Courtney and I went on our first outside of work friends date to a Writer's Festival event on Granville Island. We knew we would have some time before the show, so I went online and made reservations at Bistro 101 at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts.
Bistro 101 is the restaurant and bakery that is attached to the culinary school. A friend recently graduated from the pastry program and told me about the restaurant. The idea is that all of the students get "real world training" in all aspects of restaurant life, including serving. They serve a 3 course prix fixe menu. I really like a prix fixe menu as it is a good excuse to eat 3 courses. You HAVE to order an appetizer and dessert. It's a rule.
The restaurant is quite sparse in decoration, but they do have large windows open to the kitchen so you can see you food being prepared.
They start you out with some really fresh baked buns and warm, spreadable butter.
There were two kinds of buns offered, one of them had cranberries in them. There is nothing bad to say about fresh baked buns.
Courtney started with the Butternut Squash Soup. I loved the fancy serving bowl.
The pepper on the side looked like a bit of a mistake, but I am sure that was a plating choice. She said it was really thick and tasty.
I decided to go all out and order the Escargot in a Curry Dijon Sauce puff pastry leaf.
So much better than I thought it would be. I have only had escargot once before in french cooking class and there they tasted like garlic and butter. They really are just a carrier for sauce. These were cooked very well (which highlighted the fact that we over cooked ours in class). The "puff pastry leaf" was salted which I found really interesting and tasty. I really liked the dijon curry sauce. It was quite different than any other curry sauce I have had.
On our way into the restaurant I told Courtney that we weren't allowed to order the same thing so that we could try more of the food. That turned out to make her dinner options very slim. They offered a fish, pork and veal dish and she doesn't eat fish or pork. She was a little weirded out by eating veal as she likes to pretend that meat magically appears instead of coming from baby animals.
Grilled Veal Steak red wine demi glace, sauce Bearnaise, potato croquette.
Her favorite part was the croquette and the veggies. Both were cooked perfectly. The Bearnaise looked like it had been sitting under a lamp for a while. Neither of us are veal experts so we don't know if it was really good veal. It really didn't taste like much.
I went with the pork because it came with bacon. The fish was a sable fish that came with a risotto but everyone knows that bacon trumps risotto.
Pork Tenderloin Medallion Wrapped in Bacon. black forest ham confit, potato croquette, artichoke (sorry about picture quality)
My dinner was fantastic. The pork and bacon were cooked perfectly. I am not a big fan of the thyme sprigs in the servings, but that would be my only complaint of the meal.
Easily the best part of the meal were the desserts. Go pastry class!
Courtney ordered the Black Forest Cake vanilla sauce, brandied cherries. Pretty and tasty.
I ordered the Apple and Berry Cobbler vanilla bean and caramel ice cream
It was so good. I loved the individual serving. Courtney said that I freaked her out with the intensity that I ate the cobbler with. I then freaked out the pastry cook when I stopped in the kitchen door to tell her how good I thought it was.
Another person that I freaked out was our waiter. Poor kid. You could tell that he was not comfortable with talking to the public which only made me more chatty. This waiter was my favorite. He was a lot of fun. And he brough us a spoon.
I had a great time at Bistro 101. Their menu changes every day so it would be fun to go back to see what you would get the next time. The service had it issues (soup is easier with a spoon) but all in all it was really tasty and fun.
We stopped at the bakery section outside of the restaurant before we ate so that I could pick up a little dessert for the SituatioM. He loved it.