Thursday, February 23, 2012

Au Petit Chavignol - Simple, Savoury, Cheesy Goodness

After reading some mouth-watering reviews on Au Petit Chavignol's burger and hearing friends and colleagues claim that they have one of the best brunches in Vancouver, I've been wanting to check it out. This place is located on East Hastings near Clark in a stretch that still has some grit and character to it. Next door is an amazing gourmet cheese store. Obviously, this was a meal date not to be shared with my vegan-ish boyfriend, but fortunately two of his best friends were eager to indulge in a cheesy brunch.

The restaurant is fairly small and always crowded. There is a large amount of bar seating and table seating for about 25. It's cozy and warm with a slight retro-un pretentious hipster vibe and the crowd was really mixed. They do take call-ahead reservations which I would suggest, especially for brunch since it was jam-packed when I popped in at 1pm on a Sunday and I ended up waiting about 20-25 minutes.

The brunch menu offers a really nice selection of cocktails, small plate meals, egg dishes, some sandwiches and a burger. Not surprisingly, the menu is cheese-centric.They also have some really impressive charcuterie towers available to order as well. We ordered 3 items to share and they all arrived at our table at the same time and quite quickly.

We all pretty much instantly agreed on ordering the Classic Four Cheese Macaroni ($9) with Gruyere, White Cheddar, Orange Cheddar and Stilton. I'm not a giant mac and cheese fan- but when in Rome......and wow, my mind was pretty blown. It was fantastically cheesy and I could really smell and taste the different cheeses. They were distinct but blended together amazingly well in cheese harmony. 

It's rich and creamy with a crunchy top of crumbs that is broiled to perfection. There is also an option to add double smoked bacon for $3.....this was amazing but I'm curious to try it with bacon to see what that does to an already amazing dish.

I had to try their Cheeseburger, which has been touted as one of the best in the city. The Cheeseburger ($12) is Ground AAA beef chuck on a toasted Kaiser bun, secret sauce, pickle served with a side of fries. Then you basically pimp your burger out with a choice of aged cheddar, gorgonzola, Le Marechal, or Truffle Percorino for $1.50 (we added the aged cheddar). Add lettuce and tomato for $1 (we did), add double smoked bacon for $1.50 (we did), add a fried egg for $1.50 and caramelized onions for $1.50. This burger definitely is worthy of all of the praise that it gets. Visually, this burger didn't wow us when it came out, but when we cut the burger into 3 and dug in, that's when we got the wow! The beef patty was really amazing- It was moist, well-seasoned, juicy, fresh and full of flavour. The bun was lightly toasted, fluffy, and held everything together while letting the actual burger be the star of the show. The bacon added a great smoky crunch, while the lettuce, and tomato added some nice freshness. The cheddar was really nice and melted in with the secret sauce for ooey-gooey goodness that also didn't overwhelm the burger and let the actual beef do the talking. 

I did regret not fully pimping out the was a really good burger, but I can't help thinking that caramelized onions and fried egg would've taken it over the top! I also can't wait to return and try the other cheese choices. Also, I've gotta give a shout out for the fries. They were so crisp and well-seasoned, very crisp and golden brown outside while light and airy inside. The amount of salt was just perfect. 

Chorizo Hash ($10) Original Hot Chorizo, Onion, Potatoes, Peppers, Poached Eggs. This was a great dish but pretty standard compared to the other two dishes. Again, the potato hash browns were crispy, yet fluffy and perfectly salty. Slices of full-of-slightly-spicy flavourful chorizo sausage were sprinkled throughout with some thin slices of cooked onion and red pepper and topped with perfectly poached eggs. The runny egg yolks brought the flavours together really nicely. 

We also ordered a Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwich ($8- i think). Points for cute presentation! It was a layer of salted caramel ice cream between two soft toffee/caramel/nutty cookie bars. I liked it because it wasn't too sweet. WIth this dessert, I wasn't super impressed at the first bite, but interestingly enough, it took a few seconds for the sweet and salty flavours to pop. It was nice and not too heavy. 

A solid brunch option with awesome classic dishes and a burger I can't wait to have again and experiment with different cheeses and toppings. It also seems like a cool evening hangout for beers and appetizers.

Au Petit Chavignol on Urbanspoon

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