Tag Archives: Vancouver restaurant reviews

Les Faux Bourgeois

9 Nov

663 E. 15th Avenue
Vancouver BC
V5T 2R6

T: 604 873 9733
www.lesfauxbourgeois.com

Brief Description: A charming bistro that dishes up classic French dishes at affordable prices. A great place for a romantic evening or a first date.

Often there are times when I will fall in love with an eating establishment, not necessarily for the food or for the service, but sometimes I’ll fall in love with a place because of how I feel when I am there. That was exactly what happened with Les Faux Bourgeois. From the moment I walked into the quaint restaurant, I was in the midst of a dreamy French love affair. With dim lighting, soothing French music, and the aroma of warm, comfort food in the air, the restaurant felt welcoming and intimate. Whoa-oh. Immediately I fell under its spell and suddenly I felt that I had been whipped out of Vancouver and set down in a romantic bistro in Paris. Ooh la la!

Les Faux Bourgeois is located in an area of Vancouver that isn’t traditionally known for having restaurants, let alone renowned restaurants. In fact, East 15th Avenue at Fraser Street seems like an insane place to open a French restaurant but it would appear that nothing could be further from the truth. They are constantly booked so make sure you plan ahead and make a reservation or you will be sadly disappointed. The price-point is very reasonable for the standard of food and that must be part of the appeal – good quality food at a good price. Service was good – nothing to rave or complain about, although the cute French accents are certainly memorable.

The appetizer menu screams of classic French dishes; escargots de Bourgogne (snails in parsley and garlic butter), pate de champagne (country style pork pate), les tartes flambés (two types of puff pastry tarts), and fromage plates (cheese plates). The soup a l’oignon gratinée (caramelized onion soup, smoked bacon, Gruyére and mozzarella) is much revered on the foodie scene and so I started my meal with a bowl of it.

Before I could begin, I had to break through a glorious layer of baked cheese to get to the slightly sweet soup below which was full of onions and chunky cubes of salty bacon. So cheesy was it that I had to use my teeth to scrap the cheese off the spoon! A nicely rounded introduction to the meal but when I return I will likely order the snails in parsley and garlic butter instead. The blend of garlic with butter can turn any ingredient into a gastronomical superstar, even slimy little snails. The dish was heavy on the garlic – just perfect!

There are at least three salads on the current menu, however, I’m not inclined to use valuable calories that I’ve allocated for a restaurant meal on salad so I gave them a quick glimpse and moved on. If salads do tickle your fancy you will find fausse nicoise, and salade de chevre chaud (roasted goat cheese crostini, walnuts, seasonal greens, beets, raspberry vinaigrette) amongst those available.

Traditional entrées such as cassoulet (white bean stew with pork, duck and Toulouse sausage) and canard confit (duck confit) sit alongside saumon poelé (pan roasted salmon) and filet de boeuf grillé (beef tenderloin with a choice of toppings). Le steak frites (hanger steak with fries) seems to be extremely popular but I chose the only vegetarian dish on the menu; the Portobello parmentier – garlic roasted Portobello mushroom and seasonal mushroom sauté, with a parmesan and Gruyére gratinee potato purée, finished with seasonal greens.

I found this to be extremely substantial for a vegetarian meal and it was a pleasing alternative to the usual vegetarian pasta/burger option found in most establishments. I would definitely order this again. B ordered and enjoyed the delicate pan roasted lamb sirloin, which was served with vegetable ratatouille and horseradish cream.

The dessert menu is simple and classically French; crème brûlee, milk chocolate mousse, lemon cream tart, and a nut-crusted chocolate silk cake, all of which are around the $6 to $7 range.

Truthfully, dessert was a little under-whelming. I went with my one of my all-time favourites, chocolate mousse, but I was left desperately searching for something in this dessert to make it stand-out. Unfortunately, it was quite unremarkable.

Final Thoughts: Just like any great love affair, the haze has since worn off and I can now see Les Faux Bourgeois for what it is – another good addition to the already-great French restaurant line-up in Vancouver. Overall, my experience was a good one. The food was delicious, but worth the constant praise? Hmmm, not so for me but it was an enjoyable evening and I liked feeling as though I had spent the evening at a small bistro somewhere in France. Even if it was only for a few hours.

Les Faux Bourgeois on Urbanspoon

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Trattoria

21 Oct

1850 West 4th Ave
Vancouver, BC
V6J 1M3

T: 604 732 1441
www.trattoriakitchen.ca

Brief Description: Another feather in the cap of the Glowbal Group Chain, Trattoria is a Kitsilano-based restaurant that dishes up affordable, Italian classics in stylish surroundings.

Trattoria on West 4th

At first glance you could be mistaken into walking straight past Trattoria, thinking that it must be too expensive. On closer inspection you will find that even with its chic decor and well-dressed waiters, Trattoria is surprisingly inexpensive. Located on a busy stretch of West 4th Avenue, between Burrard Street and Cypress Street, the restaurant fits the Glowbal mould perfectly: reasonable prices, aesthetically pleasing surroundings and well-executed, albeit not innovative, food. If you ever been to any of the other Glowbal restaurants, you will know what to expect.

Even with the glitz, Trattoria doesn’t feel unapproachable. B and I have often turned up on weekends, casually dressed, and still have been made to feel welcome. For dinner, I would suggest putting in a bit of effort but for lunches and brunches casual seems fine. In my experience, service has always been smooth and effortless. The servers provide enough attention to ensure that you don’t feel neglected but also not over-attended.

The food on offer is typical of that of an Italian restaurant and, by that I mean that pasta, pizza and meat are all readily available. The execution, however, seems somehow more modern and fresh. Sharing is encouraged and this is evident by how many sharing plates contribute to the menu. The two antipasto sharing plates are intended for a minimum of two people and are filled with the all the luscious ingredients that antipasto is renowned for; various meats, including prosciutto and salami, olives and calamari. You can also share the bruschetta sampler, which is a selection of three very yummy bruschetta types. Even if you don’t want to try all of them, I suggest ordering at least one bruschetta to start off the meal. The tomato, basil and olive oil bruschetta is a traditional, simple pleasure.

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The pasta menu is extensive, providing for all different palates. The usual favourites, such as, Penne Arrabbiata, Lasagna and Spaghetti Bolognese can be found alongside some of the less standard items such as Lobster Fettuccine or Papardelle with Lamb Sausage. My personal favourite is the Linguine Carbonara, made from pancetta, scallions, free range egg and parmesan. The serving size was extremely generous but the combination of salty pancetta and robust parmesan made it impossible for me to put my fork down! If you can’t decide on which pasta you want to try then look no further than the Pasta Platter which offers 4 different types of pasta for sharing. This seems to be a very popular choice, although the time that B and I ordered it, it was very average. I would be more inclined to order an individual serving of pasta as it seemed fresher to me.

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The pizzas are very well-priced at around the $12 to $13 range and are extremely tempting. Fortunately, they haven’t fallen into the trap of “westernizing” the pizza base too much – it wasn’t stodgy or too doughy. B ordered the Lamb Sausage with Wild Mushrooms and peppered goat’s cheese and egg, and he absolutely loved it. Whilst it did look sensational, I had to pass on it because it contained goat’s cheese (my food nemesis).

Besides the typical pasta and pizza, Trattoria offers numerous meat and poultry dishes, with particular attention paid to veal (yummy!) and chicken. In addition, a small selection of seafood is also available. Keeping with their theme of sharing, you can also order their carne (meat) sharing plate or their pesce (fish) sharing plate. This is a perfect way to try a couple of different meat or fish dishes along with pasta and salad.

FYI: On weekends, a brunch menu replaces their normal lunch menu and, on a warm day, the street-front patio is ideal for people watching.

Final Thoughts: Trattoria isn’t going out on a limb to do anything particularly original with their menu but I don’t think that matters too much. The food has been satisfactory each time we’ve been there, the service is good and, as previously mentioned, the prices are reasonable – the entire menu is priced at under $20. A good little spot for a decent Italian meal without breaking the bank.

Trattoria Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Phnom Pehn

7 Sep

244 East Georgia Street
Vancouver, BC
V6A 1Z7

T: 604 682 5777
No website

Brief Description: An extremely popular, no-frills restaurant that prides itself on offering authentic Cambodian and Vietnamese food. Located in a somewhat questionable part of Chinatown (in my opinion).

This post is about chicken wings and a chicken. And that chicken would be me. Although I have wanted to visit Phnom Penh for quite some time, I have just never felt that safe venturing into Chinatown by myself, or even with my sister – just call me “chicken”! Hence why I have been dragging my feet on making the trip to Phnom Penh. But after recently reading even more rave reviews, I just had to go. So, under the watchful eye of the burly B, I made my first visit a few Saturdays ago for lunch.

If you are a foodie in Vancouver then I am sure that you are well aware of this extremely popular Cambodian/Vietnamese restaurant. If you aren’t, you should note that it is very well-known and appears to have a lot of regulars. We visited on a Saturday for lunch and the restaurant was already bursting at the seams and there was still a constant line of hungry hopefuls out the door, desperate for a table. That’s pretty impressive in a city that is generously sprinkled with good Asian restaurants.

The restaurant itself is a fairly decent size and the tables are laid out in three rows, which kind of gives it the feel of a cafeteria. The decor is simple and fairly unremarkable. Prices are quite reasonable. I had heard some complaints from other foodies that the prices were slightly higher than you’d expect to pay; however, I didn’t feel that the difference was that noticeable. Our bill was still fairly cheap considering what we ordered so I wasn’t about to complain. Service was very prompt and efficient. There was no small-talk but that didn’t really bother us too much. You could tell that the staff were extremely busy making sure that customers were seated and that the food was served quickly.

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Indisputably, the main attraction for a trip to Phnom Penh is the Deep Fried Chicken Wings. All of the reviews that I had read prior to my visit had practically glowed with admiration for these finger-licking inducing delights. Of course, I had to order them. And damn, they were really good (thanks for the tip, Vancouver foodies!). The skin was crunchy with a winning combination of saltiness and flavour and some of the bites were punctuated with small pieces of fried garlic or green onions – yum!! The wings were fresh out of the deep fryer so the flesh was still hot and the pepper/lemon sauce that accompanied the wings added even more “oomph”. The serving size was very impressive. We ordered a small, which I believe was around the $8 mark and that was more than enough. I was happily chomping my way through them for most of the meal, in-between bites of my other dishes.

The other dishes that we feasted on were Pork Salad Roll, Vietnamese Steam Roll, Phnom Penh Egg Noodle in Soup (for me) and Squid Ball Noodle Soup (for B).

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The Pork Salad Roll was ok but not rave-worthy. I probably wouldn’t order it again as it was pretty uneventful – there was no party in my mouth. Although I did like the dipping sauce that it came with.

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The Vietnamese Steam Roll was delicious. There was a lot of flavour in this seemingly simple dish.

I don’t think that either of us was blown-away by our soups but they were decent enough.

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My Phnom Penh Egg Noodle in Soup was a tad dull. There really wasn’t much flavour happening, however, I’m not that well-versed on how Cambodian soups are meant to be so perhaps this is standard.

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We finished our meal with Vietnamese coffees, which is coffee that is slow-dripped into individual cups with condensed milk at the bottom. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these!! Sweet, strong and fresh iced-coffee was a fantastic way to finish the meal.

Final Thoughts: I liked it, particularly the Deep Fried Chicken Wings, however I wasn’t overly impressed. I would go back to see what other dishes they could “Wow!” me with.

Phnom Penh on Urbanspoon

Campagnolo

14 Mar

1020 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
V6A 2W1

T: 604 484 6018
www.campagnolorestaurant.ca

Brief Description: A casual, rustic restaurant that focuses on affordable seasonal cuisine from the Piedmont and Emigila-Romagna regions of Italy.

Campagnolo - ExteriorA true diamond in the rough. Campagnolo is located in the not-so-great area of Main Street but don’t let that put you off. If you make the journey you will be rewarded as this is not your typical Italian restaurant. You will not find red and white checkered table cloths or the obligatory spaghetti bologanise and greasy pizza. Yes, there is pizza and pasta on the menu but it’s not what you think…

Campagnolo is the second “child” of the owners who run the very successful Fuel in Kitsilano. It really is the odd duck out in that part of Main Street. With a huge inviting window in the front you can’t help but be drawn to the fact that the restaurant is, well, different from it’s surroundings. Walk inside and you’ll find that the decor is minimalistic with a modern urban feel. The use of old growth fir wood as a feature works well to bring a slight softness to the space.

Elements of the decor are mirrored in the food. Comfortably understated and simple, the menu is unpretentious and trys to remain loyal to its well-researched Northern Italian roots with a strong focus on pastas, pizzas, and characuterie plates (“the ‘Cure”). You may, however, need to ask your server for an explanation of some of the dishes as the menu can be slightly difficult to understand.  The drinks list has been carefully selected to only represent Italian or BC beers and wines.

Although B frequently visits Campagnolo, I have only managed to make it there twice so far. On the day that we went for our second visit together, I managed to convince him to share the Albacore Tuna Crudo with white bean, oregano and garlic bread crumb for an appetizer. The delicate pieces of sushi grade tuna initially seemed out of place with the earthy white beans, oregano and garlic bread crumbs but the first bite proved me wrong. The flavours actually worked surprisingly well together. I’m not really sure how prominent albacore tuna is in Northern Italian cooking but it was so good that I won’t question it.

Albacore Tuna Crudo

B continues to rave about the Tagliarini pork ragú with basil and pecorino and, so far, has not ordered anything else but this dish on the many occasions that he has been there. It must be the tender shredded pieces of pork that sit proudly atop the fresh home-made ribbons of pasta that keep him coming back for more. I thoroughly enjoyed the Tagliarini the time that I ordered it and the only thing that stopped me from getting it again was because I wanted to try something new.

Tagliarini pork ragú

The Carnaroli Risotto made with anise, black olive and tarragon was a pleasant surprise and thankfully, the quality was on par with the Tagliarini. I wasn’t expecting it to be as creamy as it was but the black olives added a certain amount of punctuation to the dish, in just the right places.

Carnaroli Risotto

I have yet to try any of the actual desserts, mainly because I have no room left after eating their entrees. Although, being that we were in an Italian restaurant, I just couldn’t say no to ending our meal with a coffee and the house-made biscotti and meringues. A perfect ending to a lazy Saturday lunch.

Final Thoughts: A breath of fresh air to the Italian restaurant scene in Vancouver. The food is delightful in it’s simplicity and is thoughtfully selected and prepared.

Campagnolo on Urbanspoon

Chocoholic Buffet at Fleuri in Sutton Place Hotel

23 Feb

845 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC
V6Z 2K6

T: 604 642 2900
www.vancouver.suttonplace.com

Brief Description: Yes, you read correctly – a Chocolate Buffet! Set in the elegant Fleuri at Sutton Place, this is truly an indulgence.

For as long as I can remember, I have always had a sweet tooth. I have never been able to (or really wanted to) grow out of my constant desire for sweet things – I just love them! So, when I heard that there is an actual all-you-can-eat Chocolate Buffet and it is located mere blocks away from my apartment, it was as though all of my childhood dreams had come true! The way it works is that there are two seatings; one at 6.00pm and one at 8.30pm and it only runs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The cost is $28 per head ($14 for children) and I was determined to eat my $28 worth!

I was able to easily entice 3 other chocolate lovers (all female, of course!) to come with me and we excitedly trotted to Sutton Place, ready to indulge. We were all brimming with excitement – I’m glad that I wasn’t alone in my state of childhood exhilaration. It really is true that most women go weak in the knees for chocolate.

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As you walk into the room, your nose is met with the smell of chocolate. Your saliva glands start working over time. You crane your neck to take a glance over to the table in the middle of the room, and you gasp…“There it is!”… a chocolate smorgasbord is laid out in front of you for the taking. Of course you go through the niceties of politely taking your seat and allowing others to go first (“I’ll mind the bags”), when really; all you want to do is jump on to that table! Laid out before you is an assortment of chocolate delicacies; cakes, slices, puddings, pastries, a chocolate fondue fountain with pieces of fresh fruit (ummm, what are they doing in here!?). And to complete the experience, a chef is standing by to make you fresh crepes with a variety of different toppings, sauces and ice-creams or sorbets.

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I honestly felt like a child-hood dream had come true. Overall, I was quite impressed with the quality of the food. Most of the time, I am let down by the quality at buffets (although, strangely, I still find myself drawn back to them 🙂 ) but this was actually good.

There was a great selection of treats for all tastes; rocky road slice, chocolate croissant pudding, chocolate-stuffed profiteroles, white chocolate cake, mousse, marbled cheesecake, chocolate-coated shortbread cookies, chocolate and pecan pie…the list goes on. I did devour quite a lot of chocolate so towards the end I was a little chocolate-d out but that is when I switched my focus to the crepes. I had two of them and coated them with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Mmmmm! It gave me the savoury taste that I needed to bring me down from my chocolate high.

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Final Thoughts: This was a really fun experience. Obviously, it’s not something that you’d do all the time but I’d definitely recommend it if you can gather a bunch of girlfriends for a special occasion or maybe finish the night with a movie across the street.

Fleuri on Urbanspoon