Sherman's Food Adventures: Alouette


I have to admit that the location of the ol' Copper Chimney in the Hotel des Soleil is often a forgotten entity.  For myself, I didn't even know it existed before I actually visited it a long time ago.  I thought the food was fine but not enough for me to go back.  Apparently this sentiment was shared amongst others as the place didn't get good ratings and ultimately shuttered to make way for a new concept.  Rather than Indian food this time around, they went classic French in a spot named Alouette.  We gathered the whole family for this outing to celebrate Viv's birthday.

We ended up sharing a variety of small plates including the Beef Tartare prepared tableside will all of the individual components  including cornichons, shallots, chives, dijonaise, egg and a pecorino crisp.  This was pretty good where the beef was appealing in colour and was buttery tender.  There was the right ratio of ingredients where we got the impact without it overshadowing the beef.  Hence there was good acidity, tang, creaminess and brightness within the dish.  This was served with a side of bread on the side.

Served with toasted brioche, the Foie Gras Terrine was also accompanied by cherry mostarda and hazelnut dust.  We really enjoyed this as the foie gras was creamy and rich.  It tasted good on its own but the mostarda added a punch of sweetness.  The brioche toast fingers were a light and crispy vessel for the heavy foie gras and we wished there was more of them as we ran out of toasts before the foie.

Our next dish was along the same lines being the Wild Boar Rillette with confit boar, shallots, pickled mustard seed, watercress puree.  This was also on point with tender boar seasoned with fall spices.  Good acidity from the mustard seeds and aromatics from the shallots.  Once again, there was more rillette than bread (which is a good thing).  Maybe we should've been more aggressive with the rillette with the bread.

Yet another item with bread was the Brandad au Gratin with halibut potato purée, radish, garlic scape, egg yolk, herbs, créme fraîche and roe.  As you can see, this was a generous portion but I'm not sure our table was necessarily enamored by it.  Flavourwise, it was fine being mild and not overly salty.  However, the potato and fish mixture was a bit too dense and ate very heavy.  It should've had a more whipped consistency.

Our last starter was the classic Salade Niçoise with tuna, potato, green beans, olives, tomato, frisée, anchovies, egg and dijon vinaigrette.  This was a pleasant enough salad with all of the traditional components.  Egg wasn't overcooked, potatoes were tender, beans still had crunch and there was plenty of anchovy.  There was enough tangy vinaigrette as well.  However, the tuna did not look appetizing as it was sliced too thin and was broken.  Texturally, it was not as rare as it should have been either.

For our mains, Viv selected the Moules et Frites featuring BC mussels, pastis, fennel, tomato, leeks and herbs.  For us, we personally enjoy local mussels as opposed to PEI mussels, so this was a positive.  Yes, they were plump and cooked perfectly.  Plenty of aromatics in the broth including the briny nectar from the mussels.  The side of frites were on point being crispy with some potatoey goodness left inside.

For myself, I ordered Le Burger with 6oz, double smoked bacon, raclette, tomato, rouille, butter lettuce and egg on brioche accompanied by frites.  Okay, this was a really good burger.  The patty was large and juicy with a crispy char on the outside.  That thick slab of smoked bacon was a meal in itself - meaty and purposefully salty.  Oeey gooey cheesiness was provided by the raclette and of course the egg yolk provided more richness.  I actually couldn't finish all of it because it was so big.

My son inexplicably had the 6oz Bistro Filet with roasted whole garlic bulb, shallots, red wine peppercorn sauce and frites.  Nothing wrong with the dish itself but that wasn't enough food for him!  So I gave him half of my burger...  As for the filet, it was perfectly medium-rare and buttery tender.  Sauce was balanced with the red wine cooked down nicely where the peppercorns came through.

My daughter went for the Duck Cassoulet with confit duck, lardon, sausage, cannellini beans, carrots, celeriac, tomato and onions.  There were a few issues with this as the duck itself was super salty.  Texturally it was fine with rendered skin and tender meat.  Secondly, the cannellini beans were too firm.  They could've benefitted from more cooking because they should be creamy in the middle not hard.

My dad opted for the Bouillabaisse with scallops, shrimp, mussels, clams, crab, halibut, fennel, celeriac, tomato, saffron, fresh herbs, rouille and sourdough.  Although this was $49.00, the amount of seafood qualified the price.  However, one dungeness crab leg was not fresh.  The rest was fresh and prepared very well.  The broth was pretty salty though as it obscured the saffron as well as the beautiful seafood sweetness.

My mom originally ordered the Lamb Rack with lentil, olives, tomato, grapes, pine nuts, braised greens and lamb jus.  I say originally because she never finished eating this dish.  It is because the lamb was so rare, it was impossible to chew.  She felt bad sending back a $49.00 item, so she just let it be.  To their credit, the manager saw this and ask why she wasn't eating her food.  He saw the raw lamb and offered to send her out a new dish.  

That new dish took about 30 minutes (but they looked short-staffed).  It was the Chicken with sunchoke, braising greens, mushroom, bacon gruyere cumble and sauce espagnole.  Turns out that the chicken was pretty good (she was deciding between the lamb and chicken at first).  The skin was crispy and rendered while the meat was still juicy.  It was over-salted though.  Hence it really didn't need any sauce, yet the espagnole was tasty with rich meatiness.  In fact, even the sides were good as well.  Good textures and lots of umaminess from the mushroom and sunchoke.

Onto dessert, we only shared 2 since we had a whole cake from Remi Patisserie waiting at home.  However, the Crêpes Suzette was such a large portion, I'm not sure how even 2 people could share this after a meal.  Now size is one thing, the question is how was it?  Good!  The crepes were thin and fluffy while the peaches were flambéd tableside with brandy.  They were just sweet enough while the brown butter ice cream on the side added more sweetness.  I would eat this again.

Viv got her own personal dessert for her birthday which was the Cream Puff with vanilla pastry cream, strawberries, chocolate sauce and almonds.  This was also good with light choux pastry that wasn't dry.  The cream was lightly sweet while the chocolate sauce was silky.  Berries added tanginess while the almonds provided crunch.  The desserts were a good ending to a relatively uneven meal.  There were some highlights to go along with a few issues.  I would say the service was fairly on point tough as our server was friendly and attentive.  She even replaced my cocktail when I knocked it over.  The manager also replaced my mom's undercooked lamb.  The place was fairly busy and the food was slow to come out.  I'm pegging this on staffing issues and possibly it being a new operation.  I'm not ruling out a return, but I'll wait until they sort out some of the kinks first.

The Good:
- Most dishes were generous in portion size
- Fairly on point service
- Some dishes were very good

The Bad:
- Food came out slow
- Some dishes were not prepared properly
- Some dishes were too salty


Search this Site