(Bear with me, I'm catching up on a backlog of food posts. Here's one from a few weeks ago....)

Amanda, a friend from work, and I had a chance to have a leisurely lunch when we were out of the office visiting various places for one of our projects. We decided upon a French bistro on Cambie called Pied-a-Terre. As you can see from the photos, the restaurant is very distinctive looking, with a playful flying pig mural on the side of the building contrasting with its rather stark, elegant, vertical facade.

Reservations are recommended for this place because it is quite small. The interiors were a delight, with a fancy black chandelier, dark framed mirrors, a chalkboard menu, and tasteful wooden tables and black leathery banquette and chairs.

The lunch started out wonderfully, with a stack of warm slices of French bread that were utterly divine, with a crunchy (but not hard) crust and a fluffy interior.  These came with a generous portion of butter. This was amazing - one of the best breads I've had.

Both Amanda and I had the unfortunate disposition of being gluttons, so when we saw the Table d'Hote option of three courses for $25, our eyes widened and we impulsively went for it. You only live once, right?  For the first course, both of us chose the quail on a frise salad. This was very decadent, to have the whole bird to yourself as an appetizer, no less!  The quail was delicious, with a really mouth-watering grilled flavour and delicately cooked flesh. The salad was also really tasty, with morsels of pork nestled among the greens. (Note: my dining companion who does not eat red meat or pork didn't enjoy this - the quail tasted too 'gamey' for her palate)

For the main course, Amanda ordered the trout with capers, served on a bed of vegetables. The portion was very generous. She liked this quite a bit, and loved the size of the meal, even though she couldn't quite finish the whole thing.

Amanda also wanted to replace the bed of vegetables with fries, so the server gave her an extra side of fries at no charge. I found that to be pretty impressive. Look at the size of that!

In fitting with the theme of the day (gluttony), I went for the steak frites with peppercorn sauce. This was huge, and along with the main components, also came with creamed spinach and a herbed breadcrumb topped tomato. The dish was enjoyable; the fries were well cooked, golden brown and crispy, the vegetable sides were really pleasant departures from the regular steak frites. The meat was a nice medium rare and was well seasoned. My only comment would be that the steak itself was a little tough and needed quite a bit of chewing. But considering the cost, this is pretty understandable. All in all, a very hearty dish.

We were utterly stuffed at this point. But who can pass up dessert? Amanda chose the simple vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. Judging from its appearance, the ice cream looks housemade (thought it did seem a bit too 'melty'). She enjoyed this, although she thought that a bit more chocolate sauce would have made it perfect.

I got the Napoleon with sour cherry compote. The sour cherries were absolutely amazing - the tartness cut through the richness of the cream on top and between the layers. However, there was a major problem with the dessert, because the pastry layers were so thick and hard that it was impossible to cut through them. As a result, the layers and cream went all over the place. It was not very elegant to eat.

We very much enjoyed our lunch at Pied-a-Terre. For the amount of food, the service and quality of the ingredients, it is quite the deal. The whole meal was an experience, and was one of those meals where you felt like you were in a different country on vacation. 

I would definitely comeback to this restaurant. They know what they're doing.

Pied-à-Terre on Urbanspoon

Pagliacci's - Victoria

Pagliacci's has been around since the 1970's and has quite the following. Every time we've visited Victoria, we've seen long line ups outside the restaurant; for this reason, we've avoided it, but this time we decided to try it when we went for dinner with Shane's dad. Being from Victoria, Shane had tried the restaurant before, but not in a long while.

Luckily, the weather was clear the night we decided to go, so the wait wasn't too bad even though the line was really long. However, the restaurant was well aware of this and brought us each a beverage as we waited. We thought that was pretty great and quite rare for a non-fine dining place.

The interior of the restaurant was filled with knick knacks and bright yellow walls. The space was really small, and tables were jammed into the restaurant with very little room for people to move. We were probably six inches from the next table. It was a little uncomfortable.

The complimentary foccacia  bread was amazing and unique. It was flaky, buttery and utterly rich. It was really irresistible.

Demsey's Lasagna ($14), touted as a favourite of Bob Dylan's, was surprisingly delicious. The handmade pasta was still slightly chewy instead of the usual mushy stuff that you'd normally get. The meat sauce was delicious and had a wonderful basil flavour. On top of that the whole thing was really cheesy, and you had decadent strings of cheese as you portioned it to your mouth. It was probably one of the best lasagna's I've had. Would I order this again? Yes and yes.

Shane had "The Heart of Saturday Night", which had artichoke hearts, capers, olives, red peppers in a tomato sauce over fettucine ($14). The pasta was well cooked, but the sauce lacked punch. With those ingredients, you might expect assertive, briny flavours, but the whole dish tasted really bland. The tomato sauce lacked the freshness that the lasagna had, and even the olives and capers imparted no flavour. In fact, we had to add a bunch of salt to this dish to make it palatable.

I've thought of the lasagna many times since this visit and can't wait to return. I had my doubts about this place before I went, but I now understand the long line-ups!

Pagliacci's on Urbanspoon

The Giant Sparrows

One of the best things about Vancouver recently have been the public art that have popped up as a result of the Olympics. One such piece that has captured the imagination are the giant sparrows in False Creek by artist Myfanwy MacLeod. They are really astonishing. Seeing them tower above you is quite the experience.

There is a great write up about the project from the City of Vancouver here.

Aren't they just the most wonderful things?