It’s Dineout, and I just couldn’t let it end until I’ve been to at least one French restaurant. After all, it was arguably the French cuisine that started fine dining. Le Gavroche had always been on my to-do list, as I had always wanted to try some of their classic French dishes on the menu. Now that it made it to the Vancouver Dineout list, I booted up OpenTable, called in a friend, cued the music, and got to work. How as the food though? Was the food a Bon, or Non?
Bad pics alert. Namely the newbie yellowish tint. I used my alt camera, and I got the settings all wrong. It was also a dark restaurant, and I don’t want to use flash to disturb other patrons. Unfortunate, but that’s all we have.
Le Gavroche is a long standing French restaurant located in a quiet area of downtown, just on the outskirts of the downtown core on Alberni. It’s been in Vancouver for well over thirty years – and it showed. The restaurant is actually a Victorian style house converted to a restaurant. One could’ve easily missed the dated sign and mistook it for a residential house (or one of those shady looking gift shops). Once inside, the space was tight, and the interior was divided into different dining space. It had a classical, rustic feel, and not a clean, modern looking restaurant like what you may be use to.
Once my friend and I got settled, I requested a regular menu because I do want to try some of their regular starters, or hors d’oeuvres. In addition to the Dineout menu, we ordered the Phyllo Wrapped Escargots and Range Fed Beef Tartar, prepared table side, two very classic French dishes.
The Escargots came first. To be honest, it’s not what I was expecting. It was in a pastry form with the escargots inside, resting on top of a small pool of cream. The pastry was flaky, which caused some disfiguration to the dish when I tried to cut it. The texture was not unlike mussels, and together with the cream sauce, the taste and the texture blended well into a mesh of creamy goodness. It was good, and I didn’t mind having more of it.
The other starter was the one I looked forward toward the most for the night, the range fed beef tartar. It got a little mention on the 101 Best Things to Eat and Drink in Vancouver on Vancouver Magazine, so that’s another reason for the hype. It was also classically prepared table side, so we got a little show before we got to taste it. It was quite awkward because it was Dineout night and the space was too tight, so I can see that the server tried to hurry the preparation. The server quickly mixed the ingredients together, and the raw meat mixture was served. I thought the spice (from the Tabasco sauce) was a bit overwhelming, so I couldn’t really taste the beef. My friend, nonetheless, loved it. It also came with pomme frites, which we also loved, because it was cooked well and we could really taste the potatoes.
Our starter for the original Dineout menu arrived. We both got the Scallop, Prawn Terrine. I don’t know how to describe this, but it tasted like those seafood fish balls you could get from a Chinese hot pot place. It was salty and I could not taste either the scallop or the prawns, and I didn’t think it was prepared fresh. I thought the previous two starters set the standard for the food for this restaurant, but the terrine sure was a setback.
By this time, we were already full with the starters. Next up was our entree, the Orange and Cinnamon Braised Short Ribs, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Haricot verts, Espresso Demi Sauce. It was good, but it didn’t blow me away. The meat was well seasoned, but could’ve been more tender, especially if it had been braised.
For desserts, I had the Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee, another French classic and also my favorite.
My friend had the other dessert available, which was Lemon Tiramisu. I didn’t get the taste it though.
I really wanted to like this restaurant, because while the other more popular restaurants in Vancouver tried to push the boundaries on putting a new, modern twist on their dishes, Le Gavroche seemed to be stuck in a time wrap and serves up some very classic French dishes – that deserved some respect. Their Dineout menu didn’t blow me away at all, which was a shame. However, I do like their two starters that I ordered off the regular menu, and those two dishes showed potential. Would I come back, on a non-Dineout, less busy day to try out their entrees? Probably.