Living in Cambie Village currently, I have walked by Pied à Terre, a small inconspicuous French Bistro, several times, and have vowed to go there at some point this summer before I move on to yet another neighbourhood. While they serve dinner seven days a week, I was delighted to see that they also have a lunch service available every Friday from 12 to 2:30pm.
A great girlfriend’s birthday just passed, and I told her I wanted to take her and her daughter out for lunch to celebrate soon. So we secured a date and chose to try out Pied à Terre on the soonest Friday we could manage. So just this past Friday we made our way over to the restaurant (identified by many via the flying pig painted on the exterior south-facing wall).
In advance, I had looked online to see what was available on their lunch menu, and couldn’t find any information listed on their website. I did email them to see what I might expect when dining there, and they told me that they had daily specials available, along with a prix fixe three course menu with a few options for each course.
A few daily specials written on a chalkboard caught our eye right away when we came in and sat down in the small and intimate dining room, even before we were handed the paper menu with the prix fixe selection for $29 per person. We weren’t sure quite what to expect in terms of portion sizes and by the time we ordered we hadn’t been able to tell from fellow patrons around us, so we ended up order a fair amount of dishes from both menus, and decided to share.
After some discussion with our server around what would be a good idea to order for my friend’s four year old daughter, and some back and forth with the chef, she also ended up with something from the regular menu. Once we put in our requests, we settled in with water and coffee to drink and had some bread, opting out of having a wet, wine-filled lunch (a good idea in the end as we knew my brother’s birthday was the next day and we’d be celebrating with enough cocktails then – and oh, did we ever).
To start, our server brought us the specials menu Fig Salad, with port roasted figs, roquefort cheese, walnuts, and crispy speck ham. We both thoroughly enjoyed this refreshing appetizer to the meal, and loved how all of the components seemed a natural and complementary fit. Without much hesitation, the two of us managed to polish the salad off fairly quickly.
Simultaneously, we tasted the Spicy Tomato Fennel Soup, which was the Soup of the Day. Lightly spicy, and with quite a thick consistency, the fennel was somewhat difficult to detect, and almost lingered just beneath the surface. Definitely a heavier dish, we started to slow down while eating the soup, and almost felt a foreboding feeling when we knew there were still two main dishes to go.
At the same time, we asked that our young dining companion would have her food brought at the same time as our starters, so she was feasting on the Pastis Prawns with House Made Tagliatelle, all in a summer vegetable ragout. She can sometimes prefer not to have her prawns, so we picked them off for her, and of course helped her out a bit. I really didn’t mind, as they were nice and plump and full of flavour – it would’ve been sad to let them go to waste! This turned out to be a perfect dish for her, and she ate it all up, and finished if off dipping some of the bread in the sauce at the bottom of the bowl.
At this point, I was getting a little concerned. The portion sizes at Pied à Terre were definitely more generous than any of us were expecting, and after peering over at some other tables, we knew we were in for a lot with our upcoming entrees.
The first to arrive was the Moules Frites daily special. The fries were very crisp and salty and were cut quite short – just the way I like them! The mussels themselves were also delicious and the Basque-inspired broth had a spicy kick to it, with slices of chorizo, onion, and fresh basil over top. We did end up forcing ourselves to finish off this dish, as it was really good and not something that’s good to pack and take away. At the same time, I managed to get through most of the fries with a little bit of help from my dining companions, and continued to dip them into the broth until we asked for them to be taken away so I could finally stop.
The Braised Beef Cheek was my favourite dish of the meal in the end. It was so tender and divine, served with a pomme puree, green peas, pork, and maitaki mushrooms (if I’m correct). There was a large portion of the protein on the plate, and although it was fabulous, we couldn’t finish it all off in the end as we’d filled up too much beforehand already. It was such a shame, but we did take it to go because there was no way we could leave that behind.
After all that, we still had dessert on its way. Our selection was the Prune and Armagnac Pot de Creme. I absolutely loved this dish, which almost seemed like an alternative to a Creme Brulee. There were candied sliced almonds coating the top, and the creme in the middle, followed by the Prune and Armagnac filling on the bottom. Even though we were all very full and bursting at the seams, I had to push through it and made myself finish every single last bite. I highly recommend that anyone who is going to have something sweet at Pied à Terre give this unique dessert a taste.
The food was consistent throughout the course of the meal, and we did manage to try quite a few dishes in one sitting. I also liked the small intimate feel of the French bistro-style restaurant. The service wasn’t fantastic on this particular occasion (I was slightly put off by it, but can’t put my finger on anything specific to mention here – we might have just not had the right connection with our server from the start). However, great food, generous portions, and a short walk from my place will bring me back for another meal in future.