*Restaurant is now closed*
Way back when, Costanza and I coined the term "Filet-O-Fish Meal" when we were left hungry and bewildered after eating at Feenies. The portion size was so pathetic, we figured that we needed to eat again to be satisfied. While stuffing the small piece of halibut in one fell swoop into our mouths, Costanza turns to me and asks, "do you want to go for a Filet-O-Fish after this?". Well, we never actually went back to Feenies, despite the food tasting quite good. Looks like we'll never go back to Feenies since it's now db Bistro Moderne. The new headliner is Daniel Boulud, who brings his style of French cuisine to Lumiere and db. We'd pegged this visit for quite awhile, all the way back in early December. Luck would have it, db would be added to one of the restaurants on Let's Go For Dinner. Now I could get $20.00 0ff! Sweet!
A couple of days before our meal, Ben had tweeted about his experience at db (including the discount). I replied to his tweet, indicating I was doing the same thing Saturday. The very next day, Chris Gonzales (GM of Lumiere and db) added me on Twitter. Coincidence? Well, this was quickly answered when Chris introduced himself once we settled into our table. I guess all the clues were there: my tweet, reservation under my name, DSLR with really large flash... Whatever the case, it really doesn't matter if they knew whether I was coming or not. When it comes to high quality food such as this, it speaks for itself. A mediocre restaurant cannot suddenly morph into a good one overnight.
I was impressed at our servers' knowledge of the menu and the daily features. He explained everything in detail confidently. We started with an amuse bouche consisting of a small fried Beef Bourgignon morsel. And... it tasted exactly as such with rich beef, red wine and onions. Costanza decided to try one of the features, which was the Foie Gras with Figs. Being that it is foie gras, it was luxuriously rich and buttery. As expected, the sweet figs provided the necessary sweetness to help balance the richness. Only 2 crunchy croutons were provided as eating vessels for the foie gras. With such a large piece, 2 more croutons would've been better. In addition to the regular menu, there is an insert with cheeses and charcuteries. I decided on the Duck Pate consisting of the duck breast, giblets, foie gras and fig. Served on the side were cornichons, mushrooms, pickled daikon, beet and turnip (?) with whole grain mustard. I liked the variety of duck parts nestled within the pate. It afforded textural differences as well as differing levels of duck gaminess.
Viv went for something a tad lighter than our duck appetizers. She chose an Alsatian flat bread - the Tarte Flambee with Gruyere and smoked bacon. The flat bread was indeed crispy topped with a modest amount of cheese, onions and bacon. Illustrating how little cheese is needed to provide flavour, the flatbread was cheesy with only a hint of smoked bacon. Personally, I would've liked a bit more "punch" with the flavours; but at the same time, I realize the intention was balance. If having an appetizer for each of us wasn't enough, we were treated to the Tempura Spot Prawns compliments of Chef de Cuisine Stephane Istel. These mini spot prawns were fried perfectly with a light; yet crispy tempura batter. Being that spot prawns are very delicate and can be overcooked easily (resulting in a very tough, chewy product), I was amazed at how juicy and tender they were. Perfectly executed. Served on the side were 2 sauces green chili and mayo cocktail. The fan favourite was unanimously the green chili. A bit sweet and slightly spicy, it provided the necessary kick for this dish. The cocktail sauce was much too mild to be of any impact.
When it came to deciding on my main dish, there was little decision-making needed. All along, I have wanted to try the NY's Original db Burger. It's Daniel Boulud's burger creation featuring foie gras, black truffle and braised short rib encased in top sirlion. At first glance, it may not look like much, other than a fat burger seated between a modest Parmesan bun; but the real beauty is
when you look at the cross-section. Not quite cooked all the way through (which is how a burger should be like), the moist sirloin gives way to rich braised short rib, a touch of truffle and a small piece of foie gras. One bite reveals a complexity usually not associated with burgers. Meaty sirloin in the same bite as rich short rib, earthy truffle and/or with the buttery foie gras - heavenly! Yes, that's where you would end up if you ate this every day. Not for someone watching their caloric intake that's for sure. The frites served on the side were very crispy, each and every one of them.
Viv and Elaine both had the same appetizer and also the same entree! I was dismayed that they didn't pick something different since I wanted more variety. I think they're sick of my antics and did this to spite me... Oh well... So they both picked the Cassoulet de Toulouse which consists of duck confit, duck & pork sausage, gizzards, smoked bacon (big chunks of belly, yum!) atop a bed of tabais beans. The dish didn't look like much; yet as expected, it was filling due to the beans and the rich meats. I particularly liked the gizzard, they were moist while a bit chewy at the same time. The sausage was quite meaty and duck gamy which in my mind is perfectly flavourful. The pork belly was fatty with a smoky braised quality. Most of the beans retained their shape while being tender inside (I say "most" since some were softer).
Costanza went for one of the daily features: Loup de Mer, which is Seabass. It's salt crusted, baked and then filleted. Served on the side is a lemongrass beurre blanc. If it weren't for the colourful ratatouille of zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, tomato and caramelized onions, the dish would be all white. Personally, I would've liked a coloured or glass plate (being picky, I know...). The fish itself exhibited an almost Tilapia-type texture. The mildly sweet flesh was a little on the bland and dry side; however, the beurre blanc alleviated both issues. I would've liked to see a bit more salt flavour (which is strange since the fish is salt encrusted). However, there was one hiccup in the form of fish bones (about 3 of them) in the piece that I had. The fingerling potatoes were perfect while the ratatouille was a nice colour and flavour contrast to the plain fish.
By now we were plenty stuffed since the portions were quite good. A stark contrast to what we got at the former Feenie's. So we ended up sharing 2 desserts. If that weren't enough, they brought over a large cup of Madeleines. Soft, fluffy and only semi-sweet, these little morsels were fun to eat. We just kept popping them into our mouths, even though we were completely full! For our actual dessert, Viv and I split a Lemon Tart. The tart itself had a nice zing and was quite buttery. Served on the side was a raspberry sorbet which was not too sweet or tart. In fact, I found it quite smooth which is a good thing (considering there is no milk products). Costanza and Elaine shared a Spiced Apple Cake. It was served with a whiskey brown butter (which was served table side) and vanilla ice cream. We tried to figure out the spices in the cake and came up with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and possibly cloves. We asked; but being a secret, we never could confirm it. The cake itself was quite moist and not overly sweet. A nice blend of flavours with the aforementioned spices (at least that's what we thought) gave the cake a nice aromatic touch. Further upping the ante was the whiskey brown butter. The whiskey provided a unique flavour to the a normally standard sauce.
Naturally, we enjoyed our meal at db Bistro. And why not? We were treated extremely well (since they knew I was there) and were provided with some "extras". Now, if you know me by now, that does not matter one bit. I observed the service at other tables, the other patrons were treated just as well as we were. Well, except for the visits from Stephane Istel and the gracious hospitality of Chris Gonzales. As for the food, it spoke for itself. It was generally spot on, except for the bones. Most importantly, we got our money's worth since the portions and food quality were very good. Add the $20.00 discount from my Let's Go For Dinner card, we left as very happy patrons.
- Well executed food
- Good value (reasonable prices with good portions)
- Excellent service (observed at other tables)
- Fish bones (a no-no)