Sunday, May 8, 2011

Restaurant Review: L'abattoir (Gastown)

On Friday night I had the pleasure of enjoying a fantastic meal with some fave peeps, PB and Ms Crow Pose's mum and dad were celebrating their 33rd wedding anniversary-definitely cause for celebration. Turns out that after 33yrs, you know each other pretty well. So well, that they bought each other the exact same anniversary card!
The chosen eatery was L'abattoir in Gastown, Vancouver. The restaurant is very cool and definitely has that chic downtown feel with a mix of old brickwork complimented by the creative use of mason jars as lightbulb vessels. The 5 of us fitted snuggly around a 4 person table allowing for us to hear each other and talk without shouting but still soak up the energy and hubbub of the rest of the busy restaurant. The menu's were served on metal clipboards, another contrast to the old brick and woodwork. I liked it. The menu was small but everything looked fantastic. Most dishes did contain my main allergens of egg and dairy but I was very sure the chefs could modify most things. I opted for the confit of albacore tuna with smoked pork fat and crispy bits. Mmmm crispy bits. I don't care what they are crispy bits of, I just know they will be gooood. The others ordered theirs and as we waited we were presented with possibly the best bread basket selection I've every had. If you have read any previous posts, you will know that I am also wheat intolerant but can usually manage if I don't eat it too frequently. I was pretty sure that there would be good bread so I wisely ensured my wheat intake for the few days prior was low. I was right, the breadbasket came out with a selection of breads that quickly got devoured and PB Senior wisely ordered a 2nd basket as 1 was clearly not enough. There were 3 breads in there, a crispy flat bread with a spicy chili fennel rub on it, some cheese straws and some mini brioche (french sweet bread) buns with bacon bits on top. I'm on a bit of a bacon crusade right now. Specifically, putting it in things that are sweet or dessert-y in nature. More on that in another post. Anyway, suffice to say, I am a fan of the use of bacon in anything so these warm sweet buns sprinkled in it were divine. They did contain egg a little but they were small so I figured I could tolerate that amount and if I couldn't, then I would find out tomorrow but this is an example of when it is worth it to risk a migraine. If I know the risk and choose to take it, I only have myself to blame. I get more frustrated when I get migraine for no known reason and can't determine what it was I ate that had egg hidden in it. It doesn't happen too much but I do still get caught out after 5 years of managing this allergy.
My tuna/bacon/crispy bit appy was stellar. The crispy bits I think were croutons cooked in bacon fat. The pork belly was cut into small crouton sized pieces also and so whenever I picked one up I was unsure if it was a crispy bit or a belly bit. Both were good but the belly bits won 1st prize. The bacon and tuna combo was also exceptional. Not something that would spring to mind as complimentary textures or flavours but it worked and I want to recreate it at home. PB ordered the raw and cooked vegetable salad. He loves his salads and this one was a little more exotic in the vegetables chosen and the way they were cut. The bowl it was served in was akin to a gold panning dish and the dressing was served up the side of half of the bowl, as if the chef was indeed panning for gold in the salad dressing. Very cool presentation idea.
2 bread baskets and a round of cocktails later, we are on to the main course and into the wine. The sommelier recommended a pinot noir as we were all eating different mains from steak to lamb to fish. For my main course I ordered the lamb loin and sausage. I usually try to order foods I would not usually make at home or have not seen at other restaurants. I wasn't quite sure what I was ordering but what came out was a cylinder of meat containing the lamb loin and lamb sausage bound mixed together and then it was cut in half lengthways. The meal was delicious and the way the lamb was prepared made it less fatty and rich and the portion size was perfect. The presentation of food at L'abbatoir was amazing, every plate was a work of art. PB ordered steak diane, medium rare(the perfect preparation IMO). The deep, dark red of the centre of the steak was mesmerising and it was topped with a semi crushed peppercorn mix. The meat was so tender that steak knives were not even given but the regular table knives cut through the meat with very little effort. Everyone Mmmmm's and Ahhh'd over the food and then we tucked in and savoured every bite. On to the second bottle of wine now and the restaurant was buzzing. Or was that the effect of the wine? Anyway, dessert decision time. Dessert is usually the course that I have the most difficulty navigating with my allergies/intolerances. Most desserts contain egg, cream and usually both together combined to create delicious goodies such as chocolate mousse or my preferred dessert, creme caramel. Or should I say, my former preferred dessert. I'm over it now, and the bonus is that my waistline is thankful although I usually substitute my dessert for a glass of ice wine, something I have recently acquired a taste for. I passed on dessert but had I been able to indulge, it would have been the chocolate pudding cake that PB Senior ordered. Glorious in all it's ooey, gooey, melty, chocolatey perfection. Maybe I am not over it as much as I thought.

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