Water St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1A7