Restaurant: Le Crocodile
Last visited: May 4, 2016
Location: Vancouver, BC (West End/Downtown)
Address: Suite 100 – 909 Burrard St. (at Smithe)
Price Range: $50+ (Average $75-100+/person)
- Executive Chef/Owner Michel Jacob
- Classic French cuisine
- Fine dining
- Local/tourist favourite
- Vancouver institution
- 30+ years
- Closed Sunday
- Underground parking available
**Recommendations: Beef Tenderloin Steak Tartar, Foie-Gras Créme Brulée, Lobster Tail served Thermidor Style, Garlic-Sautéed Frog’s Legs, Snails baked in Pastry “Shells” with Garlic Butter, Grilled Prime Rib of Beef on the bone, Pan-Seared Veal Sweetbreads, Black Truffled Foie-Gras Cream Sauce, Grilled Veal Medallions with Veal Demi-Glace and Morel Mushrooms, Daily Souffle, Apple Tarte Tatin, Matchstick Frites
On the table:
White Asparagus & Sweet Pea Soup – Truffle Oil (seasonal feature). Not a fan of truffle oil (love actual truffles, just not the imitation oils), but the soup itself was good.
White Asparagus with Alaskan King Crab (seasonal feature)… and I didn’t even listen to the rest of the description before I ordered it. Season only lasts so long for both delicacies, so hurry. It was finished with a bit of butter sauce and crab bisque, but I was hoping for a bit more. It was good because the ingredients are good, but it didn’t go much further.
Alaskan King Crab Salad with Green Beans Salad and Quail Egg. The green beans were overcooked and a bit soft and I wish the quail eggs had soft yolks. Not bad, but very simple and not necessarily memorable.
Composed Tomato and Avocado Salad with Dungeness Crabmeat – $16.50. It’s pretty literal. No surprises, and you get a good amount of crab.
Beef Tenderloin Steak Tartar, made to order, served with Classic Garnishes – $18. I always order the tartar. Test of a chef, although I’m not testing this legend in the kitchen. Tartars tend to speak for the chef and restaurant. This is pretty much as traditional as you can get. It’s very finely chopped and pretty good here. I wouldn’t mind a coarser chop and less wet, but it’s well seasoned and very classic – by the books with no real surprises.
Duo of Foie-Gras Tasting, Foie-Gras Terrine, Foie-Gras Créme Brulée, Icewine Gelée, Toast $29 – love the Foie-Gras Créme Brulée.
Foie-Gras Créme Brulée with Toast. Beautifully made, silky smooth, better than butter. Another favourite! This could be dessert, but I’ll take it at any point of the meal… I’m also not done yet. By the way, don’t you love the doilies? Keeping the doily business in business here!
Snails baked in Pastry “Shells” with Garlic Butter – $14.50. The pastry shells got a bit soft in the garlic butter, but otherwise it’s delicious. Another classic.
Garlic-Sautéed Frog’s Legs, Chive Butter Sauce and Tomato “Fondant” – $18.50. One of my favourite hot appetizers here. Can’t find frog legs much in the city. These are great. Very rich and delicious.
Half Roasted Lobster Tail served Thermidor Style – $23.50. Another one of my favourite hot appetizers here! You also can’t find it anywhere else these days either. The claw sits on top of two chunks of lobster tail. The sauce is made from butter, mushrooms, butter, heavy cream, butter, mustard, lemon, wine/cognac and maybe some egg yolks and parmesan… very light indeed. Can’t go wrong, and it always tastes the same. Love the old school bundle of greens tied with a chive.
Grilled Quail and Pan-Seared Duck Foie-Gras, Calvados Reduction – $24.50. Pan-seared foie – how I prefer my foie. Simple. The quail had tomato fondue on it and the sauce tasted similar to the frog legs dish. I think it was a chive butter sauce.
Pan-Seared Veal Sweetbreads with Porcini Mushrooms, Citrus Reduction and White Turnip Puree – $19.50. Delicious crisp sweetbread, but a couple were still stringy. I prefer the entree version of the sweetbreads served with a richer sauce (see below).
Classic Alsatian Style Onion Tart served with Curly Endive Salad, Mustard Dressing – $11.50. A bit drier, but traditional in style. It’s a sweet and savoury tart.
Pan-Seared Veal Sweetbreads, Black Truffled Foie-Gras Cream Sauce – $19.50 for half portion ($36 for entree size). Omg… sauce I want to bathe in!! There were two options for the sauce, but I didn’t even bother listening to the other option. Truffle + foie please. So rich. So good. Order some pommes frites to soak up that sauce. My other favourite sweetbreads in town are at L’Abattoir. They offer an appetizer version of the sweetbreads with porcini mushroom and citrus reduction too (see above), both are good, but pick this richer truffle foie sauce.
Grilled Sablefish with Lobster Tempura, Taglierini Pasta Saffron Sauce, Tomato Fondue – $38. Good, but not my favourite course and a bit one dimensional. Also, sablefish is almost always good so it’s not really “testing any skill”. It’s such an oily fish it’s hard to mess up. It’s hard to find good quality saffron too. The pasta is softer for being fresh and I’m not sure how I feel about deep fried lobster (sounds like a waste sometimes), but they love doing that here and it’s done well for what it is. A very simple course.
Grilled Veal Medallions with Veal Demi-Glace and Morel Mushrooms – $38. This dish and the veal sweetbreads… . The sauce is as good as the panty dropping truffle foie gras cream sauce that comes with the sweetbreads. The veal was medium rare and tender and the morels (my fav) were ideal “sponges” for soaking up the sauce. The carrots were actually really good too. Fantastic dish. A must try and my favourite main course so far.
Grilled Prime Rib of Beef on the bone with Béarnaise or Bordelaise Sauce – $48. Apparently this is amazing, but I had it on an off-day and it was dry. As for the sauces? I got both, but special request it with the truffle foie gras cream sauce served with he sweetbreads.
Very traditional Béarnaise and Bordelaise Sauce
Pommes Frites – fresh, crisp and well seasoned.
Pommes frites are better for soaking, but I love their crispy matchstick fries. Same every time.
Coconut Sorbet with Rum. I wish they sold this in pints. I always appreciate the complimentary palate cleanser/pre-dessert offering here.
Apple Tart Tartin with Vanilla Ice Cream – $10.50. When you get something served without a doily here, you kind of start to miss it. This tart tartin is a dessert special that’s almost always available. Really nicely done with flaky and crisp puff pastry shells, beautifully poached buttery soft apples, orange tuille and ice cream. Wouldn’t mind some vanilla bean in the ice cream, but it tastes fine. It wasn’t a traditional tart tartin with sticky caramelized/burnt sugar and ooey gooey goodness, but still lovely. Have to love the old school caramel and vanilla creme l’anglaise sauce bloom design.
The signature Grand Marnier soufflé with crème anglaise – $10.50. It is the elegant ending at this timeless restaurant. It’s fluffy, eggy, light and moist. You rarely see souffle on the menu, let alone a nicely done one. Some things never get old. I also recommend the Alpaco chocolate soufflé next door at Boulevard Kitchen at The Sutton Place Hotel.
The place where nothing changes and it doesn’t have to. When “same old” has a soft spot. Not reinventing anything, just perfecting the classics and keeping it consistent.
Honestly, as a French person, I did not think that this restaurant felt very authentic. It lacked the character of Paris and the food did not taste as what I thought it would.