1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Award winning
- Authentic French
- World Champion Chef Bruno G. Marti
- Executive Chef Tobias MacDonald
- Fine dining
- Hidden gem
- 4 star restaurant
- Top Rated Zagat Restaurant
- Cooking classes
- Tues-Sat from 6 pm
**Recommendations: Global Chef’s Menu, Seared Foie Gras with Apple Tart Tatin, Do It Yourself Spring Roll, Wenzel Farms Roasted Duck Breast & Panko Crusted Duck Confit, Slow Cooked Lamb Sirloin marinated with Dijon, Kalamansi Explosion
This is probably one of the biggest kept secrets and oldest hidden gems in Metro Vancouver that most locals probably don’t even know about. And that’s referring to the restaurant, not Ladner! Yeah I don’t even remember the last time I came to Ladner to eat, let alone set foot in Ladner in general. However tucked away in a rather small residential area is the ever so quaint and charming La Belle Auberge.
La Belle Auberge has a reputation that is even greater on a global scale since it has won multiple awards on an international level. Known to all, or maybe just to the prestigious culinary scene, it’s actually the top rated Zagat Restaurant in Metro Vancouver, one of four Mobil Exxon 4-stars in Vancouver, and led by culinary world masters chef and owner Bruno Marti and Executive Chef Tobias MacDonald. It almost makes it even more of a shame that not many people know about it in Metro Vancouver, BC.
It’s located in a 100 year old Victorian style heritage home. Pulling up to the driveway and stepping into the homey atmosphere reminded me of restaurants like Le Gavroche, Lupo Restaurant + Vinoteca, Old Surrey Restaurant, The Hart House Restaurant and Mis Trucos, where it feels like you’re going to a formal private dinner party at a friend’s house. It’s very intimate and cozy with an Old English feel and it serves classic French cuisine made with traditional French techniques. There’s also a few courses with West Coast and Pacific Northwest influences, but it is generally French throughout.
I admit that I didn’t know much about La Belle Auberge until it was brought to my attention just last year. It’s been on my itinerary since then, but I haven’t made my way there yet. I also had the honour of being in Chef Bruno Marti’s presence at the 2011 Bocuse d’Or Chef’s Culinary Challenge & Tasting Event, where he was supporting Chef Ryan Stone as the Canadian representative for the competition. Chef Marti is a world renowned and well respected icon in the culinary industry who has also trained countless fine Canadian chefs.
On this occasion the circumstances aren’t representable of a regular night because Sherman and I actually came to sample some courses for Vancouver’s 1st Foodie Feast, an event we’re helping organize for The Vancouver Food Bank. La Belle Auberge is one of our hand selected participating restaurants that we’re honoured to have on board. Being that I hadn’t tried the restaurant yet, it was actually a selection based on Sherman’s trusted recommendation. The photos you see are compliments of him as well.
On the table:
- Pea shoot salad
- This was a very light and simple appetizer made with compressed prawns, perhaps marinated with some lemon, and composed into a terrine.
- It almost had the texture of lobster and it was incredibly juicy, naturally sweet and crunchy with snappy green beans in the centre.
- The ponzu mayo added a bright citrus tang and creaminess to balance out the acidity.
- It was served with a pea shoot salad that also had a slice of Gemini tomato, which was amazing. The Gemini tomato almost tasted like a tangy sweet and crunchy watermelon and it was noticeably different from any tomato I’ve ever tasted before.
- The salad was well salted which brought out the sweetness in the tomato and almost made it taste more like watermelon.
- With apples and yam puree
- This was another very simple and fresh dish with classic pairings like apple and yams and apples and pheasant ( although pork and apples would be a more common example).
- The pheasant seemed like a sous vide terrine and there was some parley compressed between the layers of meat to give it added flavour and brightness.
- The meat was so well executed, tender and soft, with no heavy seasonings, and the sweet yam puree just added to the overall smoothness of the dish.
- The tangy crunch of apples and snappy sweet green beans added for nice texture while the yam puree topped with demi glace added a savoury sweet tang.
- The potent sauce and creamy sweet yams were a nice binder for all the fresh ingredients to be enjoyed at once.
- With peas and compressed eggplant
- I actually enjoyed the peas and compressed eggplant with Gemini tomatoes more so than I did the bacon wrapped lamb.
- The lamb was tender, and I almost thought it was sous vide again. It’s not very gamey and it had a thin strip of bacon wrapped around it but it wasn’t very smoky in flavour. It was a bit overcooked for me, although still tender and juicy.
- The brightness and sweetness of the freshly shucked peas and crisp Gemini tomatoes really did it for this dish because it cut through the heavier flavours of the lamb as well as what I think was a Burgundy jus.
- I thought the compressed eggplant was actually compressed caramelized onions and turnips because it had the same sweetness, but it was much denser, yet slipeery in texture. It was almost like a sweet tangy jelly and it absorbed the well reduced jus surrounding it.
- With Parmesan Crisp and herb oil
- This was my favourite course. I also really love duck confit though and it’s pretty much always on my table if it’s on the menu.
- The duck was a bit overcooked for me again, but it was still tender, but could have been juicier. It was hanging on to a very small strip of duck fat which was roasted so it was almost like porchetta crackling. I think the rest of it may have been used in the croquette it was served with.
- The panko crusted duck confit croquette hidden in the back was my definite highlight of the dish. I actually wonder how it would have tasted if they used the duck skin in the panko breading… ?
- It was perfectly golden brown and crispy with moist and juicy shredded duck confit meat inside and pretty much no additional fillers. It was savoury and tangy and the Parmesan crisp added a salty bite and nutty crunch to the already crispy croquette.
- It was incredibly juicy, sweet and tangy and didn’t even require any sauce because it was so well flavoured and seasoned.
- Okay, never mind, I forgot about this course! This course was my favourite course!
- It’s Asian inspired and not really French at all, but it was my favourite. It was so enjoyable and one of the best if not the best spring roll I’ve ever had.
- It was so unique and I’ve never seen anything like it before. The presentation, colours and concept were perfect. It was such a beautiful dish it makes me want to cry and the flavour was nothing short of the presentation.
- It was a contemporary style fresh Vietnamese spring roll that was Asian fusion inspired with the ingredients and flavours.
- In between the sheets of rice flour wrappers were shaved Shiitake mushrooms, cabbage and herbs.
- The row of condiments (left to right) were fresh lime segments, scallions, roasted peanuts, fried garlic chips and coarse sea salt.
- It was served with a bowl of curry chicken and mushroom filling which tasted like a Thai red curry sauce. I could taste the ginger, lemon grass and savouriness of fish sauce and for a moment I forgot what restaurant I was in.
- Everything went into the roll and it was delicious!
- It was savoury, sweet, tangy, aromatic and there were no overpowering flavours.
- It was saucy and moist with crunchy peanuts, crispy garlic chips, juicy sweet mushrooms, aromatic lemongrass with a mild heat of ginger and juicy plump bursts of citrus lime segments that just made all the flavours pop and come alive.
- It was such an amazing dish with classic flavours that were introduced and matched in a very new way.
- It played with textures and bold ingredients used in a delicate way and it was definitely something I didn’t want to put down, let alone ever want to share.
- A little molecular gastronomy! These were white chocolate balls filled with Kalamansi juice!
- These were amazing! It was like a new aged Lindt ball and they were served chilled. You pop them in your mouth whole.
- It’s a thin white chocolate shell and then when you bite into the hard exterior you’re hit with an explosion of liquid and a burst of tangy sweet Kalamansi juice.
- Kalamansi is a Filipino orange that tastes like a lime. It was the perfect balance of sweet and tangy and the liquid inside was a fantastic awakening call.
- The Kalamansi explosion was so unexpected and it definitely carried “wow” factor. It’s certainly a memorable way to end a meal and leave a lasting impression too.