Café Régalade

Restaurant: Café Régalade
Cuisine: French
Last visited: June 7, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Kitsilano)
Address: 2836 West 4th Avenue
Price Range: $20-30+ ($16 – 19 mains)

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 5
Service: 4
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 5
Additional comments:

  • Casual French Bistro
  • Locally owned
  • Neighbourhood gem
  • Local favourite
  • In house bakery
  • Generous portions
  • Reasonably priced
  • Daily specials
  • Young staff
  • Tuesday – Sunday
  • Breakfast 8:30am to 3:00pm
  • Dinner 5:30pm – late
  • Closed Monday

**Recommendations: Quinoa Salad with Basil & Mango, Red Beet Salad with Parmesan, Le Régalade’s Famous Beef Bourguignon, Braised Short Ribs in Pepper Sauce, Monaco Torte

What do you do when you fall off a horse? You get right back on! That’s exactly what happened with Café Régalade and they’ve managed to not only stay on, but really grab hold of the reins. They’re committed to the food and the direction they’re headed in and everything about it is honest and charming. I thoroughly enjoyed this meal from start to finish and now I’m savouring and sharing the memories.

What came before Café Régalade was Steeve Rayé’s pastry shop, which unfortunately didn’t stay very long. However with a breathe of fresh air and a new concept Rayé has reopened (March) in the same location, but with a new name. Figuratively Café Régalade is the son of La Régalade, a long standing fine dining French restaurant in West Vancouver. It’s actually literally the “son” as well though since La Régalade is owned and operated by his father Chef Alain Rayé. If the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree I can certainly see this cafe achieving the same award winning accolades, if not even greater success.It’s really about time something like this has opened in the Kitsilano neighbourhood. It’s what downtown restaurants can’t or can’t afford to deliver, and there’s free parking too! It has all the makings and characteristics of a neighbourhood gem and the area is in desperate need of some classic hearty French fare – served this way too.

Let’s face it, the area may seem pretentious for those not living in it, but when it comes down to it everyone likes affordable, good portions and value. With the closure of Lumiere and Db Moderne Bistro, another pricey fine dining restaurant is not what the area needs. I’m happy to say Café Régalade takes an approachable style as it completes the check list and brings new flavours to traditional French cuisine.

The food matters here and you can tell from the moment you walk in. The kitchen is huge and it almost feels like a restaurant in a culinary institute. The staff is young and welcoming and everyone seems like they want to be there too, which makes a difference. Generally, most the things I ordered met or exceeded my expectations and I would highly recommend it for any occasion. It’s the Salade de Fruits Cafe or the Les Faux Bourgeois of Kitsilano, and I actually even liked it more than those ones, and those ones are still very good. I can’t wait to see this restaurant flourish and establish itself as a long term local favourite.

On the table:

**Salad Tasting Trio – 4/6

  • It’s your choice of 3 for $12.50.
  • I couldn’t decide so I got all four for $15.
  • I didn’t find the tomatoes confit and zucchini tartare as good as the Quinoa Salad and Red Beet Salad.
  • Almost all the salads play with sweet and savoury flavours, so you have to love that combination, and I really do!
  • This is perfect picnic food and they’re all suitable for the summer. It was like a salad bar from Whole Foods.
  • They were rather simple, but well executed and seasoned.

**Quinoa Salad with Basil & Mango 5/6

  • I really love mango and quinoa, so naturally I knew I would love this as long as the mango was fresh, ripe and plentiful, and it was!
  • It was a very nutty salad with lots of toasted sesame seeds and also some toasted pine nuts and I think a citrus sesame oil dressing.
  • There could be some sesame sauce, but it was a light dressing and lightly dressed too.
  • It seemed very Asian and Middle Eastern inspired, but the flavours were aromatic, simple and fresh especially with the hint of lime juice that gave the sweet mango a bit of acidity.
  • It was sweet, savoury, nutty and slightly tangy and I wanted to toss edamame beans in it or avocado, but that’s my own little West Coast tastes kicking in.

**Red Beet Salad with Parmesan4.5/6

  • It was a very simple beet salad although it was richer than I thought it would be.
  • I could have used more Parmesan cheese shavings, but the sauce was flavourful enough that it wasn’t really necessary.
  • The beets were sweet and tender and heavily dressed in a lemony garlic aioli.
  • It reminded me of Ukrainian beet salads, but the creamy tangy dressing didn’t taste or feel as heavy as mayonnaise.
  • Just for recommendation purposes, other delicious beet salads I would suggest are Marinated Beets with Spices Ricotta & Rosemary Honey from Juda’s Goat Taberna and the North Arms Farm Pickled Beet Salad from C Restaurant.

Tomatos Confit, Grilled Sesame Seeds4/6

  • I didn’t know what to expect and it didn’t look too interesting, but this was one of the salads that would be hard to recreate at home, so that’s why I appreciated it.
  • It was sweet and tangy juicy tomatoes sauteed in duck fat, but it’s served room temperature.
  • The texture of the tomatoes was like sun dried tomatoes, but they’re not nearly as salty or tangy. It had that wrinkly dehydrated and re-hydrated texture though.
  • It’s light and fruity, slightly tangy and just well infused with duck fat oil, but not overly greasy, oily or even noticeably rich.
  • The tomatoes had a meatiness to them, but they taste vegetarian and the nutty toasted sesame seeds was a simple and great touch.

Zucchini Tartare 3.5/6

  • I was warned that this salad carried a strong anchovy flavour. I like anchovies, so I didn’t mind, but I could see it being the least liked.
  • The zucchini was raw and fresh and simply tossed with sweet sticky chopped dates and salty bites of baby anchovies.
  • It’s a very fresh and light salad with the pungent flavour of anchovies and I think some mint would have been better than the parsley to lighten it up a bit more.
  • Again there was that sweet and salty balance and it’s a bit acquired, but I liked it.
  • If it wasn’t for the dates, it was quite a regular zucchini salad though.

Crab Meat & Green Apple Jelly4/6

  • $8.50
  • I really like sweet and savoury and I love the use of fruits with seafood.
  • If you like chicken salad with grapes, chances are you’ll like this.
  • It needed more baguette, but they gave it complimentary anyways. It was served cold and I wish it had been a bit crustier.
  • The salad was a basic salad and it tasted like a lemon olive oil dressing that was slightly bitter, but it was actually a red wine walnut dressing.

  • It was almost like a chunky crab meat and apple fruit salad with a sweet apple jelly layer to seal in all the flavours.
  • I loved the tang and sweetness the apple brought and the nice crunch it had in contrast with the juicy flaky large chunks of crab meat.
  • They didn’t skimp on the crab at all and it wasn’t overly dressed in mayo despite the way it looked. There wasn’t much mayo at all.
  • The apple jelly was just a simple apply jelly with lots of sweet apple flavour and it melted in your mouth and helped cut any richness of any mayo anyways.
  • The crab and apple mixture was marinated in a bit of lime juice so it as quite tangy, fresh and bright and perfect picnic food.
  • The apple flavour was as apparent as the crab flavour and the balance of sweet, savoury and tangy were spot on. It’s simple, yet creative and enjoyable.

Poelee of Mussels with Ginger and Lime 3/6

  • $14
  • I’m glad I ordered this as an appetizer and not a main.
  • The mussels were not good, but the redeeming factor was the amazing sauce they were served with. 1.5/6 for mussels and 4.5/6 for broth.
  • This was the only dish that really fell short, and all it needed were some fresh Salt Spring Island mussels and it would have been outstanding.
  • The mussels are pan-fried but they seemed frozen or at least overcooked because the meat had almost completely dried out.
  • The sauce on the other hand was simply divine! I could drink it.
  • It was an Euro-Asian broth and it was the perfect balance of ginger and lime.
  • It was very tangy, fresh and summery with the aroma of lemongrass, hint of ginger, some melted butter and reduced white wine.
  • The acid from the lime just cut the richness of the butter and made it so light especially with the ginger.
  • The lime zest was plentiful and just infused throughout the sauce and I definitely soaked up all the broth with extra bread.

**Le Régalade’s Famous Beef Bourguignon5/6

  • $19 (Includes a side of the day)
  • This is one of the house favourites and it was delicious! Julie Child would approve as would I!
  • It’s hearty, indulgent, warm and rich classic French comfort food at its best.
  • I would have given it a 6/6 if it wasn’t so oily and I do miss the ring of piped mashed potatoes.
  • At times the meat was a bit dry, but due to the generous amount of rich sauce, you could barely tell when it was.
  • It was a very rich beef sauce and the meat marinades overnight and together with the sauce the beef just melts in your mouth! I was just shredding away at the beef with my fork and it was falling apart tender.
  • The beef was braised so well and it had a nice crispy charred bark with creamy buttery melt in your mouth fat, but it wasn’t too much of it either.
  • The sauce was intense, quite savoury, with some tomato paste for acidity and reduced incredibly well with great red wine.
  • It was syrupy and sweet, but also a bit too oily, however I could taste the beef flavour and stock infused throughout the sauce. It was almost like a demi-glace.
  • The sauce had some chopped carrots, pearl onions and some button mushrooms (although few mushrooms), and I would have preferred them in slightly bigger chunks.
  • This would definitely be one of the richest beef bourguignon’s I’ve had, but I think I like the one from Le Gavroche a bit more or at least the same – see here.

Duck Breast L’Orange4/6

  • $19 (Includes a side of the day)
  • If you’re not a beef eater this is a good option. It was a solid duck, but I just preferred the beef dishes more.
  • This was the lightest main, and I wouldn’t even consider it light. That just tells you how rich the saucy beef dishes were.
  • It was a medium rare duck breast, but it was a bit chewy.
  • The skin was nicely charred, crispy and well seasoned with some freshly cracked black pepper.
  • The fat layer was relatively thin, but also a bit chewy and gelatinous so I couldn’t eat all of it.
  • The sauce looked really thin and watery, but it wasn’t. It was a rich, thick and syrupy orange duck au jus sauce and it was completely infused with orange flavour and perhaps some orange liqueur. It also had a punch of lemony tang and it tasted like a honey marmalade to me.
  • The sauce was sharp and purse your lips tangy, but that doesn’t bother me. It was also quite salty, but the intense flavour was good for such a sweet and heavy meat.
  • It was served with sauteed leeks, sweet onions and caramelized garlic which just added to the sweetness of the whole dish.
  • The portion was decent and it’s served with another side of the day which was scalloped potatoes. A bit of an unusual match for duck, but it was still good.

**Braised Short Ribs in Pepper Sauce6/6

  • $19 (Includes a side of the day)
  • This was my favourite. It’s hearty comfort food at its best.
  • I’d recommend sharing it with something lighter because it’s incredibly rich, heavy and indulgent.
  • If you like heavy creamy gravies, rich curry sauces and indulgent thick stews, you’ll love this.
  • It was an ultra rich and velvety smooth peppery gravy with lots of freshly cracked black pepper.
  • It was spicy with the heat of pepper and not with chili or obvious spices. I think it might have had some Cognac for intensity.
  • There was some rosemary and bay leaves infused in the sauce, but it was predominantly black peppercorns I could taste.
  • There were slices of tender sweet roasted carrots as well which gave a sweetness to the peppercorn short rib gravy.
  • It almost reminded me of a thick peanutty curry and it was the same texture.
  • It’s thickened with lots of cream and the flavour was strong enough to hold up to the short rib.
  • The short ribs was fall off the bone tender and probably seared with a crust, braised with coats of sweet peppercorn glaze, and then baked off again.
  • I could have just used a spoon for this because the meat was just melting it was so tender.
  • The beef short rib was more tender in this than the beef bourguignon.

Scalloped Potatoes3.5/6

  • The portion shows a portion for 3.
  • A few other tables got different sides, and I would have liked to try some of the other sides, but we just got a communal one. I’m not sure if all the mains we ordered coincidentally came with the same side, or if it was just easier to give us the same one.
  • The potatoes were Yukon Gold potatoes and they were extremely buttery, creamy, and melt in your mouth tender.
  • It was served with a cream sauce which was a bit thin and bland, but herby.
  • It was topped with some chives, but I could have used some garlic and even some nutmeg.
  • It had no cheese or baked gratin crust either, which are usually the best parts to a scalloped potato.
  • Compared to everything else, this was considered ‘light’.

Rhum Baba2/6

  • $6
  • I love a good cake, but I found this a bit repetitive, too sweet and just a bit plain.
  • It was basically a pound cake soaked in pineapple syrup and drizzled with a good amount of rum, which is poured at the table.
  • The cake was quite large and all I could taste was the sweet pineapple syrup so this didn’t do it for me.
  • The lightly sweetened fresh whipped cream helped take the edge off the sweetness, but it’s just a bit too much of the same thing.
  • Something similar that I enjoyed more is the Caribbean Rum Cake from Chop Restaurant & Bar.

**Monaco Torte6/6

  • $5.50
  • If you’re only going to have one dessert, this is it! A must try!
  • It was an almond cookie crust layered with caramel, a cakey brownie like biscotti layer, almonds, mascarpone cream cheese, and whipped caramel.
  • This was heaven! It was almost like a tiramisu torte and it was creamy, fluffy and a bit crunchy with different textures and layers of flavour.
  • The flavour was predominantly caramel or a rich home made toffee. I’m not a huge fan of caramel, although I don’t mind it, and I loved this.
  • The slight cheesiness gave it a tang while the soft chocolate and almond biscotti layer gave it another dimension of sweetness.
  • It wasn’t sticky or chewy, but a combination of pie, mousse, custard and cake in one.
  • It was sweet, but not too sweet, wonderfully nutty and simply perfect! I almost got one to go!

Meringue with Ice Cream1.5/6

  • $5.50 ($2.50(?) without ice cream)
  • I’m not a fan of meringues, but I’ve had ones I’ve liked more than this one before.
  • It was just dry and powdery and too sweet for me as it usually is.
  • The meringues are sitting on the bakery counter in a basket and they’re so big and visually pleasing that I got too curious.
  • The ice cream and chocolate were great though, in which case next time I would just order the profiteroles which are filed with ice cream instead of cream and served with the same chocolate. Even better!

  • You drizzle the chocolate sauce yourself at the table.
  • The meringue was light and crispy, but a bit like Styrofoam. It was hard and crunchy throughout without the chewy soft marshmallow centre it can sometimes have.
  • The chocolate sauce was a hit though. It was freshly melted bittersweet chocolate and the quality was fantastic! It was more bitter than sweet so it was a good match for the sugary meringue.
  • The ice cream was good, although I wish it was one with vanilla bean seeds. I ate most of the ice cream with the Rhum Baba.

Floating Island4/6

  • $6.40
  • This sounds bad, but I actually tried this from another table which offered to share it lol. They insisted! They really did!
  • The best Ile Flottant or “Floating Island” I’ve had thus far is from Bouchon (see here), but this one was very good as well.
  • It’s not for everyone, but for what it was it’s 4/6.
  • It’s a frothy whipped egg white meringue, but it’s not crispy or hard. It floats in a pool of golden caramelized sugar syrup.
  • It’s not a dessert for everyone because it’s super soft, airy light and almost like a giant melt in your mouth spongy pillowy marshmallow.
  • It just melts away and disappears in your mouth, and it’s one consistent texture.
  • It’s almost like eating airy light bubbles of the inside of an Aero Bar but in the context of a marshmallow.
  • It’s sweet, but not overly sweet or rich and topped with toasted almonds.
  • It’s served in a pool of creme anglaise and home made caramel sauce drizzled on top.

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20 Comments

  • Bow says:

    This talented family has run some unprentious, fine quality bistros for years. Steve Raye also had a fantastic seafood restaurant years ago in Eagle Harbour, West Van with portions that stagger one’s appetite(used to serve you a cedar planked salmon…not a 150 gram piece but the WHOLE freaking side !). Of course food costs ran too high and the location was too far away, absolutely No walk by traffic. The W.Van original has always been known as very generous..you shared the food(even took it home), ‘cos unless your a true trencherman(aka Diamond Jim Brady, who could eat enough for 10 people at one sitting !,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond_Jim_Brady) you could not finish.
    The duck breast is a very generous portion, very…am happy that others will be able to taste the Raye’s fare in Kits. West Van was a local spot, quite a drive from Vancouver to have dinner and drinks and than cross the bridge, given our liquor laws.

  • LotusRapper says:

    Good to see the Raye family expand to this side of the inlet 🙂 I don’t have to drive all the way out to West Van (but I do like original Regalade’s atmosphere …. definitely has that true brasserie feel, and love those cast iron pot-sized dishes !)

    Mmmm, those Ile Flottante look massive and yummy !

  • Erin says:

    Oh my gosh lady! You’ve been hitting so many of my ‘must go’ list spots! I’ve been dying to
    Try this one…. After your review I reallllly am
    dying! Thanks for another great read!

  • Mijune says:

    @Bow – I’ve been meaning to check out the West Van location for ages, but you’re right… it was just too out of the way.. I’m so glad it’s closer for me now. You have to try this place and let me know if there’s a difference.. .or I have to try the West Van one to see the difference.. regardless it seems like it’s a sure thing with either restaurants!

    @LotusRapper – let me know what you think! aww.. I really want to go to the Wsest Van one now!

    @Erin – Thanks Erin!! LOL!! Start making a list and narrowing them down and definitely put this as a priority… I ordered really well here so try some the things I had if you have similar tastes as me 🙂

  • Linda says:

    mmmmmmm of all the cuisines in the world, my favorite by far is french food 🙂 i love les faux bourgeois and salade de fruits and i remember you saying that this is the les faux of kits! i can’t wait to try it mijune 🙂

    wow three salads for $12.50 is such a good deal but 4 for $15 is even better! i’m glad you chose all four of them because otherwise i’d be curious! the beet and tomato salads look great! i love beets – look suber creamy for sure though lol

    mmm boeuf bourguignon and the scalloped potatoes look so yummy but i’d definitely get short ribs! maybe i’ll just invite 4 friends and order everything so i can taste them all lol everything here simply looks delicious and i definitely can’t wait for a visit 🙂

  • LotusRapper says:

    @Linda: do you go to Salade de Fruits often ? Did you ever get the feeling that they now pre-make (or even pre-plate) some of their dinner entrees ? I only say that because we went there for a recent (2010 ?) Valentine’s dinner and almost everyone’s entrees came out looking exactly the same (“same” as in like on cruise ships where hundreds, or thousands, of meals are prepped on an assembly line per se). And another dinner since then didn’t wow me neither. I must say their prices crept up in the past 5 years or so, whereas Les Faux Bourgeois has not.

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda – I actually think it’s better than Les Faux. Just come more than once if you can’t get a group 🙂 You’ll want to! I want to for sure!

    @LotusRapper – I bet they could have possibly done that just because it was valentine’s day though. Btw I went to Les Faux yesterday.. the prices increased… $1-2 each entree.

  • Linda says:

    noooooooooooooooooooooooo to price increases! but was the quality of food still the same?

    @LotusRapper mm, when i went it still was pretty good and definitely not the same looking since some of our portions were off lol

  • Dilara says:

    wow this place has been on my ‘must try’ list for so long! now thanks to your post I’m more anxious than ever to try it!!

  • LotusRapper says:

    @Dilara – if you wish, try both main store and new store (which I haven’t been). There might be interesting similarities and differences.

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda – Let’s just say my last experience at Les Faux made me think of just how much like Cafe Regalade… I only tried 4 things so it’s not nearly enough to “judge” them… but I’m going back to try more and hopefully it’ll be better. I hope it was an off night and I give benefit of the doubt… mains are $17-18 now.

    @Dilara – YAY! You’ll love!

    @LotusRapper – nice tip! thanks!

  • Trifunster says:

    Just had brunch and it was fine but service very poor. Too many other places to try so we won’t go back. Too bad, great idea.

  • Mijune says:

    @Trifunster – Nooooo!!!! really??!?! Aww but the dinner is sooo good! You gotta try the dinner at least once! I have to try the brunch! Hmmm were they really busy? New restaurant still getting used to it’s success perhaps? Sorry, I don’t want to pressure of course because it’s your dining experience, but I just really like this place lol 🙂

  • LotusRapper says:

    @Trifunster: just curous, how was the service very poor ? I mean, what did they/didn’t they do ?

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