French Cuisine Series

French Cuisine in Vancouer: Jules Bistro by Jenn Chan

Jules Bistro

 

Some people think the heart of Gastown is the famous Steamclock. Or maybe they thinks it's the intersection that comprises the classic flat iron Europe Hotel, the infamous Chill Winston pub, the monument to Gastown founder, Vancouver essentially, Gassy Jack and enough cobblestones to choke every whale in the Pacific. But they'd be wrong. Let me propose to you that the rightful centre of Gastown is Jules Bistro!

 

Nestled 40 feet off bustling Water St, the spine of Gastown, on Abbott St, between Water and Cordova St, Jules Bistro has sat for almost a decade. Their neighbours', The Flying Pig and The Lamplighter Public House, offerings are worlds apart from Jules Bistro. You won't find any greasy pub food or swine-dominated platters at Jules'!

 

Owner Emmanuel Joinville's culinary career started in his native Dijon in France. The region made famous by their impeccable mustards also has birthed some of the world's greatest chefs! He apprenticed in Rene Villard's Chateau Bourgogne in Dijon and opened his first bistro in Dijon after learning all he could there. In 2000, after over a decade of experience as a restauranteur and culinary innovator, he emigrated to Canada and Jules Bistro was born 7 years later.

 

Head Chef Atsuo Nomura took a unique path to his career as well getting his start washing dishes in a fine dining French restaurant in his native Nagoya, Japan. Seeing his passion the chef began apprenticing him and, after completing culinary school, Atsuo went on to be the head chef of a French restaurant in Nagoya before himself also emigrating to Canada.

 

I once had a friend move to BC from Alberta and the thing he marvelled at most in his early days were our cedar hedges. Their health, their deep emerald green colour and, most importantly, their enchanting fragrance. Jules Bistro's spacious patio is encircled by incredible specimens of cedar hedges and overflowing hanging flower baskets. They all at once offer privacy from the potential of gawking passers-by and provide a fragrant, garden-like setting. First impression; check!

 

When you enter 3 chandeliers dangle elegantly over a very inviting bar. A half dozen bar stools face a generously stocked bar and almost every liquor imaginable gazes out invitingly. During our roughly 3 hour visit many a single diner perched themselves at the bar; Jules' is the kind of place where you can go alone for a quick bite, drink and warm chat with the bartender.

 

Jules Bistro

 

 

First order of business upon being seated at a lovely table by the window overlooking the foliage of the patio is champagne, as it should almost always be! Leaving the selection up to our amiable server Angela we were pleased with our first taste of the Crémant de Bourgogne. Sipping happily we ordered our first course: a Lobster and Prawn Bisque and Escargot. Much to our surprise Frog Legs and Prawn Salad Rolls preceded our choices with an explanation that the chef wanted us to try them and, possibly, fatten us up to eat us later in a magical house made out of gingerbread. The latter, happily, never came to fruition.

 

The Frog Legs were a revelation! I am not ashamed to admit that I bogarted them and the ever accommodating Jenn Chan was kind enough to nibble and leave me with the lion's share. Everyone always says that frog legs taste like chicken, but I think that's to assuage people's fear that they'll taste like they smell; not the case! Bathed in a herb, garlic butter sauce they tasted, predominantly, like herbs and garlic, but a subtle tang of the frog meat greets your palate as you swallow. In a good way. A very good way! I have had occasion to partake in frog that was not of this caliber. Hands down the best frog legs of my life!

 

 

 Crémant de Bourgogne

Crémant de Bourgogne

 Frog Legs with Herb Garlic Butter Sauce

Frog Legs with Herb Garlic Butter Sauce

Frog Legs with Herb Garlic Butter Sauce

 

The prawn salad rolls were very interesting, think sushi with lettuce instead of rice. A very nice spice with the kewpie mayonnaise and jalapeño peppers! We ate everything happily and moments after we were done, a simmering bowl of lobster bisque was placed in front of me. While I pride myself on not being prejudice, and consider Campbell's tomato soup amongst my favourites, lobster bisque is my favourite soup of all time! Due to this I have consumed it in no fewer than 100 establishments from diners to 5-diamond eateries. Jules Bistro is in the top 1%, it's that good!

 

  Prawn salad roll with  kewpie mayonnaise and jalapeno peppers

Prawn salad roll with kewpie mayonnaise and jalapeno peppers

  Lobster & prawn bisque  with croutons, rouille and gruyere cheese

Lobster & prawn bisque with croutons, rouille and gruyere cheese

 

The escargot, Escargot Bourguignonne to be precise, a further tip of the hat to owner Emmanuel's culinary roots, was excellent! Some local chain restaurants, who shall remain nameless, overdo their escargot. They top it with this and that, layer it with mushrooms, cheese and enough oil to start a car engine, but at Jules Bistro you get the snail, remarkably fresh and without a hint of rubberiness that you can happen upon when eating these garden creatures, and fresh garlic and parsley butter. That's it. That's really all you need! A near perfect 9/10!


 

  Escargots Bourguignonne with Garlic & Parsley Butter

Escargots Bourguignonne with Garlic & Parsley Butter

 

Our entrées arrived just as the last shelled slug slid down our throats. Did I mention the service was way above average? Angela, though it was in the infancy of her tenure at Jules', was remarkably warm and, as mentioned previously, courses rushed out as soon as courses finished like perfectly timed stop lights ushering you with ease through busy cities! My Beef Tenderloin arrived the perfect blue rare, first box ticked, was exceptional AAA Alberta beef and the red wine reduction it bathed in was doggedy bag worthy in and of itself! It came with a very innovative scalloped potato which was lovely and a delicious ratatouille. It disappeared quickly despite my ever tightening waistband. It was paired masterfully with a Pinot Noir Bourgogne from the Maison Louis Jadot winery.

 

 Alberta beef tenderloin with ratatouille, scalloped potatoes & a red wine reduction

Alberta beef tenderloin with ratatouille, scalloped potatoes & a red wine reduction

 

Jenn's entrée arrived and, as good entrées do, made me instantaneously envious! Some of the most tender Duck Confit I have ever been lucky enough to have been offered a bite of. It sat on a bed of Frisée Salad with bacon and roasted pine nuts and fingerling potatoes. I was told it was a perfect 10/10, but I never give those out so chefs have the opportunity to keep growing so this 10/10 is from the Jenn Chan herself! It went well with a Cabernet Franc from the Intersection Estate Winery in BC's own gorgeous Okanagan Valley.

 Brome Lake duck leg confit with fingerling potatoes, frisee salad, bacon & roasted pine nuts

Brome Lake duck leg confit with fingerling potatoes, frisee salad, bacon & roasted pine nuts

 

Dessert at Jules Bistro centres around exactly what you would expect from a fine French restaurant with a casual atmosphere: Crème Brûlée. When done right it is a marvel, sweet and smoky and decadent. When done wrong it can be like store bought pudding with a slight tinge on top. I've had experienced both and Jules Bistro falls heavily in the first category! A rich vanilla cream scorched masterfully on top; amazing burnt cream! We also ordered a Sour Cherry Clafoutis with a lovely buttermilk-lemon sorbet which, admittedly, didn't get the attention of the Crème brûlée, but was itself a fantastic way to end our culinary experience!

 

 

 Vanilla crème brûlée

Vanilla crème brûlée

 Sour cherry clafoutis with buttermilk-lemon sorbet

Sour cherry clafoutis with buttermilk-lemon sorbet

Jules Bistro is a must! Get the frog legs, get the bisque and get the duck confit and send your thanks to Scott@JennChanPhotography.com :) And also give a shoutout, of course, to the soldiers in the Jules Bistro kitchen!

 

 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

French Cuisine in Vancouver: The Stable House by Jenn Chan

The Stable House

 

Ahhh the leafy, tree lined streets of Fairview. I've long been a fan of the decadent, posh suburbia right across the bridge for where I'm nestled comfortably in the Downtown core. As soon as you cross the Granville Street bridge and pass the shops and restaurants that dot the road you are transported into a world of mansions and old growth Maples and Pines. Take a left or a right off of Granville before the mansions start and the apartments and heritages homes and condos peer out from behind an envelope of leafy green trees that blot out the sky. The air is fresh, the people friendly and the restaurants, oh the restaurants, are special. 

 

You may have passed by the Stable House Bistro before and not even noticed. Unassuming. I like my wine to be unassuming, inoffensive, I like my women to be unassuming, unpretentious, and I like my restaurants to be neighbourhood secrets. The owners originally started the Stable House as a wine club for their friends, but, after Chef James got his hands on the menu, word got out.

 

 

The Stable House
The Stable House

 

Charcuterie boards are unmistakably French. Pair them with a nice sparkling wine, or if you're at the Stable House actual champagne from the champagne region of France, take a bite of cheese, have a swallow of the champagne and let it melt the cheese in your mouth. Let the salty, cured meats zap your tastebuds before you bathe them again in cheesy, sparkling goodness. And repeat ad nauseum.

 

Before our board arrived we, as we often do, decided to test the Stable House's offering on the patent pending Jenn Chan Photography Caesar Meter. I ordered mine as they make it and JC ordered hers mild. I found mine to be tangy, spicy and very flavourful. JC loved hers as well and said she gave it a 9 on the JCP Caesar Meter, and I liked mine similarity; 9's around! Solid score Stable House crew!

 

The board arrived laden with a house made terrine of juniper scented pork; absolutely amazing! Also along for the ride was a delightful chicken liver paté and pickled plums. A unique and entertaining assortment and it all soon disappeared. It was paired masterfully by our server Matthew with  a full bodied Chianti from the Carpineto winery in Italy. 

 

 

Caesars
 Housemade Characuterie - Juniper Scented Pork Terrine and Chicken Liver Pate with pickled plums & aioli

Housemade Characuterie - Juniper Scented Pork Terrine and Chicken Liver Pate with pickled plums & aioli

Housemade Characuterie
 2014 Domaine Bott-Geyl Gentil d'Alsace, Alsace France

2014 Domaine Bott-Geyl Gentil d'Alsace, Alsace France

 

After the board our second course came, a refreshing watermelon and radish salad with shaved fennel. It was a nice light palate cleanser and again paired perfectly with Alsace from the Domaine Bott Geyl winery in Alsace, France.  Pampering at its finest, a talented sommelier can be such an incredible addition to a meal. Matthew informed us gleefully he was heading to France the next week to undertake further wine study. Wine study in France I thought, tough job. 

 

 

 Local Watermelon Radish Salad - Shaved fennel, compressed fennel stem, micro peppercress, crushed almond and balsamic cream

Local Watermelon Radish Salad - Shaved fennel, compressed fennel stem, micro peppercress, crushed almond and balsamic cream

Local Watermelon Radish Salad
 2013 Chianti Classico

2013 Chianti Classico

 

I ordered the Confit Chicken Thighs. Chicken cooked in a duck fat reduction. Yes, it is as good an idea as it sounds. Served with local baby carrots, roasted potatoes and English snap peas it was the best chicken I have eaten in 2016 and I laboured to think of a better piece of poultry in my lifetime. Simply delicious! JC order a seared Newport Steak with a barley and black trumpet risotto and pickled enoki mushrooms. I thought they had spilled dish soap on it until I was informed politely that it was Grana Padano foam. Good save guys. Regardless the dish soap, for whatever reason, tasted great and the risotto was light and flavourful. The steak came out the perfect pink and the meat was tender and delicious! Both entrées were outstanding and both worth a visit on their own.

 

 

 Maple Hill Farms Confit Chicken Thighs - Roasted new potatoes, glazed local baby carrots, english peas, snow peas & wasabi pea dust

Maple Hill Farms Confit Chicken Thighs - Roasted new potatoes, glazed local baby carrots, english peas, snow peas & wasabi pea dust

Maple Hill Farms Confit Chicken Thighs
 Kettle Ridge Farms Seared Newport Steak - barley & black trumpet risotto, pickled enoki mushrooms, gran padano foam, and black garlic coulis

Kettle Ridge Farms Seared Newport Steak - barley & black trumpet risotto, pickled enoki mushrooms, gran padano foam, and black garlic coulis

 


Dessert was an adventure all on its own! Anytime meringue is involved I am there. It reminds me of my dear granny who would make the most light, airy meringue in the world. Or so I thought. We were presented with a plate of lemon custard, chantilly cream, raspberry coulis, meringue and fresh, local raspberries. We couldn't pinpoint our favourite item, but both have the platter a 9/10. Heady scores if you're fans of our blog!

 

 

 Lemon Custard - chantilly cream, raspberry coulis, hazelnut praline, merangue and BC raspberries

Lemon Custard - chantilly cream, raspberry coulis, hazelnut praline, merangue and BC raspberries

Lemon Custard

 

Looking back the Stable House is a must! Pleasant staff, an incredible wine selection and an eclectic ambience. Head over there and tell them JCP sent you and get yourself the Chef's choice and let them pick your courses and sit back and relax. Cheers!

 

 

 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

French Cuisine in Vancouver: The Truffle House by Jenn Chan

The Truffle House

 

Mission statements. New age, business buzzwords akin to 'synergy' or 'vertical integration'. Popular movies satirize them, memes abound and yet no one realizes that every Fortune 500 company has one. Here's the lovely owners of The Truffle House's, Fabienne and Philippe Chaber, charming, honest offering:

 

Our goal at The Truffle House & Café is to provide an amazing MEAL experience, and we always do our best to use the freshest, local and organic ingredients which are delivered every week. We know where our food comes from, and we avoid anything pre-made or processed including our desserts. Be assured our food is of top quality and made with care.

 

I believe them. After you go, and I know you will, you'll believe them too! Our experience started with Fabienne's beaming face welcoming us and giving us a look around. A wonderfully laid out, intimate space highlighted by a feature wall filled with artist Paul Ge's wonderfully whimsical photographs. A tiny downhill skier figurine descending a lovely tranche of Havarta sat directly across from me. As an art lover and a foodie these photos are a perfect fit. Give Mr. Ge a quick Google. Go ahead, I'll wait.

 

 

The Truffle House
The Truffle House

 

You know those people you meet and instantly like? Fabienne is one of those! Her genuine smile rarely left her congenial visage and her manner is light and good hearted. She recommended their special, a delicious Crab and Avacado salad, and, after she mimed a crab pinching so we could discern the word 'crab' given her heavy Parisienne accent, we all had a good laugh and ordered it and a Truffle Mac & Cheese to start. We left wine pairings up to her discretion and she expertly paired a pair of nice French Chardonnays with our appetizers. We could have left after the first course and still give The Truffle House a glowing review!

 

 

 Crab & Avocado Salad

Crab & Avocado Salad

 Truffle Mac and Cheese

Truffle Mac and Cheese

 

For our main courses we order the Truffle and Wild Mushroom Risotto, divine, and the French staple Coq au Vin. The risotto was sublime, fresh and flavourful and the shaved truffle and white truffle oil accompaniment complimented it perfectly. The Coq au Vin, which translate roughly to chicken in wine though it sounds much classier en français, was the best I have ever had. Elevating the dish they use a Cornish Game Hen in lieu of chicken. There's only one bird in the world more delicious than game hen and it's rarely eaten more than once a year and tends to make you very sleepy. They laid the tender, decadent poultry on a bed of incredible asparagus and baby potatoes. If you know me well you will know that "incredible asparagus" is not a phrase I spout often, or ever really, but is absolutely apt in this instance. Fresh and fragrant and expertly prepared I devoured all of it! The baby potatoes were also far above average and the dish was deeply satisfying. Again we left the pairing up to Fabienne and she hit it out of the park yet again!

 

 

 Truffle and Wild Mushroom Risotto - Wild Mushroom Ragout, fresh herbs, shaved black truffle, grated parmesan, white truffle oil

Truffle and Wild Mushroom Risotto - Wild Mushroom Ragout, fresh herbs, shaved black truffle, grated parmesan, white truffle oil

 Coq Au Vin - Roasted Cornish Game Hen, baby potatoes, spring vegetables, bacon & pearl onion demi glaze

Coq Au Vin - Roasted Cornish Game Hen, baby potatoes, spring vegetables, bacon & pearl onion demi glaze

Coq Au Vin

 

We tried to politely decline dessert. We really tried. But when freshly baked apple pie is mentioned I am powerless. I realized then, as happens often, that I am a weak, weak man. The pie came out accompanied by a luscious vanilla bean ice cream. I could have eaten the entire pie. Easily. It's worth a trip all on its own.

 

 

 Apple Pie with Vanilla Bean Icecream

Apple Pie with Vanilla Bean Icecream

 

A jewel of Dundarave Village, a must-see, a can't-miss, a hotspot. These are just a few of the reviews you'll see online. They're all true! Do yourself a favour and head over to the Truffle House!

 

 

The Truffle House
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

French Cuisine in Vancouver: Tableau Bar Bistro by Jenn Chan

Tableau Bar Bistro

 

Tableau Bar & Bistro wins awards. That's just what Tableau does; best of the city, best of Vancouver, diner's choice, reader's choice, etc, etc... I know why they win awards, do you? It'll take you all of 4 minutes to understand why once you walk through the doors. The aroma, the ambience and the bubbly staff make you feel like cozy and taken care and king for a day.

 

We were seated by a bright, airy window and ordered, being brunch, a couple of mimosas. The level of detail at Tableau caught my palette with the first sip. This was no $5 bottle of champagne sweeten with orange juice, this was a Blancs de Blanc Brut from the Jean-Louis Winery in the Burgundy Region of France. Simply exquisite! 


 

Tableau Bar Bistro
Tableau Bar Bistro
Tableau Bar Bistro Menu
Tableau Bar Bistro Menu
Mimosa


 

Now full disclosure: I do not care for mushrooms. I am generally not a fan of the consistency and I don't care for the flavour. In my early 20's I was delivering pizzas to put myself through university and I had a delivery to a mushroom farm and had to search through a vast warehouse of row upon row, shelves up to the ceiling, of manure growing fungus on it, aka the art of growing mushrooms, to find my customer. I don't think they tipped great either. The maitre' d suggested the mushrooms on toast, the waiter recommended the mushrooms on toast, the manager recommended it as well and Jenn remembered when Tableau was on CTV News and made, what else, mushrooms on toast. But I stuck to my guns and said 'no, thank you' with flashbacks of that awful warehouse flashing in my mind. 

Jenn, however, wanted to try it so out it came. It was accompanied by a steak tartare and French onion soup, but back to the mushrooms on toast bathed in a veal reduction sauce on bakery fresh brioche bread. It was exceptional! Poignant, well-balanced and fragrant with the wild mushrooms dominating the taste and texture. The French onion soup was rich and delicious and the melted cheese bubbled over the rim and cascaded down onto the plate. Steak tartare is not for everyone. If you were unaware, it is raw beef. Uncooked cow, but when done correctly a culinary marvel and Tableau, no big surprise here, does it right! Served with a quail egg on top that you whip I to the mixture of raw and beef and the chef's secret concoction it is the best I've tried and was devoured in record time. To go with our appetizers, we switched over to a bacon-infused vodka Caesar. A solid 7/10 on the patented JCP Caesar meter.

 

 

 Mushrooms on Toast - Creamy Mushrooms on Brioche

Mushrooms on Toast - Creamy Mushrooms on Brioche

Mushrooms on Toast
 Steak Tartare & French Onion Soup

Steak Tartare & French Onion Soup

 Steak Tartare - Quail Egg, Pomme Gaufrette

Steak Tartare - Quail Egg, Pomme Gaufrette

 

Our entrees followed quick on the heels of our appetizers. Garganelli pasta with beef and pork meatballs, tomato sauce and kale. I ordered the chicken and waffles. I'll admit to being a little hesitant to do so as this is a beautiful French restaurant, but it was recommended by the waiter so Supreme be Poulet be damned! Light, fluffy perfectly prepared waffles, very crisp chicken lightly and tastefully deep fried. Add in the real maple syrup, the good stuff tapped from trees with hammers and buckets, and you have a near perfect chicken and waffles and worth a visit all on its own.

 

 

 Garganelli Pasta - Beef & Pork Meatballs, Tomato Sauce, Kale

Garganelli Pasta - Beef & Pork Meatballs, Tomato Sauce, Kale

 Chicken & Waffles - Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Maple Syrup & Gravy

Chicken & Waffles - Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Maple Syrup & Gravy

Chicken & Waffles

 

There was no room for dessert, it couldn't physically be done, so we finished our drinks and slowly sauntered out the elegant entryway. We looked back adoringly at Tableau and the prestigious, boutique Loden Hotel beside it and looked at our calendars to plan our return trip. We'll probably see you there!

 

 

Tableau Bar Bistro
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan