Bistro 101 has been around for a long time, but I have never been until recently. Bistro 101 is located just outside of Granville Island, in the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. Their dishes are all prepared by students for their culinary arts program as part of their practicum. They also have Bakery 101, where students of their pastry arts program prepare the baked goods. One of the reason why this is a popular place is that you can enjoy quality dishes or baked goods without paying very high prices. A three-course dinner is $24 and they change their menu daily. I finally got to use my two-for-one coupon.
After we were greeted at the door and have sat down, a student chef introduced herself and served us from beginning to end. Apparently she was graduating in a week, and that serving customers was the last bit of training. Congratz!
The environment of the restaurant was quite comfortable, and the customers can see the student chefs through the kitchen windows as they diligently prepare the meals.
The menu wasn’t very big, it had three items to choose from each category including a starter, an entree, and a dessert.
After we placed our order, the bread basket came. It had many types of goodies, even savoury choux pastry and savoury shortbread. The butter was very good too. According to the server, they even make the butter. (a lot of whipping?)
I had the Thai-style Oxtail Soup, it was very flavourful. The oxtail was very tender – almost melted in my mouth. It also had notes of cilantro and lemongrass – the usual suspects when I think of Thai food. The tangy lime taste and tomatoes also brightened up the soup.
My mom had the Baked Mussels and Pink Scallops. She really liked it because the mussels and scallops were cooked just right so they were wonderfully tender and sweet. The sun-dried tomato and roasted red pepper were tasty and were a good textural element. The pea puree was also a nice touch.
Next came the Pork Tenderloin, it was moist and juicy. The pear puree underneath was very tasty as well. I loved the pine nuts here (for some reason), maybe because it added a very nutty, toasty flavour and a crunchy texture. On the other side of the plate were some crispy mashed potatoes with some roasted red peppers. The mashed potato was like mashed potato spring rolls. I think they filled the potatoes in a fried shell. After all the breads and the starter, I was pretty full after the entree.
My mom had the Braised Veal Cheeks. It was served on a bed of barley risotto, some veggies, and some red wine reduction. The veal cheek was VERY tender and fatty. However, it was under-seasoned, so we had to ask for the salt shaker. The risotto was surprisingly good, unlike the risotto made with rice, this one felt less heavy and it had some bite in it as well. The red wine reduction paired with the meat quite well.
Our server strongly recommended this cake, so we had to try it…and it was very good. It had good chocolate flavour and a good texture. To my surprise, it wasn’t overly sweet with the white chocolate ganache on top and wasn’t very dense. Chocolate lovers would probably enjoy this. The fruit coulis flower was visually pleasing. The cookies flying off the cake were light and crispy. I was.really.full. after the dessert, but I was smiling.
The menu said there was supposed to be a peach meringue, but I think it became a lemon sorbet instead..haha. The cake was very rich in lemon flavour and the sauce added some moisture too. I personally would have liked it more if the cake itself was lighter and less dense but nonetheless it tasted good.
It was my first visit to the restaurant and I can definitely see why Bistro 101 has very high ratings. Their food is very tasty, the environment is ambient, the service is also exceptional, and at $24, you can’t expect more. At the end of our meal, we were asked to fill out a simple comment card addressing how we felt about our experience and I felt pretty good about my visit.