Friday, May 13, 2011

Yum Yum at La Belle Auberge

It was one of those days when I really needed a pick-me-up, and, after much pondering, nothing would do the trick more than an exquisite meal.  After much waiting and planning, an opportunity arrived one night and K and I embarked a journey to Ladner in search of la Belle Auberge.  The sophisticated French restaurant is situated in a 100-year old Victorian house with a romantic, nostalgia feel.  I must admit that initially it felt strange like being in a guest at someone's dining room with a very quiet, reserved atmosphere.  However, once the setting is coupled with attentive service, and the wine started pouring, I began to feel more settled in and became quite fond of the ambience.  It was a very intimate setting where you can spend hours over conversations paired with an excellent meal, the type of quality time you would want to share with loved ones.

What to order...
The thought of going the whole nine yard with the $95 tasting menu did cross my mind.  Alas, our modest selves just settled for a la carte so we can just pick and choose.  We were presented with the amuse bouche trio in which the theme was like a tribute to the spring orchard with a variety of fruit pairing.   From the left, we had the grape tomato and over lentil which was a juicy burst with earthy finish.  Second item was a smooth, creamy terrine with sweet fruit jelle, my favourite out of the three.  The third item, a slice of wagyu beef with contrasting citrus tang and crunch of green apple.  

 Starter number one was the beautifully seared foie gras with apple tart tartin $25.  I'm usually not the biggest fan of foie gras, but I made the right choice ordering this dish.  The foie gras was creamy,smooth, smoky, with a slightly bitter undertone.  The caramelized port wine reduction and apple tart tartin gave foie gras the sweetness and lets not forget the tartness of the berries that all worked together to send the whole dish to a whole new level.  Very impressive dish, I absolutely enjoyed it.

 If you're a seafood lover, you wouldn't pass on the lobster bisque with poached lobster ball $15.  I'm glad I didn't.  The bisque was concentrated, rich in lobster flavour with a natural sweetness of the crustacean.  The poached lobster ball was meaty and it was accompanied by a perfectly seared scallop.  I was nursing my bowl for the longest time, prolonging it by dipping baguette into it.

In between courses, we were served with the blackberry and raspberry sorbet, a nicely refreshing and palette cleansing intermission.  

The Mains
For the carnivores out there, the Peace River lamb rack with thyme jus $34 is perfect for your palette.  Three juicy, meaty lamb pieces with adequate fatty lining, roasted to medium rare with subtle flavoured thyme jus to tone the lamb gamey taste and a side of vegetables would definitely fill your appetite and stomach.  

Back in March at the Foodie Feast, I tasted la Belle Auberge's duck breast cooked to perfection in a pan powered by a small portable gas stove and I was blown away by how tasty it was.   So, when I came to the restaurant, there was no way I was leaving without having the duck breast.  Here is what brought me here in the first place, the mouthwatering Wenzel Farms duck breast with blueberry sauce $34 cooked to perfection once again.  The duck was tender, juicy, and served with the sweet and savoury blueberry sauce and mixed vegetables.  Mmmmmmmmm.... If you can't already tell, I highly recommend this dish :)

The Treats
Before our final course, I mentioned to our server my love for their special Kalamansi explosion, a treat only offered in the grand tasting menu.  These treats are made with thin white chocolate cover with a juicy, tangy burst of calamansi concoction.  I also mentioned that they should sell them by the package because I would definitely buy them all out.  They are so good and so addictive! 

 Towards the end, there was only enough room to share a dessert.  Choices were torn between the teardrop tiramisu ($12) and the creme brulee.  Alas, the "teardrop" part in the tiramisu took the win.   The dessert arrived looking decadent and was quite tasty.  I'm guessing it was probably the most popular dessert on the list.

Unpretentious quality French food!
After dinner, my sister inquired about our dining experience and, strangely enough (or more predictably?), it turned out that my sister and I ordered almost the identical items from our visits.  Therefore, my experience was more of a recap of her experience.  K and I left the restaurant almost 2 hours later with a full stomach and a memorable experience.  I have come across too many French restaurants that, after the years, begin losing passion in their cooking, and it is reflected in the quality of their dishes.  Or worse, restaurants that are over-priced and over-hyped with "imported" claims.  La Belle Auberge definitely sets the bar and leads an example of unpretentious cooking.  I am definitely returning for more visits with my loved ones.

La Belle Auberge on Urbanspoon

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