French bistro food is home cooking at its best.
It's food that is delicious, flavoursome and memorable.
The recipes are time-honoured, often passed down from generation to generation.
The recently-opened Cafe Regalade, a tiny French bistro in Vancouver's Kitsilano area, has all these qualities.
The decor is simple, sparse and almost has an industrial look and feel to it; non-descript to say the least.
The kitchen is innovative, creative and cooks food of stellar quality, often introducing a twist and a new element to traditional French bistro food.
Take the Quinoa salad with mango and basil. Traditional Quinoa, an ancient Peruvian grain is earthy and nutty in taste, but under chef's fine hand it is light and refreshing.
The salad contains sweet mango dices, fresh basil, pine nuts for crunch, making the salad memorable.
Likewise the red beet salad, sweet chucks of goodness in a smooth creamy dressing, coating the beets, salty Parmesan cheese shavings; the kitchen scored another hit.
The innovative zucchini tartare, little chunks of zucchini, juicy little morsels of sweet raisins, a slight hint of salty anchovies and crunchy pine nuts, is bold creative and so tasty and unlike anything you've had.
Marinated salmon, with shaved Parmesan, is another stellar dish. The salmon is Gravlax-like (a Nordic dish sliced thinly consisting of raw salmon, cured in salt, sugar, and dill), but the taste here is more subtle and lighter.
The accompanying hearty grilled slices of peasant bread were perfect for the rich, smooth, slightly sweet salmon; the salty Parmesan cheese cutting through the richness.
Beef tartare also known as steak tartare, a staple of a lot of French bistros, said to be Russian in origin, was done perfectly.
The end result of the finely-minced, high quality beef, mixed with mustard, chopped shallots, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, finely chopped capers and egg yolk, was hearty and delicious.
The accompanying French fries, super crispy on the outside, the inside creamy and smooth. A small green salad went well with the hearty beef and those great fries.
Braised short ribs in pepper sauce were superb. The meat tender and juicy, surrounded by an amazing sauce that was velvety in texture, hearty in taste, the peppers evident, sharp and pungent, but not overpowering.
A side dish of scalloped potatoes, a beautiful brown crust on top, the inside heavenly, creamy rich potatoes.
Dessert was a lemon tart. A thin crust with lemony goodness on top - perfectly smooth and velvety, that lovely taste of tart lemon. Two pools of whipping cream with fresh sliced strawberries, a nice extra touch, completed this delightful morsel of perfection.
But while the food was stellar, the servers accommodating; there were small elements missing - having to ask for butter for the bread, the table not cleared properly after the main courses were finished, servers walking by customers, waiting to be seating, without acknowledging them.
It's those little things that keep Cafe Regalade from achieving memorable status, given its terrific food.
Bottom line: Cafe Regalade serves terrific French bistro
style food, but some service elements need improvement.
2836 West 4th. Avenue in Vancouver.