Le Parisien (French Bistro)

Restaurant: Le Parisien
Cuisine: 
French/Bistro/Seafood/Desserts
Last Visited: April 20, 2012
Location: 
Vancouver, BC (Robson Street/West End)
Address: 
751 Denman Street
Transit: SB Denman St FS Robson St
Price Range:
$20-30 ($20-25 mains)

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 4-4.5 
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 3.5
Overall: 4.5
Additional comments:

  • French bistro
  • Meat/seafood
  • Moderately priced
  • Wine/beers/cocktails
  • Brunches:
    Saturday and Sunday from 10.30am to 2.30pmLunches:
    Tuesday to Friday from 11:30 to 2:00pmDinners:
    Weekdays 5:30 to 10.00pm
    Friday and Sat. 5.30pm to 10.30pm

**Recommendations: Smoked Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Parfait, French Onion Fondue, Cassoulet, Pommes Frites

Twice in one week! It’s not the first time I’ve dined at one restaurant twice in one week, I’ve even done it twice in one day (see my post on Anatolia’s Gate), but in this case the context was very different on each occasion. The first time I came to Le Parisien was on Tuesday April 17 for their media dinner. Being that media dinners are not really representable of a regular night, I treated it as a sample of what to expect, and I ended up being quite impressed. My next visit was for lunch on my own time and expense.

I usually give restaurants a good 4-5 weeks after opening before I try them so recipes, prices, service and adjustments are smoothed out. However my revisit was a business lunch and I was actually excited to try it again even if it was early. It’s not like I write “restaurant reviews” anyway, it’s more about my restaurant adventures and my journey with food. However the other argument would be once you start charging, it’s all fair game. Regardless, it comes down to consistency and if Le Parisien can remain as consistent as the both times I’ve tried it, then I’m looking at a new local favourite that is here to stay.

Le Parisien is the new kid on the block in the West End of downtown Vancouver. The owner and proprietor is John Blakely who also owns the more upscale and beloved Bistro Pastis in Kitsilano. This is the more casual of the two and it is intended to be a neighbourhood bistro catering to locals in the area. While I understand the theme of affordable French bistros and welcoming atmospheres, I couldn’t help but to feel this was still a bit pretentious and not as inviting or cozy. Nonetheless the room is the room and the food is the food, although the two are hard to separate when it comes to the overall dining experience.

Generally, I really enjoyed the food I tried on both occasions and I would say it elegantly embraced the meaning of a French bistro. It was more refined in style and execution than a typical bistro which is rustic, but the menu was still approachable. It was Northern French cuisine with a heavier use of butter and cream, but it was still catered for West Coast tastes so it wasn’t as rich as a traditional French bistro.

If I had to compare for references sake, I would say I enjoyed it more than Les Faux Bourgeois, and almost on par with one of my favourites Café Régalade, but also fancier than both. The “fancy level” is almost like Bistrot Bistro or The BiBo in terms of feel. Although the portions are fair and the prices are more or less affordable for the area, it still aims for a more sophisticated audience. The menu has some hits and misses, but the misses are forgiveable. The idea of French bistros are gaining popularity in Vancouver and Le Parisien is a fine example and benchmark for others to follow.

On the table:

Complimentary Bread & Butter

  • Personally I think bread and butter should always be complimentary at a French bistro, so I was pleased it was here.
  • The bread can speak about a restaurant and its philosophy, so I always write about it.
  • The bread was served warm from the oven which is usually preferred in North American culture.
  • In France, it’s typically served cold, but maybe warm at fine dining establishments.
  • I’m not sure if the baguette is being made in house, but it was crusty with a soft middle.
  • It was a decent baguette and it was refillable, but I do prefer more chew and elasticity.
  • The chilled butter was just regular salted butter and nothing artisan.
  • I like the baguette at Bistot Bistro, but that one is not complimentary.
Escargot en Cocotte - 4/6 (Very good)
  • Roasted garlic, cremini mushroom, cognac $9.50
  • Escargot en Cocotte refers to snails cooked in a ramekin like the one above.
  • Snails cooked in the puffed pastry is often referred to as Escargot en Cocotte, but that’s escargot vol-au-vent.
  • This was properly presented and it came with 8 escargots with the rest being cremini mushrooms which is how Escargot en Cocotte is meant to be served.
  • It was served with half a roasted head of garlic that could have been roasted with a bit more olive oil, but each clove was still creamy and sweet.
  • It had a nice crispy golden brown Panko crust and the escargots were seasoned, tender, and not overcooked and chewy.
  • The escargot and mushrooms were sautéed in a garlic butter and olive oil cream sauce and the Cognac was undetectable. I didn’t expect to taste it, but I did expect it to add depth.
  • The mushrooms released their natural juices, but it wasn’t a mushroomy tasting sauce. They were tender, but not overcooked and wrinkly or bitty and raw.
  • The cream sauce had a fresh herb flavour from parsley and thyme and it was good, but also not addicting.
  • I could use a stronger flavour and even more butter and garlic, or just better quality butter, but I would still order this again.
  • In the context of escargot, I liked it better than the Escargots de Bourgogne at Les Faux Bourgeois, but I do prefer the one at Salade de Fruits Cafe the most – see their Escargot à l’aïl.
**Smoked Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Parfait - 5/6
  • Pear compote, toast points $14
  • I had this at the media dinner and I liked it so much I ordered it again.
  • If there is foie on the menu chances are I’ll order it especially if I’m at a French restaurant.
  • This reminded me almost exactly of the Duck Liver & Foie Gras Pâté served at Boneta. I think I liked that one even better, but this one was still up there.
  • It was a good amount and shareable, although I could finish this myself easily as an appetizer.

  • It was a very traditional parfait and exactly how they would make it in France with 35% cream.
  • It was consistent, creamy and smooth from top to bottom and easily spreadable on the brioche.
  • It was naturally rich, but it was also very light and mousse like, but not airy. It was smooth as silk.
  • It wasn’t smoky, but I could taste more chicken liver and barely any foie gras, so that was the only fault.
  • The pear compote was more like a chutney with added raisins for sweetness and texture.
  • The compote was reduced with some apple cider vinegar (?) for a bright acidity and tang to cut the richness of the parfait.

  • The top layer was sealed with lard and I prefer a gelée seal made with cognac or port. It contrasts liver perfectly and is edible, flavourful and enjoyable unlike lard.
  • It was also served with toasted brioche rather than toast points which I think is even better.
  • The brioche is drier which is ideal since the parfait is so rich.
  • You will need to ask for more bread or crostini to finish this though (free of charge).
Dungeness Crab Cake - 4/6 (Very good)
  • Pickled fennel tartar, avocado beignet $16
  • This was an appetizer and the avocado beignet is what got me.
  • The avocado beignet was crispy with a rather thick and floury tempura batter used also for their Oyster Rockerfellers.
  • It wasn’t seasoned though, but at least the avocado was creamy and ripe.
  • It seemed pricey and the salad was really small and not particularly inspiring so I was hoping for a bit more to the plate.
  • Fair enough that it was almost 100% crab meat. The price seemed a bit more reasonable.
  • It was very lightly battered with a barely there bread crumb crust, but it was crispy.
  • The crab meat was very finely shredded and moist, but it was also very mushy and I prefer it flaky.
  • The crab meat was well flavoured with lots of fresh herbs and perhaps some mayo, but I missed the crab texture.
  • It was served with a thick and creamy sharp tartar sauce that was heavy with crunchy pickles, salty smashed capers, and a mild hint of licorice from the fennel.
  • It was a good and aromatic crab cake and I could see value in ingredients, but I just don’t think it was necessarily good enough for $16.
  • Personally I like the crab cake at Crave On Main – see their Dungeness crab cake.
Grilled Albacore Tuna Niçoise - 2/6 (Okay)
  • New potato, haricot vert, heirloom tomato, olives, red wine vinaigrette $18
  • This was quite a disappointing Tuna Niçoise, but it was recommended.
  • Authentically it’s served with canned tuna, but North Americans would likely send something like that back. Personally I like the grilled tuna version better.
  • I was hoping for ahi tuna, but being in Vancouver the albacore doesn’t surprise me. It should be sustainable even though it doesn’t have the “Ocean Wise” label.
  • The albacore tuna was really poorly cut and presented in big chunks, but at least it was rare, oily and decent quality.
  • For me, every good Tuna Niçoise regardless of “authenticity” should have anchovies, but this one did not. I get it, most people don’t like them. I also missed the hard boiled eggs.
  • The tomatoes were very pulpy and powdery and almost old, but the new potatoes (modern addition) were nice and tender, but unseasoned.
  • The olives were very tiny and salty, but generic quality.
  • The haricot verts (longer thinner green beans) were crunchy and I liked that.
  • The dressing tasted like a buttermilk dressing and not the red wine vinaigrette, so there might have been a mistake. If it wasn’t, it didn’t taste or look like red wine vinaigrette.
  • The dressing tasted quite ordinary with no particular flavour, so I found it forgettable.
  • This was a take on a Tuna Niçoise salad, but not as good as the original and I couldn’t really even appreciate it for what it was.
  • I prefer the ones at Cafe Pacifica – see their Ahi Tuna Niçoise or at Edible Canada at The Market – see their Mushroom Crusted Wild Albacore Tuna Salad (not a Tuna Niçoise, but similar).
**Duck Confit Cassoulet - 6/6 (FMF Must Try!)
  • Seasonal greens salad $16.50
  • The cassoulet at lunch is the “Duck Confit Cassoulet” and not the “Cassoulet de Castelnaudary” served at dinner. I’m very happy they called it by the right name because they are different versions.
  • The Cassoulet de Castelnaudary was even better than the lunch version (see below). The execution was different, but both are still fabulously divine! A must try.
  • The first change I noticed was the bread crumbs. Bread crumbs are a “no-no” on a cassoulet for me. Usually it’s a North American thing.
  • I can still enjoy the cripsy texture of bread crumbs, but in this case they weren’t golden brown and it looked like unbaked panko.
  • Authentically the crust is either crunchy cracklings from pork, or it is a gratin crust formed by the fat, oils and film from the beans and meat.
  • This film floats to the top of the casserole and bakes and caramelizes until it forms a natural crust.
  • They served it with the natural crust at the media dinner and I was crossing my fingers until they hurt for it to be served the same during lunch.
  • The dish was still delicious though and I still stand by it as a must try for any duck confit or cassoulet lovers.
  • The cassoulet is one of the most classic French dishes there is. I could write an essay on it alone and what it should and should not be is very debatable.
  • It’s a hearty winter comfort food or casserole from Southwest France. It’s very rich and it will put you to bed right after.
  • I’m a lover of every single item in this dish and if duck confit is on the menu it will almost always be on my table.
  • There are 3 ground recipes for cassoulet: Cassoulet de Castelnaudary (with pork, sausage and duck confit), Cassoulet de Toulouse (with mutton and Toulouse sausage) and Cassoulet de Carcassonne (with lamb and pheasant instead of duck).
  • This was none of the above, but just the duck confit cassoulet version served at lunch.
  • The duck confit was literally melting off the bone as you can see.
  • I was just using my fork to pull the meat away from the bone and it all just slipped off.
  • It was melt in your mouth tender and incredibly moist with the duck fat well rendered and the skin crisp.
  • Traditionally it should be fava beans instead of white beans, but rarely do people use that now.
  • It should also traditionally be made with more beans than meat, but this was almost equal ratio, if not more meat. That didn’t bother me.
  • The beans were made from their dry state and not gluey or gummy, but they were slightly overcooked and lost a bit of their bite.
  • The sauce was tomato, onion, carrot and celery based so there was some nice aromatics going on.
  • Everything about this dish was pretty much perfect and I don’t know where else I could find it better.
Four Cheese Macaroni2.5/6 (Okay-Good)
  • Gruyère, chèvre, roquefort, parmesan $7
  • As if the cassoulet wasn’t rich enough already I decided to add the mac and cheese as a side.
  • Just like duck confit, if macaroni and cheese is on the menu, it’s on my table.
  • Everyone thinks they make the best macaroni and cheese and who doesn’t love this classic comfort food? I don’t even want to hear it if you don’t.
  • It was hot from the oven with a crispy buttered Panko crust, but the corkscrew-shaped macaroni noodles were overcooked and very soft losing their al dente bite.
  • There was almost no sauce in this mac and cheese and the cheese flavour was there, but there was nothing sticking to the noodle and it was just oily and buttery.
  • The cheese was all melted and combined, and there were no clumps, sauce or texture of cheese and it was unusual because I could taste it.
  • I was hoping for random bits of chèvre or roquefort and the style was much more French than American.
  • It was an oily mac and cheese (due to the natural cheese oils), but I missed a creamy rich velvety sauce.
  • I could taste the parmesan most and the other three cheeses were a bit lost.
  • It’s not bad, but I wouldn’t have to order it again.
**Grilled Hanger Steak Frites5/6 (Excellent)
  • Roquefort or peppercorn sauce $17
  • This could be considered the French bistro staple, but otherwise I rarely order steak frites due to the simplicity. Simple is hard to do well though because you can’t hide anything.
  • I requested the steak medium rare with a classic peppercorn sauce and it delivered on all accounts.
  • It’s a delicious cut of meat that’s best rare to medium rare, although I would never order beyond medium rare anyway.
  • The steak was well marinated, juicy and tender and the fat wasn’t necessarily well marbleized, but it was juicy, moist, and each crevice was full of flavour.
  • I could have used more jus though and the jus wasn’t as memorable as everything else on the plate.
  • The jus was natural beef jus with maybe a splash of red wine (which wasn’t strong enough) and it was a bit thin and I wish reduced more.
  • There was a good amount of whole peppercorns and I wish it was served a bit more hot, but I would still recommend it.
**Pommes Frites - 5/6 (Excellent)
  • It’s the test of a French bistro. If the fries are bad I’d be concerned.
  • This will change your mind that “fries are just fries”. Fries are never just fries especially at a French bistro.
  • It was offered with mayo or ketchup. I’m surprised ketchup was even an option at a French bistro. Mayo please.
  • I think I got the end batch of the fries because they were really short and more brown than the ones other tables had. I also had excellent ones that were better than these at the media dinner, but these were still great.
  • The fries were well seasoned and not greasy and each one was crisp and light with a tender, smooth, creamy and soft centre.
  • Even cold they were still crisp and good and I would order the pommes frites a la carte (as a side).
  • The only place I’ve enjoyed fries more were at The District – see their Patat Friet.
  • The mayo was very thin and almost foamy and it didn’t have much flavour so I wasn’t keen on that, but these fries can hold their own plain.
  • Apparently the ones at Bistro Pastis (parent restaurant) are even better, so I’ll have to try those too.

Desserts

I have officially tried their entire dessert menu in two visits. Yay! There’s no pastry chef, and I would say it’s a commendable effort, but they looked better than they tasted. Usually French bistros have very “make ahead” classic French desserts, but they went out of their way and put personal touches on all the standard items so they weren’t boring. It wasn’t bad, but the mains trumped the dessert menu. All desserts were priced ideally at $7 for a French bistro.

Citrus Parfait3/6 (Good)
  • Calamansi curd, blueberry preserve, burnt meringue $7
  • Taking the typical lemon tart to a next level.
  • It tasted like a mix of lemon curd and calamansi and it wasn’t a sharp zing.
  • The curd wasn’t that tart and it was rather mild in flavour.
  • The custard was thick and creamy and a bit sweet for me and the blueberry and meringue made it less sweet.
  • The blueberry preserve was very natural with whole blueberries throughout. It was simple and the blueberries seemed fresh and not frozen or wrinkly.
  • The blueberries are not local though so they weren’t quite sweet.
  • The burnt meringue was light and foamy with lots of egg whites and it was under baked and not yet like marshmallow. At the media dinner it was fluffy and like marshmallow.
  • It wasn’t grainy with any granular sugar texture and it wasn’t very sweet which is good, but it wasn’t crisp on the exterior either.
  • It was a very creamy dessert that was still light and fresh being fruit based.
  • I was hoping for some nuts or something crunchy for texture and more alternating layers would be great (even if it was just done with the curd and preserve).
  • It was served with a shortbread cookie that seemed to have maybe some pepper (?).
  • I would love to see this eventually be a Verrine which is a classic French dessert that is never made in Vancouver.

Apple Tart Tatin - 2/6 (Okay)

  • Armagnac ice cream $7
  • I wanted to give this a second shot because the one I had at the media dinner was burnt and very boozy.
  • This time it wasn’t burnt, but it was still way too boozy.
  • The brandy was the first and last thing I could taste in the apple tart and the ice cream. I don’t mind tasting a bit of it, but this one was really in your face and almost bitter.
  • The tart tatin was hurt your teeth sweet and I found it too much.
  • Tart Tatin is a classic upside down French tart, but this one was the “quick version”.
  • The apples held their shape, but the pastry was baked separately and I doubt house made (that doesn’t bother me, but for this dessert it kind of does).
  • A traditional tart tatin bakes the apples and pastry together, so that the juices of the apples release and absorb back into the pastry making it somewhat tender and soft.
  • Here the apples were intensely glazed with a very sweet, syrupy, sticky and brandied flavoured toffee. It should be chestnut brown which it was.
  • It was like the coating of a candy apple before it hardens.
  • The tart part was a thin and almost completely crisp puff pastry and the apples were placed after it was baked.
  • It was beautifully presented, but flavour wise it didn’t deliver… or over delivered, but not in a very enjoyable way.

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée - 1.5/6 (Poor-Okay) 

  • Seasonal fruit compote, sable cookie $7
  • The brûlée was thin and crisp and well caramelized without being burnt, but I wouldn’t call this a crème brûlée.
  • The custard wasn’t creamy, but very egg heavy and close to a Portuguese Egg Tart (pastel de nata) or even a firm Chinese egg tart.
  • It did have real vanilla bean seeds but the viscosity of the custard wasn’t right and the seeds sank to the bottom. It was unusual because the custard was more than thick so it should hold the seeds.
  • It was missing the seasonal fruit compote too and the sable cookie didn’t have that soft, sandy, crumbly texture or intense buttery flavour.

Crèpe Suzette - 2.5/6 (Okay-Good)

  • Orange, Grand Marnier, vanilla ice cream $7
  • Personally if a Crèpe Suzette isn’t done flambé table side, then I’m not as keen. This one was prepared in the back.
  • I can let it go for a casual French bistro, but I would rather it just be a different dessert offering because this is more appropriate for a classy steakhouse or higher end French restaurant. On the other hand Bistrot Bistro makes theirs table side.
  • The Crèpe Suzette wasn’t bad, but the crepe was a bit thicker than I prefer.
  • It was swimming in a syrupy orange sauce with perhaps some reduced Grand Marnier, orange juice and lots of sugar so as usual it was really sweet.
  • I appreciated the orange segments, but it was a lot of sauce and the crepes got pretty soggy. Some argue that it’s not a crepe suzette without a lot of sauce though.
  • The vanilla ice cream was delicious and the best thing out of all the desserts. It was creamy, floral, smooth and intense with real vanilla bean flavour and seeds. Next time I could just go for a bowl of that.

The following is from the media dinner.

**Note: The following dishes are from the media dinner invite, therefore I will “rate” them “n/a”. To be fair, I don’t feel this media dinner was representable of a regular night there and it was more or less a sample. I don’t think you can judge with 1-2 bites, or family style portions, so please take my comments lightly under the circumstances. 

Complimentary Bread & Butter

  • It was the same bread and butter I mentioned above, but it wasn’t served as warm due to circumstances of the larger event.

Oyster Rockerfellern/a

  • Bacon, leeks, crème fraîche $3 (min 2/order)
  • I liked this one better than the Oyster Beignet and I would consider ordering them again. These had a ton of flavour.
  • The oyster was juicy, but it got a bit lost under everything.
  • The bacon and garlic was most dominant which isn’t a bad thing, but I do like to taste oyster when I order oyster.
  • The panko breadcrumb was quite aggressive but crispy, and the leeks came across as spinach.
  • It was almost like a tangy spinach cream sauce because the crème fraîche had melted.
  • These were good, but personally I prefer the PAIR Signature Oysters at Pair Bistro.
Oyster Beignetn/a
  • Ginger apple remoulade $3 (min 2/order)
  • I wasn’t wow’d by this and I found the flour tempura batter quite thick on the oyster. It was a twist on an Oyster Po ‘Boy with French “tartar sauce”.
  • I lost the ginger completely and the Granny Smith apples which were julienne and underneath the deep fried oyster, but it didn’t really do anything.
  • I ended up enjoying them separately and the apples seemed a bit random.
  • I prefer the apples in the remoulade (which they likely were in, but I couldn’t taste them) and not just under the oyster (where I could taste them).
  • The oyster was juicy, but it could use a sprinkle of salt.
**French Onion Fonduen/a
  • Gruyere, sherry, fresh baguette $9
  • I have a rich palate, so this was perfect for me. It was as bad as confit pork belly. I loved it!
  • I would share this between 3-4 people because that’s how rich it is, even for me. I was with one other person at lunch otherwise I would have reordered this.
  • This was French onion soup without the soup.
  • If melted cheese makes you happy and fondue makes you melt, then be prepared to turn into a happy puddle.
  • Forget the stringy mozzarella and sharp cheddar cheese, this was gourmet and freaking delicious!
  • It was a combination of buttery, semi-salty, and nutty Gruyère and nutty emmental cheese.
  • Both are excellent melting cheeses, a bit sweet, and not sharp so it wasn’t too salty.
  • The bottom of the cheese was caramelized onions in sherry so there was a bit of acidity.
  • The onions were actually caramelized (the slow method) and naturally sweet.
  • It had a rich texture and flavour from some added beef (?) stock too.
  • That meatiness just really topped the dish off and this was comfort food at its best.

**Smoked Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Parfait5/6 (Excellent)

  • Pear compote, toast points $14
  • It was exactly the same as the one I had at lunch, minus the potted duck rillettes which was a special.
  • Please see description above.
**Smoked Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Parfait
  • Please see description above.

Potted Duck Rillettes (Daily special)

  • The duck was very oily and buttery and the flavour was good, but I couldn’t taste the mustard although I knew it was in there.
  • There was some whole grain mustard and I could see lots of it on the bottom, but still couldn’t taste it, so I think it just needed a better mix.
  • This was naturally very rich and it was good, but it needed the pear compote or whole grain mustard served on the side.

Crispy Veal Sweet Breadsn/a

  • Truffle honey, endive salad, bacon crumbs $15
  • I’ll usually order the sweet breads if they’re on the menu. These were served as hors d’oeuvres at the media dinner.
  • They were sweet with a crispy outside, but the sweet breads were a bit dense and chewy rather than creamy and pillowy soft.
  • The flavour was similar to honey garlic spare ribs with the bacon accent, but I couldn’t taste the truffle at all.

Albacore Tuna - n/a

  • Tapenade, pine nuts, oven dried tomato, espelette, crouton $12/19
  • This was an unexpected tartar and quite West Coast in style. The colours weren’t visually pleasing, but it tasted good.
  • This was perhaps the lightest the meal got.
  • It was big chunks of chopped Albacore tuna and the quality was pretty good with a good amount of natural oils in the fish.
  • The oven dried tomatoes were almost just the skins and I probably would have preferred something else for acidity.
  • The top layer of olive and caper (?) tapenade was the salt to the tartar.
  • I loved the crunchy toasted pine nuts which were quite generous throughout the tartar. It made for good texture with the creamy tuna.
  • This was good and light for the warmer weather, but I wouldn’t have to order it again.

House Made Boudin Noirn/a

  • Roasted apple, pommes puree, bacon crisp $17
  • I doubt this is the portion size or presentation on a regular night. I hope it isn’t at least.
  • It looked very white and plain with the colours.
  • All the components on the dish felt separate and almost like it was lacking a sauce, condiment, side, or extra ingredients.
  • The blood sausage would be considered dense for a boudin, but normal for a regular sausage.
  • I couldn’t taste the iron finish of blood in the sausage so I don’t feel like there was much used.
  • The baked apples were sweet, but I wish finely diced or sliced or executed differently and maybe even infused with herbs. They just seemed like regular baked apples to me.
  • The pommes puree is one of my favourite things, but these ones were rich in flavour, but not in texture.
  • It should almost look like melted creamy polenta. Texture wise these were more like buttery mashed potatoes than pommes puree.
  • The potatoes were intense with butter flavour (as pommes puree always is), but it just needed more cream for even more of a silky smooth texture.
  • The bacon was missing, but maybe it was just due to the nature of the event that it was forgotten or intentionally left out… I’m not sure.

Braised Lamb Gnocchin/a

  • Petit pois, mint, fromage blanc $20
  • This is Italian so it was unexpected, but it was still pretty good.
  • I wish the sauce was richer with a demi glace rather than a lamb jus because it was just missing a good sauce.
  • The cheese wasn’t salty and not really anything was, so it was on the blander side for me.
  • The gnocchi was quite large with no fork ridges and I wouldn’t say they were authentic Italian in appearance, but they were in texture and flavour.
  • Northern style Gnocchi should not be chewy or doughy. They should melt in your mouth like creamy potatoes and this one did exactly that.
  • The gnocchi here are rich and very high with potato content more so than egg and flour and this is how gnocchi should be. I just wish they were smaller with fork ridges.
  • The frozen peas were actually sweet and I could have used more mint because it was faint.
  • The sauce was a bit thin and soupy for the rich gnocchi so the sauce never stuck onto the gnocchi.
  • The fluffy and light cheese was almost like ricotta so I wouldn’t have minded even a richer salty goats cheese.
  • The lamb was slightly gamey, but incredibly tender and juicy with a good amount of fat.
  • It was good and I would order it as a side dish (half portion) if possible, but probably not again as a main.
  • Personally I like the Braised Lamb Cheek Mafalda at Cento Notti, but it’s a bit apples and oranges. I do like that type of sauce for braised lamb though.

**Cassoulet de Castelnaudary6/6 FMF Must Try!

  • Duck confit, bacon, toulouse sausage, cannelini beans $20/36
  • It was so good at the media dinner I re-ordered it for lunch.
  • The cassoulet at lunch is the “Duck Confit Cassoulet” and not the “Cassoulet de Castelnaudary” served at dinner. I’m very happy they called it by the right name because they are different versions.
  • The Cassoulet de Castelnaudary was even better than the lunch version. It’s much heavier.
  • Again, this is one of the most classic French dishes there is and I could write an essay on it alone, although much of it is debatable.
  • It’s a hearty winter comfort food or casserole from Southwest France.
  • This was amazing. Amazingly rich, amazingly good and amazingly fatty, but oh so good! SO good.
  • I’m going to be biased and rate this just because I think I need to make a point at how good this is.
  • First, I’m a lover of every single item in this dish and if duck confit is on the menu it will almost always be on my table.
  • There are 3 ground recipes for cassoulet: Cassoulet de Castelnaudary (with pork, sausage and duck confit), Cassoulet de Toulouse (with mutton and Toulouse sausage) and Cassoulet de Carcassonne (with lamb and pheasant instead of duck).
  • Traditionally it should be fava beans instead of white beans, but rarely do people use that now.
  • It should also traditionally be made with more beans than meat, but this was way more meat. I was fine with it though.
  • The beans were made from their dry state and not gluey or gummy, but they were slightly overcooked and lost a bit of their bite.
  • The duckwas literally falling off the bone and I could use my fork alone to get the meat off it.
    • It was practically melting into the sauce.
    • Under all that saucy stew the duck fat was well rendered, the duck skin crisp, and the meat was tender, juicy, and not too salty for being cured.
  • The bacon (pork belly)was a 4 day house cured bacon so it was almost like ham, but not that salty which was good.
    • It was a nice piece of belly and not strips of American style bacon.
    • The pork belly was insanely tender and incredibly fatty, but the fat was creamy and just melted right into the sauce and beans. There was no chewing required.
  • The sausagewas more complex than simple Toulouse sausage.
    • It was incredibly fatty with a course ground and the meat was so juicy with a snappy skin and it was obviously made in house with good flavour, herbs and spice.
  • The sauce was tomato, onion, carrot and celery based so there was some nice aromatics going on.
  • The beans and fat from the dish should create a film on top and that film should be crispy. This one had a decent layer, but more would have been even better.
  • I wish there was also pork shoulder in this and to make it epic would be to add some pork cracklings on top.
  • All 3 meats were so tender and juicy I almost cried tears of joy. Well done Chef.

This is Bistro Pastis’ proprietor John Blakely carving the chicken at table side.

Poulet Rôtin/a

  • Rosemary, lemon, haricot vert, cauliflower gratin, pommes frites $38
  • I wouldn’t order a roast chicken, but it is special and unique to Vancouver to have it offered and carved table side.
  • The roast chicken was Maple Hills, so I was hoping for a higher grade Rossdale Farms or Polderside Chicken.
  • The chicken was brined for 6 hours, sous vide for 2 hours and then roasted upon serving.
  • Unfortunately I didn’t get a piece of chicken or cauliflower gratin (not that I was full, but I thought there was more coming).

**Pommes Frites – 5/6 (Excellent)

  • Please see description above.

Citrus Parfait 3/6 (Good)

  • Calamansi curd, blueberry preserve, burnt meringue $7
  • Please see description above.
  • It was almost the same except this was served with a biscotti and the one at lunch was served with shortbread.
  • The meringue was also more creamy and like marshmallow, but the one at lunch was more foamy.

Dark Chocolate Mousse3/6 (Good)

  • Salted Caramel, cocoa nib tuille $7
  • Chocolate mousse isn’t a big deal to me, but it is for others. I don’t hate it, but it’s just not something I really crave, but I’ll eat it.
  • This one wasn’t a boring chocolate mousse (I know that hurts some of your feelings), but this was a gourmet twist.
  • This one was light, creamy and smooth, but a bit too sweet for me. It tasted like milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate.
  • It tasted max 65% dark chocolate and it tasted more sweet than bittersweet.
  • The chocolate mousse sat on a very thin and light chocolate sponge cake layer so there was some texture along with the crisp cocoa nib tuille which I liked.
  • I couldn’t taste the salt in the caramel, although the caramel itself was rich, creamy, buttery smooth, not too sweet, sticky or remotely burnt and just very well made.

Apple Tart Tatin - n/a

  • Armagnac ice cream $7
  • The ice cream was icy and the tart tatin was burnt at the media dinner so I reordered it for lunch to give it another try.
  • Please see description above.
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