Les Faux BourgeoisPosted: 10/07/2012
Looking for a place to go for my birthday was a difficult task: I wanted to go somewhere exciting, but not so exciting that I wouldn’t be guaranteed a good meal. I also didn’t want to break the bank, and I didn’t want to go too far. I’m picky, I know. After hearing rave reviews about Les Faux Bourgeois from my friend Andy (yes, French food excites me), I decided to give it a try.
Not that the decision was a particularly hard one. I knew from Urbanspoon that I’d most likely have a good time there– everyone seemed pretty impressed with the food, and I knew from calling there that the place is always, always packed. So I didn’t really have high hopes when I called a month in advance asking for a table for 4 at prime dinner time. Lucky for me, they had one table left during the time slot! One of my friends commented that this was my birthday gift from whatever Roman deity it is that looks over dinner reservations (those crazy Ancient Romans had gods for just about everything).
We were seated at the back of the bistro side, close to the kitchen, and away from any form of natural light (but it was cloudy that day anyways). Choosing our dinner was an easy choice, lended both by their small menu and our hungry stomachs. We started off the night with some bread and butter, which unfortunately didn’t come fresh from the oven. The bread was still soft and crusty, and the butter tasted especially yummy. Nothing too special there.
Our first appy was the Soupe a L’Oignon Gratinee, which Samson and I shared. From the top down, this came with an ooey-gooey layer of mozzarella and gruyere cheeses atop some bread (I suspect it was simply 2 pieces of the complimentary bread and not croutons). Next was the soup, heaps of caramelized onions, and the mother of it all– bacon slices. I liked this soup as everything was just right– the cheese was appropriately cheesy, and the soup wasn’t extremely salty, so I felt that I could have finished the whole thing by myself if I really wanted to (I usually can’t). I could taste the beef stock and aroma of the onions, which were sliced thin and caramelized to the perfect point.
The next appetizer we shared as a table was the Escargots de Bourgogne. Yum, snails– that’s kind of adventurous, right? These came smothered with garlic and butter, and sat atop four pieces of crostini that quickly soaked up all the garlicky buttery flavours, but were still crunchy when we bit into it. The escargot were tender and not rubbery at all, but they did lack a little in terms of flavour (if you didn’t have any garlic on top of it, the flavour was barely there). Unfortunately I didn’t notice that pork rillette was on the specials board until our appies came, or else I definitely would have ordered that– who doesn’t love spreadable, braised-in-its-own-fat and shredded pork?!
Our entrees came in short order, with my dad’s Le Steak Frites being the first on the table. The pre-cut steak was a perfect medium-rare, and looked incredibly juicy. It tasted that too, and as well it was quite tender. The only thing lacking for this was in the flavour department, as it was quite bland, but the red-wine shallot jus it came with (there’s also the choices of herb butter or green peppercorn cream sauces) saved the dish with its subtle hints of wine. I personally like my steaks a little more flavourful and with a slight crust along the edge, but to each their own, I suppose. This came with a heaping pile of fresh-cut frites (fries) that were crispy, albeit a little on the thick side.
My mom decided to be adventurous and ordered Le Cote de Porc— not that pork is especially different, but because she’s never had pork chop at a non-Asian restaurant before. My mom is more of a steak person, but she went with this for the blog’s sake (aww) and was pleased that she did. The chop was cooked perfectly with a crisp crust on the outside, while the meat itself was juicy. The roasted garlic potato salad came topped with crispy onions, and was served warm, which was a welcome change. The onions were light and didn’t taste too oily. My mom’s dish also came with a side of apple gastrique, a salad consisting of apples, pecans and watercress. Nothing really to say about this other than that it was fresh.
Samson’s Longue D’Agneau came with a side of caramelized cauliflower and garbonzos (chick peas), and this all in turn was served with a minted pea creme fraiche. The lamb was, like the steak, cooked a perfect medium rare, and didn’t exhibit too much in the way of gaminess. We both liked the minty creme fraiche as it really complimented the lamb, as did the jus that came along with the dish. The dish seemed to be on the smaller side, with only four pieces of lamb, but was actually adequately filling for Samson (besides, he could always have some of my fries…).
Lastly, I had the Moules Mariniere, cooked in white wine, garlic and parsley and served with the same frites that came with my dad’s steak. These mussels were fairly large and plump, and tasted only slightly of the sea (which is good). Only 1 mussel out of the entire dish was unopened. The broth wasn’t too salty and tasted very strongly of garlic, which I enjoyed immensely– instead of dipping my fries in the mayo they provided, I dipped it into my soup (which made them a bit soggy, but GARLIC!). Definitely a solid offering, but nothing too exemplary.
We went all out for dessert tonight, and ordered not one, but two! Honestly, they all sounded great and I would have ordered them all but I was really full (and they’re $7 each). The four of us shared the Nut-Crusted Chocolate Silk Cake, a decadent dessert that came nicely dressed with raspberry coulis and yogurt. The cake itself was rather rich, and I’m glad we shared because I wouldn’t have been able to eat it all myself. The coulis and yogurt did help balance it out, though. For our second dessert, we had the Classic Creme Brulee, which featured a light, not-too-sweet custard beneath a thick layer of sugar. I loved the contrast between the hard, caramelized sugar and the creamy custard, as the sugar hit from the top balanced out with the slightly blander bottom. I think this is my newfound favourite dessert… mostly because you can’t get this at just any restaurant or cafe.
Overall, despite the slight hiccup with the steak, I felt that dinner was very enjoyable. The prices were quite reasonable for French food (our total bill came to just under $30 a person, which is significantly less than what you’d spend at a fine-dining French restaurant), but of course the price was reflected in the atmosphere, as there certainly were no uniform-clad waiters waiting at your beck-and-call and the small restaurant itself was quite crowded. I can definitely see why this establishment is as popular as it is– there wasn’t a single empty table throughout our entire meal– and I can see myself making the trip here again. Remember to make reservations well in advance of your dinner, though!
Les Faux Bourgeois
663 East 15th Avenue