Sherman's Food Adventures: Bacchus Bistro at Chaberton Estate Winery

Bacchus Bistro at Chaberton Estate Winery

It's not like Bacchus Bistro is new or anything, but since I can remember, I've always wanted to dine there.  After many failed attempts, we finally made a reservation for my mom's birthday.  I guess one of the reasons we've taken so long is that the place is located at the Chaberton Estate Winery in Langley on 216th.  For those who don't live in the area, it isn't exactly an easy commute.  For me, I travel long distances for food and that we did as it took over 45 minutes from Burnaby with no traffic.  However, being seated outside overlooking the vineyard brought a certain satisfaction and calmness which made the drive much more palatable.

Beyond the reasonably-priced house wines (as they make it), we had to get to the food.  That we did with some appies including the Bacchus Salad sporting thin slices of smoked salmon over mixed greens with a tuna r√©moulade sauce.  Yes, usually a salad elicits as much excitement as a time-share seminar, but this was actually quite good.  In addition to the crisp fresh greens, the slices of buttery smoked salmon were topped with a creamy and fishy (in a good way) dressing.  Think of it as somewhat like a vitello tonnato but with smoked salmon and greens instead of veal. Another solid starter was the Duck Rillettes with red onion jam, honey mustard and toasted challah.  This was meaty and ducky with a subtle and pleasant gaminess.  The rillette itself was not super flavourful, but that wasn't really an issue since the onion jam and honey mustard helped in that regard.  We thought the soft toasted challah was a great compliment to the rillette.

As part of the Table H'ote menu, my mom and I had 2 appetizers of our own including the Escargot a la Bourguignonne.  They were not shy with the butter and garlic as this was as sinful and delicious as it looked.  I thought the addition of roasted grape tomatoes underneath was a great shot of tartness to cut through the heaviness of the butter.  However, at the same time, it was so strong that I found it overwhelmed every other flavour.   The escargots themselves were tender and not overdone while exhibiting a background gaminess.  For my mom, she chose the Lobster and Butternut Squash Bisque with sauteed locally raised shrimp.  Despite it being a blend between essentially 2 soups, the dominant flavour was the lobster essence.  Texturally, it was more squash than being creamy, but it was still bisque-like to a degree.  Beyond the lobster, there was the sweetness of squash and at the tail end, there was a slight cognac finish.

Our last appie was the Steamed Gulf Island Mussels with steamed in white wine and tomato with cracked coriander and fennel seed.  This wasn't the most exciting creation, but it was solid nonetheless.  I would've preferred a little more impact from the broth, but it did the job with a mild tang and aromatics.  The mussels themselves were buttery and plump.  With all this being said, this was probably our least favourite appetizer, not because it wasn't good, the others were just better.

Moving onto the mains, I had the Rib Eye Steak prepared medium-rare (closer to rare, which is my preference anyways).  As evidenced in the picture, there was an aggressive exterior sear that created a smoky and caramelized crust.  The steak was well-seasoned as well, so there was plenty of impact to go with the natural fattiness.  Underneath, there was a saute of mushrooms, house smoked bacon and pearl onions in a Bordelaise sauce.  For my mom, she went for the Roasted Fraser Valley 1/2 Duck with sauteed asparagus and caramelized orange sauce.  Essentially, their version of duck a l'orange, it was fantastic.  The duck itself had a beautiful finish with fairly rendered skin and super tender meat (that was not dry).  Sweet with a smoky tang, the orange sauce was balanced and flavourful.  It allowed the duck to be the star while complimenting it at the same time.

My dad didn't want all 3 courses, but did get the Pan Roasted Halibut a la carte.  It was excellent with crispy skin and tender flakes.  It almost ate like black cod which meant that the halibut was fresh and properly executed.   On the bottom, there was sauteed spinach and a three mushroom cream sauce.  Although the spinach was a bit too wilted, it ultimately went well with the creamy and earthy sauce.  Staying with fish, my daughter had the Pan-Roasted BC Ling Cod with ratatouille Provencal and Okanagan basil pistou.  This was also well-prepared with crispy skin.  I would say the cook on the halibut was a bit better as the cod wasn't as flaky.  However, it still wasn't dry.  Underneath, the ratatouille provided a veggie tang to go along with the garlicky brightness of the pistou.

Viv decided on the classic Fraser Valley Duck Leg Duck Confit with warm beluga lentil salad, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus tossed in a pepita pistou.  There was an option to add another leg for $7.00 more, but it really wasn't necessary since the one leg was pretty substantial.  The meat was moist and fork tender where it barely needed any chewing.  It was also well-seasoned without being overly salty.  Although portions of the duck skin were a bit fatty, most of it was well-rendered and crispy.  Loved the lentils as they provided a firm and meaty texture to the salad.  My son was sold on the Beef Bourguignon since it featured a boneless beef short rib braised in red wine with pearl onions, house smoked bacon and mushrooms.  By virtue of a large short rib, the whole dish ate much differently than a traditional bourguignon.  It had all of the flavours such as the sweetness of the onions, depth of the red wine and the earthiness of the mushroom, yet at the same time, it was much more robust due to the tender meaty short rib.

Moving onto the sweets, since our 3-course meals included dessert, we had both of them including the Chocolate Eclair as well as the Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble.  Stuffed with both a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a scoop of chocolate mousse, the eclair was a lot taller than we had imagined.   Beyond the light choux pastry, the mousse was quite good riding the line between rich and light.  It was chocolatey with some dark bitterness while being sweet enough. The strawberry rhubarb crumble was also good with a tangy sweet mix that was topped with a crunchy and buttery crumble.  Combined with the ice cream, it was everything a crumble should be.  Yet, there was one fatal flaw - the whole thing was barely warm.  If this was served hot, it would've ben excellent.  Sadly it was not.

We added 2 more desserts in the Lemon Tart and Chocolate MousseAlthough a bit watery, the lemon curd was balanced with just the right amount of tang and sweetness.  It was silky smooth, but as mentioned, a touch too thin.  As for the pastry shell, it was fantastic being firm throughout with an appealing texture that was buttery and almost crunchy.  One of the better lemon tarts I've had recently despite the viscosity of the curd.  Presented neatly as a cylinder, the chocolate mousse was somewhat different than the one in the eclair.  The flavours were the same but the texture was a bit lighter possibly since it wasn't served as a large scoop.  These desserts were a nice ending to a nice meal.  Food was more than acceptable where the portions were generous complete with reasonable pricing.

The Good:
- Reasonable pricing
- Solid food
- Beautiful setting

The Bad:
- A little far for those not in the vicinity
- Food is pretty classic, so for those who want something more cutting edge, you won't find it here


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