Monday, August 19, 2013
Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts- Bistro 101
Some awesome girlfriends continued to spoil me for my 30th birthday with tickets to see the Arts Club on Granville Island's production of Avenue Q (two of my favourite things together- puppets and musicals!) I picked Bistro 101 for our pre-theatre dinner. I've read and heard great things about this "hidden gem" that serves up "gourmet, chef-inspired, 4-5 star meals for a bargain price." A 3 course dinner for $26 sounds pretty good to me.
The environment is polished, classy, intimate and upscale without feeling too fancy. The bistro is run by students, both in the kitchen and the front of house, all supervised by culinary instructors. The menu is constantly changing, I imagine to go with seasonal, available ingredients, and to keep mixing things up and challenging students. The bistro actually has flat screen televisions mounted in an in-obstrustive, subtle way which screened live footage of the culinary students working to prepare your food in the kitchen.
We were offered an amuse bouche; a fresh vegetable medly in a parmesan crisp cup. Pretty tasty, but nothing remarkable. A special shout out for the complimentary bread basket!!! This basket has variety and we loved every variety...baguette, brioche, cheese pastry sticks, sun dried focaccia. The brioche in particular was DELICIOUS, light and o so airy.
For appetizers, I ordered the Steamed Mussels with Miso, Leeks, and Cream. Impressive portion size. Mussels tasted fresh, while the broth was good, but not mind-blowing.
Two of my dining companions ordered the Summer Salad Roll with Apple Cider Vinaigrette. The other ordered the Vegetable Tempura with soy and ginger dipping sauce.
For my main, I ordered the Pan Seared Steelhead Trout with Citrus Butter and seasonal vegetables. This was a beautiful, uncomplicated plate that was well executed. I enjoyed every bite. The trout had wonderful crispy skin and was melt in your mouth tender. The fish was served on a bed of fluffy, flavour-soaked rice pilaf and the sides of pepper and zuchinni were grilled to give a nice smoky flavour. Two other diners ordered the Oven Roasted Duck Magret with Blueberry Gastrique, Risotto, and Seasonal Vegetables. Another gorgeous plate that according to my dining partners, tasted as good as it looked. They loooooved the blueberry gastique sauce.
Big thumbs up for attention to detail and presentation with all of the plates. At Bistro 101, I really enjoyed the atmosphere, quality of food, presentation, and attention to detail.
The service throughout was attentive, but slightly confused and clunky. The waitstaff are culinary students, so chefs-in-training, not professional servers, so that is forgivable. There was a lot of back-and-forth and in-ability to answer questions about the meal. Unfortunately, the one big hiccup with the meal was the timing.
After letting our servers know multiple times that we needed to leave at a certain time in order to make our Arts Club Theatre showtime on the other side of the island, and them assuring us that we would be able to get through our courses with enough time, we ended up rushing out as we knew the show was starting, grabbing our desserts to go. I had ordered a frozen yogurt popsicle and ended up having to slurp up the melted remains. Which is why unfortunately, I can't really share photos or write about our dessert course....