La Belle Auberge Restaurant is located in the old village of Ladner, British Columbia. Situated in a 100-year-old Victorian house, the restaurant is one of four Mobil Exxon 4-stars in Vancouver, was awarded Vancouver Magazine’s Restaurant Award for Best of the Burbs Silver 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and the American Culinary Federation Service Excellence Award 2004. Owner and Executive Chef Bruno G. Marti was crowned World Champion at the Culinary Olympics in 1984 and has even received the Queen’s Jubilee Medal.
That just the stats. The house is beautiful and features 5 dining rooms so you never feel crowded but always intimate and special. Even the washrooms are well-appointed (I’ve my husband check out the men’s for me!) They have also recently added live guitar music on Friday and Saturday nights which is the perfect accompaniment to a stellar experience.
And now the food. If you know me at all, you know I love food. I love to buy it, cook it, eat it, and most importantly, share it. I’ve been to La Belle Auberge twice with just my husband and most recently with my husband and 2 other couples. If you love, why not share it? This is not a menu for people who don’t appreciate food. It is filled with French delights and delicious offerings from soups, salads, all manners of meat and fish and vegetables and don’t forget dessert. Or wine. Where to start?
Well, our meal started with an amuse bouche of some bison carpaccio and some sort of creamy cheese topped with two different kinds of fruit jellies, one of them being pear. The sweet of the fruit mixed perfectly with the creaminess of the cheese. It was also presented so that you just tipped the little tower of cheese over onto the cracker and popped it in all at once. Yum!
Since I was having the table d’hote, I got to enjoy three appetizers. Almost everyone else ordered the lobter bisque (complete with a poached lobster ball) and one ordered the caesar salade moderne. The bisque was deliciously salty and creamy. The salad was a neat bunch of lettuce towers with other veggies on top and dressing on the side. You almost don’t want to eat the food because it looks so beautiful. My first appetizer was house smoked sockeye salmon with pea shoot salad on some sort of phyllo-like crispy plate. And this was no mini-tapas. There was plenty for everyone to have a bite. And they all wanted to because it was so good.
Next up was seared foie gras with apple tart tatin with port wine sauce and snap peas. Now I’m not a huge organ meat fan but I always have room for a bit or two of foie gras. It was tasty enough that after a few bites went around the table my husband finished it off. Next was rabbit. I can’t remember the name of it, but with was basically stewed rabbit with chantrelle mushrooms in puff pastry topped with rolled rabbit breast. If you’ve never eaten rabbit, then you are missing out. It was divine. The gravy was piping hot which led to a real comfort food feeling and the pastry was perfectly crispy.My husband actually used a few pieces of bread to sop up the remaining gravy. And both Chef Bruno and one of our servers encouraged him to do it! This is not a pretentious place at all.
We cleansed our palates with a ball of sour grape sorbet. Mine came with a white chocolate hollow ball filled with juice, the name of which I can’t remember. Basically, you pop the ball in your mouth and when you bite it, the juice literally explodes in your mouth. And it was a very strong, intense, tangy sweet juice. Just perfect.
We all managed to order different entrees and to share some bites around of each. The blueberry duck was one of the biggest hits (they even publish the recipe on their website), which the veal got many compliments for it’s decidedly un-veal like taste. I had the scallops and they were perfectly cooked. My only complaint might be that there was a bit too much sauce on them but my husband likes sauce so it’s really a moot point. The rack of lamb plate was cleaned right off, and both the salmon and entrecote (NY steak) were getting lots of yums and mmms.
Next up was a little cheese and fruit plate of a slice of peach, sliced grape, bite of brie, teeny salad and some caramelized nuts. This is one of those stereotypical French plates where the plate looks almost empty save for the five bites of food artfully scattered around it. And if you just ordered that thinking you were going to get a pound of cheese and basket of fruit, I can see that you would be disappointed. But I had just eaten six other courses. So a few bites to end the savouries is perfect.
Then comes dessert. Husband and I shared the caramelized plums which came with vanilla ice cream and chocolate mousse. Some other shared the tiramisu and that was truly the showstopper of the meal. It was beautifully shaped into a sort of tear-drop standing up. It didn’t last long though, which is a testament to how good it was.
The meal ended with some lattes and cappucinos and a lovely chat with Chef Bruno and his restaurant manager and Chef de Cuisine, Tobias. These are the guys that make it happen. And it happened perfectly. And I will be back. Maybe I can share it with you next.