Last time I went to Le Gavroche was back in 2008, during Dine Out Vancouver. The restaurant is not inexpensive, and with so many other dining options out there, I never went back. Not until Groupon offered a deal at the restaurant.
Le Gavroche is just like what I remembered, a detached, two-storey house with a private dining room on the ground floor and the main dining area upstairs. It’s a fine dining restaurant but it also reminds you of a homey, cozy neighbourhood bistro.
Food wise, the quality hasn’t changed. In fact, over all I found this dinner better than what I remembered from 3 years ago. As soon as we sat down, the server brought over some Amuse Bouche. It was crab meat served with a slice of cucumber and octopus salad, light and refreshing. We shared an order of Escargots & Frog Legs for appetizer.
They were served in a light garlic sauce, which Mr. found too bland. I agreed, that the frog legs can use some more seasoning, but the escargots were quite meaty and their flavours were richer.
Before we started on our entrees, we were given a small serving of Citrus Sorbet to cleanse our palate. For entree, I ordered the Rabbit Rack since it’s not always available at restaurants. I was surprised by how big of a serving there was. While feeling guilty about eating a cute bunny, I really enjoyed the dish, especially the combination of rabbit meat and the port reduction. The skin was seared to be slightly crunchy and the meat was juicy. I thought it’d taste like chicken, but it has a rather strong gamey taste to it. Not a huge fan of the accompanying sausage, though, because it was a bit too dry.
Mr. on his Wild Salmon: And to say this was the best salmon I’ve ever had is by no way an exaggeration. I almost never order cooked salmon at restaurants. And I don’t understand how anyone could enjoy the dry and tasteless grilled salmon that usually end up on their plate. Even the salmon at the famous Cannery before it was closed was a bit of a let down for me. This piece of fish they did right. First, it was cooked to a medium rare (in actuality it was closer to a medium but the idea is there), so the meat wasn’t dry and stringy. Secondly the meat was nicely seasoned, not salty but full of flavour. It could be a result of the type of salmon (Coho), or just the simple process of not over cooking it. And lastly, the skin was cooked to a slight crisp, a must for any salmon cooked this way. Although the fish is amazing, I wasn’t a big fan of the hard carrots that was almost impossible to cut through, or the fact that there wasn’t any carbs on the plate (fish was placed on chopped fennel, which I did enjoy).
For dessert, I couldn’t help but convinced Mr. to order Les Souffles. It’s not something that I can just get at any restaurant. Because of the amount of work involved, it requires a minimum of 2 orders. Just when we couldn’t decide which flavour we wanted, the server offered to make one of each for us as the restaurant wasn’t too busy. Woohoo! I was very excited! And oh my god, the size of it! I probably looked a bit shocked when the souffle were finally served 20 minutes later. According to the server, each souffle uses 6 egg whites. Umm we didn’t really believe her, nonetheless it’s a huge dessert. For the first few bites of the Grand Marnier one we could definitely taste the alcohol. Then, the souffle slowly absorbed the flavour and the cream sauce just covered it all. The Chocolate one was, well, chocolaty. It used Belgian chocolate so it’s quite rich. We also tried a switch-a-roo by swaping the sauces – all very good. Now I want to master the recipe to make great souffle!
Mr.: I’ve never had a souffle before this. I only know them by reputation. It was fluffy and light; it seemed like they did a great job with it. I just don’t think it appeals to me personally. The texture and the taste is unmistakeably that of egg white — not something I’d usually associate with dessert. I still enjoyed it nonetheless, but it’s not going to become my dessert of choice.
Mr. and I went on a Friday evening, and the restaurant was about 70% full. It’s not too busy so I was expecting decent service. It started a bit slow (made me wonder if it’s because we’re Groupon users, i.e. perceived cheapos), but service level picked up and I left quite happy about it. There were a few conversations back and forth, and I especially appreciated that they were so accommodating and made Mr. and me one each of the two kinds of souffles. Normally it requires a minimum of two orders per flavour.
I liked Le Gavroche at my first visit, but I think I enjoyed it even more this time around. The food and service were great, combined with a nice dining environment. You won’t be able to find another restaurant of this kind in the busy downtown area.
1616 Alberni Street, Vancouver