217 Carrall Street
T: 604 568 1701
Brief Description: A chic, unpretentious Gastown restaurant that dishes up French-meets-West Coast cuisine.
Every now and again I discover a new restaurant (to me) that excites me so much that I just want to shout its praises to anyone who will listen. L’Abattoir is one of those places. Now when people ask me for restaurant recommendations, I have no hesitation in pointing them in the direction of this Gastown establishment.
Located in what is arguably the most happening food and drink intersection in Gastown, L’Abattoir distinguishes itself from the crowd with a beautiful space, innovative drinks, and good quality food. The food is self-described as French-influenced West Coast cuisine which I take to mean that traditional methods of French cooking, such as rich, creamy sauces, are paired with well-known West Coast produce. Dishes arrive at the table looking well-executed and, quite simply, beautiful. In typical French style the food is quite heavily focused around proteins and can be quite heavy. Vegetarians, if the name didn’t make it obvious enough, there isn’t much for you here.
So, why am I only just now talking about L’Abattoir? That’s a good question considering that it has been a Vancouver fixture for about a year now. Well, truthfully, to go back a few times in order to really get a feel for the place hasn’t been cheap. You should know this going in so that you can set your expectations. The mains are around the $26-$27 mark and you are also recommended to order an appetizer first as the portion sizes aren’t overly big.
Let’s talk décor. With some elbow grease, a wad of cash, and some obvious design direction, L’Abattoir looks and feels completely different to the old Irish Heather (the bar that was in the space for many years prior to L’Abattoir’s arrival). With a lot of natural light, rustic brick walls, interesting light fixtures, and a romantic atrium, L’Abattoir feels rustic, yet chic. Upmarket, yet informal.
The bar is a sexy go-to place for some classic or original cocktails but be warned: the bar-staff may look like laid-back hipsters but these guys take their drinks seriously. This is not the place to come with your buddies for a few brewskies. Overall, service is professional but it feels quite relaxed. It’s almost as though the staff are constantly watching but they aren’t in your face about it.
Recommendations? That’s a tough one as the menu does change quite frequently. A personal favourite that has been on the menu for a while is the cannelloni with a mushroom and bacon blanquette.
In summer it was filled with rabbit, but now it is done with chicken. I prefer the chicken. I really enjoyed the poached egg with Burgundy truffle, potato gnocchi, leeks and pecorino – absolutely delicious and decadent.
With its different textures and flavours the boneless quail and crispy chicken sausage roll dish was incredibly interesting.
Whilst not on the current menu, two dishes that I thoroughly enjoyed in the summer were the chicken escargots, with fregola and green garlic butter (holy…!) and a house-made organic strawberry ice-cream.
Phenomenal dishes! Here are some of the other dishes available:
Final Thoughts: L’Abattoir has quite quickly nestled itself amongst my favourite local restaurants. The food is elegant and almost makes the transition into fine dining but the atmosphere is more relaxed and less pretentious than some of the more formal Vancouver establishments. Highly recommended but take the credit card – you’ll need it to truly experience L’Abattoir.