Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bon Rouge

Closed April 2013 - reopened with a new local food concept as Bon Bistro

Address: 611 Courtney St.
Phone: (250) 220-8008
Website: http://www.bonrouge.ca/
Price: Around $20 for a main
Notes: Casual service, fancy french food. Stellar patio.

I didn't realize that Bon Rouge had taken over from the mediocre Italian restaurant that preceded it Quite so long ago, but it has apparently been not quite five years since they changed over. From what I can glean from their website, Bon Rouge is apparently connected to Pescatores and Oyster [neither of which I have visited] - whether that was true for said defunct and defamed Italian place I am not sure, it was before I started Paying Attention to the food scene in the way that I do now.

The restaurant itself is quite stunning. It felt a little bit like I was on the set of Moulin Rouge - red accent walls, dark woods, and stunning black and white wallpaper which struck me the 'arts & crafts' aesthetic with the fleur de lis symbol. It was all pretty classy and yet casual and comfortable. An excellent candidate for a first date restaurant if I ever saw one!

Like many restaurants tucked away in to old buildings, it is separated out into several rooms. I didn't see much of the side that is to the right after the entrance. We were seated on the left. The kitchen is 'open plan' (for lack of a better term), and although a wall does separate it from the main dining areas, I had an excellent view from my seat. There was also a smaller, almost private room, near the washrooms on the left-hand side.

The regular menu is pretty excellent value - still a fancy, date-night price. For the every-day dinner, they have a 'prix-fixe' menu with an appetizer of prawns or a house salad and dessert for $25 with the daily special (sun-thurs) or $32 for either steak & frites or bouillabaisse (everyday). Their lunch menu features the majority of the dinner menu, but significantly cheaper. They also have a weekend brunch menu that I have heard people raving about and am looking forward to trying on that amazing patio this summer.

March 15, 2012
Moon Curser Bordeaux Blend 2009
I have resolved to educate myself on local wines a bit more, and the name on this one caught my eye and was agreeable to the table in price and colour. Side note: it was marked on the list as a 'merlot blend' which broke my brain a little bit because I don't know a lot (er, anything) about wine but my favourite for a really long time was a Meritage which I learned was the BC equivalent of a Bordeaux. My understanding was it's the same deal as not calling bubbly wine from BC Champagne - you can't because it doesn't come from Champagne. Anyhow, I will stop being pedantic and talk about the actual taste of the wine...

The first sip was holy-hell bright - as bright as a white wine. Might have been tainted by my toothpaste, it's kind of evil tasting (please send your recommendations for food-nerd friendly toothpaste). Things mellowed out once some food arrived and although it was still pretty light and bright it wasn't overpowering.

French Onion Soup
The other lady at the table and I both selected this as our starter without thinking about the fact it is nearly impossible to eat, maintain a polite conversation and be classy. We ended up doing pretty well - I only discovered one small, stray piece of cheese on my sweater when I visited the ladies later in the evening.
It was a very nicely done french onion soup, although admittedly it isn't something I have ordered out often so I don't have much to compare to as a benchmark. The soup base was lovely and savoury and possibly even had bacon in it (vegetarians be warned!). Just thinking about the ooey-gooey cheese on top is making me drool.

Roast Chicken
This was the roast chicken, and it was massive! You easily could have split this dish between two people without blinking. It's hard to see in this terribly-lit photograph, but underneath was a bed of potatoes and some vegetables. The most stunning thing about this chicken was how incredibly moist it was. Succulent might even be a more descriptive word.

Croissant Bread Pudding
Unlike one of the other restaurants with bread pudding croissant on their dine around menu, this one actually seemed like it was made from croissants! My memories is vague so many weeks on. Plus, unlike eating out with my partner-in-food-and-life where we have run out of things to say to each other we were out with another couple so I was actually paying attention to the conversation.

March 15, 2012

The service at Bon Rouge was not at all what I had expected, although I had heard from a few different sources that it wasn't really typical fancy french restaurant service. I just wasn't really clear on what this meant. It was very interesting, because I am pretty sure this is a calculated choice by the restaurant management to avoid any semblance of pretentiousness. There was certainly a lot of attention to the details - presentation of the wine, meal-specific cutlery etc. but the attitude of the service was beyond casual. For example, when our server arrived to take our orders he strode up to the table saying "hey hey hey! are we ready to order?" I kind of liked it, but it  did kind of make the moments where the service fell flat feel a bit more sloppy than I think they would have if things had been polished overall.