So. Funny story. We're heading over to a restaurant to sample their DOV menu, along West 16th via transit for sort of an early Mothers Day celebration (Because none of us will be in the same country come Sunday), when my mom (the whole reason we're going out to eat in the first place... although I personally don't need much of an excuse to go out to eat) gets caught up in some bank business and we have to cancel the whole reservation because there was a time limit on it, and there was no way we'd make it there with enough time.
So the bus heads all the way to UBC. We twiddle our thumbs annoyed and waiting. Decide to head over downtown to where she is. She's still not finished. Oi. Great planning.
Anyways, tl;dr: poor planning and scheduling lands us downtown, and we decide to visit La Brasserie.
It's a fairly small eatery, and that's just how I like it. Not overly fancy but classy at the same time.
Likewise, the menu is precise, and they feature specials every day of the week. The day we went, the special was calf's liver.. I really wish we had ordered it. Alas; there were other entrees we wanted to sample.
After ordering, the complimentary bread was set down. Crusty on the outside, soft on the inside, served with both butter and a chicken and pork rilette. The rilette had the texture somewhere between pate and canned tuna (I by no means say that negatively.. I'm just trying to describe the texture), and it was surprisingly light. We ate every bit of that. Much enjoyed.
Next was our onion tart ($9) appetizer. While I may have preferred it to be served hotter, that is my only complaint, because this was good. Flaky and buttery pastry crust supporting thick pieces of pork distributed throughout a plentiful amount of onions, topped with very cool and refreshing creme fraiche. Paired with a endive salad lightly tossed with olive oil? Mmm.
For entrees, my mom had the "Mussels and Frites" in a saffron broth, substituting the frites with steamed veggies ($18 + $2 for the veggies). I'm learning to appreciate seafood a lot more than I did when I was younger, and these mussels tasted nice.
Unfortunately, I can't really give accurate comparisons, so don't quote me on this, but I think they were on the small side. My sister, who is a seafood fanatic, agrees that these were quite small (but again I'd rather you judge yourself...)
However, they were plump, and with the complementing saffron sauce, turned our well enough.
One thing I want to note though, is that when they do vegetables, they do them great. As an avid veggies person, I thought these were done pretty much perfectly. Parsnips, brussel sprouts, mushrooms (okay. not a vegetable. But no one told the the side vegetables order that.), carrots, and fiddleheads (fiddleheads! I've never had fiddleheads. Yum. Fiddleheads). Thoroughly cooked, yet still holding that crisp bite characteristic of all vegetables. They look simple, and yea, they are. But I don't like dolled up vegetables anyways (slathering marshmallow fluff on yams, which are naturally sweet already? No thanks..), the natural sweetness of vegetables was highlighted, and that was more than perfect enough for me.
Even my family, who aren't a fan of brussel sprouts, thought they were done well here.
And since I'm the only one in my family who likes brussel sprouts, I had a ball "telling them so".
BRUSSEL SPROUTS CAN TASTE GOOD TOO. TELL YOUR KIDS.
Okay. Enough about the vegetables. My brother had the "Free Run Rotisserie Chicken" pommes frites, caramelized garlic jus ($21). It's a good sized portion, served with a side of red cabbage. It was done well; had nice crispy skin, contrasted by the sweet red cabbage, and surprisingly wasn't overwhelmed by the garlic jus (which added just enough hint of garlic to make it evident, despite all the cloves you see).
But, I can't help but feel that even with all the checkmarks, I could get a whole rotisserie chicken at. say Superstore. For $13~, and it'd taste better....
I know. Call me horribly unrefined. Alright. But At least I think it's true... ;___; And if you've ever had a rotisserie chicken from Superstore (Safeway.. Save On.. name a grocery store), you'll know those chickens are actually fairly good.
This is why I don't usually order chicken at restaurants ._.
I forgot to snap a picture of the fries before we had at them, so no this isn't the full portion, and it's a terrible picture, but just letting you all know it was here too. Nice and crispy. Maybe too much salt for my liking, but nice and crispy none the less.
The whole reason we (okay not we, more like "I") chose La Brasserie after we canceled at the other restaurant, was because I came here before for their Arctic Char. It was both my first time there, and my first time trying Arctic Char. Instant love. The one I had the first time had seared until crispy skin on one side, and just buttery wonderful throughout.
This time, my sister ordered the dish. There was no skin on the fillet (edit. Because as I have been sold, they have been serving halibut now), and it wasn't as moist as the first time I tried the dish (edit. not arctic char this time..0, but was still seared excellently. Firm in texture, but still delicate in taste.
I also enjoyed the cauliflower puree that was paired with the fish. I won't rave on anymore, as you've heard me speak enough about veggies, but you can be assured that I liked this as well.
And finally, my dish, "Braised Lamb Cheeks -- celery root puree, caramelized begetables, rosemary jus" ($20), topped with parsnip chips. Definitely the winner of the night. I think I might have believed the first bite to be a little salty, but perhaps I just got too much sauce, without anything to balance it out.
The lamb was so tender, I didn't require a knife for the dish. The parsnip chips and celery root puree were a more neutral taste which balanced out the saltiness of the jus nicely, yet provided interesting textural contrast.
And the vegetables.. Well. You've heard me say enough on those. : )
We finished off the night with a chocolate torte ($8), topped with vanilla bean cream(?) and a coffee sauce ... but I really wish we hadn't. The tart itself was on the dry side, and unlike the fresh flaky crust of the onion tart, the crust on the chocolate torte was not great. The texture and taste of the chocolate torte reminded me of a dry "two-bite brownie" that you can buy in grocery stores. And by all means, those two-bite brownies are good... and when you got a bite of the vanilla cream (which was nicely cooled and lightly sweetened), and the coffee sauce (on the side) along with the tart, it became more enjoyable, but I guess I was expecting more from the dessert.
I won't say it was bad, but I just wish it highlighted how much I enjoyed the night.
A little pricey for the portion size (When my family finishes everything, you know that the portion size is normal-- not American sized.. : P I joke..), but ultimately a very enjoyable dinner.
Our waiter (manager?) was also a treat to talk we liked him quite a bit. However, I'm pretty sure we were supposed to be taken care of by another waitress (female name on the bill), and our water glasses ran a bit low into the night.. Not a huge deal though, as the restaurant is small enough to flag someone down if you really need something.
A nice place to drink and chat and grab some good food, another like on my list : )
- Veggies are amazing
- Skillfully prepared
- A little pricey for the portion (save for the chicken..)
- Small, yet classy
- Our server was wonderful (or at least the server that came to us most frequently..)