Five Years of Annual “French” Dinners

I thought I would take a gander through my Flickr photostream (double-checking my tagging system works, you know) to see if I had photographs from meals each time on the same day in June for the past five years. While we are ultra-practical when it comes to most dining out (read: Chinese diners), for special occasions we tend to end up at a French restaurant. It’s not too odd in the grand scheme of things but I find it cute how NPY so loves his Chinese food… and then we celebrate over French food. It turns out I have been inexplicably skipping the even years and only have photos from 2007, 2009, and 2011! I’ll try to recall those unphotographed meals as well.

2011 @ Les Faux Bourgeois

This restaurant in an unfashionable location in east Vancouver has been pre-screened for me by NPY and Cari Ann. We knew it would be good but I wasn’t exactly prepared for how casual and noisy it would be. It all goes with the atmosphere.

We ordered the Alsacienne onion tart and a special of sauteed morels from the menu board. Lovely puff pastry and a hearty taste to the tart. I loved trying morels for the first time in the creamy wine sauce. We also ordered Vancouver Magazine-recommended steak frites–NPY likes the frites anyhow–and coq au vin. I selected a herbed butter for the steak since the chicken would be braised in red wine. The steak was okay, cooked to medium rare as requested; the frites were crisp and fresh. NPY just loved the chicken–he got the more tender meat–and I swept up all the sauce with my drier breast meat.

2010 @ Vij’s

No picture and I’m afraid we didn’t have the best dinner. It was good food of course, but a minefield for us–food was too spicy or laced with cilantro. Just a few months before, I tried Vij’s for the first time and their famous creamy and delicious lamb popsicles in fenugreen curry and should have ordered that again. I was so excited to bring NPY to try Vij’s. Oh well.

2009 @ Chambar

It took us such a long time to come around and finally try Chambar for the first time; and then we’ve been back a few more times. We ordered moule frites and are somewhat limited to the similar-sounding wine/butter sauce options since the third one is spicy and laced with cilantro. No complaints about the moule frites although Lil’ Sis’ still cries foul because mussels can be got for $1.99/lb and Chambar’s 1 or 2lbs. of mussels are $20+. However, the restaurant sources really plump mussels and you’re practically guaranteed all the mussels are opened and perfect. I ordered the duck entree which sat atop vegetables, most memorably goat-cheese baked green beans. It was so pungent it was tasty. And the espresso cheesecake was just phenomenally delicious and wonderful in texture, and that is on a full stomach!

2008 @ Le Crocodile

Since a generous uncle had taken the family to dinner at Le Crocodile, I was comfortable with suggesting that restaurant for our 2008 dinner. I’m so sad that I don’t have photographs because it was a mind-bogglingly good and filling meal. The place sounds like it would be so stuffy but the staff were really professional and great. Not knowing any better, and since it was just once a year, I ordered two crazy fattening and rich courses. My appetizer was roasted beef bone marrow which I spread on baguette slices. I’m not sure that is still on the menu prepared the same way. My duck entree may still be the one on the menu, “Roasted Fraser Valley Duck served with Pan-Seared Foie Gras and an Apple Cider Reduction”duck and foie gras. I was in heaven but really full. I can’t even remember if we had dessert but of course we got the crocodile-shaped chocolates.

2007 @ Bistro Pastis

Ah, our first year. I don’t really remember this year except it wasn’t so great or we were awkward about it. Bistro Pastis is supposed to have the best frites but either I had not grown to like it or it just wasn’t all that. From the comments I made, I really liked the creamy quiche and the veal osso buco. Poached char is totally NPY’s kind of dish, trying to order healthy at a French restaurant! That was probably the weakest dish of the night.

While we’re on the French cuisine bender, can I throw in one more?

Birthday 2010 @ Pied a Terre

How complete is Cambie Village once a proper, delicious French restaurant joined the area? Cari Ann went once or twice before we got around to it and finally an occasion–a birthday–was the perfect excuse. We ordered the famous foie gras parfait and an onion tart, the latter of which I had heard so much as a French restaurant offering. The foie gras parfait was beautifully rich and creamy–those two pieces of bread weren’t nearly close to enough. As per usual, I ordered the duck entree.

On this day..