Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday, November 15th - aka My Birthday - le Crocodile

Amuse Bouche
It has been a while since we have been back here and what better reason to make the trip than my birthday.  D hadn't told me where we were going.  He had just told me to be ready for 6h30 and then at six, told me to meet him at Burrard and Smithe.  I knew where we were going right away.  Well, though he tried to joke that we were going to Japadog that has a cart right there, he stopped when I tried to order.

Le Crocodile is a bit of an institution for uncompromising French cuisine in Vancouver.  Whilst all it's peers have meandered carefully into fusion or lighter offerings, le Crocodile would never make such concessions.  All sauces are full fat, full butter, full on.  It's not enough to say, come hungry.  Rather I would say, come skinny.

The setting is a tranquil and chic, yet possibly becoming dated, iconic French restaurant setting.  It's a minor thing but I like the fact that the majority of the staff are French or Quebecois.  The one thing that bothered D more than I, surprisingly was the enormous floral arrangement which dominates the centre of the dining area.  He found the aroma a bit suffocating.  Grandma's bathroom floral, he put it. 
Le Crocodile Pommes Frites
We were given a small Tartlette with a Tomato Concasse amuse bouche as well as warm bread which I had to hold myself back from continuing to nosh at.  We also received a small mound of matchstick fine Pommes Frites.  We're not certain if they accompanied either of our starters but they were lovely and filling!
Escargots in Pastry
My starter was something that I will always order if I see it on a menu.  I don't know why we don't do them at home.  There is always a reason I don't pick some up at the fish mongers, Escargots.  I adore them.  I forced my sister to try them once after much cajoling.  She wasn't terribly enthused by the texture and commented that they were basically a vehicle for Garlic Butter.  Perhaps that's partially true.  I am quite sensitive to texture and it's never bothered me, particularly if they are not over cooked.  Whilst Garlic does normally dominate the the classic serving, the Escargots themselves have a nice mild earthy flavour too.  Le Crocodile serves theirs in a small pastry shell.  It carries just enough Butter with the Escargot on the journey to your mouth.  You could try to scoop more into the cup but it magically doles out just the right amount.  So the bread I had saved to dunk with my fork to pick up the Escargot was not needed :^D.

Salad with Lobster Tempura
D had a Frisee salad with Lobster Tempura.  Lightly dressed with heaping large pieced of Lobster.  Quite a substantial serving.  It is hard to do a nice delicate Tempura with something like Lobster.  I had the same Tempura on my main and found the Tempura slightly oily, slightly and the Lobster over cooked.

Halibut on Pasta in a Saffron Beurre Blanc
For my main, I had the Halibut on Fettucini in a Saffron infused Beurre Blanc sauce topped with Lobster Tempura.  In retrospect, this was a horrible choice following Escargot.  I hit my surfeit of butter half way through my Escargot.  The Beurre Blanc sauce was incredibly rich and too too heavy.  The pasta itself was gorgeous and perfectly cooked but there was far too much sauce.  The Halibut was slighty over cooked, slightly and under seasoned.  The portion was enormous.  I had to take some home.  I hadn't even considered it since I almost never do it.  But our server offered.  If you go to their website my dish is on the screen with the menu.  The piece of Halibut I received was twice that size.  Though it was a Monday, it was not by any means slow and I do not believe they were 'clearing'. 

D ordered the Roasted Chicken.  His sauce as well as a bit heavy but not overly so.  The bird was roasted very well and the accompaniements were lovely as well as generous.  The risotto was on the 'soft side'.   D had wanted to order a lighter fish dish.  He ordered the Sea Breem since the only other fish dish was the Chilean Sea Bass.  We were both taken aback to see this on the menu since it is on the endangered, do not fish list by Oceanwise.  We even verified with the chef that it was indeed Chilean.  Alas it was so D ordered the Sea Breem.  Our waiter came back, regrettably, to tell us that Sea Breem was not available and actually had not been available for over a month.  We found it odd that 1. He would admit that too us. 2 That they hadn't re-printed the paper inserts in the menus.

We ordered an absolutely wonderful Chardonnay four our meal. Nice body without the heavy woody punch. Sophisticated, delicate yet present on the palate.  Yumm!  Shaw + Smith M3 Chardonnay

Shaw + Smith M3 Chardonnay 2008

Crodiles with your bill
I think the few years of living and eating in Vancouver or perhaps, generally in this day and age, we find so much rich food hard to take all at once.  That said, it is a lovely treat to eat there. There are so few places where you feel you're treating yourself to a nice elegant dinner.  But like I said, come skinny or order 'intelligently' from end to end.

Cost: $$$$-$$$$$
Ambiance: Classic warm French
Service: Attentive and courteous

Le Crocodile
909 Burrard St
(604) 669-4298
Vancouver, BC V6Z
Le Crocodile on Urbanspoon


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