Optimistically Cautious

Friday, February 01, 2008

Not for the Frugal at Heart: Cafe de Ville

Dickson and I had originally intended on sampling Cafe de Ville (10137 124 Street) in December, but an unfortunate series of circumstances kept us from the restaurant. We finally rebooked our trial engagement for Friday.

On a very chilly weekend, we bustled into the small, dimly lit dining room, already about half full. Intimate and cozy, the restaurant had a mostly mature clientele who seemed to fit in well amongst the aged (or is it classic?) decor.

My main reason for wanting to give Cafe de Ville a whirl was due to an Entertainment Book 2-for-1 coupon I had. As such, it seemed most economical for us to order full entrees to take advantage of such an offer and make the most of our first experience there. The Chilean Sea Bass special ($30) sounded good to me, served with a basil-saffron risotto and steamed vegetables. Dickson decided upon the Chicken stuffed with wild boar bacon, sun-dried romas, feta, roasted garlic, spinach, amaretto, tomato cream ($26). He was intent on comparing their chicken with Sorrentino's version.

While waiting for our plates, we received a small basket of warmed cheese croissants to tide us over, a lovely treat that tasted great without the normally requisite pat of butter. Our entrees arrived shortly after, and thankfully for Dickson, the portion was noticably larger than what Sorrentino's had offered last week (the inclusion of two sides helped with this immensely). More than that however, the chicken itself was moist, and the accompanying tomato cream sauce was richly satisfying. As for my fish, it was fork tender, as it should have been, flavored with a subtle white wine glaze. Paired with a perfectly prepared plump and savoury serving of risotto, I was comfortably full at the end of it.

Dickson would like to blame me for "making him fat" over the course of our restaurant experimentations, but he didn't struggle too much this time around when I suggested we give their desserts a try. With an on-site pastry chef, I figured Cafe de Ville should have above-par sweets. Like Manor Cafe, they had their daily selections out for display on a platter for visual consumption, and though I was tempted by the delicate handmade sugar cage atop the Coconut Tart, I ultimately chose the Molten Chocolate Cake, while Dickson ordered the Mandarin Creme Brulee.

After the fifteen minutes that was required to finish preparing my dessert lapsed, we were presented with two elegantly presented dishes. Unfortunately, Dickson's Creme Brulee was pre-made, and hence cold to the touch. We both preferred a custard slightly warmed by freshly torched caramelized sugar, so that prevented thorough enjoyment of his selection. The Chocolate Cake, on the other hand, was great - I was greeted with a warm, melted chocolate centre dabbed with white chocolate chips that while rich, wasn't sickly sweet.

Our waitress had been friendly throughout the entire evening, so it surprised me that when we handed her our coupon before she went on to tally the bill, she suddenly became quite brisk with us. When we asked for a clarification on the discount (they had taken off $12 instead of the value of the lesser-priced entree), she pointed to the receipt as if that was enough to clear up our confusion. I found out later, after leaving the restaurant, that the coupon itself was misleading, as it wasn't a true 2-for-1 deal; there was actually a maximum amount allotted for subtraction. Regardless, we still gave her a good-sized tip, because she probably thought we were cheap enough, but I am of the opinion that she really didn't deserve it, as we ended the evening on such a soured note.

So while the food ultimately stands up to allow for a recommendation if your parents or grandparents are looking for a quiet place for a meal, for the younger set, Cafe de Ville is too stuffy without the fine dining credentials to encourage frequent returns.

Stuffed Chicken

Chilean Sea Bass

Molten Chocolate Cake and Mandarin Creme Brulee

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Blogger Andrea said...

If you have a coupon, you should tell the server beforehand so that they can prepare the receipt.

February 4, 2008 at 6:12 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

I gave it to our server before she brought the bill the first time (as she was clearing our dessert plates).

February 4, 2008 at 6:49 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

No, I mean you should tell her before you order anything.

One time, I paid for my entire meal in gift certificates and our waitress was really nice because I told her when she came to take our orders. I left her a huge tip.

Or maybe your waitress was a bitch.

February 5, 2008 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Hm, I wouldn't think paying for your entire meal in gift certificates would alter the restaurant's take (it's essentially a pre-paid dinner).

Perhaps I will let the server know ahead of time to be "safe", but somehow (even though it's probably unfounded), I always think that alerting the restaurant that I will be using a coupon will affect the quality or quantity of food I get.

February 5, 2008 at 6:37 PM  

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