December 8, Wednesday – Rainy
This was D’s birthday! I planned to take D to L’Abattoir which is a new restaurant in Gastown that had been talked about by many foodies and on newspaper reviews. A few friends had dinner there before and recommended it as well. The only “catch” was that L’Abattoir didn’t take reservation but we were OK to take the chance. Worst case, I’ve a list of backup restaurants near by. To my surprised, on Monday, I read from Scout Magazine that they just started to take reservations. I quickly made our reservation online. Yes, I have to admit that I prefer having reservation especially for special occasion dinner like this.
We were lucky to find a near by street parking and were greet warmly and taken to our table on the second floor upon our arrival.
To start our dinner, D ordered a cocktail, Donald Draper – Buffalo Trace, Pineau De Charentes, Abricot de Rouillson, Peychauds bitters, Absinthe. It’s a complex cocktail with a warm tone. Nothing overly sweet nor fruity, exactly like what D wanted his drink to be!
In the bread bowl, there were butter rolls, crispy sesame thins and anchovy butter bread sticks. I really really love the bread stick that I asked for second helping. (I rarely eat my bread because they take up too much room in my stomach 😛 ) . The anchovy butter gave it a special kick and it’s warm and flaky.
I had the Salad of Chicken as my appetizer and D ordered the Tuna Confit. The chicken was in a form of a reconstructed soft, tasty, moist cubes. Together with the pickled cauliflower, thinly sliced fresh cauliflowers and prawn (or chicken?) chips, they form the most interesting combination of textures. The foie gras mayonnaise was nice and creamy. The taste of foie gras was mild and it worked well with the lemon parsley vinaigrette for this overall refreshing and light dish. I always thought that I DO NOT like molecular gastronomic dishes. But this proved me wrong. There are always exceptions.
While I was getting excited about my own dish, D on the other side of the table was raving about this Tuna Confit. It’s actually unusual for D to order fish. But this was not your regular seared tuna. Tuna was nicely done and still rare inside but the highlight of the dish was the random appearance of the smoked pork fat among the house made croutons. The crunchy bits of pork fat with all the smoky porky goodness felt D’s mouth and his mind. The egg white marshmallow was unique! And added good contrast to the crunchy bits and crisp greens.
After our appies, we both got very excited about the dinner and we both thought that we got the better appetizer. 😛 Actually the same went on for our mains!
I ordered the Pan Fried Filet of Steelhead. BUT what got me to order this dish was the olive gnocchi. Coral colour steelhead was placed beautifully in the middle of a very large round plate. It’s seared outside and moist and soft inside. This steelhead had the similar sweetness of sockeye salmon but leaner, milder and more delicate. The anchovy butter and the white foam sauce went really well with the fish. It didn’t over power but instead brought out the sweetness of the trout. The olive gnocchi were tender yet still had a bite. I could taste the grassy-ness of the olive oil when I dipped them in the green sauce (believed to be parsley puree) . Yum!
D again was really concentrating on his main, the Roast Flank Steak (sweetbread, potato fondants, charred onion, fried peppers). He was so excited that he stopped me from eating my dish and asked me to try a piece of “something very tasty” on his. After tasting it, I burst into laugher (tried hard not to attract attention there). It was the perfectly seared sweetbread. And D not reading the menu carefully (he usually pick a dish based only on the main/meat of the dish) didn’t know that he ordered a piece of internal organ. Normally, he won’t even touch a piece of liver and he loved this piece of sweetbread. 😛 Go figured!
We both ordered dessert and I actually knew what I wanted when I saw their online menu. Lemon meringue Buttermilk panna cotta, raspberry sorbet, candied citrus! This was a perfect dessert for me. I LOVE lemon meringue, ordered panna cotta almost every time I saw it on the menu and like raspberry sorbet. This dessert taste as good if not better than it looked! The unexpectedly crispy candied lemon rind was a lovely surprise. (not the bad chewy dry fruit rind). If you like lemony dessert, this is the perfect one for you as it was for me.
D, hates anything sour but loves chocolate, ordered the Chocolate Yogurt Custard with Crème Fraiche ice cream, cocoa nib sauce. It’s rich, chocolately and had some espresso crunchy bites all over it. They even put a candle on it for D. ^_^
We had been to many restaurants and L’Abattoir is by far the best we’ve been to this year. All 3 courses including their bread and cocktail were blown our mind good! Service was VERY attentive and unusually friendly for a fine dining restaurant. One of the servers knew that I drove and couldn’t order any cocktail. At the end of the meal he came back and teased me that we should take a cap on our next visit! ^_^ I just loved this kind of friendly little touch. The cost of this meal was VERY reasonable. Appetizers were ~$13 and mains were $25 with $10 dessert (mine was almost 3 dessert in 1!). I think we will return to L’Abattoir soon. With all the Christmas parties lined up, hopefully we can go again early January. Anyone?
p.s. All pictures in this post were taken with my iPhone. I forgot to put fresh batteries in my camera @_@