Sherman's Food Adventures: Tableau Bar Bistro

Tableau Bar Bistro

The last time we were at Hubbub, Whipping Girl complained that I never call her out for eats anymore. She seemed genuinely hurt. I felt really bad. She has been a willing eating companion all this time and for the last little while, I totally forgot about her. I didn't call. I didn't text. Heck, I didn't even creep her on Facebook... er... So when I already lined up lunch with Vandelay, I also included Whipping Girl. She was very happy with this development, especially since we were heading to Tableau. Any menu with Moules Frites makes her extremely happy. Much like Charlie Sheen and escort agencies... #winning! Gawd this joke is getting old. Anyways, Donna Chang also decided to join us despite the fact she was expecting her second child at any minute! Now that is dedication. I guess she wanted to experience real food before being subjected to hospital fare.

We agreed on a few appetizers to start and to Whipping Girl's dismay, the Moules Frites was one of them. She wanted to have it all-to-herself. Sharing was not her intention. Oh I see, she was thinking it was a parking spot in Richmond... Anyways, the mussels themselves were plump and cooked perfectly. However, the broth was missing something. Sure, it had sweetness and fennel. Furthermore, it seemed to have enough salt as well. Oh right, it was devoid of acidity. In that sense, it was flat and didn't have any pop. On the other hand, the Grilled Calamari was quite impressive. Served atop a chickpea, red pepper, red onion and arugula salad flanked by tapenade, the squid rings were perfectly tender. Moreover, we could really taste the smokiness from the grill.

Originally, we were only interested in sharing 2 appies until we noticed the Poutine offered as a side. Then of course we had no choice but to order it! The fries were crispy and starchy while the cheese curds were mostly melted, hence we had a hard time determining if they had any squeak or not. With one of the less melted pieces we didn't experience any squeak, so we could only assume they weren't in general. The demi-glace was silky, flavourful and rich, bordering on salty (according to the others). I didn't think the demi was exactly all that salty, but they had poured so much on top of the poutine, it may have been too much.

Finally getting to the mains, I went for the Steelhead Trout with quinoa & almond, lemon and brown butter sauce. The trout was seared beautifully with a crisp skin while the flesh was flaky and moist. I liked how they weren't shy about seasoning the fish. Some might find it salty, but I enjoyed it. The quinoa, almond and raisin salad underneath had a nice firm texture. The flavours were well-balanced with the sweetness from the raisins, saltiness of the fish, acidity from the lemon and for good measure, a healthy dash of pepper. Vandelay went for the Garganelli Pasta served with pork & beef meatballs, kale and tomato sauce. We thought this was a well-executed plate of food. The pasta was al dente while the tomato sauce tasted fresh and well-balanced. I loved the meatballs, hence Vandelay shared his balls with me... They were meaty without being dense and full of flavour.

Donna went for the other pasta being the Pappardelle & Mushroom Pasta consisting of leeks, toasted pine nuts, herbs and Padano cheese. Predictably Earthy and creamy, this was a pleasant plate of food. It was probably a bit too conservatively seasoned and could've used a pinch more of salt. The pasta was quite nice though, it was perfectly cooked. Now, for all her excitement about joining us for lunch, Whipping Girl settled on the Burger and Fries. Hey, I'm not knocking burgers (I love burgers), I just want to continue my ridicule of Whipping Girl. Maybe she might not want to join us for lunch anymore... So, the positives first - the meat was moist and peppery. Furthermore, the ingredients were fresh. As for the negative, the whole thing was very salty (and believe me, I love salt, but this was too much).

Despite the seemingly inconsistent seasoning across all of the dishes, the food was above average. Sure, it didn't blow our socks off, but it is rare for any restaurant to do so. We found the service to be decent considering the busy lunch rush. Our server did his best to accommodate our needs. For me, the high ceiling at the front was nice, especially with all the natural light. Found it kind of weird walking directly in front of the kitchen when heading to the washrooms though. Now, if we take into account the reasonable pricing given its Downtown location, Tableau is a decent option.

The Good:
- Love the high ceiling and ambiance
- Reasonable pricing given its Downtown location
- Well-executed proteins

The Bad:
- Inconsistent seasoning
- Seating is a bit cramped at some tables

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