Che Baba Cantina - tiny perfect
We were trying to come up with a Monday night dinner spot in the general area of Fraser and Broadway - Pizza Barbarella was closed as was Les Faux Bourgeois when my friend who lives in the hood suggested Che Baba. Sounded like middle eastern but I was game. Instead I got a really great little Euro bistro (or cantina as they call it).
Located in the same strip as Fo Bo and the hot new Matchstick (what a transformation of that block!) Che Baba is right at the end, formerly part of the tire shop from the looks of it. Now it's one half yoga studio and one half full service restaurant (about 25 seats) - the yoga part is completely separate.
The menu is small with a nice daily selection and decent list of wines by the glass and half liter.
I started with the Poached Pear, Endive and Gorgonzola salad - with a nice mustardy vinaigrette and a generous portion.
For the mains we had the Lamb Shank and Pork Belly both in the $18/$19 range and both were big portions, perfectly cooked and very good from the meat to the well thought out sides.
If I had to choose between Les Faux Bourgeois and Che Baba (same owners) I'd take Che Baba - cozier and the food is really good.
They're open 7 days a week from about 10:00 or 11:00 depending on the day. A place like this makes me really wish I lived in this part of town.
I wonder if this allows LFB to move upmarket a bit and let CBC fill its former rung on the ladder, so to speak. LFB started out being the underdog in GV's French bistros scene, and priced lower accordingly. They've since nudged their prices up.
Hmm, 1/2 yoga studio and 1/2 resto. Would I have to get myself into the lotus position to eat ? ;-)
The reply I got was the contrary, that Babba is clearly meant to be the upper level restaurant of the two as they are smaller and can do more detail oriented cooking. Having said that I think they are very careful in their price points knowing that they are an East Side neighborhood destination.
Yeah, when I saw the Yoga part I said "kiss the chance of a glass of wine goodbye and say hello to the herbal teas" but I was very pleasantly surprised.
I went there back in January for lunch and was thankful they keep the yoga and cantina with separate entrances so the cantina just feels like a cafe with lots of yoga books to read, a very skinny yoga crowd dining, and tall skinny yoga instructor looking staff.
I ordered the duck confit which was served on top of two slices of toast and topped with a cherry chutney and poached eggs. It included a side salad that was heavy on the sprouts. The duck was a bit dry but had good flavours. I'm guessing they were going for a healthy version, but the duck needed a bit more fat from my perspective. Call me crazy. The poached eggs were in the shape of poached eggs but overcooked from my perspective - they were basically hardboiled. I like my poached eggs with a soft runny yolk. Fail on the eggs. The chutney was lovely. It had nice cherry flavours with a slight sourness that really would have cut and balanced a fattier duck nicely (did I mention the duck needed more fat?!?!?!). The salad was a bit overdressed with a citrus based dressing, but at least the dressing was flavour packed. The crunch of the pumpkin seeds was a nice textural contrast as well. They could have cut back on the sprouts a bit, but I guess it was consistent with the rest of the offering.
The only thing fat about this place was the price - $15 for that plate was a bit high all considering. Overall I'm likely too fat (loving) for this spot, but it will probably do well with the skinny (loving) crowd.
Too much confit and you won't be able to do the lotus position, let alone see your feet ;-)
@eatrustic: not having walked-in (only peeked in when they were closed) to CBC (but eaten at LFB many times), I find it odd they would actually position CBC higher than LFB. Esp. given CBC's interior looks (from outside) so much more casual, whereas some serious dough went into renovating LFB after they took over the old pho joint.
PS: I always thought it'd be funny if they had named it Les Pho Bourgeois, but I suppose the humour would only graze those who knew the previous establishment was a Vietnamese pho place :-)