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I was in a rather large party and we had reservations for 8:30pm. We all arrived before then but had to wait a while longer for our table to be ready. So while we were waiting, I decided to take a couple pictures outside. We were finally seated at about 8:55 and had a pretty nice view of the restaurant. Mind you, the inside is long but seems to be a smaller venue – it looked like about 10-12 tables in the room we were in.
I did admire the decorations around the restaurant, giving it more of a ‘bistro’ feel with the wooden windows, drapery and scenic photo frames.
The seats and tables also contributed to the whole bistro aesthetic.
I like how the plates were also branded, very cute!
We were first given the drinks list, they have quite an extensive offering of wines. Our server was very helpful and suggested I try one of her favourite white wines (for the life of me, I don’t remember which one but it was quite sweet and dry).
Our menu was a special group menu, so it was slightly different than the regular menu. I was really hoping to try the bouillabaisse, but I guess I’ll have to wait for my next visit to try it.
We were then given bread while we waited on our meal. The bread was okay, but nothing too special. Our first serving of bread had about two or three pieces per basket – but we were in group of about 10 guys and you know how hungry guys can get! They had to ask for more bread.
My husband and I decided to try the Dungeoness Crab Cakes ($14) since they came recommended to me. I might not be a veteran to the crustacean cuisine, but I always find that Dungeoness crab is always on the drier side. Our crab cakes were because of that reason, on the flakier side. The two crab cakes were served with a salad-like fennel, cucumber and pink onion which was very tasty. This is one of the reasons why I like French cuisine, its because taste seems far more important than making gigantic dishes. French cuisine is always looking for the details in their dish.
The rouille, which is not pictured here – looks a lot like mustard – however it has this great bite to it – perhaps it’s horseradish or chili peppers, but whatever it is, it was chock full of flavour. The tomato jam (in the front of the dish) was akin to ketchup but far refined – with the taste of tomatoes and the sweetness of the sugar lingering afterwards.
I ordered the Halibut ($29), I wish I had written down what was served alongside it, because it was delicious! From what I remember, there were crisp bits in it – I cant quite put my finger on what it was exactly, bacon, peas, pearl onions and (I believe) pinot noir jus. That alone was worth my dinner! The halibut was juicy, tender and savoury. The top was a bit crisp with a buttery flavour.
My husband ordered the Tuna ($26), which was seared and topped with sweet tomato on a bed of eggplant “frites” and eggplant puree. There were also green beans in the middle. I tried a bit of the Tuna, and with the topping and the eggplant puree had a great, rich taste to it. The best part though was the eggplant “frites”, although I can’t have too much eggplant it was full of flavour.
My husband friends also ordered the Beef Short Rib ($26) which were served with potato puree, braised cabbage, brussel sprout ragout, Bordeaux and juniper berry jus. It looked phenomenal, but I didn’t get to try it!
Another dish ordered was the Prawns Provencal ($25), a line of prawns served with crispy gnocchi, peas and pearl onions.
Another one of my husband’s friend cannot eat seafood, but he came out anyway – our server was kind enough to ask the chef to make a pasta dish for him. He had the Linguine Boscaiola, ($20) which is made with ground stripling, mushroom, Parmigiano-Reggiano (cheese) in a Cognac and truffle cream. He said that he enjoyed his pasta, and it was quite a big serving.
Overall, I did enjoy my experience at Tapenade Bistro, although I’d like to come back and have the regular menu. The food is creative, savoury and inspires the senses. Our server was extremely helpful and funny, she definitely made the evening a good one. Although we had to wait about 20 minutes for our table to be ready and what seemed quite long to order, I’m chalking it up to being a busy saturday evening experience you would encounter any place else as well.
The food is chock full of flavour, every bite doesn’t go wasted to tasteless morsels. For some people, they may see the portions as small but believe me that you will be satisfied by the end of your meal.
I think that the look, feel and location of Tapenade Bistro hits the mark. It’s not tiny enough to be a ‘bistro’ but it just feels right for it to be in the heart of Steveston, serving seafood and having this old world, French feel to it.
While the food is phenomenal, I find French food to be a bit pricey. I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason why this is so – perhaps it’s more difficult to find the right kind of seasonings or it’s more difficult to make and serve certain dishes, but I can’t honestly see myself eating here on a regular basis! It is always a treat to go out and have French food and I think it will stay that way.
Our server was very kind, friendly and patient. I have to admit that going with a big group is difficult to serve. The guys I was dining with don’t really make it all too easy either, but she was efficient and friendly and I admired her for that. I was thinking of giving her a higher rating, but I think it was a bit silly that we had to wait 20 minutes when we made reservations ahead of time. That being said, I also wanted to point out that the manager was super friendly, spoke briefly to us while we were waiting for our table and at the end of the meal.