January 2014. This was our second trip to this little Denman Street competitor, the first about 18 months ago when we found it noisy, somehow harsh in its decor, and serving no-hell French bistro food. This was disappointing because it is the second effort of one of our favourite restauranteurs, John Blakeley (Pastis is his other one).
This time, things have changed for the better and we were happy. It’s a wee bit garish new red and black look, but still consistent with something you might find or might have found in the 1960s in certain Paris neighbourhoods. We happened to drop in on a “Dine Out Vancouver” evening so had to sit at the bar and also faced the limited choice of a 2-menu fixed price lineup.
The lesser menu ($28) featured calamari and a lentil salad as starters, the squid light and crisp with a saffron aioli dip, the salad tasty and understated with the cold lentils in a nice shallow puck. Next came duck confit and steak frites, all perfectly turned out and tasty. The duck had been cooked hot so the skin was crisp and the steak was small but rare and tender. A succulent smooth crème brûlée finished it off, perfect unassuming custard flavour. No attempt to improve it with silly sweet spices. All completely satisfactory if maybe not a candidate for MasterChef. The Faiveley generic pinot noir was so-so. $60 each pre-tip more than half of which was wine.
The young French guy serving was brisk and friendly and the atmosphere cheerful and reasonable-decibel.
I hope this one survives. Apparently they are planning a little patio along the side lane off Denman Street and that should fill up in the summer tourist season, although they are several blocks away from the beach. Good luck! Ambience 6.4 (decor 4.8 atmosphere 8.0) service 7.7 food 7.9 value 8.3. We would give it another try in the summer.