Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dineout Vancouver 2014: Bistro 101



After trying for 3 years, I finally made a successful reservation for this place by waking up at  6: 30 A.M on the morning when the list of restaurants was released.

Why the craze? It is no doubt because of their $18 3-course dinner and lunch menu - yes 3 courses, professional style, half the price of a normal high-class dinner!

Since all of their dishes are prepared by students of the Pacific Culinary Institute (Bistro 101 is one of their "classrooms"), I guess the charge for paying waitresses and chefs (all students) can be omitted since this is part of their study. I would take a class like that but these classes are quite long and not very flexible in schedule (making excuses as a high school senior...).

Feeling grateful with my reservation (Heard later that the restaurant was fully booked for the whole Dineout season in 2 hours), I brought my parents along to see what this place is really like. 

*NOTE*I sincerely apologize for the late post...February has been such a hectic month with the musical, calculus and two English classes..oh who said second semester seniors have it easy? Or maybe I just tend to be self-torturing when it comes to school.



The inside: warm and welcome ambiance, quiet and peaceful
When we arrived at 6:!5 P.M, I expected that all the seats were probably filled. To my surprise though, the restaurant was quite empty, with few people who filled about 4-5 tables.  
I loved the warm lighting and the silent (but not awkward) atmosphere. Our server of the night-it seems evident that it's his first shift ever (or not?)- greeted us with a big smile but hesitated when he introduced us the menu. After our orders were taken, he came back to talk about today's special -an interesting addition to our night after our food is already being prepared in the kitchen. 

But I really do respect the students' hard work. I kept the potentially confusing questions to a minimum...it is about the food after all. 
The Dine Out 2014 Menu ($18 per person :o)


As a family of three, this menu was sort of like the perfect deal since we got to try everything on the menu with each of us ordering different sets. Now as some of the dishes were eaten by my parents, the best I can do is give you some drooling pictures of those ones as my views would be only from the appearance ;)
Complimentary Bread- there was a variety of bread being served: sour dough, rye, breadsticks...etc. all made by the students. I loved their adorable sizes! (and refillable)

A cute little dish our "chef" made for us.
Around 5 minutes after he took our orders, our "chef" came back to us with this plate. He said that this is a dish I created just for you all, which I found to be quite adorable (honestly this kind of service are usually not seen at professional restaurants, this really added a friendly touch to our experience).

Dungeness Crab Salad
This was the appetizer I had. The portion seemed small compared to the giant plate they served it on, but the actual amount did fulfill my "appetizer stomach" - the foam gave the salad a fresh taste, with the beets giving a nice scent to the dish.
White Squash Tortellini

White Onion Veloute

Lamb Lavarin
Though this was my dad's main course, I got to try the yellow "stuff" in the front...it turned out to be a corn cake. Interesting pairing with the marinated lamb but it does remove some of the heaviness from the meat. 
Organic Ocean Wise Roasted Halibut
Now this was one of the dishes I said to my self to order next time. My mom had this and I got to try some of the halibut. The fish was cooked to that level where it sorts of melts into your mouth (not like ice cream, you know what I mean). The outsides were a tiny bit crispy but the insides are just full of flavor. Great pairing with the risotto and the veggie roll. 
Fraser Pork
Then we arrive to my main course. The dish is basically made up of three different parts of pork - sausage, belly and loin. Each were cooked and seasoned in different ways but somehow comes together into a delightful combo. The mashed potato in the back was creamy enough that it didn't need a lot of sauce to compliment it. 
Hazelnut Tart
Out of the three desserts, this was one of the ones that I thought was a little bit heavy for a dessert. The hazelnut cream was more to the creamy side rather than having the hazelnut taste (and the piping was a little bit off, but forgivable), and the tart shell was cold. Maybe I'm not a good judge when it comes to these tarts since it's my first time trying this but from a taster's point of view, try reducing the sugar. Delightful presentation though!
Pear and Chocolate Pave

Cheesecake Mousse
This was my mom's dessert and the actual shape of the red glaze is a heart (how cute). It was my favorite out of the three. The cheesecake was not overly sweet, not too heavy and the pineapple gelato was a great pairing with the cake. 

Though there is the uncertainty with their product and service levels, Bistro 101 still gives an excellent dining experience for the adventurers. Besides Dine Out, they also serve buffets and other baked goodies (Bakery 101), which I would check them out in the next visit.



Bistro 101 on Urbanspoon