VO Foodie's favourite French
VO Foodie’s food rating: 5/5
- Intimate, yet elegant ambiance
- French cuisine without rude waiters
- Great price
Absinthe Bistro claims to be a "taste of France on the Drive." Commercial Drive is home to Little Italy, but in recent years, other cultures have started to give this street some love too. Absinthe Bistro made me nostalgic for the time I spent in France. As I sat down in the cozy but elegant restaurant, I noticed an accordion piece come on and all that was missing was a rude waiter. Luckily, we were greeted by Julianna, who gave us a very warm welcome and made us feel at home. It almost felt like you were in someone’s dining room, because the open kitchen was merely fifteen feet away from our table. Absinthe is the perfect place for a date, or an intimate dinner with friends.
The restaurant is a family business, owned by a young couple, Cory and Julianna Pearson. Cory studied at the famous Institute Paul Bocuse in Lyon, and worked with Michelin starred chefs in Paris. Luckily for us, he decided to come home to Vancouver and open his own French restaurant.
Yes, Absinthe Bistro is a very small restaurant by any measure. However there are some benefits to this. There are three choices for each course, and the menu is tweaked on a weekly basis. This saves indecisive people the misery of choosing between forty options. More importantly, it only costs $35 for a three course meal, which is a steal, given the quality of the food. Also, since the restaurant only seats twenty people, the food is always served piping hot. It is a refreshing change from some larger restaurants where plates sometimes get left on the counter for minutes before it arrives on your table.
Since I came back from France, my friends have labelled me a bread snob because it is rare that I find a baguette in Vancouver that can compare to the ones I used to buy from supermarkets in Lyon. However, I must say that the bread I ate at Absinthe Bistro is pretty darn close; a crunchy crust that does not chip teeth and a warm fluffy white center. Things were off to a good start.
I started with the goat cheese terrine, which was delightfully creamy, yet light. I was impressed by the amount of goat cheese that came on the plate, as most places in Vancouver serve cheese as though people are scared of it. I enjoyed the dill and spring onion in the cheese, and the goat cheese cut through the slightly bitter arugula nicely.
For my main course, I decided on pan-seared scallops. The scallops were seared perfectly, and the white butter sauce was wonderfully savoury but tart at the same time. The scalloped potatoes were a bit too buttery for my taste, but what is French cuisine without butter? Julia Child would have approved.
Lastly, the desserts did not fail to impress. I ordered the crème brulée, and at first was taken aback at the serving size. Also, note the unusually large spoon. But after cracking the topping (my favourite part by the way), I realized that serving the crème brulée in a saucer dish meant that there was a lot more crunchy bits to eat than usual! They say that people judge their entire meal on dessert. If that were true, this crème brulée did the trick.
Absinthe Bistro has definitely made my list of go-to places for affordable French food in Vancouver.
Absinthe Bistro is located on 1260 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC
They are open for dinner:
Wednesday: 5:30 -9:00pm
Thursday – Saturday: 5:30 – 9:30pm
Sunday: 5:30 – 9:00pm
Psst..Julianna hinted that they plan to open for weekend lunch in the future.