When the end of Voya at the Loden Hotel came back in January, I’d be lying if I said was a shock to restaurant wonks. Opening in the midst of the financial meltdown, the place saw its once-gorgeous dining room soon thereafter gutted to make way for private meeting rooms; they lost some great front of house staff; and the menu – no doubt forced by fiscal circumstance (ie. folks weren’t showing up for highbrow, Asian-accented French fare) – was dumbed down from the staggeringly good to the WTF weird (think tuna melts and nachos…not kidding). It was an unbelievable situation to find a chef of Choquette’s caliber in. I mean, the guy led the kitchen brigade at Lumiere for eight years!
Despite some critical acclaim (my review in the paper was postively swoonish), it ended up being a total flop, a cautionary tale that whispered “if you build it, they won’t care”. The “why” of that remains a mystery to me. Was it the 1181 Melville St. location? I don’t know. For certain, Coal Harbour’s kind of a stinker unless you’ve got a view or a chunk of waterfront (Voya had neither), but there are any number of odd locations in Vancouver that do exceptionally well (witness Chambar, La Buca, etc). I refuse to believe it was Choquette’s food, but that’s just me…
Anyway, causation is beside the point now, as Voya’s successor – Tableau Bar Bistro – is about to step up to the plate, again with Choquette at the helm. I’ve been told to expect French bistro fare running under the slogan of “local fresh meets bistro cool”. Expect moules frites, wild mushrooms on toast, warm milles feuilles – that sort of thing, with the average price point for entrees hovering at $22 ($6 cheaper than Voya’s bigger plates).
Word is there will be an outdoor patio, and the two private rooms that ate the original dining room now have names: Le Grand Salon (35 people) and Le Petite Salon (sic – 20 people). The re-design is by Franco Avignoni, who was tasked with “blending old world classic bistro elements such as custom brasses, solid wood paneling, marble, and leather banquets with original ‘pop art’ elements” to create “a truly modern, dynamic environment”.
They’re in the process of setting up a group media/blogger reveal (canapés and criticism, oh my!) in the first week of May, and are aiming to be open to normal people on May 7th. Here’s hoping the second time’s a charm.