Bistro Brunch at its Best
When the Brunch Blog Boss texts you and invites you to brunch at Bistro Pastis, there’s only one answer, a resounding YES. Bistro Pastis is a long-standing stand-out classic French restaurant in Kitsilano. For fifteen years restauranteur John Blakely has been serving classic, elegant French food in a room that speaks to the romance of the French food experience. If you can’t tell I’m a fan, then you should probably read on. I promise to make it obvious.
Bistro Pastis is one of those restaurants that you can’t stop by without looking at the menu. It’s going to be chock full of temptations for someone like me; someone weak in the face of superb ingredients combined to create sublime food.
The Brunch Blog Boss doesn’t help matters when she informs me there’s a new brunch special at Pastis, and she thinks we should try it. It’s a great deal; eggs benedict or an omelette plus a brunch cocktail, choice of mimosa or Caesar, for $16.50.
The cocktail list includes such classic brunch cocktails as a Caesar, Kir Royale, A French Press, and my new personal favourite, the Femme Fatale. Yes, I know, let the jokes begin. The meal comes with a choice of potatoes, salad, or half and half of each. It may sound small, but the third option is actually a pretty big deal in my books. I’m the person that always asks if I can have half French fries and half salad at a restaurant, and I’m amazed at how many times I receive either an odd look, or a flat out no. It’s a small offering, but shows that the comfort and interest of the customer definitely come first.
I have to say, the service was outstanding from start to finish. The staff are genuinely friendly and possess an expert understanding of the menu and the ingredients. We had such a lovely conversation I almost wanted to ask our waiter to pull up a chair and join us.
So what did the Boss and I have? I chose the omelette of the day which was filled with goat cheese, cherry tomatoes and asparagus. What makes French food so special is the technique and the understanding of how to combine flavours. The folded egg was light and fluffy, and the perfect home for the fillings. The amount of goat cheese was just enough. If there’s too much, you can’t taste the other ingredients. If it’s too little, you run the risk of the inside of the omelette tasting dry. My omelette was perfect. All the flavours stood out, not one masked by any other. The potatoes are crisp, and the salad is fresh and delicious. It’s a cohesive meal where each offering on the plate makes the others even better.
There are three eggs benedict options on the menu; duck confit, ratatouille de provencale and smoked salmon. The Brunch Blog Boss ordered the salmon benny, and asked if she could try the duck confit, as well. She’s clearly got some culinary street cred because the kitchen agreed to do this for the blog ONLY. This is not an option on the menu (BBB note: maybe? If you asked them nicely).
If your “thing” for brunch is eggs benedict, you’re in for a treat. The duck confit is moist with crispy ends. It’s a rich serving that is neither masked by the hollandaise sauce, nor overpowers it. The saltiness of the smoked salmon also pairs beautifully with the lightness of the hollandaise sauce. Yes, I just called hollandaise sauce light. The sauce is velvety smooth with the butter balanced beautifully by the hint of acidity from the lemon. It’s gorgeous and when mixed with the perfection of the egg yolk from the poached egg, it creates a stunning combination you want to roll your potatoes in. If you aren’t a fan of hollandaise on potatoes, then take the mayonnaise when it’s offered. There is no choice when presented with either ketchup or scratch-made mayonnaise for your potatoes. If you trust me at all, trust me on this. Take the mayonnaise (BBB note: she’s not kidding. The house-made aioli was super yum).
I know the suspense is killing you over what drinks we chose, so let me ease your burden; the Boss chose the Kir Royale, and I chose the Femme Fatale. Kir Royale is a classic combination of sparkling white wine and crème de cassis; a sweet dark liqueur made from black currants. This is one of those classic French drinks that everyone should try at least once. It was a hit with the Boss. My Femme Fatale was just what a dame with an attitude should have. (in case you missed it, that’s me.) It’s a smooth drink with an acidic kick at the end that makes you sit up and go, wow! The Femme Fatale was a perfect balance to the sweetness of the goat cheese.
I should mention, the coffee is mild yet flavourful, none of the starkness present that you find in a dark roast or espresso. The house baguette has an exceptional crunch on the outside, and a soft yet chewy inside, just as you’d expect.
This is the kind of easy going Brunch that’s perfect for a lazy Vancouver morning. The staff are so assured and yet unhurried that it feels like time stands still for this meal. The freshness of the ingredients is bested only by the skill required to prepare a meal so simple, yet bursting with a myriad of flavours in every bite.
Did I love my first brunch at Bistro Pastis? Absolutely! This brunch deal might be one of the best in the city. Give Bistro Pastis a try sooner than later, because once the word gets out about their latest offering, a table might not be so easy to score.
Movie Recommendation: Catherine Denueve in Belle de Jour (1967) was considered racy in its day. The young doyenne of French cinema plays a frigid housewife who moonlights as a prostitute. She’s a Femme Fatale with a real kick.
2153 W 4th Ave
Open for brunch Saturday and Sunday from 11 am.
Michelle Muldoon is a writer, filmmaker, and avid foodie. You can find her on twitter @chat2michelle. Rebecca Coleman is a food blogger and social media junkie (with a camera), and the BBB. You can find her on twitter @rebeccacoleman.