by Andrew Morrison | Led by principal Lilliana L. De Cotiis, the team behind Coal Harbour’s Tableau Bar Bistro – executive chef Marc-Andre Choquette, chef Tret Jordan, lead bartender J.S. Dupuis and manager Steven Wright – are opening a second restaurant, this time in Yaletown in the ancient Homer Cafe classic diner location (just across the street from Subeez).
When I say “ancient”, I’m talking in Vancouver years. The Homer Building at Smithe & Homer celebrates its 100th birthday in 2013, which is to say that it’s old enough for a history that stretches back beyond the Homer Cafe, with its famous pair of eggs with sausages and toast for $3.95. Prior to the humble Homer, it was the Stratos Cafe, and before that it was Rose’s Coffee Shop. Before that it was Pauline’s Cafe, and before that it was the Smithe Coffee Bar. Peel the layers back past the 1950′s and you’ll find a Japanese candy store, a cleaners, a grocery, a barber shop, and so on. It was always a community hub of some sort. You can see it in its bones.
Fast forward to the Fall of 2008, when The Homer underwent the knife. The major facelift, retrofit and rebrand was completed in the Fall of 2011 (you might remember the aged facade braced in glossy developer wrap marketing the place as “Yaletown’s last opportunity”). It’s now called The Beasley after former city planner Larry Beasley, and exists as the heritage foot forward and namesake of a brand new neighbouring 33 storey condo tower. To my knowledge, the only facet of the new development that has yet to be completed is the restaurant space, which was leased this past Fall.
De Cotiis et al have yet to reveal the name of the restaurant, which is slated to open at some point this summer. The food concept is also being kept a secret. For now all I can say is that it won’t be another Tableau Bar Bistro, which is fine by me. However much I might love that restaurant (and boy, do I ever), it’s important to remember that Marc-Andre Choquette is one of the best chefs in western Canada (Rob Feenie’s right hand man at Lumiere during its prime), one whose range is hardly tested by the classic French bistro milieu of moules and steak frites. It would be awesome if he let loose on a different, more innovative tack. But beggars can’t be choosers. At this early stage only one thing is for certain: whatever Choquette cooks, I’ll want to try it.
The GOODS from Tableau Bar Bistro
Vancouver, BC | Beginning today, Wednesday March 14th, Coal Harbour’s hotspot for bistro fare will be offering a rotating menu of close to twenty French favourites to-go. Whether you’re lunching desk side, dining alfresco, or short on time after a long day at the office, Chef Marc-André Choquette’s (Chef MAC) menu is poised to please. Tableau Bar Bistro’s twist on to-go includes signatures such as tuna niçoise with tomato pulp dressing; shrimp, scallop & squid ink linguine with kale and tomatoes; cheese and charcuterie boards; a selection of classic sandwiches like bbq pulled chicken with white cheddar and pickled red onion; signature flat breads including jambon, champignon and parmesan or anchovy, olive, tomato and chili; as well as Chef MAC’s daily Tableau specialties. Details after the jump… Read more
by Andrew Morrison | 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.
Executive Chef: Marc-Andre Choquette
Executive Sous: Henry Wong
Restaurant Manager: Alain Canuel
About Tableau Bar Bistro
FRESH LOCAL MEETS BISTRO COOL.
A neighbourhood bar bistro – serving an updated take on traditional French bistro fare prepared by Executive Chef Marc-Andre Choquette and his talented team. Discover a beautifully renovated interior that combines old world classic bistro elements with modern touches and a French-inspired menu that blends classic culinary flavours of Paris with the use of fresh west coast ingredients. A dynamic bar scene serves seasonal in-house and classic cocktails and a great selection of local and draft beers on tap as well as an eclectic mix of approachable wines built from the regions of France. The perfect place for a business lunch, meeting friends out on the patio, everyday dining, special celebrations or brunch with the family.
Come for the scene. Stay for the service. Return for the fare.
Reviews & Accolades
“It’s French bistro done well enough to make me hungry at the thought of it.” – Mia Stainsby, Vancouver Sun Food Editor “You’ll go for the ambience and stay for the cocktails (which are excellent). But you’re bound to return, again and again, for the food.” – Alexandra Gill, The Globe and Mail
“Really great food. Great staff too. If I lived in that hood, I’d probably drop by once a week.” – Sarah Rowland, 24 Hours Vancouver
French-inspired eatery does it right – Metro Vancouver “Executive chef Marc-Andres Choquette (Lumiere) and executive sous chef Tret Jordan (Raincity Grill, Bacchus, Elixir) come with a fine dining pedigree that would be hard to match anywhere in the city.” – The Vancouver Sun
“Tableau channels New York bistro in much the way Joe Fortes channels San Francisco, that is to say, with a good deal of polish and sophistication. I plan to go back. Hell, I’d even pay.” – Randy Shore, The Vancouver Sun
“It’s to die for.” – Erin Ireland, Metro Vancouver