Restaurant: Les Faux Bourgeois
Last visited: June 21, 2011 & July 17, 2011 combined
Location: Vancouver, BC (Mount Pleasant/Main Street)
Address: 663 E 15th Ave
Price Range: $20-30 ($17-20 Mains)
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Service: 3 (4 at the bar)
- Traditional French bistro food
- Seasonal menus
- Menu changes often
- Local favourite
- Line ups/Very busy
- Neighbourhood/hidden gem
- Reasonable prices
- Good portions
- Daily specials
- Wine bar
- Walk ins welcome (bar seating)
- Reservations highly recommended
- Dinner only
- Tues-Sun 5:30pm - 12am
- Closed Monday
- Les Faux Bourgeois Café next door opens everyday 9-4pm
Recommendations: Les Tartes Flambées Alsacienne, Moules Marinière, Coq Au Vin, and Duck Confit. The Moules Marinière, Duck Confit, Soupe A L’Oignon Gratinée, Le Steak Frites, and Filet de Boeuf Grillé are solid choices and the classic favourites. Personally I think they do a way better job with the hearty red meat dishes than seafood. For dessert the creme brulee is quite good, and a bit different, the rest is okay.
The last time I blogged about Les Faux Bourgeois was in September 2009 (see here), and the food was unforgettable, so unforgettable that I cherished my memories of it. But after so long those memories fade, menus change and so do personal standards for food in general. My post for Les Faux Bourgeois was in desperate need of an update, although I hoped that nothing would have really changed.
Give a restaurant a second chance. That statement totally applies to my latest experiences at Les Faux Bourgeois. I came here about 3 weeks ago and I admit it wasn’t as great as times before. The food was okay to good and my expectations were so much higher. I didn’t want to post on it yet because I didn’t feel like I had tried enough on the menu and I was crossing my fingers that I had just ordered the wrong items. I decided to give it another go because when a restaurant earns your respect, I think it’s fair to give it the benefit of the doubt. So, I made plans to go again three weeks later to try their new summer menu, and hallelujah! It was much better!
This is just one example that proves that ordering a couple things from a menu doesn’t really show you what a restaurant can really do. There’s very few restaurants that have no flaws, just like people and blogs. Yes, even though Les Faux Bourgeois is a hidden gem, neighbourhood favourite, and one of the locally top ranked restaurants in Vancouver, there are still some hit and misses.
From my last couple experiences combined 70% of what I ordered was solid, and I would recommend sticking to the hearty meat dishes over seafood (besides the mussels, which are excellent). The interesting thing is, is that the dishes I ordered the very first time I was here in September 2009 were still the best dishes I had this time around. So I guess that could mean they’re consistent, but perhaps expected, or just really holding on to those “best sellers”.
I wouldn’t say it’s overrated, although I feel like my very first experience there was the best. Perhaps it was because it re-introduced the concept of approachable and affordable French cuisine? Or maybe it’s because it used to be a couple dollars less so the outcome was even more impressive? Or is it just a pleasant surprise for the area? Regardless it did well and is doing well. I would never complain about going, but I just don’t feel as eager to revisit anymore. The hype may have slightly died, but it’s still a fine choice and reservations at least a week ahead are highly recommended.
Les Faux Bourgeois offers classic French bistro food, executed with rustic style, simple house made sauces and good portions. It has an unpretentious atmosphere with unpretentious service to match, and the French accents of the staff play to its charm. Personally, I find it a solid choice for a downtown experience that’s outside of downtown, and in fact the area is very unexpected, which makes it a bit more special. On the other hand, with the recently opened Café Régalade, which almost offers the same thing, I have to say that it raised the bar and I hope Les Faux Bourgeois is up for the challenge.
On the table:
- It’s served cold with plain butter as it would be in traditional French bistros.
- The baguette was crusty, but the crust was a bit tough and chewy. The middle is quite soft and also a bit chewy. I doubt it’s made in house.
- I’m not really a fan of the baguette here, but at least it’s complimentary and it’s a good sponge for all their saucy dishes.
- Classic, parsley and garlic butter. $9
- It was 12 escargots on top of 4 crostinis (one in the centre) soaked in garlic butter.
- I don’t know if they forgot the salt, but it was completely bland and had there been salt it would have been a 3.5/6.
- The butter came across as oil since it was unsalted and I couldn’t taste the garlic infused throughout. The garlic wasn’t sweet or nutty.
- It did have some heat, but it wasn’t spicy and I feel like there were chili flakes infused throughout, but I saw no actual chili.
- The escargots themselves were a bit chewy and tender, but just unseasoned.
- I prefer the escargot at Salade des Fruits – see Escargot à l’aïl.
- Caramelized onion puff pastry tart, lardons, crème fraîche and ricotta $10
- Translation: An onion tart.
- This was a very rustic interpretation of an onion tart. It was almost like a phyllo pizza and I liked it better than the fancier more traditional Warm Caramelized Onion Tart at Bistrot Bistro.
- It was quite light despite the ingredients and it wasn’t that sweet for what I was expecting.
- They didn’t add much sugar to the onions and the sweetness was very natural.
- It had a good ratio of flaky and tender crispy puff pastry layered with a fair amount of stringy and sweet melted onions.
- The onions were quite creamy and soft and the whole tart was well textured and moist.
- The lardons were indulgent and delicious! There was a generous amount of these small strips of meaty “bacon”, but they weren’t crispy.
- It’s cured, not too salty, and almost like ham and the white fatty parts were creamy and tender without any gelatinous chewy texture.
- The light and moist fresh ricotta was a nice touch and I could have used more crème fraîche because I couldn’t taste its tang.
- All together the sweet and savoury flavours were perfectly paired with fresh and well executed ingredients and components.
- The side of watercress and spinach cherry tomato salad was lightly dressed in olive oil, lemon and a touch of salt. It’s a great side for the rich tart, which actually didn’t taste that rich.
- Mussels in white wine, garlic and parsley, with pommes frîtes $17
- This is a signature dish and it’s been on the menu since day one.
- Although simple, I’d say it’s a must order and makes for a great shared appetizer.
- It’s big enough as a main, but I’m not the type to have it as one.
- The first time I had it (see here) it was 28 mussels for $15 and this time it was about 16 mussels for $17. I don’t really mind because it was under priced before and it’s still worth it now.
- The person next to me asked for ketchup. American! Lol, j/k, but I could just feel our French server cringe, it was hilarious.
- It came with about 16 mussels and they were cooked perfectly!
- They were naturally sweet, meaty, plump and fresh and they held their own flavour which was not masked by the equally delicious sauce.
- The sauce was simple and more like a soup broth since it’s on the thin side which makes it even more drinkable alone.
- It was a basic white wine garlic sauce made with lots of sweet minced garlic without the garlic bite, but with the garlic breathe. Pah!
- The white wine was just cooked out and you could even taste a little bit of it, but in a good way. The wine they’re using for it, is one I would order alone.
- The broth even had that slight briny sea flavour of the clam shells and a slight lemony tang. It was very light and clear with some fresh parley to brighten up the flavours even more.
- It’s not rich, but there’s a little melted butter in it which just binds everything together.
- It’s not like a garlic wine sauce you would have with pasta and it doesn’t really stand up to the frîtes, but it was almost like soup and perfect alone.
- The mussels are better here than Café Régalade’s Euro-Asian inspired Poelee of Mussels with Ginger and Lime and Bistrot Bistro’s Mussels Marineres Shallots, Parsley, White Wine. I think they’re just as good as the richer Moules et Frites at Salade de Fruits, which are trés excellent too!
- Even better than these mussels, but a bit pricier are the Mussels & Frites – Congolaise at Chambar, and The District does great The District Gulf Island Mussels & Patat Friet (the Patat Friet being possibly the best in Vancouver).
- $5 if ordered separately, but it comes with the mussels or the steak.
- It’s a good amount of fries and they are really good here, but I wouldn’t mind a bit more salt, and Maldon salt. They were lightly salted with regular salt which is still okay though.
- The fries are skins on Russet potatoes and they’re very fresh and the oil is noticeably fresh too.
- They’re golden in colour and crispy, but I don’t think double fried crispy.
- They’re not oily and they’re quite light with a fluffy centre, but not creamy.
- They’re solid fries, but not particularly special. They’re made well and served with a home made aioli, which was flavourless, although the thick creamy texture was great.
- I like the fries better here, but the aioli is better at Salade de Fruits – see here. Trafalgars Bistro is also known for their Bistro Fries with Truffle Aioli.
- Ling Cod, mushrooms, savoy cabbage, cod croquettes and manila clam pan jus $18
- It was a boneless and skinless pan seared Ling Cod and it was seasoned, but not seasoned well enough so it came across as bland.
- I would prefer the skin on and if not, then at least a crispier exterior, but it kind of lacked that texture too.
- The cod was flaky, moist and juicy and the dish was rather light and summery, but the whole thing was a bit bland.
- The clams were a bit small and chewy and simply placed on top.
- The sauce had clam shell flavour with perhaps some white wine and a touch of butter, but overall it was only mildly savoury, one dimensional and underdeveloped.
- I wanted either some lemony tang or mustard or saffron or just something to give it more flavour.
- The sauce wasn’t really bold enough to stand up to the Ling Cod either and the only way I could really taste the flavour of it was by soaking bread into it and eating the bread.
- I did love the savoy cabbage which brought a natural aromatic sweetness and tender crunch to the dish, but it was still lacking flavour.
- The cod croquettes I was very excited about, and although they were the best things on the plate, they were still a bit underwhelming.
- The croquettes were filled with mashed cod and it was almost like a fish cake, but there was a decent amount of cod in it too.
- It wasn’t juicy or really flaky, but it was still moist, with very minimal filler and herby in flavour, but still on the bland side.
- The outside was panko crusted and crispy, but the inside was under seasoned and sauceless and I either wanted to dip them into something or have the filling creamy and saucy.
- Overall the dish was flat and under delivered in flavour, but fair in portion and ingredients.
- Pan seared Snapper with roasted fingerling potatoes, zucchini ribbons, wilted arugula and citrus beurre blanc $18
- It was a good dish, but it almost just convinced me that seafood isn’t the strength here, unless it’s mussels.
- I wouldn’t be that satisfied having this as a main and I thought the side of zucchini ribbons and sauce was better than the fish.
- The fish was simple pan seared with salt and pepper and it was flaky and firm and moist, but just a bit boring.
- I also like the skin on, as I would for the Ling Cod too, but I can see why they removed it (for the masses).
- I could smell the tangy and sweet orange aroma right off the bat and the sauce was great with bold citrus notes. It was well balanced and not purse your lips tart either.
- The sauce is a very simple and rich beurre blanc sauce which is basically a melted butter sauce with some reduced white wine. There was a good amount of orange juice and lemon juice and it was very strong with predominantly orange flavour.
- It almost tasted like a melted creamsicle sauce, but the savoury sweet and tangy version of it. I loved it! It had a nice zing.
- I would have liked the fish to be pan seared with some orange zest as well and I think fennel would have been a better match than arugula. I wanted to see some zest and a bit more aromatics for the fish because the fish was quite plain without the sauce.
- The zucchini ribbons were beautiful and they held onto the sauce very well.
- It was tender and crunchy strands of seasoned zucchini which were well coated with a syrupy buttery creamy sauce. It curled around a fork like slippery spaghetti and was simply divine.
- The fingerling potatoes were a bit boring, but for bistro food it’s expected and not a big deal. They were creamy and buttery, but the skins weren’t crispy.
- Free range chicken stewed in red wine with smoked bacon, mushrooms, pearl onions and fingerling potatoes $19
- It’s pretty much the chicken version of a beef bourguignon. A classic French dish that’s comforting, rich and hearty.
- The chicken was pan seared and decently crispy and the meat was quite tender although not necessarily juicy.
- The sauce was delicious and it just coats your mouth.
- It was thick and syrupy and full of meaty flavour, and chicken juices, and it almost tastes like it was made with chicken bone marrow.
- It was decadent, rich and nicely reduced with red wine.
- It didn’t have the aromatics of carrots or celery and missed having those veggies in the dish overall.
- The smoked bacon was thick cut and although it wasn’t crispy, it was melt in your mouth delicious and tender. There was a lot throughout the stew too and I almost thought they were carrots.
- It was loaded with wild mushrooms which were predominantly button, with a few oyster mushrooms, and then a decent amount of pearl onions.
- There were 2 fingerling potatoes and they were creamy, buttery and tender and the skins just popped off and I liked those.
- My favourite Coq Au Vin thus far is probably the one at Tapenade Bistro – see here, although that’s a modern gourmet version.
- Crispy duck leg confit, du puy lentils, green beans and grain mustard jus $17
- This is a solid choice here and it’s also been on the menu since day one.
- The recipe has changed a bit, but it was a 5/6 the first time I had it (see here), and a 5/6 the second time around too.
- The portion the breast and the leg and it’s a generous portion and very complete as a main.
- The duck is delicious and even non-duck lovers will love this because it’s not fatty. I usually find non-duck eaters not eating duck because it’s too fatty.
- The skin was perfectly crispy and thin without an ounce of chewy white fat underneath.
- The skin was glued to the duck like a thin piece of bacon wrapped around a chicken. The meat and skin were almost inseparable, as it should be.
- The meat melted off the bone and it was moist, nicely cured, but not too salty at all. There was no apparent herb or garlic flavour infused into it though.
- The sauce was also quite enjoyable and reduced with red wine, but I didn’t get much duck flavour in it.
- It was very syrupy sweet and savoury with a slight tang and a subtlety of whole grain mustard.
- The sauce didn’t taste mustardy, but the grains were in there. They might have just used the seeds, or perhaps a very limited about of mustard sauce.
- The dish looked saucy, but by the end all the sauce is well absorbed by the lentils and duck meat.
- The lentils were simply sauteed with the basic aromatics of carrots, onions and celery and it was a very simple side that worked well with the duck and sauce.
- I loved the side of frisee salad, crisp green beans, and home made pickled red onions which helped to balance out the richness of duck confit.
- It’s not the best canard confit I’ve had, but it’s very good and nothing to complain about especially for the price.
The desserts are decent and a bit on the smaller side. They’re not as much of a specialty as they are at Café Régalade, but they’re not bad either. I wouldn’t come here just for dessert, but they’re classic choices for a casual French bistro. I kind of expected more though because they have the Les Faux Bourgeois Cafe next door, so you would think dessert would be a bit more of a specialty since it pretty much caters from the same kitchen.
- With spiced red wine poached pear $7
- This was the special of the day and it was the most appealing to me since I love almonds in desserts.
- It was a very tender and crisp tart shell made from ground almonds so it was very nutty and sweet like a cookie shell.
- The inside of the tart was a very moist and spongy almond cake that was almost soft like a crumble meets a coffee cake. It was full of almond flavour and not too sweet.
- The pears were only on top and around the plate and they were tender, but not very sweet at all.
- I could really taste the red wine, but it wasn’t overpowering although the pear flavour was a bit lost. The almond tarte lent its sweetness to the pear though.
- The garnish of toasted sliced almonds just made the tart even nuttier and I loved the texture that it brought.
- It is served warm with creme l’anglaise I think, but I couldn’t taste it really.
- It would have been amazing with a scoop of ice cream, but instead I ate some of it with the creme brulee custard.
- If you like this concept, you should try this Almond Breakfast Cake with Pear Filling & Pistachio Gelato recipe I made.
- I liked this more than the Tart de Poire at Salade de Fruits, but not as much as the Pear Almond Tart at Thomas Haas. The Monaco Torte is also an excellent choice at Café Régalade.
- This was not on the original dessert itinerary, but when I placed the order without it… the server burst out saying “the creme brulee is the best creme brulee you’ll ever have”. After a bold comment like that, how could I resist? I’ll take one of those too please!
- Creme brulee isn’t a big deal for me because I find it too ordinary and available. But he was right, it was pretty great!
- It was tea cup sized, but enough, and it almost didn’t even really seem like a typical creme brulee.
- It was incredibly rich, thick, and velvety smooth, but it was quite eggy in flavour and almost more like a pastry cream or a Portuguese egg tart custard.
- The texture was a bit different and almost more like a thick pudding.
- It didn’t have a strong vanilla flavour and all the seeds had sunk to the bottom and that’s usually a sign that it wasn’t viscous enough. On the other hand, it was very thick, so I don’t know how the seeds didn’t hold.
- The brulee topping was a bit rough for me. It was a bit hard and thick, although it was crunchy and crisp with a slight burnt caramel flavour from the torching.
- It’s a fairly small tart and about the size of a small hockey puck.
- I love the tart shells here. This one wasn’t made of ground almonds, but it was thin, crisp and slightly sweetened like a cookie.
- The lemon cream was very fluid and thinner than the creme brulee in texture.
- It’s creamy smooth and has a good ratio of tart shell and cream.
- The lemon cream was a bit sweet for me and I prefer mine more tart with a zing and stronger zest of lemon.
- This one had some tartness, but it was more sweet than tart.
- I prefer a bruleed crust as opposed to whipped cream for a topping to a lemon tart. If it’s cream I prefer a dollop of crème fraîche or Devonshire cream.
- I did love the blueberry coulis it was served with though, which was fresh and naturally sweet. It was a nice change from the typical raspberry coulis.
- I would have loved to see some fresh blueberries as garnish too.
- I prefer the Creamy Lemon Tart from Kitchening with Carly or the Lemon Tart from Crave On Main.
- I was expecting an actual nut crusted cake, but it was more like chocolate ganache torte on a nut crust.
- It was really rich for one person, and it was a bit too much of one thing for me, but it would make any chocolate lover happy.
- It was a very rich and creamy bittersweet chocolate ganache.
- The texture was a bit less thick than peanut butter and it wasn’t silky in texture as the description suggested. I thought it would be more fluid.
- The crust was made from coarsely pureed walnuts and dates. I almost think there could have been hazelnuts, praline, or nougat in it too and it was very nutty.
- The crust was almost like a chewy nutty granola bar and that was my favourite part, but it was a lot of the chocolate which I could only have so much of.
- It was served with a fresh blueberry coulis and creme fraiche drizzle and I just wanted more of both rather than having them presented as decor.
- It was good with good texture and flavour, but it’s not something I’d really care to order again, but if you love chocolate ganache, this is for you.