French cuisine is one that I have not covered a lot in my blog. Whenever I think of French food, I automatically associate with “upscale”, “expensive”, “dressy” as well as the notorious stereotype of serving small, petite portions with arrogant service. I was afraid that I would be smirked at if I didn’t have an extensive knowledge of food and wine.
This month, I gathered up my courage and visited the newly opened French restaurant, Parc Cafe and Brasserie, on 17th Ave.
This upscale, chic restaurant with European charm and style is filled with diners refuelling on simple yet sophisticated classic French cuisine. The high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, black and white checkered tiles and classic bentwood chairs evokes a traditional bistro feel. The prominent pendant lighting draws the eye upward with dramatic flair.
We were promptly greeted warm-heartedly by our server who demonstrated thorough knowledge of the food and went through the menu with us (since it is mainly written in French).
As we patiently waited for our food, the server offered us their freshly-baked housemade bread, with a choice of sour dough or country-style, paired with olive oil, butter, and sea-salt. We were told that all their bread was made with wild yeast instead of cultured yeast. The server even educated us the difference between 2 types of yeast.
Next up was the 3 cheese plate ($16), that came with cantal, blue and brie cheese, along with apricot puree, dry apricots, nuts and thin French bread on the side. Cantal was the mildest of all, yet offered a milky aroma with nutty flavor. Initially, I was reluctant to try blue cheese, but later discovered that its bold, sharp and tangy flavor wasn’t that bad. The more I had, the more I liked it! On the other hand, we were surprised to find the delightful soft-ripened brie cheese tasted strongly of mushrooms and garlic with a strong earthy smell.
Here came our entree! The agneau ($33) was essentially braised lamb shank served with potato puree and roasted vegetable ragout. The meat was fall-of-the-bone tender, flavorful and succulent delicious. The perfectly smooth and creamy potato puree brought satisfying culinary delights. On the other end, the roasted root vegetables delivered a mouthful of chewy sweetness.
The fletan ($35) came with a piece of decent-sized halibut, along with white bean puree, tomato broth and vegetable pistou. The firm, dense flesh has a mild, clean taste that tickled your palate. Topped with tomato broth, the dish offered a wonderful contrast of tastes and colors.
Before we took off, we selected a few classic French desserts to satisfy our avid appetite.
The profiteroles ($8) were beautifully presented on a wood plank. The warm espresso chocolate sauce was the perfect accompaniment to the freezy cold creme-fraiche-ice-cream-filled pastry balls. Each one of these tasty treats was bursting with flavor and instantly melt in your mouth. Just like a firework.
If one describes profiteroles as a child’s treat, then baba au rhum ($7) is definitely a grown-up’s dessert. A piece of yeast cake soaked thoroughly in rum syrup, served with whipped cream on the side? Don’t even try to resist. Enjoy the kick in the back of the throat.
To be honest, we were surprised and pleased by the high quality food and friendly service at Parc Cafe and Brasserie. Though it costed us an arm and a leg, our experience was delightful. I would recommend this place to anyone who wants to impress their date.