Review: Tableau Bar Bistro, Vancouver

This summer, Vancouver’s boutique Loden Hotel revamped its restaurant and went from fine dining to bistro fare. Adding a patio and decreasing inside seating, the room itself also went under the knife; post-surgery, it was dressed up in a mildly nautical theme, and the outcome gave it a roomier feel (perhaps coincident with decreased seating capacity). In any case, the former Voya is now called Tableau Bar Bistro.

Chef Marc Andre Choquette is thankfully still in charge. He was known for his theatrical presentations at the now-shut Lumière, and the menu at the Voya was stellar, but with the faltering economy and resultant trend towards casual dining, Vancouver is far more accepting of the newer, less-expensive bistro-style menu, as offered at Tableau. Scaling down is by no means an indication of downscale: the bar/bistro was just awarded best new restaurant by The Georgia Straight. After several successful visits, it’s consistently clear why: Service is spot-on from the minute a guest walks in the door.

Tableau is open for Sunday brunch, lunch and dinner, and is a hub for the after-work crowd looking for some interesting libations. On Sundays, head in early for everything from the buttermilk pancake stack served with a maple pork belly, to the gruyère cheese–loaded burger (with frites that would score high on the French Fry index, if one existed). Of course, also on offer are mimosas, excellent coffee and an assortment of pastries, should you want something lighter.

The lunch crowd comes in for something as simple as French onion soup; many a plate of steak frites leaves the kitchen, and a there are great salads and sandwiches such as BBQ pork, beef brisket and tomato bocconcini.

Dinner gets busy early, so plan ahead and make a reservation. There’s a wonderful seafood platter, half roast chicken and pork tenderloin, but the real deal is the daily special. Monday goes meatless; Tuesday offers chicken; Wednesday brings duck confit; and the treats continue through the week for around $20 per. Order up sides of frites, green beans and mushrooms to make a complete meal.

After some initial criticism on the dessert side, Tableau tweaked its menu and now carries the expected chocolate mousse, crème brûlée, a daily cake from scratch, and a scrumptious vanilla ice cream with chocolate and caramel syrup, candied nuts and whipped cream.

While Tableau is certainly good enough to save for special occasions, the pricing and approachability of the menu make it an equally perfect choice for a casual night out, lunch date or general impress-a-guest destination.

Image courtesy of Tableau Bar Bistro.

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