Cafe Regalade -
I didn’t even know that La Regalade had a branch in Kitsilano until my wife and I were looking for a place to have lunch today. We had an appointment within a block of the restaurant at 1:00 PM and we accidentally stumbled upon the restaurant at around 12:15 PM as we parked our car across the street from it and were about to head in an easterly direction in search of a lunch spot.
As soon as I saw the restaurant’s signage, with its familiar red coloured cursive font and its familiar name, I knew that it was related to my favorite local French comfort food spot. Both my wife and I were glad that we happened upon the restaurant because French comfort food was the perfect body-and-soul-nourishment for such a wet a gloomy day.
Walking into the restaurant, I was totally feeling the laid-back, casual, not-purposely-dressed-up-and-non-ironic mix of rustic, modern, and whimsical interior elements.
The menu was written out in a rather-small-sized cursive handwriting with chalk on several blackboards placed in strategic locations around the room (the words on the chalkboard were so difficult for several of our neighboring diners who required reading glasses to read that they had to have each item described to them verbally by their server).
My wife and I each opted to order a heavier, meat-based dish as our main courses and to share the French Onion Soup as our starter.
This onion soup was very different from every single bowl of onion soup that I ever remembered having. The cheese was melted but not charred while the three slices of bread held their shapes perfectly near the top of the bowl. Digging beneath the surface, I was surprised to find chopped-up pieces of tomatoes in the soup. The tomatoes, onions, and cheese combined with the stock to create a rich, sweet, and milky flavour that, quite frankly, tasted more like a light version of a cream-or-some-vegetable soup than a French onion soup. The soup was not salty at all, which took a little getting used to. I thought that the soup was ok; I was certainly not forcing myself to drink any of it, but I was also not in a hurry to drink more than my share of the soup.
My wife had stronger negative feelings about the soup than I did. She thought that it tasted weird, and that it was a very poorly made version of French onion soup. She didn’t think the tomatoes belonged in a French onion soup and she couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that the soup was not salted at all. She was only able to ingest the soup after she added some salt to it on her own.
My wife had the Hanger Steak and Eggs with Frites as her main course.
I’ll start with the part that my wife actually liked about the dish: the eggs. The yolk was thick yet runny and the egg whites were thin and bitey. Other than the eggs, my wife felt that the dish was an utter and complete failure. She said that the fries were limp and cut too thick. She also didn’t like the greens included with the dish, commenting that the size of the leafs were off. The individual leafs were too big to be eaten in one bite while their shapes were such that it was also difficult for my wife to take bites out of the leafs while they were on my her fork.
My wife was even less enamored with the beef than she was with the fries and the greens. She thought the steak had neither a pleasant texture nor a pleasant flavour. All she could taste from the steak was a one-note black peppercorn flavour. She was unable to detect any beefy flavours at all. In terms of texture, my wife thought that the beef was simply too soft. The steak did not have the slightly chewy texture that she usually gets with hanger steaks. I tried a piece of her steak and one thing immediately came to my mind after I swallowed my piece: airplane steak. This steak had the exact same sterilized and steamed out flavours of an airplane filet mignon while sharing its overcooked and faux-tender texture. The hanger steak also mimicked the portion size of the commercial-airline-economy-class-filet-mignon: tiny. This hanger steak should have been called an airplane-in-a-hanger steak.
I had the Duck Confit as my main course.
My duck confit was not that much better than my wife’s hanger steak and eggs. The portion size was equally tiny. They gave me one duck leg, which was equivalent to about one and a half chicken drumstick from KFC or Church’s. I felt that the amount of meat included was more starter-sized or tapas-sized than main-course-sized. The duck was also not that flavourful. I could definitely sense the gaminess of the duck and unctuous of the duck fat, but they were sporadic not consistent with every bite. I felt that the flavours were somehow lacking. I know that a confit is a confit is a confit, but I have had much more flavourful duck confits than the one I had today. They probably underseasoned the duck before the confit and I’m guessing they added other types of oil which diluted the duck fat flavours while the duck was being cooked.
I did like the tender texture of the duck meat, but then I didn’t like overdone chewiness of the duck skin.
The potato wedges were very ordinary. They felt exactly like the potato wedges produced by just about every greasy spoon breakfast place. I could definitely taste the fine bits of chopped garlic on top of some of the wedges, but I didn’t feel that they did enough to enhance the flavours of the wedges.
Unlike my wife, I did not see anything wrong with the salad. I had no trouble stuffing each individual leaf into my mouth…I guess having a bigger mouth does have its advantages.
It’s not often to have a meal so bad that wife feels insulted by the food, but that was exactly the way my wife felt after our meal today at Cafe Regalade. I didn’t think that the food was so bad that I felt insulted by it, but I was also otherwise unimpressed with the food. I think it’s a safe bet that neither my wife nor I will ever return to this restaurant. We came in with such high expectations for a meal to kill the rainy blues, but we exited the restaurant more blue than when we went in. We were practically smurfs when we walked out of the restaurant…the previously drab and depressing rain actually felt refreshing and rejuvenating.