Les Faux Bourgeois – Budget Friendly French Cuisine
I’ve held off on writing this post for a little while – partly because I’ve been too busy and partly because I wasn’t very motivated to write it. You see, despite this restaurant being quite popular with a lot of reviewers, I just didn’t get it… the food was good (nothing spectacular) and the atmosphere was just okay in my opinion.
Now, it may be that I just came here on a bad night (Friday evening) and this review might not be representative of a regular meal here but I like to think that I call them like I see them. So, with that disclaimer done with, let’s get on with this review.
To understand the type of restaurant that Les Faux Bourgeois is, you have to understand what the name means. I was never very good at languages (English or French) however I do remember enough from my grade 11 French class to know that “Les Faux” roughly translates into “The Fake”. I also recall enough from my Social Studies class to remember that “Bourgeois” referred to a type of social class defined by wealth and status. So, to me, my take on “Les Faux Bourgeois” is that they are trying to foster an environment where the wealthy middle/upper class are not the only ones who can afford to enjoy French cuisine (since most French restaurants tend to be on the pricey side).
If this is indeed what they are aiming to achieve (ie. reach a broader range of clientelle by providing a more casual French dining experience) than kudos to them for introducing their culture to more people. The problem, however, is if you have dined at some of the other great French bistros around town, you may be disappointed by Les Faux Bourgeois.
I knew that this restaurant was very popular so I booked our reservation 2 weeks in advance. When I called, they mentioned that we would have the table for 2 hours because they were quite busy. When we arrived around 6pm, the small little bistro was already humming along. I guess due to the size of the restaurant and how popular they are, they really squish the tables in here (like some Chinese restaurants during dim sum).
In terms of atmosphere, it was rather dark towards the back of the restaurant (the front was better because there was light coming in from the windows). I also found that this restaurant was unusually loud (again, on par with a Chinese restaurant during dim sum). I found it very distracting being able to clearly hear the conversation of patrons at the next table.
Our waiter was nice but service was very slow. At first, I didn’t think that we needed the full 2 hours for our meal but service dragged on and we wound up taking longer than we expected.
Our server brought us out a big basket of complimentary bread – the crust was actually more chewy than crusty but that didn’t stop us from enjoying it.
The best dish of the evening was the special of the day… the Croque de Jacques – large scallops served in a cheesy mornay sauce.
The Filet de Boeuf Grillé ($21) serves up a tenderloin with glazed veggies and potato gratin – I picked the red wine shallot jus instead of the green peppercorn cream sauce or herb butter.
My tenderloin was properly prepared to medium-rare as requested (it’s difficult to see in the picture below due to the dim lighting). Plus, the potato gratin was done well. Was it the best tenderloin that I’ve had? No – but it wasn’t bad and the price was fairly reasonable given the quality. I would have preferred, though, if they served boeuf bourguignon or daube de boeuf rather than a tenderloin.
The Fruits de Mer à la Provençale ($20) serves up mussels, clams, scallops and prawns in a tomato, olive and caper sauce. Again, the food was pretty good – not overwhelmingly so but nothing to sneeze at either.
Speaking of sneezing,… for some reason, the hostess kept leaving the front door of the restaurant open creating quite a bit of draft at our table.
As I’ve previously mentioned, if you visit a French restaurant, you should always save room for dessert. We were a little surprised that it took over 20 minutes for our desserts to come out and they were a little underwhelming. When our desserts finally arrived, we noticed right away that the Crème Brûlée was torched too long and the burnt sugar had turned very bitter.
The Passion Fruit Tart was better but I’m still not sure what took so long for it to come out.
In summary, if you’re on a budget and have never tried a French bistro before, definitely give Les Faux Bourgeois a shot. However, if you’re looking for somewhere with a little more oomph, try out Bistrot Bistro, Mistral French Bistro, Pied-à-Terre Bistro, or La Régalade French Bistro.
663 E 15th Avenue