In some regards, you could say that Le Parisien is going after the same kind of crowd that would be drawn to Les Faux Bourgeois on Kingsway, except in a downtown context. While there are certainly some fine dining-inspired dishes at Le Parisien, it isn’t really meant to be upscale. It is a French bistro with reasonably priced dishes. That’s not to say that it’s cheap–it’s not–but it’s not upscale either.
When we checked the Dine Out Vancouver website, they only listed a $28 three-course menu for Le Parisien. Upon arrival, however, we were shown both a $28 and a $38 menu. We were subsequently told that we could create a hybrid of the two and the effective pricing would fit somewhere in between.
Smoked Chicken Liver Pate – Taken from the $38 menu, this was easily one of the better appetizer choices. It lacked the foie gras that is in the regular menu equivalent, but this was still a great parfait. It was silky smooth without being airy, though I didn’t really like the onion jam that accompanied it. There was also far more pate than crostini, but we were able to spread it on the complimentary baguette slices. I’m sure we could have asked for more crostini too.
Albacore Tuna Tartare – I always like a good tartare and this was pretty great. It had a great citrus flavour to it without being overpowering. It was also served with crostini, along with a few mixed greens. I’ll have to return to try their steak tartare too.
Duck Confit – From the $28 menu, the duck was served with pomme puree, haricots verts, and a prune and Armagnac jus. The duck was quite flavourful, but I found the skin wasn’t as crispy as it normally is with a confit.
6 Hour Braised Lamb Shoulder – My main from the $38 menu, the lamb was served as three distinct chunks along with three polenta croquettes, some root vegetables and gremolata. I was hoping for the lamb to be served bone-in, but this was quite good too. The light and fluffy polenta was particularly satisfying.
Classic Bouillabaisse – From the $28 menu, the bouillabaisse included cod, prawns, mussels and clams, along with some rather large croutons. I didn’t try this, so I can’t really speak to how it tasted, but I think I would have liked a larger portion.
Crepe Normande – This crepe was very light, as expected, stuffed with caramelized apples and served with some caramel and vanilla sauce. It wasn’t breathtaking, but it can hardly be considered bad either.
Lemon Tart – I like lemon and I like (burnt) meringue, so they really could do no wrong with this dessert. It was like a semi-deconstructed lemon meringue pie, which is a-okay in my books. The raspberry coulis was a little overpowering, but that’s why it was on the side and there was only a little bit of it.
Dinner for four, with taxes and tips, came to about $175.
French cuisine has a reputation for being pompous and overpriced with very small portions, but great little bistros like Le Parisien demonstrate that it doesn’t have to be that way. I was particularly impressed with the pate and the tartare. If you happen to find yourself in the West End and are in the mood for a casual French meal, Le Parisien is a solid bet. Magnifique!