Given the neighbourhood, it’s not all that surprising that L’Abattoir comes off with a certain kind of trendy, almost hipster-like vibe. This is quite different from another French bistro that I very much enjoy. The hostess, for instance, was wearing a French beret when we arrived. The male servers were sporting a similar “casual chic” look. Indeed, as Mijune points out, “the clientele and staff are hard to tell apart.”
The layout of the restaurant itself makes good use of the relatively limited real estate. The main dining room is located upstairs, directly above the clearly visible kitchen. There is additional seating toward the rear of the restaurant, behind the kitchen and down a relatively narrow hallway. I really like the exposed brick and the overall motif of the restaurant. There’s a great ambiance here.
While many other restaurants offer complimentary bread, they’re usually of the basic bread or dinner roll variety. L’Abattoir steps it up with in-house baked goods. Yes, those are bacon bits on the rolls on the right.
Country style pork pate, toast, pickled vegetables, apricot sauce
We started off the $38 prix fixe menu with our appetizers. I was expecting a small cup of pate, but what we got was a rather substantial slice on top of some brioche toast. The seasoning was fantastic and the assorted pickled vegetables added to a simply delightful dish.
Warm steelhead and fried potato salad, smoked pork fat, dill, horseradish
The second appetizer, while not quite as delightful as the pate, was also very good. The generous portion of fish had a smoky flavor to it that was well complemented by the
bacon smoked pork fat.
Fillet of pacific cod with spicy chorizo crust, white beans cooked in red wine
Who said beans had to be boring? While the preparation was likely quite simple, the white beans here were great. I didn’t taste much of the chorizo in the crusting of the fish, however, and there were portions of the cod that were a little too dry.
Duck breast and leg meat sausage, buttered green cabbage, pan fried German noodles
I love duck. I would have preferred a whole duck leg or breast, but this sausage variety had some great flavors too. The German noodles reminded me of dumpling skins. They could have had a bit more bounce or chew to them, but this was otherwise a great entree.
One of the other options for the main course was a lamb ravioli topped with some more lamb. Seeing it at some other tables, I think I would have preferred that over the cod.
Earl Grey pot de crème, lemon shortbread, whipped milk
I thought this was going to be a warm dessert, but the cream was actually quite cool. If you prefer lighter desserts, this fluffy concoction would be your cup of tea (terrible pun intended).
Pinneapple upside down cake, mascarpone cream
So good. The warm cake worked well with the jellied passionfruit and dehydrated pineapple, capping off a pretty fantastic meal.
Yes, you have countless options when it comes to eating in Gastown, but L’Abattoir should be pretty close to the top of your list. Service was attentive and friendly, the food was top-notch, and the atmosphere makes for a great dining experience. The unique cocktail list is impressive too… and they don’t skimp on the alcohol content either. My only complaint is the lack of cheap parking, but that goes with the territory.