Mentioned in my previous review, this particular dine-out had a theme where I taught members the proper rules of dining etiquette. I separated the lesson into two groups so that I could cover two different restaurants on the same day. Like the afternoon group, the dinner group had a fun experience at Salade De Fruits Cafe.
Located inside the French Community center on 7th and Fir, Salade De Fruits offers an unique experience where the waiters communicate only in French. Everything in the restaurant is written in French, including the menu so if you want to order something you better bring someone who is fluent in French. I was hoping that someone in our dine-out group knew how to speak French but none of our members knew a word of the language. Fortunately, I wrote a couple of French phrases and memorized some French dishes so that I can explain to our members what kind of dishes they should order. Although the night was suppose to be about a lesson in fine dining, most of the focus was on me trying to communicate with the waiter, using my horrible French.
It was a busy atmosphere that night, with waiters bustling back and forth. Even though the seating was spaced quite tightly and the restaurant was packed with customers, it didn’t feel cramped. The interior of the restaurant had a nice rustic look. The brick wall dividing the kitchen area was cluttered with a lot of French memorabilia. I didn’t have a good chance to take a look at the items. Overall, the interior is quite nice and reminded me of a small busy restaurant in Europe.
As this is my second time being at Salade de Fruits, the first thing I remember is the huge portions of food served, especially their Moules et frites (Mussels and Fries). The menus selection is really simple with only one page of menu items which is excellent because it takes me awhile to translate each item. We were first served bread which was pretty generic but filling. Most of the menu items listed are under the twenty dollar limit and with their large portion size, it is quite filling. I generally like the presentation of French food and Salade de Fruits doesn’t disappoint. The food is delicious but sometimes the portion size can be a double edge sword as I will explain in the next few sections. Keep in mind that I just had lunch at Bistro the Home so I wasn’t very hungry at this point so that might have affected some of my tastes during the dinner. Overall, the food was very good but I didn’t have the strength to finish off the large portions.
Moules et frites (Mussels and Fries): Perhaps one of their most famous dish, the Mussel and Fries doesn’t disappoint. There are 15+ pieces of mussels served in a round mussel pot and filled with a white and salty soup-based sauce. The mussels are quite plump and delicious. I love eating the mussels out of their shells and I always try to make sure I scoop up a bit of the soup into the shell so when I slurp the mussels I get a salty surprise. Bistro style fries were served in a really large portion. The fries tasted very good when they were first served but after awhile they get cold and soggy, like most French fries, which made finishing the plate difficult.
Cuisse de canard confit (Duck Confit): Another strong item in their menu, the Duck Confit is quite tender and succulent. It is a bit oily but most Duck Confit’s are usually oily. The second best Duck Confit that I have had and possibly the best priced. But to be fair I only tried four to five different Duck Confits in Vancouver.
Entrecôte grillée sauce poivre (Peppercorn Steak): A decent item; I actually like how the steak was prepared, but some members mentioned that the meat was a bit tough to chew. I really like the presentation of the different kinds of vegetable around the steak but I didn’t have a chance to try them because I didn’t order the item. In comparison with other restaurants that serve peppercorn steak, I think I have had better but I still liked the steak served in Salade De Fruits.
Service was excellent, the waiter was very patient and friendly, especially when I was speaking French to him. It is rare for a restaurant to have waiters that are very funny and entertaining. I felt very comfortable chatting up with the waiter even though it was in a different language. I was hoping that this group would pick up the dining etiquette as much as the last group but I guess the loud atmosphere and the entertaining waiters made them forget most of the lesson. The waiters did a great job of entertaining us and that was enough to get my members distracted. During one of my hilarious conversations ordering the food, the waiter eventually told me that I can speak English instead of French. I chose to continue in French. Another entertaining moment came when one of our members tried to get the waiter’s attention by saying excuse me, but was completely ignored. I told him to say excusez-moi and when he said that phrase the waiter turned around and served him.
The experience at Salade De Fruits Café is always fun. The food, price and atmosphere is great but the real stars of this restaurant are the servers. They create a unique and fun experience that I urge all foodies to try to experience at least once. Reservations are generally hard to reserve within a day, but as long as you reserve one week ahead of time you will usually get a seat. One of my most enjoyable and entertaining dining experience. The only other two restaurants that I can think of that provides an entertaining experience are Samba (Brazilian barbecue with Brazilian dancers) and Rossini’s (Italian place with live local jazz music). If you want an authentic French experience I urge all readers to try out Salade De Fruits Café; perhaps you can learn a couple of new French phrases.
One line summary:
Excellent service and great food, good way to brush up on your French.
Rating (best out of 5):
After we finished our dinner we decided to skip the dessert at Salade De Fruits Café and try out the nearby cheesecake place Cheesecake etc. Even though I was full and I didn’t really like cheese cake, I made an exception for this place. For this mini review I will just point out some things about Cheesecake etc.:
-Nice dark and romantic atmosphere,the piano in the center gives it some class
-Kind of strange walking through the kitchen in order to use their washroom but I guess it shows that the cheesecake place has nothing to hide
-Strawberry cheesecake delicious, very fruity not so cheesy, soft texture
-Raspberry special cheesecake with chocolate sauce so-so, the chocolate sauce made it too sweet
-Well priced for a dessert if you ordered the strawberry, Fairly expensive if you got the Raspberry special
Dessert Rating (best out of 5)
Menu + Gallery (Accessed: March 29, 2011):
Photos courtesy of Jane Shi