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Bistro Wagon Rouge rolling out some fine casual French in Vancouver

grayelf | Jan 31, 201411:57 PM

I didn't see a thread on this related-by-chef-to-the-Red-Wagon bistro on Powell near Victoria. It's where Docker's Diner used to be. I liked the remodel with the bar-centric setup. The food is superior to any other similar I've tried in town, including Faux Bo.

Look for the specials, which on this day included a well-executed, decadent sweetbreads with pan-fried spaetzele and shimeji mushrooms. I was kinda done after that but ordered up the cassoulet anyway when I found out it featured the pork belly from Red Wagon. Cassoulet is better for lunch the next day anyway, right? :-)

I managed to try enough to ascertain that it was spot on, with a lovely confit duck leg, some tasty sausage and of course the pork belly over a savoury mélange of lentils. It can even be made gluten-free if that's your thing (there is a skiff of breadcrumbs on top in the regular version).

They seem very open to catering to dietary needs, with at least one off-menu vegetarian option nightly (that evening it was carrot risotto).

Another neat thing was that they had an amuse bouche that was available by the piece. It was sort of an arancini with a snail in the middle. Very nice.

My dining companion gave me a medallion of his boeuf bourgignon to try. It was made that evening with shanks rather than the listed cheeks and it was ridiculously tender and flavourful, studded with lardons and generally droolworthy.

We lost our minds and ordered dessert which for me was the one misstep. The lemon tart was not terribly lemony and the crust was too thin on the bottom (soggy) and too thick on the edges (hard). I didn't get a chance to try my DC's mousse so I take it as read that it was good.

They also had one of my favourite beers, Duchesse de Bourgogne, a Flanders red ale, in bottles for $8. I've not seen it here and am happy to.

Everything was more than fairly priced, especially for the quality. 2 beer, 1 amuse, 2 very hearty apps that could have been mains, 2 mains, 2 desserts, a tea and a house made lavender lemonade set us back by just over $100 after tax and before tip.

Only down side I can see: it's pretty small and they don't take reservations so if you arrive after 6:30, expect a wait, even on a weekday. I'll be back the very next time I'm looking for a dinner on the early side.

The Red Wagon
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