There is no question that I will travel for food. But hey, one must get out of their comfort zone every now and then right? I hear the usual moans and groans when I suggest we eat in the 'burbs. Geez, it's not like I'm asking people to head to a foreign country for eats. So whenever I get a chance, I take it upon myself to make the journey in search of good eats. Hence, when it was time to take my mom out for her birthday, I made it a point to resist going into Downtown Vancouver. Rather, we made the trek out to White Rock for some French at Le Vol au Vent.
This little bistro is a mom n' pop operation which somewhat resembles a smaller version of La Regalade out in West Van. They started us off with an Amuse Bouche consisting of chicken liver pate on bread. Silky smooth and buttery with a hint of cognac, the liver pate was sweet and mildly salted. For me, I really wished that the bread was either softer or crunchier rather than being hard and chewy. Our first appie was somewhat on the same theme being the Rillettes de Canard (Duck Pate) served with gherkins and olives. The texture was a good combination of smooth elements mixed in with the meatiness of the duck. It was fairly mild with a natural duck flavour accented by a good amount of pepper.
Next up, we had the Calamari sauteed with olive oil and garlic. Sizzling on a hot plate, the tender squid was battered in a rustic fashion (which means it was not uniformly in this case). Hence, there was alternating textures of just squid combined with bites of crunchiness from the nuggets of batter. If it weren't for the lemon wedges, the dish was would've been lacking in impact since it was a bit underseasoned. We tried to entice the kids into trying the Escargots a la Perigourdine to no avail. Even the ample butter and garlic didn't work since it was quite obvious what these were. Hey we liked them as they were tender and not rubbery. And as mentioned, the ample flavour from the garlic, herbs and butter didn't hurt things.
My mom decided to try the Lobster Bisque which was a whole lot different than what she has been used to. Rather than a rich and creamy concoction, this one was quite thin and very peppery. Hence, the lobster essence was somewhat lost. On the other hand, I could definitely get some cognac at the finish of each spoonful. For her main, she went for the Carre D'agneau Roti Garlic and Rosemary (Rack of Lamb). This was nicely prepared where the meat was medium-rare (closer to the medium side) and super moist. It was crusted in rosemary and garlic which was evident in every bite. She actually got the last order as the table beside us found out. Good to see they keep things fresh.
Viv and I decided to share the Paella for 2 since we knew the kiddies would be game as well. Now if this made you wonder why we ordered a Spanish (particularly Valencian) dish at a French restaurant... Relax, the French do this dish too, but unlike traditional Valencian paella, there is a mix of meat and seafood. The one we tried consisted of pork ribs, chicken drumstick, chorizo, scallops, clams, mussels and shrimp. All the proteins were on point except for the scallops as they were rubbery. As for the rice, it was chewy, yet moist exhibiting a mild spice and light saffron. Most importantly, there was a nice burnt crust on the bottom. Prior and during our meal, the kids were served up 2 complimentary servings of Frites. As you can see, they devoured it before I could get a good picture. They were crunchy and light (almost like shoestring fries).
My dad started with the French Onion Soup and it was fairly light as well as maintaining a rich sweet onion flavour. It wasn't salty, which afflicts many versions of this soup. With a dark colour, there was definitely depth as well. Finishing it off, there was a nice layer of melted gruyere atop the crouton. For his main, he had the Bouillabaisse (Seafood Stew) complete with the same seafood found in our paella except with the addition of fish. The seafood was not overcooked while the broth was like a water-down version of the lobster bisque. Hence, there was similar flavours with the addition of more white wine. Not bad while not extraordinary either.
We decided to share 2 desserts from their impressive counter top display (much like La Regalade). Of course, I predictably chose the Lemon Tart. It featured a softer-style crust which somewhat blended into the same texture as the lemon curd. It wasn't overly sweet nor tart. Instead it was mild and subdued. Lastly, we had the Berry Tart topped with chocolate sauce and served with ice cream. This was flaky and crispy with the tartness of the berries which was offset by the chocolate and ice cream. Overall, we found the food to be hit and miss, especially considering the prices. However, when there was a hit, it was pretty good. On the other hand, the warm and humourous shtick from the owners was definitely a hit though. That alone could entice me to return.
- Simple and to the point food
- Wonderful people
- Somewhat hit and miss