Tableau has been on my to try list for some time. This slightly upscale French Bistro is located at the base of the Loden Hotel in Coal Harbour. The décor is classic, with checkered floors, wood paneling, brass fixtures and an inviting, centrally located bar.
The Chef, Marc-André Choquette, has an impressive CV. He graduating from a Montreal culinary school, staged in Normandy at two-Michelin starred Restaurant Gill, and was a sous chef at both Lumiere and West.
Although the dinner menu appears somewhat limited, with only 6 mains to choose from, there is also a fixed daily special as well as the chef’s specials that day. All entrees are below $25, and there are a few $20 or less options.
Sadly, I was unimpressed by the cocktails, and regretted not sticking to the wine. I sampled the 2 most popular cocktails, 1181 (gin, elderflower syrup, lemonade, prosecco), and the Mary Pickford (rum, maraschino, grenadine, pineapple), as well as their “Drawing Board” special. The first two lacked complexity and depth of flavor, and the special had a little too much going on and was quite boozy. This was the weakest link of the evening for me, but I place more emphasis/value on the food, which luckily was great enough to make me forget about the cocktails.
One of the house specialties, the Rabbit Terrine (with apple compote and toasted baguette) had a lovely, delicate taste. The apple compote was a nice accompaniment and wasn’t too sweet.
The Steak Tartare (with quail’s egg and pomme gaufrette) had a good texture and was quite enjoyable. However, I was more interesting in the amazing gluten-free waffle fries. I could’ve easily scarfed down an entire order of those with some dipping sauce. They were very thin, light, crunchy, and fun to eat. And of course, they served as a great vessel for the tartare.
Saturday’s special was the short ribs au jus (with glazed vegetables). These may have very well been the best short ribs I have ever had. They were melt-in-your-mouth tender, fatty, and delicious. The texture was due to the sous vide preparation. Personally, I’m not a fan of cooking in plastic, but I can certainly appreciate the phenomenal results it yields. The veggies were also cooked to perfection. The serving size was very generous. It was a fantastic, comforting dish.
The chef’s daily special was a pan seared chicken with potatoes and mushrooms. It was incredibly tender and juicy and the sauce was fantastic. I always hesitate to order chicken, as it can be rather boring, but this chicken was anything but.
The dessert menu was pretty much all gluten-free (crème brulee, ice cream sundae, chocolate mousse). The seasonal cake was a flourless pistachio cheesecake, with a thin flour-based crust. I couldn’t resist – I simply avoided the crust. It was another generous portion, and came with a non gluten-free cookie and a scoop of espresso ice cream. The cheesecake was quite tasty, although a little bit on the sweet side. Eating cheesecake was a treat, since most restaurants make theirs with flour.
Our server was great – friendly and helpful. There were a few occasions where we were left unattended for a tad too long, but we were having such an enjoyable evening, and the vibe was pretty casual, so we didn’t mind too much. The restaurant had a very welcoming atmosphere. There were lots of couples out on date night, but there were also tables of families.
Overall, I really liked Tableau. The prices were very reasonable for the quality and portion size. The ambiance is great. And there’s no pretension in sight. And of course, the food was delicious. This is a place that I would look forward to re-visiting. I’d like to try their steak frites, which is said to be one of the best in town, the rabbit dijonnaise (when’s the last time you had rabbit dijonnaise??), and perhaps a cheese or charcuterie plate. It’s refreshing to see a restaurant in this budget range that’s so welcoming and doesn’t skimp on either quality or service – Vancouver needs more such places. I have finally found a French bistro in Vancouver that I’d be happy to recommend.