by Lauren Mote
Situated between high-heeled dogs-in-purse Yaletown and restored Gastown lies a culinary gem… somewhere that took me over 6 months to investigate… the need for old classics, European charm and high-end casual ambience has really helped me in decisive dinner planning this evening.
If you haven’t already met, please allow me to introduce you to Chambar. Between Dunsmuir and Pender on Cambie lies a delectable meeting place, as inviting to the sight and smell as it is to the taste buds. This restaurant excites the inner foodie dying for an experience to tell their friends about.
Finding our way to a table near the kitchen, half way through the rustic decor, we find ourselves sinking into comfortable chairs, dim lighting, and French service. Wonderful. The bar is unpretentious, housing a back bar any guest would be pleased to gaze upon. Cool cocktails including “Remember Vesper Lynd” – an infusion of Earl Grey vodka, pear, apple, blackberry, and gooseberry – immediately excite the palate – the way tap water never could…
Out comes a Chimay White Cap trappist beer for me, and a chalice of Leffe Blonde for my dining partner. Only the finest Belgian brews will shine through in this place. As we browse through Chef Nico Schuerman’s menu, we become perplexed. There are so many options, all of which appeal to us. Which ones must be experienced today, and which ones to be enjoyed at a later date?
To start, “Foie de canard ‘Villa Lorraine’” – foie gras terrine with Kriek (cherry) granita. truffled brioche french toast (17), and a pound of mussels “Vin Blanc” – white wine butter cooked mussels, braised celery and leeks, coarse black pepper (20); served with hand cut frites and mayonnaise of course.
For a main course, I chose the “Veau Provencal” – seared veal tenderloin, warm crisp green vegetable bocconcini salad, piment d’espelette vinaigrette, sauteed fingerling potatoes (27). For John, “Steak la brasserie” – grilled AAA ribeye steak, root vegetables and parmesan fries, sauce Bearnaise, cornichon salad (29). Everything was delicious. We took our time, through each bite, each course, sharing the experience with eachother… it was delicious, and what John says the “best steak since being in Vancouver” – kudos Chambar,
The service is worth noting – all servers and server-assistants are working together to create the entire guest experience. Nothing is left to chance, nor is it left for someone else to pick up the slack – this is my definition of a successfully executed fine-dining casual experience.; quite a mouthful, but try to picture it…
Dessert seemed the appropriate avenue. The menu speaks volumes of creativity, confidence and personality – showcases pastry chef Eleanor Chow’s talent on a plate, rather than the bottom right margin of Chambar’s dessert page.
Banana ice-cream, with 4 quenelles of rich dark chocolate mousse, draped on a rectangle plate with thin slices of fried banana, length-wise sticking out of the mousse.
As a coffee wouldn’t do, I chose a glass of Chateau Dereszla Tokaji ‘5 Puttonyos’ 2000 – a wine made famous by it’s crisp acidity and “noble rot” infected grapes. The sugar in the wine was a brilliant pairing for this rich, but not overly sweet dish.
As crazy as this may sound to some, especially to those who turn to Dominos Pizza and a bottle coke for a comfort-food effect, to us – Chambar executes a well priced menu of choice – choice for flavour, experience, and most of all I feel they have achieved soul food status amongst foodies. Everyone has a restaurant they crawl to whenever in need of entertaining guests, themselves, or solo for great food and unconditional industry camaraderie.
My expectations were low walking in that night, but my experience reached a high point.
Chambar Belgian Restaurant
562 Beatty Street
604 879 7119
604 879 7118