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  • Food3.5
  • Service3
  • Value3.5
  • Ambiance3
  • Reviews18

Bistro 101 at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

1505 W 2nd Avenue, #101
Vancouver, BC V6H3Y4
Tel: (604) 734-4488 Reserve Online
Neighbourhood: West Side


Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 Reviews FoundSort: Useful | Helpful | Reviews | Date
Culinary Arts at its best
By kewpiebaby of Vancouver (200 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - 12:22pm [Dine in]

The food here is excellent - Taste and texture superb. We had the poached salmon and curried chicken entrees. Yummy!

The service is alright - keep in mind these are all cooking students, so obviously they aren't experts in serving. And the poor girl we had was so flustered because there were many tables on their busy 2 for 1 Monday and only one of her. She seemed rushed at first, but once we got a chance to ask her about her schooling and the methods of cooking, she seemed more calm & friendly.

There's not really a decor going on in the restaurant, pretty stark, but it is after a culinary school first and restaurant second. The only thing that truly makes this space really unique is that you can see them prepare the food. Unfortunately we did not get to see that because we were seated in the back corner. =(

I LOVE their chocolate mousse dessert. Very good and not too sweet.

Overall a great place to dine and try out true culinary art. =)

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By hungryfordinner of Vancouver (125 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, September 4, 2007 - 1:36pm [Dine in]

Food: Delicious, absolutely delicious

Service: Nice, smiling people

Ambiance: In need of a bit of attention. They need better quality furniture for a high end restaurant like this.

Will consider going back, I highly recommend it!

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A Diamond in the Rough
By nelliebobellie of Downtown (69 Reviews)
Submitted Thursday, March 5, 2009 - 6:26pm [Dine in]

My first dinner at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts brought me back three more times in the same month. Granted, I was taking advantage of their 2-for-1 set menu they have in January & February, but even at $36 (reg price) per person, I think it's an outstanding value. Appetizer, entrée & dessert is included.

On my first visit, I had a roasted duck breast appetizer - sort of an asian inspired dish - served with a mixture of bean sprouts, carrots and red peppers, garnished with a lychee nut and a deep fried wonton cracker. The duck was cooked and seasoned perfectly. My entrée, while very tasty, was not the star of the evening. I had a coconut shrimp dish with rice & vegetables and a little bit of coconut cream sauce. Very tasty, but nothing spectacular.

Dessert was quite possibly the most delicious dessert I've ever eaten in my entire life. A little round dome of chocolatey heaven - I think it was a chocolate mousse and cheesecake filling that was covered in a gorgeous chocolate sauce and garnished with cherries and coffee flavoured chocolates. Very impressive.

The presentation alone (each and every time) was something to behold. I even took photos of each dish, as everything was so pretty. My favourite entrée there was a mahi mahi served with israeli cous-cous that was cooked risotto-style with a creamy parmesan sauce. The flavour was outstanding.

The only "downside" to the experience is that the service is a tad clumsy and the atmosphere somewhat stark. Keeping in mind that this is a culinary school, these issues are quite forgiveable and certainly do not take away from the quality of the food. Since all the servers are culinary students, I do not expect professional level service. They may be 'green' but they are always friendly and accommodating.

I will definitely be back - maybe for their buffet special.

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relaxing meal
By adidaf of Richmond (64 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, February 17, 2009 - 9:52pm [Dine in]

Food: Had the lunch 3 course meal: spinach salad (simple and fresh, dressing was not overpowering), mahi mahi (a little bit dry but tasted good anyway), chocolate hazelnut galette (extremely sweet). Everything was presented very nicely.

Service: a bit on the slow side.

Value: I would only go during their 2-for-1 promo.

Ambiance: nice view, both of Granville Island and of the students making pastries.

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Great place for a great price!
By CaptainNemo of Vancouver (97 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, December 9, 2008 - 2:12pm [Dine in]

I usually go there for 2 for 1 Mondays. I had a tuna tartar, which was wonderful! Chicken stuffed with mushroom and wild rise, which was incredible. Then I had a pear almond tart with Ginger ice cream. VERY yum, yum, yum!!!!

The poor boy that was serving was flustered, but he was very pleasant, when he got use to it.

I think the value was great. Two people can dine for $49.00, a three course meal without alcohol. I thought for the quality of the food, it was a steal!!!!

Loooooved it!!!!

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A training ground for future Chefs!
By ChivalryX of Burnaby (60 Reviews)
Submitted Saturday, August 9, 2008 - 6:59pm [Dine in]

This is one of our favorite restaurants. With new menu's every week, and menu item's you find at many high end restaurants in Vancouver, the food is always great.

We've been here at least 6 times, and each time is a real treat. The food is always fresh, displayed beautifully, and the service is always polite and helpful.

The "Chef's to be" take turns as waiters for the evening, so the service can be interesting. They're not as "on the ball" as a professional waiter, but they're always polite and they try hard to please the guests. They're also always happy to let you know how the dishes are made.

The food is always top notch and the portions are a very reasonable size. The average sized appetite will be satiated by their menus. The highlight is always the desserts. They're very rich, and beautifully displayed. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend the Creme Brulee, one of the best in Vancouver.

With their year round "buy one get one" deal, a 3 course meal for a couple, only costs about $37+tax. They won't even let you over tip as it's included in the final bill.

One of the best places in Vancouver!

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After two visits.
By teddyandturtle of Vancouver - Kingsway (84 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, May 30, 2010 - 12:52am [Dine in]

I've been here once on a weekday for lunch and another time for the spot prawn festival for dinner.

Lunch: I was with a friend for the first time here and we had crab cakes to start, I had grilled halibut for main, she had pork tenderloin, and I had chocolate truffle cake for dessert, she had the panna cotta. The crab cakes were well presented, tasted fairly well but nothing out of the ordinary. My grilled halibut was less than mediocre. Though it was "grilled" (it looked like it was just pan fried) it was on top of a very bland brothy liquid with tasteless pasta on the bottom. The crispiness of the fish was definitely gone because of that. My friend's pork tenderloins were okay, but the side of yam fries (who puts yam fries with pork tenderloin?) were extremely soggy. My chocolate truffle cake was too rich and overly indulgent, I could not finish. The pineapple panna cotta was delicious though, very light with a subtle creamy finish in your mouth. Loved it.

Dinner: I had a special night with the bf here, or so I thought. It was a 5 course dinner. The two middle aged women next to us were rather odd- I think their taste buds must have disappeared cause they thought everything was delicious. Anyways, to start it was jellied spot prawns. I didn't expect what came out.. it was actually 2 little spot prawns stuck in a gelatin cup with a piece of cilantro and cilantro sauce circling the plate. The jelly made the prawns extremely fishy tasting and was disgusting. After that was the shrimp bisque, which was equally gross. It tasted like.. the Lee Kum Kee shrimp sauce with water or something. The intermezzo was a nice change, I forget what it's called, but it's like ice shavings of alcohol in a champagne glass, super refreshing. The main for me were grilled spot prawns, which were okay, the veggies were a bit of a mess though. My boyfriend had the veal wrapped around spot prawns which were pretty good. Dessert was delicious. Something like a strawberry napoleon cake. Scrumptious.

Anyways, I would not come back to dine, but will most definitely come back for desserts from the bakery!

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Allowances Made
By stevendrowe of Vancouver (44 Reviews)
Submitted Saturday, February 28, 2009 - 10:44pm [Dine in]

We gave some allowances before going to this restaurant because we knew that the staff were learning.

Greeted at the door by very friendly staff. We were given the lunch rather than dinner menu by mistake. When the waitress served the wine some of it went all over the table, I think she was nervous.

The food was really good and I thought they came up with slightly alternative variations on popular dishes. The pork loin was slightly over done but very nice otherwise. Certainly can't complain about anything else.

The ambiance was very pleasant, clean, tidy and perfect lighting levels. I was thought it would be a little more suit or smart casual crowd but many people were dressing as though they had just come off a building site.

I have to say the price was very good since we got a 2 for 1 deal, we never knew that until we got to the restaurant and it was a pleasant surprise.

I would recommend this restaurant because its great to see potential chefs hard at work, be supportive of them and for simply great food.

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Used to be good
By foodchix of Vancouver (11 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, May 1, 2011 - 12:56pm [Dine in]

I've come here off and on since they first opened and they use to be very interesting. One recognizes these are students and give them suitable leeway and in the beginning the restaurant was very good. Over the past years I feel the level of instruction/ supervision has deteriorated and consequently the quality of the food in the restaurant has gone down. I use to enjoy coming here but not any longer. I use to buy the cakes in the bakery, but these have also gone down in quality and in my last visit, were rather pitiful. It's a shame as I wonder if this reflects the level of instruction for the students and I know they pay a lot of money for these courses.

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Sour Faced Manager
By King_of_Kitsilano of My Beautiful Kitsilano (47 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, May 13, 2008 - 6:19pm [Dine in]

More or less stumbled into this place by accident last night with 2 friends (even though I've walked by many many times for some reason never considered it) and was happy to get a table I know they often don't take walk-ins it's a school not a full fledged restaurant.

The food was quite good not outstanding but solid and made with care.

Service lacked some polish but was sincere and friendly and that goes a long way with me I only hope that the young people on duty weren't actually paying for training in the dining room because it seems that they had rec'd just the bare basics.

Ambiance was bare bones at best I gave my friends for whom the visit was a special treat a view of the water and they loved that.

The real spoiler though was the Manager/Maitre D an older grey haired fellow with a sour face and a bad attitude.

Stalking around the room scowling at both Staff and customers is no way to run a restaurant even one for beginners-this individual needs an attitude adjustment badly and the sad part of this is that at his age he's not likely to change.

I tried talking to the man-I can be quite a charming character-and he brushed off any attempt at normal social interaction-a real odd reaction for the business he's in and the place wasn't at all busy.

I can't say I'd ever go back or recommend the place to anyone knowing this individual was still working there there's too much choice in this city to be subjected to someone's anger at their own mediocrity.

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Pleasant Dinner
By ThumperGirl of Burnaby (6 Reviews)
Submitted Saturday, April 11, 2015 - 7:50pm [Dine in]

Firstly, the only negative thing about this place is trying to eat there. Reservations have to be made
weeks in advance due to its popularity.

The evening buffet is now $35.00/person, still reasonable if you think about the variety of
appetizers and desserts buffet that's part of your dinner. This last Friday they served as appetizers
squid, prawns, steamed clams and mussels in wine sauce, seared albacore tuna, and so on.

Desserts included eclairs, tarts, cakes, macaroons, ...

The main dish included seared duck breast, salmon fillet and steak.

Since it is a teaching school, it is always interesting to try the various dishes prepared by the students
and we have never had the same meal twice. Definitely a must try if you have an adventurous palate.

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Great food!
By bobofrodo of Downtown, Vancouver (18 Reviews)
Submitted Saturday, February 16, 2008 - 2:07pm [Dine in]

I have had a consistently fantastic meal with every visit,. It is great to have the opportunity to try things that I normally wouldn't order as you follow their fixed menus.

What can you say? The students are training on the job, so sometimes you have to be patient. For the most part, I have never had any issues , and everyone is really friendly. They also take special orders in advance, so I was able to get some personalized surprise deserts for muh main squeeze.

It is a school lounge, so you get to watch the students prep the food in each of their cooking classrooms as you eat. Makes for an interesting backdrop.

Highly recommended.

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So Disappointed
By hotshot of north vancouver (12 Reviews)
Submitted Wednesday, July 18, 2007 - 1:21pm [Dine in]

After having sampled the baked goods from the bakeshop, I was looking forward to sampling the food. I do understand that this is a training school for future chefs, however the prices that they charge cause a person to think that perhaps it is the chefs who are about to graduate that are cooking the food. Think again.....price in this place did not reflect quality!

Firstly, the ambiance is terrible. There was no music, dirty table cloths, the cutlery was spotted and chipped and the whole room reminded me of a hospital cafeteria.

The food started off strong, with great appetizers (fried camembert and vegetable soup) - not exactly hard to mess up. However, The bread was stale (very hard and dry) and the entrees were just terrible. At 22 dollars an entree I expected more than boiled pork slices with brown, tasteless gravy and a spoon of rice. The second entree was better, however seared halibut should be seared not cooked until dry and flaky. The dessert was even more disappointing. The offered a piece of poppy seed cake which was dry, tasteless and served with almost no chocolate sauce and hazelnut cake which tasted like mango gelatine. The servings were small and the food was less than mediocre - even for a cooking school.

The worst part of the night was the service. Our waiter took forever to serve us, never cleared our plates, spilled water all over the table and onto my lap and was unable to give us any product information. To make matters worse, they automatically add an undeserved tip amount to your bill.

In general this place is overpriced and disappointing to say the least.

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Great food
By foodmonkey of Vancouver (15 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, March 18, 2007 - 11:47pm [Dine in]

Been here several times for lunch and once for dinner. Food has been excellent each time.

Service is usually good but not great -- they're students. I would actually prefer (expect) a higher level of service quality to match the food. This is supposed to be fine dining to some degree.

Bakeshop at front is a frequent source of lunch for me. Excellent sandwiches and cheap. Sometimes you hit the jackpot with an over-stuffed sammy for $4. Puts a smile on your face.

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Gratuity Mix-up spoiled a great night
By kells of yaletown (27 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, February 10, 2009 - 10:42pm [Dine in]

A group of us tried this out after being told how fabulous the desserts were. It was a two for the price of one promotion for Jan/Feb.

You could tell the staff were still learning the ropes and lacked the pizazz of professionals but they were still very amiable.

I had two seafood dishes as an appertiser and a main both of which were great. The salmon entree was one of the most generous portions I've received and the rice was fabulous. The others in the group had lamb which they raved about and cornish hen which was apparently only ordinary.

All in all everyone was happy with the night and overwhelmed by the presentation and the taste delight that was the dessert.

The only gripe I have with PICA and unfortunately it left us all with a sour taste in our mouth was the gratuity. A 15% gratuity/service charge is added to the final bill which is fine and not an issue for anyone however the service charge is added to the full price of the set menu rather than the discounted price. This essentially creates a service charge of 30% and while I was very happy with the food and satisified with the service it did not warrant a 30% service charge.

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brunch for three
By junevisitor of New Jersey, USA (7 Reviews)
Submitted Friday, June 16, 2006 - 8:32pm [Dine in]

The main course was beautifully trimmed, cooked and garnished. The buffet items were good but not outstanding. Didn't have the pastries, but from those sold in the bakery they doubtless were outstanding. The service was friendly and while not inept, seemed tense (and friendly, like our waiter was nervous). Wish there had been more BC wines by the glass, but did appreciate accurate recommendations (and all the wines seemed food friendly).

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Bistro 101 - A Hidden Gem, Great Food - Full Dinner $24
By savvy insider of Vancouver (Fairview) (4 Reviews)
Submitted Thursday, July 14, 2011 - 8:21pm [Dine in]

It's one of the best deals in town - dinner at Bistro 101.

This small intimate, recently refurbished, dining out spot, serves a three-course dinner for a mere $24 a person.

And why are prices so low you might well ask?

The bistro is run by students - both in the kitchen and the front of the house - of the Pacific Culinary Institute, under the watchful eye of their instructors.

The menu is constantly changing so that students gain the skills and perfect the art of fine cooking.

We have eaten there numerous times.

The food is always spot on although the service (and this is to be expected) can be a bit slow at times as is readily acknowledged on the bistro's website.

But do not let that deter you from eating at Bistro 101.

After all where you can get a fine meal at near to cafeteria prices?

Our latest foray started off with three generous Halibut cheeks, pan-fried with a light brown crust, sitting atop a delicate tartar sauce, devoid of the usual heaviness; instead it was light with a hint of citrus, perfect for the dense Halibut.

This was one delicious appetizer.

One of the mains, Catfish with rice cake and Chinese broccoli, was a delicious down-to-earth satisfying dish.

The fish, perfectly cooked; the cornmeal crust with a nice crunch when you bit into it.

A Tamarind sauce reminiscent of Malaysian street food, sweet and sour, was robust and earthy, enhancing the flavour profile of the light and moist fish.

The rice cake was in the same vein - the outside crunchy, the inside light and fluffy.

An order of Kai-Lan, also known as Chinese broccoli, steamed and seasoned with garlic and ginger, completed the dish.

The flat iron steak with Polenta fries and fresh sweet corn cut into medallions was hearty deliciousness.

The steak, cut into strips against the grain, was hearty goodness enhanced by a myriad of flavours after marinating in a variety of different spices.

A Mexican light cream sauce, hints of lime zest, juice and cilantro, went perfectly with the steak.

The Polenta fries were deliciously crunchy on the outside and smooth and almost creamy on the inside; a nice complement to the hearty steak.

The sweet corn medallions, sweet and juicy, were a perfect accompaniment.

The chocolate ganache, with a dollop of whipped cream and a tart raspberry coulis was the ultimate desert. The chocolate rich and creamy with that real, somewhat bitter, chocolate taste.

Likewise the Panna Cotta, a classic Italian desert, met its mandate of being creamy and light and the citrus flavours of lemon and lime gave it a nice enhanced light flavour.

Reservations are a must and you can do that on-line.

Lunch is only $18 for a three-course meal.

You can view the lunch or dinner menu on the bistro's website.

And one more thing, they have a bake shop on the premises where you can buy fabulous pastries, cakes and artisan breads at really low prices.

And if you buy one bread the second one will only cost you 50 cents.

Bottom Line: Bistro 101 serves excellent food at really low prices.

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High Class Wanna-Be
By arrow2fast of langley (7 Reviews)
Submitted Monday, July 27, 2009 - 5:10pm [Dine in]

this restaurant promises to deliver haute cuisine at bargain prices.
it does neither: the food is laboriously prepared but blank - it lacks the flair of a great chef. Take any cookbook and follow the recipe religiously and you will get PICA food.

IMO the prices should reflect the free labour which prepares the meals - the students already pay almost 12K in tuition for 6 months of that useless school, and the customers still have to pay for the resultling less-then-perfect student efforts.

Why did I say the school is useless? most students are offered 16$/hour kitchen help jobs, which should further attest to the quality of the instructions in the "institute".
Don't get fooled by the fancy name - anybody can call themselves "institute of something" which doesn't translate into the true quality nor value.
Same like Best Thai Restaurant isn't necessary the best Thai restaurant.. right?

After being spoiled in France where we indulged in a lot of excellent food, to describe this food as "French" is an insult to riotous flavors and creativity of French chefs.

Sorry, PICA, thumbs down.

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