Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday, Oct 23rd - Chambar - LOUD LOUD LOUD

Belgian Poutine
Chambar is one of these local restaurant phenoms.  It's been popular since it's opening and even when other establishments are struggling fill the seats over the last year, Chambar seems to have seen through this economic downturn with not so much as a shrug.  I could say it's because it is one of the only non Fry bar Belgian restaurants in Vancouver but it's menu is hardly 100% loyal to that style of cuisine with one of their most popular Moroccan Tagine mains and their adaptation of the Quebecois native-star, Poutine.

I have a group of, (I hate this word) 'foodie' friends.  I'd prefer the tag that we love good food.  Brands leave scars. We're always trading recommendations for new restaurants, menus, chefs and standing favourites.  Chambar, for the long-tenured Vancouverites, is a common favourite. I would have to agree with their Moules et Frites, classic Belgian, and their amazing selection of beer pairings.  I went off the grid this time and it was not as big a raving success.  I'll admit it won't keep me from returning but it will keep me focussed on the Moules section of the menu.

We were really lucky to get a table on a Saturday night in prime time.  It's funny, we've sat at the same table with plushy leather chairs all three times we've eaten there.  Well, I normally love it except for the 3 times I was swiped by a bartender carrying an ice bucket to the bar, more than half a dozen times by loud cliens and 4 times I was bum rushed by servers running back and forth through the particularly narrow path in the centre of the restaurant.  I would not suggest those seats on busy nights.

As well, don't be misled by the decor and the sticker price.  It is not the demure nor romantic spot you may expect.  It is LOUD and ruckus.  Because of the popularity, people often make it a 'do' to have groups.  We were sat by a few groups that were literally shouting to each other at the table.  Shouting, without an ounce of exaggeration. Then there was the group who sang Happy Birthday at full volume like we were at TGIFridays.  Then the birthday boy's best friend yelled across the dining room that he was 30 and single.  Nice.

Autumn Salad

We shared two starters:  the seasonal Autumn Salad: Roasted Beets and Granny Smith apples, whipped Sheep Feta, mixed Greens and Herb salad, Almond Tuiles dressed with a Honey vinaigrette then the
Belgian Poutine: Peppercorn Demi Glaze with Blue Cheese and their famous Frites.  Salad was nice though it was shy on on the beets and the greens were standard pre-mix.  The poutine was yum.  The fries were not salted which is a pet peeve of mine.  The blue cheese was great.

strange Artic Char and Crab Cannelloni
I had then had the Ombre de l'Arctique et Crabe: Pan seared Arctic Char, Dungeness Crab Cannelloni, grilled Zucchini salad, Absynthe bisque.  It was not good.  I won't mince words.  The pasta was too al dente and the Crab was dressed with too many Fennel Seeds which was not very appetising.  The Char was nicely cooked on one piece but very under cooked on the other.  The two parts did not have ANYTHING to do with each other.  It was odd.  I should have stuck with their Moules.

salty Angus Steak
D had the Grilled 10oz Angus Ribeye steak, Root vegetables, Chimichurri, sauteed Chanterelles and Watercress.  It was a celebration in Salt.  The Chimichurri sauce was nice but it was sat under the vegetables.  The Steak had been over seasoned then the gravy with the Mushrooms were over seasoned.

Chocolate Cheesecake and Chocolate Mousse
I had the Chocolate Cheesecake for dessert and D ordered the Cheese plate.  The Cheesecake was served with a quesnelle of Chocolate Mousse.  You have to eat the two components together.  The cake was rather muted and slightly salty.  The two together was nice.  D's cheese plate was awesome.  I don't think I've seen such a substantial cheese plate for 1 person before.  The cheeses were lovely and yet again the Blue was too strong for D so I dove in.

Cheese Plate
Not the best over all visit.  Our server was not consistently attentive and the servers who were not ours were playing bumper cars with my chair.  The ambiance was more rowdy bar then elegant gastro experience.  I won't rush back until I have a Moules et Frites craving to satisfy.

Cost: $$$$
Ambiance: Rowdy, LOUD, incongruently casual
Service: inconsistent

Chambar Restaurant
562 Beatty St
(604) 879-7119

Vancouver, BC V6B
Chambar Restaurant on Urbanspoon


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