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It had been over 10 years since I was last home in Vancouver for my birthday so my parents wanted to take me out for a nice birthday dinner when I was home during the August long weekend. We ended up at L’Abattoir (@LABATTOIR_VAN), a Gastown restaurant which serves “French influenced West Coast Fare.

The restaurant has several different seating areas – a bar/lounge area, sun-filled atrium and an elevated dining room, where we were seated.

The interior

While it’s not a casual or cheap restaurant, it’s not a burn-a-hole-in-your-wallet type of place. Most appetizers hover around the $16 range while the main plates will cost you around $30. They have a modest wine list but you can bring a bottle of wine subject to a $30 corkage fee (one bottle limit per table), which is what we opted to do.

BYOW ($30 corkage fee)

After ordering, we were presented with a complimentary Bread Basket which consisted of bacon brioche, parmesan & anchovy twists and rosemary flatbread. I love it when a restaurant provides you with an assortment of bread – so much more exciting than your typical loaf of bread.

The bacon brioche had a nice sweetness which paired nicely with the salty bacon. The parmesan and anchovy twist, which was my favourite of the three, was flakey, buttery and very addictive! There wasn’t anything wrong with the flatbread but it was simply the least memorable of the assortment.

Bread Basket

For my appetizer, I went with the Warm Steelhead and Crunchy Potato Salad – with ramps, horseradish and dill ($15).  The steelhead was delicious albeit a touch salty and I loved the combination of the fish with the mild horseradish and pickled ramps. They were generous with the dill which was perfect for a dill-lover like myself.

Warm Steelhead and Crunchy Potato Salad

The “crunchy potato salad” which accompanied the steelhead was incredible. The chunky potatoes were so crispy and had a nice chip-like characteristic on its exterior. The portion of the dish was also quite substantial and would be a nice appetizer to share. A highly recommended dish!

Warm Steelhead and Crunchy Potato Salad

Mike ordered the West Coast Oysters and Halibut (Ceviche Style) – with grapefruit, avocado and tomato ($16) to start. I only had a small bite but I loved how all the flavours of the components married together so nicely. The ceviche had a nice citrus flavour and I liked the coolness from the avocado. It all tasted very fresh!

West Coast Oysters and Halibut (Ceviche-Style)

My mom started off with the Pan Fried Veal Sweetbreads on Toast – sauce gribiche with veal tongue ($15). Large pieces of tender sweetbreads and sauce gribiche (which tasted similar to an egg salad) sat on top of a rectangular piece of toast. We all had a small bite and thought it was fantastic. The flavours and textures all worked wonderfully. But similar to my steelhead appetizer, it was a touch oversalted.

Pan Fried Veal Sweetbreads on Toast

My dad ordered the BBQ Octopus – cucumber, smoked pepper sauce and bread crumbs toasted in pork fat ($16). Unfortunately I didn’t get to try any. I was too busy taking pictures of all the other dishes and by the time I had finished, he had already wolfed down the dish. He seemed to enjoy it but commented that he would’ve liked the octopus a little more tender.

BBQ Octopus

For my main, I ordered the Lightly Smoked Breast of Duck – orange and wildflower honey glaze, beetroot and pickled onion ($30). The portion was enormous and after my large appetizer, I had trouble cleaning my plate.

Lightly Smoked Breast of Duck

When ordering the duck, our server warned me that since it was smoked, it wouldn’t have a crispy skin, which I was fine with. The duck was moist, tender and cooked perfectly. The dish had a nice sweetness from the honey glaze and the flavours complimented the duck nicely. I particularly enjoyed the addition of pickled onions which seem to show up everywhere these days.

Lightly Smoked Breast of Duck

My mom and Mike both chose the Roast Scallops – with peas, broccoli and pork belly ($29). The plump scallops were cooked impeccably and were definitely the show-stopper. The large piece of pork belly, which was cooked well, was necessary to make the dish a bit more substantial. It was good (as pork belly normally is) but it wasn’t the star of the dish. If you like scallops, you can’t go wrong with this dish.

Roast Scallops

My dad went with the Filet of Pacific Halibut with a Basil Crust – with fava beans and tomato fondue ($30). Similar to my duck entrée, the halibut portion was very generous. I didn’t try any of it (he eats fast!) but he seemed to enjoy it.

Filet of Pacific Halibut with a Basil Crust

To end off the meal, we all shared the Milk Chocolate and Early Grey Pot de Crème – with whipped milk and chocolate crumble ($9). The pot de crème was light, airy and had a strong earl grey flavour which I really enjoyed. The chocolate crumble layer was a nice touch as it provided some texture to it all. It was a nice way to end off the meal.

Milk Chocolate and Early Grey Pot de Crème

Overall, I had a wonderful birthday dinner at L’Abattoir. Great food, great service and the best company I could ask for!

At a glance:
• Serving up “French influenced West Coast Fare”
• Located in Gastown
• Several seating areas – bar/lounge area, an elevated dining room and a sun-filled atrium
• Open every night for dinner from 5:30pm
• Corkage fee of $30 (limit of one 750ml bottle per table)
• Appetizers are around $16; Entrees hover around $30
• Favourite dishes: sweetbreads on toast, warm steelhead & crunchy potato salad and roasted scallops

Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4 stars
• Service: 4 stars
• Atmosphere: 4 stars

L'Abattoir on Urbanspoon

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