And so the Dine Out Vancouver Festival continues. Last week, I wrote about the dinner that we had at Five Sails Restaurant where the three-course prix fixe menu is $38 per person. For our second Dine Out adventure, we went to the other end of the pricing scale of the pricing scale for an $18 dinner at Bistro 101.
Bistro 101 is located right at the entrance to Granville Island, but you’ll want to park closer to West 2nd Avenue, as parking in Granville Island itself will result in a bit of a walk. Meter parking is about $1.50 an hour, which is quite reasonable for the area.
One of the most unique features of the bistro is that there are TVs mounted on the wall, giving you a live view into the kitchen. You almost feel like you are watching a reality TV series, sans the extreme anger and yelling of Gordon Ramsay.
Our meal started with a complimentary amuse-bouche. I didn’t quite catch what the server said it was, but the “cone” portion was a crisp cheese and it was stuffed with a cool vegetable medley. Not bad.
I didn’t sample the soup, but I did try the other two appetizers. The crab salad was definitely on the small side and there was too much acid; this may have been better balanced with more greens and less lemon foam.
The tortellini was also quite small — each piece wasn’t much bigger than a loonie — but I really enjoyed the smoked tomato broth. It had just a little bit of a spicy kick to it. Coupled with the smokiness, you could almost say it had a BBQ-like quality.
The halibut was inconsistently portioned with one diner at our table getting a piece that was nearly double the size of the other. That aside, the piece that I tried was nice and succulent, though some of the risotto was slightly undercooked. I didn’t try the pork, but I was told that the loin was a little bland. I would say it looked this dish was one of the better values, though.
Myself, I ordered the lamb and, not unlike Le Parisien last year, the portion was on the smaller side. What I got was a little bit of a lamb stew, topped with grilled winter vegetables. The lamb itself was a little dry, but tasty. The grilled polenta was underseasoned for my tastes.
While I thought the hazelnut tart itself wasn’t anything special, I did enjoy the blood orange gelato that accompanied it. The cheesecake mousse was lighter than I had expected and the accompanying pineapple sorbet was light and refreshing.
Back to School
I wouldn’t say that the menu at Bistro 101 was particularly adventurous, but it did provide an opportunity for the students to express some of their creativity and showcase some of their developing skills. The flavors overall were perfectly respectable and would be suitable for any non-school bistro, but there are some consistency issues that need to be addressed.
But I suppose that’s the nature of having students prepare your meal. There are going to be inconsistencies, because each student is different. I also found that our server, who is presumably also a student, appeared anxious and ill-prepared for the task. He was not at all familiar with the wine flight that one of my dining mates ordered, having to call over the manager for assistance.
All said, considering that the three-course menu was just $18 and we were provided with fine dining-style dishes, I can’t really complain. Again, I wouldn’t go so far as to give Bistro 101 the 95% rating it currently has on Urbanspoon, but you can do a lot worse for the money.