Bistro Louis Gervais reaffirms my love
for French Chefs – My Review
I started my love affair with French chefs at the very tender age of 15 when I took the very first pay cheque I earned from working at my parents’ Chinese Western restaurant to dine at a French restaurant which my girlfriend recommended. Up to that point, everything I ate was either stir fried or covered in pools of soy sauce. So imagine my delight after that first bite of a delicate soufflé with seafood swimming in a luxurious pool of butter or Canard L’Orange with its brazen Grand Marinier glaze. And I would be amiss if I did not mention exquisite French desserts such as Croquembouche which should be more adeptly named crack-in-bush as it’s choux pastry balls filled with chocolate creme and then lacquered together with golden caramel threads to form a tree. And I still have fond memories albeit fuzzy of the gastronomical 10 course rendition of Babette’s Feast at the defunct Green Street Café (Calgary, Alberta) complete with wine pairings to which I compare all meals (although Bouley’s, East Village, New York, 8 course lunch comes close). And then there’s Bistro Louis Gervais.
Louis Gervais, a French Chef who hails from Quebec and who has had a history of working at fine establishments such as the Wedgewood, Hotel Meridien and more recently, Sutton Hotel, all of which I’m familiar with, reaffirmed my love for French chefs at the fall/winter menu preview at Bistro Louis Gervais where he bedazzled my palate with each menu item.
Peanut-Crusted Szechuan Chicken Strips wrapped in a cucumber ribbon, gochujang glaze
On first glance, I thought this was salmon as the colouring and presentation threw me off. but once I bit into it I knew it was chicken. My only criticism is that I expected a little more heat as Szechuan cooking is generally spicy, but otherwise chicken wasn’t over cooked and it had a nice combination of fragrant Asian spices.
Beef Carpaccio in a pecorino nest with Dijon aioli & fresh capers
Although I rather liked the presentation and texture of the beef, I found the Dijon aoili and pecorino cheese overpowered the delicate flavours of the thinly sliced beef.
Scallop Ceviche served on endive leaves with lime caviar
If you threw me on a deserted island with a lime tree, I know I could live on raw seafood cooked subsumed in lime for days on end as citrus is such a great enhancement for seafood. The bitterness of the endive added a welcome relief to the bright acidity of the lime.
Nova Scotia Lobster Grilled Cheese on Sourdough
First main course up, Lobster and Grilled Cheese which I think was possibly Gouda, but I can’t be sure as I haven’t eaten it for decades due to my dairy intolerance but that one itsy bitsy bite I had was enough to remind me of the sweet and intimate relationship I used to have with cheese until he decided to hate my guts literally. Sob! This upscale rendition of the grilled cheese is a layer of ooey gooey cheese commingled lovingly with lobster in between the chewy sour dough bread which held its own against this amorous coupling without falling apart.
Battered Curried Cauliflower with scallion mint yoghurt dip
For accompaniments,.we had gluten-free bread which was made in-house at Bistro Louis Gervais and was tasty and not as dense as many gluten-free bread I’ve had, which is quite a few as dairy free baked goods always seem to be gluten-free. There was also lightly battered cauliflower with a hint of curry which I found myself to be eating like popcorn as I love food that is crunchy, especially when it doesn’t have that many calories and are good for you!
Saffron Brioche Crusted Lamb Chops, vert jus bourbon broth
Whenever I’n asked how I like my meat done, I always reply , “The way the French like their meat” because French chefs never over cook meat, allowing the flesh to stay a lively shade of reddish pink which in turn keeps the meat juicy and tender and thus more flavourful. The lamb chops were executed so perfectly with their pink love me so tender flesh that I was sorely tempted to make my way into the kitchen to see if Mary had lost another lamb to the mad cooking skills of Louis Gervais. The lamb chops were served on top of a huge roasted banana squash cleverly made to look like a serving bowl. I found the squash had a rather sweet flavour which contrasted quite nicely with the turmeric and cardamom which was sprinkled conservatively on top.
Spanish Cod Escabeche, Mediterranean capsicum vera pasilla pepper & olive ragout, served on truffled black linguini
As a Chinese person who grew up with fish being steamed in ginger, oil and soy sauce I’m used to eating fish which is moist and flavourful. So I’m disappointed when chefs at four star restaurants don’t care enough to pay enough attention to the precise timing of cooking fish . Spanish Cod Escabeche with black truffled linguini is a dish worthy to serve in any Chinese restaurant as it so tender highlighting the cod’s firm meaty texture. The tomato sauce with its slight heat doesn’t detract and it’s fabulous with the black truffle linguini which has the luxurious earthy flavour associated with truffles. Apparently black truffles which hail from France are one of the most expensive edible mushrooms in the world which is reflected in the incredible depth of flavour of this dish.
White Chocolate Croissant Pudding drizzled with caramel
If you hate bread puddings, well this White Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding at Bistro Louis Gervais will make you change your mind. Why use stale day off bread when flakey buttery croissants are available? Then add eggs, milk and white chocolate and drizzle liberally with rich caramel sauce. And if that doesn’t make you weep when you devour the last crumb and cry out “Please sir can I have some more”, I’ll personally come over and rip out your tongue because obviously you’ve lost all sense of taste and should be condemned to a life of intravenous feeding.
Bistro Louis Gervais is an intimate cafe with an inviting space for a person to host intimate gatherings of up to 50 people complete with pair pairings (or have the catering staff come to you) or to enjoy a casual meal of good French cooking be if comfort food such as Croque Monsieur, Turkey and Brie Sandwich or Smoked Bacon Quiche. Prices are comparable to any bistro and wine is only $6.75 a glass and beer. But whatever your pleasure, prepare your palate for a month full of gastronomical delights.