Tuesday, 22 December 2015

French Fine Dining in Vancouver

Delicious beet salad with buffalo mozzarella on a bed of arugula
Fine dining in Hong Kong is an expensive affair: the surroundings are sophisticated, the ingredients are gourmet, but after being a few thousand Hong Kong dollars emptier in the wallet, you wonder, what did I just eat?

And more importantly, was it worth it?

Classic Alsatian style onion tart was quite filling as a starter
That's why eating out in Vancouver is such a treat and compared to Hong Kong, hardly breaking the bank for fresh, local ingredients in not so haute couture plating, but who cares? It will be eaten anyway.

One solid dining establishment is Le Crocodile, a French restaurant opened by chef Michel Jacob 22 years ago and continues to be a favourite among Vancouver foodies.

It's not hard to see why the place has flourished this long -- efficient courteous service, quality ingredients cooked pretty consistently and I have yet to hear anyone have a bad meal here.

Tomato and avocado salad with Dungeness crab
After returning to Vancouver a few days ago, I took my parents to Le Crocodile for dinner and it was nice to be back in this restaurant. With the Christmas season in full swing, the restaurant was packed to the gills -- there were even diners being seated at 10pm.

The menu is extensive and combined with the daily specials, it can be hard to choose what to eat.

What's also nice is the price range, but you're here to splurge so why not? To start I had the classic Alsatian style onion tart (CAD$11.50) that was more like a giant slice of pie. It was choc full of onion and bacon, and accompanied with curly endive in a mustard dressing.

Alaskan black cod on saffron tagliolini and lobster tempura
If my parents weren't there to help me, I would have been practically full already and we'd just started! The beet salad with buffalo mozzarella with honey and mustard dressing (CAD$19.50) was a lighter and refreshing option, along with the tomato and avocado salad with Dungeness crabmeat (CAD$16.50).

My main was one of the specials -- Alaskan black cod on a bed of tagliolini in saffron sauce, topped with lobster tempura (CAD$45.95). The black cod was perfectly cooked, smooth and silky in texture, and the saffron sauce was slightly tart, soaked up by the pasta. The only fault was the lobster tempura that had a thick batter and was overcooked.

A rich fresh pasta with tiger prawns and lobster meat
Meanwhile, the fresh fettucine with lobster meat and grilled tiger prawns (CAD$29.99) had a heavy, rich sauce that took a while to finish, though the grilled tiger prawns and sea scallops served over angel hair pasta and fresh mussel "veloute" (CAD$29.50) was a lighter choice.

We made room for dessert, and the grand marnier souffle (CAD$10.50) was so light and fluffy it was definitely like eating puffs of flavoured clouds. We also enjoyed the selection of five sorbet scoops: lime, mango, passion fruit, coconut and mixed berries. Coconut had the most intense flavour of the bunch.

Sorbets: Coconut, lime, mango, mixed berries, passion fruit
If that's not enough, we were sent on our way with the signature chocolate crocodiles for our petit fours -- in this case petite trois.

The bill including tips? Just over CAD$200 (HK$1,114) for three, no alcohol. For the same price, perhaps only one diner could get similar quality of food and service. Mind you, chef Michel is not about avant garde presentations -- he does not use specially designed plates nor fancy forks and knives. At most there's doilies to decorate the plate.

Vanilla sauce poured into the souffle
That's fine because the rest of the dining experience is solid and as we said before, consistent. What else do you need when it's fantastic value for money, particularly now with the Canadian dollar falling...!

Le Crocodile
100-909 Burrard Street (at Smithe)
Tel: (604) 669 4298

No comments:

Post a Comment