Face it. It is very difficult to avoid an ethnic restaurant in Vancouver. I've been told that I do far too much Asian food and yes that is true. But... That is merely a reflection of the actual percentage of restaurants that are Asian! Think of it, that includes Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian, Singaporean, Cambodian, Filipino and a few others! These cuisines can actually be further dissected into regions as well! Then we get into European, African, South American cuisine which leaves us with very little "non-ethnic" food. What further complicates things is that "local" food is largely represented by Chain restaurants and fast food outlets. Hey, I don't mind the occasional meal at these places; but it doesn't make for an interesting read if I keep doing it over and over again. So imagine how difficult it is to actually find an independent restaurant serving non-Asian or even non-ethnic food? So there you have the prevailing stats on why I have blogged about so many Asian restaurants. With that in mind, even my parents wanted something other than Asian for lunch. That got me thinking and I remembered Casual Gourmet Bistro in North Van within the Save-on-Foods complex.
I decided to try their Gourmet Burger which consisted of 100% prime rib beef with butter lettuce, tomato and avocado. I added some gorgonzola as well. By virtue of using prime rib and proper execution, the burger was very moist and flavourful. It leaned towards being salty; however, the fact that I added gorgonzola was partially to blame for that. On the side was their hand-made crisps which were like waffle chips. They were very crunchy and fresh. Viv went for the Ahi Tuna Burger which was the same as mine except for the 4 oz. piece of tuna. At first, I was concerned by the thinness of the tuna; but it was cooked perfectly as evidenced in the picture. The result was a moist piece of fish. This was good with fresh lettuce, tomato and ripe avocado. I would've liked a bit more creativity in the bun though. Even with that, this was a much better Ahi tuna sandwich than the one offered at chain restaurants such as Joey. For the kiddies, we got them an order of the Spaghetti Bolognese which at first glance seemed like a variation of the classic Bolognese sauce. The pasta itself was al dente while the sauce was a little on the saltier side. It was hearty though with lots of meat and in quantity as well. There seemed to be more sauce than pasta. In the end, my kids ate it; but for me, it was overseasoned.
My mom decided on the Prime Rib Beef Dip which in her mind was excellent. There was plenty of moist prime rib that had been lightly seared to warm it up which actually added a nice flavour and textural contrast. The baguette was fresh and crunchy. As for the jus, there was some thyme adding another layer of flavour. The jus was not salty while exhibiting natural meat juices. My dad ended up with the Turkey Breast Sandwich which consisted of house-roasted turkey with tomato, lettuce and cranberry sauce. This was a solid sandwich since there was so much moist turkey meat. Again, the fresh ingredients really helped. Since we only went for lunch, many of their specialties were not available such as the Schnitzel and Lamb. We found the prices to be on the higher side and one look at the dinner menu had me a bit concerned since many entrees are around $25.00. However, their commitment to fresh and quality ingredients has given me reason to return.
- Fresh, quality ingredients
- Good execution on proteins (for what we tried)
- Excellent service
- On the pricier side
- A little heavy on the salt
- Place is what the name implies - a bistro, very small