As a huge fan of Jérôme Ferrer from his restaurant Europea, I was anxious to see what his Bistro had to offer. Via his monthly newsletter, I received an email announcing a “faim de soirée” 20$ menu at his Bistro to celebrate the 10 years of existence of Europea. What with Mother’s day and this wonderful special, I decided now was the time to visit.
We had reservations for 7:30pm on the Saturday before Mother’s day. The décor is quite laid back, with wood floors and walls, and with lots of red leather booths, creating a very “bistro” feel. You could also tell the restaurant was quite family friendly, as there were lots of kids around.
The meal started off with some lovely french bread and tapenade. It make for an interesting change to the classic bread and butter combo. The tapenade was good, but no more.
With our special 20$ menu, we had a choice of four entrées, four mains, and it also came with the dessert of the day and tea or coffee. I was with my boyfriend and his parents, and we chose the cheese croquette, fried calamari, beef carpaccio and cucumber gazpacho as entrées.
The cheese croquette didn’t sound that appealing to me, I felt it sounded a bit heavy, I mean, after all, it’s fried cheese! However, I was wrong, while fried, the batter was light, and the cheese was creamy but not runny. It was served over some pesto sauce, with some salad. The salad and pesto provided a good, fresh balance to the richness of the cheese. This was my favourite entrée.
My boyfriend’s father chose the fried calamari, crusted with parmesan breading, and served with a tartar sauce and marinara sauce. The calamari was the most tender fried calamari I’d ever had. There was none of that rubbery effect you often have with calamari, and it was very fresh. The only thing was I felt the parmesan taste could have been more present in the batter.
My boyfriend had the beef carpaccio entrée. Thin slices of raw beef, covered with parmesan shavings, roquette leaves and balsamic glaze. The mixture of textures and tastes was excellent; the thin, tender beef, the crunchiness of the roquette, the saltiness of the parmesan, complemented by the sweetness of the balsamic and a surprising lemon taste, which added to the depth of the flavours.
I had the cucumber gazpacho. It was very fresh, the texture was a little thin, with small pieces of cucumber that added some texture and some thickness. However, while good, it was my least favourite of the four entrées.
As a main meal, my boyfriend ordered the calf liver, served with some sautéed onions and some green vegetables. This is a classic french bistro offering, and it was very well executed. I’m not a big fan of calf liver, or liver in general, but my boyfriend often chooses this in restaurants as it is something he always feels is not as good when cooked at home. The vegetables it were served with were original and delicious. The bok choy were perfectly cooked, with the leaves still crisp yet not dry, and they provided an unexpected pairing. The asparagus were also very fresh and had a nice crunch.
My boyfriend’s parents both had the mussels with a white wine sauce served with fries. My boyfriend’s mother found that several of her mussels were closed (and therefore inedible), yet she still had too much and was unable to finish her plate. However, my boyfriend’s father did not have the same problem, his mussels were all open. The white wine sauce was delicious and was flavoured with nutmeg which was interesting and surprising for this french bistro classic. The fries were large and tender, both crispy and soft.
I had beef carpaccio, which was as good as the entrée, and I was pleasantly surprised by the quantity of food in my plate. All of the portions so far had been extremely generous, and this was no exception.
Finally, as part of this special menu, we all had the same dessert. It was a layer of custard overlaid with some mascarpone cream and some small candied orange pieces. The dessert was delicious, with the sweeness of the custard well complemented by the richness of the mascarpone. The candied orange pieces, however, seemed out of place and I left them to the side.
The tea was served with a small biscotti which was a nice touch, however, by that time, I was stuffed, and did not even have room for this small biscotti.
So, in conclusion, the Bistro Beaver Hall is not as elegant or as original as Europea. However, it does not pretend to have the same ambiance, being much more laid back and affordable. What you have is excellent, classic french bistro fare, with excellent quality for the price and amiable and friendly service.
Great for a business lunch or a evening amongst friends, or even, with the kids (they even have a kids menu).
Enjoy, bon apétit!