Au Comptoir is a relatively new french bistro in Kitsilano, just across the street from Whole Foods. Roughly translating to “The Counter”, this little bistro does it’s best to capture the look, feel, sound and taste of a small parisienne bistro. And it does a pretty good job of it.
We started with a basket of complimentary bread with butter
The baguette was crusty on the edges, chewy and tender inside. It came with a small cup of unsalted creamery butter. This was nice bread.
D’s starter was the thursday night cheese platter special
This consisted of Roquefort, Camembert, apple slices, fig jam… and a couple of other aged cheeses that I couldn’t get the name of (noisy room plus the server’s thick french accent). I liked the creamy roquefort cheese, and loved the sweet fig jam.
E’s appetizer was the Oeufs Meurette
This was eggs poached on a warm shallot red wine sauce, with crispy bacon, garnished with perigord truffle shavings. It was served with a couple of slices of crusty bread.
J’s appy was Bloc de Foie Gras.
This was goose liver, seasoned, cured, and rolled into cheesecloth and aged. It’s then sliced into discs, and served with toasted brioche. I’ve only had foie gras once before, and while I thought it was pretty good, I was, and still am, at a loss to understand what all the fuss is about. After this, I still feel the same…. it’s good, but to me it’s still just pate with toast.
This was my starter….Salade Vercingétorix.
This was crisp baby gem lettuce, dressed in a garlicy mustard vinaigrette, topped with a soft-poached egg, gruyère, and anchovies.
My instinct is that this is a twist on a caesar salad. The anchovies, the egg yolk, the croutons, etc. I split the egg, and mixed it into my greens to produce a rich thick dressing. It was pretty good. The greens were fresh and crisp. The croutons were crunchy. The dressing was tangy with some good saltiness from the cheese, and the egg yolk provided some serious richness.
J’s main was Faisan Roti et son pithivier.
This was roasted pheasant breast, chestnut pithivier, with coffee-roasted carrots. The chestnut pithivier was the most intriguing part of the dish. It’s basically a savory miniature chestnut pie.
D’s main was Magret de Canard.
This was seared duck breast, gratin dauphinois, pickled raisin purée, endive. The duck was beautifully done, good duck flavor, well seasoned.
E’s main course was Blanquette de Veau.
This was a classic creamy veal stew served with rice. The veal was incredibly tender and rich.
My main course was Bavette Pommes Dauphines
This is skirt steak, seared and finished to medium, dressed with a shallot and red wine vinegar reduction, served with greens and mashed potatoes formed into balls and deep-fried to a light crisp. I actually requested a medium-rare steak, but I anticipated that it would arrive at my table closer to medium. This is just my experience… most of the time, steak will arrive slightly more “done” than requested, and this was pretty much what happened. It had some good beef flavour. It was properly seasoned, with a good char on the top and bottom. The shallot and red wine sauce provided some sweet and tartness.
The pomme dauphine are whipped mashed potatoes, combined with the dough of choux pastry, formed into balls and deep-fried to light crisp. These are fabulous. They’re crispy on the edges, but pillowy soft and tender in the middle.
J’s dessert course was Paris Brest
This is a choux pastry, filled with butter creme, dusted with powdered sugar.
E’s dessert was Creme Caramel
This was a traditional vanilla bean caramel flan, served with a biscotti wedge.
D’s final course was Tarte Citron.
This is a lemon curd served in a pastry short crust, topped with a light meringue.
My dessert was Tarte Tatin.
This is basically an upside down apple tart, topped with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream and a square wafer of dark chocolate. The pastry crust was short and crumbly, rather than delicate and flaky. The apple was thick tender and caramely sweet. The salted caramel ice cream was probably my favorite part of this dessert (the fruit and pastry were …. just okay).
The room is warm and inviting, with a distinctly french charm. It’s not too crowded or cramped.
Our server was very good. He was pleasant and friendly, and patient and willing to please. He sported a thick parisienne accent, which adds to the charm of the experience, but also occasionally makes it difficult to understand the description of the menu.