Friday, May 7, 2010

Les Faux Bourgeois, Les Faux Service

It was my dad's 65th birthday last week and I wanted to plan a meal out with his friends. He and his posse get together on the first Friday of every month to drink, laugh, carouse and - of course - eat! In addition to planning a nice dinner out with the family, I thought it would be cool and memorable to plan a night out for the dudes - a Boys Night. With assistance from one of my dad's epicurean pals, we created a shortlist of restaurants that could accommodate our group of 12 and that we have both wanted to patronize. In the end, the winning restaurant was the highly-touted Les Faux Bourgeois, which I had been rejected by twice over the past year due to its popularity and small capacity. I really like Jules too, which is also owned by Stephan Gagnon.

I  want to give this restaurant a good review because I love the space, the food was well-prepared, and they *tried* to provide good customer service. To clarify, it will not be the food that I remember from this night, but rather the inflexible service. I believe you will sympathize with me, my fellow foodies, when you consider the following examples of mulish, uncompromising management.

When I originally looked at the menu online, the two dishes that caught my eye were the Cassoulet and, of course, the Duck Confit. To my surprise, I received a call from Les Faux two days before our reservation with a request that our party select one of the two prix fixe menus. I said that we wished to order a la carte, and then the maître d’ - en faire tout un fromage - rebuked my stated preference by explaining that groups over eight *must* order from a set menu. I described that the set menu would be problematic for our group due to allergies and inclinations toward the standard menu. Even with this appeal, the maître d’ (who I disappointedly discovered was Stephan, the owner) rejected us.

I was further disenchanted when we were at the restaurant and were informed that they had run out of a bourbon requested by the Birthday Boy, as well as the only dairy-free dessert on the menu. I know that I cannot condemn a restaurant for lacking Buffalo Trace or lemon tarts, but it was very disappointing considering the importance of the evening and the poor effort of the wait staff to make this let-down up to us.

Lastly, every other restaurant I have (ever) been to has provided groups of 10 or more - who are easily going to spend over $600 - with a freebie of some sort. Whether it be an aperitif, digestif, or dessert, most respectable restaurants offer a culinary bonus as a thank-you for accumulating such a massive bill.

From the set menu that was forced upon us, we consumed Lamb Bourguignon, Scallop Mornay, Saumon à la Poêle, Beef Tenderloin and a Tarte Flambée Alsacienne. As mentioned above, all of these dishes were flavourful and skillfully made, but the Confit at Jules was better.

To end on a positive note, you will be hard pressed to find a better French meal for the price in Vancouver. With most entrees in the $16-$20, we all agreed that the prices were more than reasonable.

* Keywords: Les Faux Bourgeois, Alex Dawkins, "French Restaurants Vancouver"

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