Faux French is just fine

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Affordable luxury paired with great food and wine list

Mark Laba

The chef shows off one of the fresh creations and excellent wine choices at Les Faux Bourgeois Bistro. Good choices are duck confit or chicken pot-au-feu. Photograph by : Les Bazso, The Province


Where: 663 15th St. East, Vancouver

Payment/reservations: Major credit cards, 604-873-9733

Drinks: Fully licensed

Hours: Tues.-Sat., 5:30 p.m.midnight, closed Sun. and Mon.

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I’ve always aspired to living beyond my means, even if I have to fake it with ten-buck Rolexes and $20 Gucci loafer knock-offs. Really, you can fake most everything except maybe performing brain surgery.

In the current economic meltdown, it seems some folks have shared this same idea, although many bought the real thing and, of course, then had to have the house and car and polo pony to match the bling. Others are just innocent bystanders watching their savings vanish like the polar icecaps in an Al Gore documentary. But with the de-valued dollar, I’m figuring maybe that wad of Canadian Tire money I’ve been saving might finally be worth something. From faux-money to faux fur to faux-finishing, the faux middle class is taking a beating. Not since the French lugged out the guillotine during the Revolution have so many been in over their heads and lost it in the process.

So it was refreshing to see this new joint recently opened on the Eastside that proclaimed with no sense of shame that faux bourgeois was the new social class and rich folk be damned. Great French food at affordable prices, an excellent wine list that’s equally attainable, all in a setting that oozes French bistro with an eastside retro-appeal like my Pierre Cardin fitted shirts circa 1980.

Old gooseneck lamps run along the top of the wall, pointed upward for subdued spot lighting, recroom wood panelling takes on a Gallic sensibility, black and white tiled flooring and a long mirror over the banquette seating creates a Parisian doppleganger effect.

Most importantly, this joint is warm and welcoming. Our waiter had a thick French accent, so Peaches and I instantly made a pact not to try and pronounce anything from the menu.

Began with an amazing onion soup ($8) made with rich, meaty stock instead of the usual wimpy chicken or veggie broth I’ve encountered in other places. This turns the onion creation into a soup that’s hearty on the exterior but conceals layers of rich flavour beneath the sopping bread and stretchy Gruyere covering.

We stuck to an onion theme with the Tarte flambée Alsacienne ($12), a kind of French/Germanic version of pizza but with a very flaky pastry-like crust, topped with caramelized onion, a rug of crunchy belly-fat bacon and some creamy blobs of ricotta. A wonderful balance of the delicate and the lusty, kind of like France and Germany negotiating over their borders.

For mains, I had the truly inspiring lamb sirloin with caramelized cauliflower, green beans and blue cheese hidden between the slices of pinkish lamb fillets ($17), the whole shmeer wallowing in a jus that had the deep red colouring and bittersweet hint of cherry.

Peaches tried the grilled beef fillet ($19), the prime cut served with potatoes au gratin, some green beans and some beet-like species that was delicious. She wasn’t bowled over by the beef but wasn’t disappointed either. More tender was the direction she was leaning. Rave reviews for the ‘tater construction, though.

If you go, check the daily chalkboard specials for the Chef’s Selections but really you can’t go wrong with duck confit, ling cod in white wine or chicken pot-au-feu.

Classic bistro fare so tasty you’ll be faux-pawing your way through these pseudo-bourgeois offerings like an eastside Maurice Chevalier in a brand new Sally Ann suit.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Classic French fare to please even the snootiest closet bourgeoisie.

RATINGS: Food: A-; Service: A; Atmosphere: A

© The Vancouver Province 2008


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