Restaurant: Salade de Fruits Cafe
Last visited: July 13, 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC (Fairview)
Address: 1551 W 7th Ave
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Authentic French
- Casual French dining
- French cafe/bistro
- Very popular to locals, definitely local favourite
- Playful staff all w/cute French accents
- Menu in French only
- Seasonal specials
- Homemade desserts
- Wine list
- Patio seating available
- Reservations highly recommended
- CASH ONLY
- Tues-Sat. Lunch 11:30am-2:15pm, dinner from 5pm
- Saturday brunch 10am-2:15pm, dinner from 5pm
- Closed daily 2:15pm-5pm
- Closed Sunday and Monday
**Recommendations: Escargot à l’aïl (Escargot), Moules et Frites (Mussels and Fries), Canard confit (Duck Confit)… I recommend these items, but I also have tried anything else yet.
Geez, looking at their operating hours, these guys really know how to live life and enjoy it. Total French culture. To be honest, they have such a loyal clientele and have become such a local favourite. They’re always busy during operating hours so they could probably even put up a sign that says “open and closes as we please” and people would still come. From the outside, you wouldn’t even be able to tell it was a restaurant if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s busy and they have an outdoor patio for diners. There’s no signage and it’s a total local gem, except that it’s not really a “gem”. It’s casual French cafe dining at best in Vancouver, BC.
The main eating area reminds me of a fish and chips restaurant and it’s all a bit gimmicky, but it totally works in their favour. The French atmosphere is very played up with a few touristy French memorabilia’s like a “no ketchup, no cell phone” sign, newspaper clippings, chalkboards, and photos.
Owners Antoine Bonard and Balendran Rameshan run the front end of Cafe Salade de Fruits. I love that because they interact with their customers and are both playful characters with a good sense of humour. Bonard is culinary trained in France and Quebec and Rameshan came to Vancouver from somewhere unstated… anyways they both have really cute French accents, however I can’t help but to think Rameshan’s accent is like Madonna’s “British” accent. It kind of falls in and out of French/American accent so I was really caught off guard. Regardless, the service is played up and it adds to the whole French atmosphere.
It’s located in the French Cultural Centre and you would expect it to serve coffee and baked goods, but there’s a full on menu and full kitchen with a gourmet menu of steak, duck, rabbit, and seafood. It’s very unexpected for the location and the seating goes into the hallway. It was almost like being at a high school auditorium (French Cultural Centre) with a gourmet concession (Cafe Salade de Fruits)… and instead of intermission, it was dinner.
Although the value is there, it’s actually not as affordable as one may think, and for a fancier atmosphere and maybe $1-2 more you could go to Bistrot Bistro. At the same price and even more gourmet French food I would actually still prefer Les Faux Bourgeois or Café Régalade overall. I appreciate that the entree portions at Cafe Salade de Fruits is larger for the style and level of dining though. I’m not as crazy in love with the food as I find most people are, but I would go back and I did really enjoy the experience and food.
On the table:
- It’s not made in house, and yes, that actually bothers me. They do warm it up, but serve it room temperature (sometimes warm if they’re really busy). It’s the traditional French way to serve it ‘cold’ though.
- It’s still good bread, but it’s from Swiss Bakery on Main Street. Even if they source out their baguette, I wish they would order from a French bakery like Boulangerie Cho Pain.
- This baguette was really soft on the inside, almost like a sourdough, however it tasted like a baguette. The outside wasn’t crusty enough either. My favourite French baguette is from Bistrot Bistro thus far.
- Don’t be thrown off by the packaged butter, cafes in France do this as well… it’s not that taboo.
- Snails in garlic and butter $6.99
- Perhaps the most traditional French appetizer on the menu. This is seriously so simple and SO delicious! A reliable French classic, on which I followed with a happy dance after having my 1st bite.
- It was 6 tender snails swimming in a super rich, buttery and greasy garlic butter sauce with a shellfish flavour. It’s just such an indulgent treat that fills your mouth with savoury flavour. It was the perfect dip to soak my baguette in and none of it went to waste.
- If you’ve never tried escargot, you’re missing out. It tastes almost like a clam.
- Compared to the 10 escargot from Bistrot Bistro, it’s actually quite expensive for $7, but it was tres excellent! The escargot here was much better too and the recipe was very basic compared to Bistrot Bistro. Sometimes simplicity does the trick perfectly.
- Mussels and fries $16.99
- This is the most popular item at Salade de Fruits. It’s everyone’s favourite.
- I recommend sharing them as an appetizer with 4 people. Even for 2, it was a bit much. I think it came with about 30 mussels (no empty shells). It’s worth it for the enormous portion. For me I think I like the Moules Marinière at Les Faux Bourgeois even better.
- The mussels themselves were small due to the season. They were delicious and cooked perfectly though. Not chewy at all and not pasty or gutsy in flavour.
- It’s served in a white wine cream broth and it gets gradually richer as you drink it with your empty mussel shells. (I always do that with good broth).
- The broth had a lovely salty flavour and it’s because they use fleur de sel, which makes it taste like it’s fresh from the ocean. It’s makes it taste fresh, but the broth has no seafood flavour, which I actually kind of missed. For me, fleur de sel has a very distinct flavour and it’s not as sharp as regular salt.
- The white wine was cooked out and there were also garlic, green onions and perhaps some shallots in the broth.
- These are the frites that accompanied my mussels. They were skinny fries that were nicely salted. However some were soggy and some were really crispy – so just a bit inconsistent.
- Upon ordering, our server emphasizes “Our frites are only served with mayo. No ketchup”… some playful French attitude to serve along side… I have no point here (just saying).
- Anyways the best part was actually the homemade aioli they served the fried with. It was one of the thickest and richest aioli’s I’ve had. It was very well made and ultra creamy with lots of good olive oil and nice colour. (Really don’t think about fat/calories here, I don’t want to know… but the more it has the more authentic French it is!)
- Duck confit Regular $14.99 Large $17.99 (Just go for the large, it comes with 2 legs and is worth it)
- They have really generous portions here.
- It was served with seasonal vegetables, mashed potatoes and a red beet glaze or sauce.
- The duck confit is an authentic French dish and it’s also a popular item here. I did find it really good, but it really is so much better at Tapastree… and it’s even better in Montreal of course.
- Duck confit is when the duck is cooked in it’s own fat and then is cured with salt, garlic and maybe some herbs and spices. It’s canned and preserved until ready to eat. It’s supposed to have a very rich flavour and super crispy skin.
- The one here didn’t have as crispy of a skin, and I’m not really flexible on that because that’s almost the key characteristic to this French classic. The meat was very tender, lean, shredded easily and was perfectly salty (no distinct herb/spice flavour), but it also needed more of the red beet glaze. They didn’t give enough especially for 2 duck legs.
- The red beet glaze added a sweetness and was a great accompaniment. It’s almost like turkey and cranberry sauce. A red beet compote would have even been better.
- The butternut squash wasn’t tender and still a bit hard, but the beets, broccoli, ad snap peas were cooked perfectly.
- The mashed potatoes were great. It was heavy on the butter and very creamy. I wanted more red beet glaze to eat with them as well.
- This was one of their specials of the day. They had apple, lemon or pear tart.
- I actually thought this was kind of pricey because it’s a pretty small slice.
- I was expecting a custard like pear tart, but this was actually a tart tatin.
- Tart tartin is basically an upside down tart is it’s in between a tart and a cake.
- The cake/tart was made of ground almonds, and it was very moist, soft and fluffy almost like a pound cake.
- It was very light and not that sweet at all and it had a wonderfully nutty quality, but it could have used some almond extract to heighten the flavour because it wasn’t that nutty in flavour.
- I could taste the texture of the pear, but not the flavour of it. It almost seemed like a canned pear, but I doubt it was.
- The crust was nice and crunchy and I think made of ground almonds as well.
- It was served with a fresh and tart berry sauce, fresh berries and whipped cream.