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Review: Les Faux Bourgeois

24 January 2011

Last night, my girlfriend and I were celebrating our anniversary so we decided to go out for dinner at Les Faux Bourgeois. It’s a small French bistro in a fairly inconspicuous location in East Van (663 East 15th) but it has become quite popular, because of their reputation for good food and the price point (less than $20 for an entree). I made a reservation a few days in advance expecting it to be busy, even though it was a Sunday.

We arrived a bit early and they sat us down right away at the back of the restaurant. It was 6:30 and the restaurant was full, but no one was waiting for seats and the bar wasn’t full. Anyways, we waited a few minutes and got some water, then we waited about 10 minutes and got our orders taken. We didn’t really mind since we weren’t in any rush.

Soon after, they brought out a basket of bread with butter for us to munch on. Interesting note: I just learned (after reading an article in the newspaper) that it is apparently bad table manners to spread butter on a whole piece of bread and eat it as such (which is what I do). Those with better etiquette should tear off pieces of bread and spread butter on each individually. Weird, eh? Or is it just me? I guess I’m rude then.

Back to the restaurant.

To start we ordered the “Mt. Pleasant Picnic”, basically just a plate of cheese and meat.  Unfortunately, the server had a very thick French accent so I had no idea what the cheeses and meats were. There were 2 types of cheese and 2 types of meat, served with walnuts, dried apricots, slivered apple and cornichons (little pickles). It wasn’t that much for $12, but I guess that’s what you get in this type of restaurant. Anyways, I quite enjoyed both of the cheeses. The ‘brown cheese’ (top left) was very creamy, much like brie, and had a pleasantly pungent rind (good old mold). The ‘orange cheese’ was firmer and had a sharper taste (a la cheddar) with a harder and grittier rind. I prefer to spread the cheese on bread and eat it with the condiments (the apricots and apple compliment the cheese well). As for the meats, the fattier one on the right was my favourite. It resembled prosciutto and had a lovely, melt-in-your-mouth texture. The one on the left was firmer and was fairly spicy. Overall, a satisfying, yet very ordinary, appetizer.

I ordered the ling cod as my main. It was served on a bed of savoy cabbage with wild mushrooms, a “manila clam jus” and cod croquettes. The fish was well-seasoned and cooked fairly well; it was flaky, but just a touch too dry for my taste. The clam sauce had good flavour and was soaked up well by the cabbage and the fish. It had a hint of green onion, but was not very “clammy”, though that’s probably a good thing. There was quite a variety of mushrooms and they were tasty and went well with the fish and the sauce. I was disappointed by the cod croquettes, however. They were seasoned ground-up cod meat, battered and fried. The flavour reminded me too much of those fish sticks you buy frozen at the supermarkets (I didn’t like those as a kid). As well, the clams were a bit overcooked and, thus, shrunken. It was a good dish, but could have been better.

My girlfriend ordered the Toulouse sausage, which was served with mashed potatoes, tomato chutney and a mustard sauce. She liked the sausages and the mashed potatoes were very light and fluffy (almost too airy). I found the sausages to taste too much like breakfast sausages (which I don’t like), but that’s probably a personal taste thing. I didn’t really get a taste of the mustard sauce (doesn’t look very ‘mustardy’) but I assume it was fine since I heard no complaints. My girlfriend didn’t like the tomato chutney, though, and it remained on the plate once everything else was consumed. She said it was a good dish, but it wasn’t anything mind-blowing.

*I noticed that a lot of other people were having the moules et frites (mussels and fries), which was on special. It looked good. Maybe I should get that next time, if they still have it.

We digested our food for a few minutes and then ordered dessert. We decided to share the lemon-cream tart (good choice!). Note: I am slightly impartial to lemon desserts, but bear with me.

The crust was quite good; it reminded me more of a shortbread cookie, which is a good thing I guess. The lemon cream was very tasty. It was smooth, lemony, tart and not too sweet. Everything a good lemon dessert should be. At first I thought that the sauce was chocolate, but at a second glance it wasn’t brown, but more purple. I figure it was boysenberry, but I’ll never know for sure. It was fairly sweet, but worked fine with the lemon. I find that whipped cream is just there for decoration. Nevertheless, ’twas a very yummy dessert.

The service was very attentive, but not particularly warm (the French do not have much of a reputation for being welcoming anyways). The restaurant itself is quite dark, as is expected these days, and fairly noisy, due to all the people talking. It never did quite fill up, which is surprising, as I have heard that is busy nearly everyday. Our total came to about $60, which is fair for a night out. It was a successful dinner, but I was left wanting more (probably because of the high expectations going in). I will probably be back one day.

Food: 3.5 out of 5
Service: 3 out of 5
Atmosphere: 3.5 out of 5
Value: 3.5 out of 5

My rating: 3.5 out of 5

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