Avec Bistro, Calgary
Just had a nice quiet dinner at Avec tonight. Overall, a very pleasant experience and solid value for money. Even though they are located at the bottom of an office tower, they've managed to make it feel warm and classy without being pretentious. The service was great even though our courses took quite a while to come out of the kitchen.
Things that were great:
-Simple green salad with a tart vinaigrette. Very nice mixed greens and those tiny french radishes. I could tell a nice oil was used along with a quality white wine or champagne vinegar.
-Mushroom and sherry tart with thyme. Flaky, creamy, rich and delicious...what else can I say!
-Tuolouse sausage: this was part of my cassoulet entree and might have been house made....really tasty and well balanced flavour. It was very nice with the accompanying tangy braised red cabbage.
-Frites: very nice and crisp and served with a delicious house made aioli.
-The Americano coffee I had with desert was top notch. No doubt about it.
-The appetizer mussel dish was certainly good but didn't blow my mind. They came in a white wine broth with bacon and tomatoes.
-The white beans in my cassoulet were significantly undercooked. Quite hard and chalky. I must say I really didn't expect this. There was also a ham hock in the dish and while it was nice and tender it didn't bring any flavour to the party. No smoked/cured/saltiness whatsoever. A little disappointing.
-Flank steak: A very nice cut of flank that was ordered med-rare. It was unfortunately served bright red throughout.....very rare. This kind of mistake is understandable but seeing as how the steak was served sliced and fanned out, the chef should have easily noticed that it was waaay under the requested temp. Not a huge deal but far from ideal. The bernaise sauce on top was nicely done.
The small complaints I do have could be easily fixed or avoided entirely with another one of the kitchen staff preparing the meal. It's a great place for a French fix and I came away feeling like it was money well spent for a nice dinner.
I went last week and wrote about it in my blog:
Last night's dinner was very good. My friend used to work with the girl who opened it so we got some free bubbles to start. I also ordered a St Germain & champagne because I'm crazy about elderflower since Denmark. The three of us shared a foie gras appetizer (with brioche & stewed cherries). It was good but the portion was very small compared to the massive portions my friend got in France. This is not a knock on the restaurant since foie gras is very expensive and we live in Calgary, not Paris. It was a nice little taste.
For the mains, I got the boulliabaisse as planned. It came with a good amount of seafood (mussels, clams, prawns and snapper) with a few crostinis with a spiced aioli. It was unexpectedly spicy and substantial. I also ordered a side of "seasonal vegetables" and was pleasantly surprised with amount and variety of veg I received for just $5: spinach, fiddleheads, red cabbage and purple carrots. I tried my friend's duck confit (which she predictably ordered... ha!) and it was nice but I'm glad I choose the boulliabaisse. My other friend ordered the steak frites. I thought the presentation was lacking (no colour) but she didn't have any complaints about the flavour (I didn't sample it).
They offered three desserts so we got all three to share: chocolate terrine with salted caramel sauce, vanilla creme brulee with madelines and frozen lemon parfait with a shortbread crumble and raspberry sauce. The lemon dessert wasn't actually a parfait... more like a bar of lemony ice cream, almost like cheesecake. All three were very good. It was hard to pick a favourite but I would probably go with the terrine.
The highlight was the decaf Americanos we got after our meal. It was the BEST coffee I've ever had in Calgary. It was like a European coffee: thick, rich light brown crema on top, intense espresso underneath. I'd go back just to have that coffee again.
So overall, I would definitely go back to Avec! Great interior, good prices, attentive service and a good experience.