Canada’s second national language is French, and even if it isn’t frequently spoken in Vancouver, I have had a couple of French cuisine here. The most memorable one I have been to was at Mission Hills Terrace Restaurant in Kelowna, in the winery of the same name. Last weekend I had the opportunity to head down to one of Vancouver’s most popular French bistro. It was the second visit twice in a week as the restaurant was fully booked even with the bar set for walk-in customers. Thus reservations are highly recommended here. The location of the bistro at Kingsway around 16th Avenue is quiet and there are some free street-side parking available.
The decor of the bistro is rustic-chic and while it was not yet sundown when I arrived, the place was a bit dark. Do note that the ambience can get noisy in a full house situation. Once seated, we were presented with the menus and the daily specials were explained in detail. Though for those seated facing into the restaurant, there is a chalkboard on the left which notes down the daily specials.
However I chose to order from their main menu which is also available in their website. They have a decent selection to cater to different tastes with a mixture of French fare and even 2 types of steaks. Prices for the main course was also on the low side for the great quality of food. Few of their main courses exceeded $20. The dessert selection was pretty restrictive though with only 4 selections.
I ordered the escargot and onion soup that I will share with my sister. For the main course, I opted for duck confit and my sister took the scallops. We skipped on the wine, and shortly after bread and butter was served on the table. The bread was nothing to write about. Though when the appetizers came, they do look good. The escargots are served on a plate with toasted brioche (I will refer to it as the toast) which was crispy and the gravy was rich with garlic and oil, which was how this dish was to be like. The gravy was good as a dip for the leftover toast but the serving of the escargot was generous enough such that I ate the bread with the gravy that was in the plate.
For the onion soup, it was classic French style, and rich with cheese at the top, while the caramelized onions gave it a very sweet taste. It was all very tasty in that the flavours blend very well with not one of the ingredients overpowering the others. This resulted in a very balanced onion soup. Again another good appetizer, though the soup can be a bit small so it is most probably a serving for one.
Both main courses that my dining companion and me ordered was the star of the meal. My companion ordered the scallops, and the scallops was seared to perfection. The choice of vegetables used gave it a very sweet flavour and negated the usual seafood taste associated with shellfish. Though the presentation of the scallops could have been improved, but as far as scallops go, this dish was one of the best seared scallops I have ever had.
My main course was the canard confit. Initially I was hesitant about ordering this since it came with goat cheese over the salad. However after tasting the taste of the salad first, I did enjoy the salad, though for those who do not eat much cheese, I suggest asking the server to skip on the goat cheese or reduce the amount of cheese used. I thought the goat cheese on the salad had a very good mix of flavour and it enhanced the flavours of the duck. The duck leg itself was roasted to perfection with a crispy layer of skin. The meat came off in strips easily with a dip of the knife, and I did enjoy this dish. My guess is that the salad is there to whet the appetite halfway as the duck used has quite a lot of fats.
To end the meal, we shared a creme brulee since there was not much in dessert selection. It was classic creme brulee with a tasty pudding and a crispy caramel layer on the top. Though there was nothing to differentiate this dessert so maybe I will try something else for dessert the next time I head there, and this is one place I definitely will be back!