Saturday, May 07, 2005

Café S’il Vous Plait, Downtown - An Ungreasy Spoon

I wish one of my vegetarian friends was in town and discovered Café S’il Vous Plait (Robson St., at Richards) with me. Sometimes you just know when someone would love a particular restaurant. I'm not vegetarian at all, as you may have gathered, and the cafe doesn't present itself as a vegetarian place. It's just that there are plenty of vegetarian choices there. I also had their yummy borscht, which reminds me of my veggie friend's homemade borscht. Also, it could be a terrific place to have pie and coffee together, perhaps. I had their blueberry pie, a la mode, for dessert, but the crust was a little flat and not flaky at all, to the point where I think it might have just been a bad day for the pie, and I'm willing to order another slice some time, just to make sure. I would love it to be my new pie place (since Miriam's at English Bay closed down), especially since the coffee is refillable, and they warmed up the pie for me, and put two scoops of ice cream. It seems odd to me that a place that has been around so long would always do their pie crust like that, so I'll update this post if I go again for pie. They're only open until 9:30 pm or so, which means it can't be my late night dessert place. I'll have to stick to Sweet Revenge on Main St. (previously mentioned in my Valentine's Day ideas post) for that.

I've walked past this joint hundreds of times, and I finally decided to go in one day. It has comfy old booths, 50's diner style counter and stools, and lots of plants in the windows. It feels very homey, particularly since there was some nice, sophisticated instrumental music playing that evening, and the room is bright, and the menu is filled with comfort foods like chili, shepherd's pie and mac and cheese. They have also added a couple of Japanese dishes like seafood udon and vegetable udon. I decided to get the soup, cornbread, and salad combo (about $6.75), which felt wonderfully fresh and healthy. There were plenty of soup options. Their cornbread was quite nice and moist. The small salad was pleasant with lots of grated carrot, dressed very lightly in their house vinagrette. The borscht had wonderful big, semi-circular chunks of beets. Service was great - it appears that the place is owned by the older Japanese couple there, with the husband out front, and the wife in the kitchen. It can be a great "lonely guy" restaurant too, as I felt wonderfully comfortable dining alone there, and saw other singles dining alone there or picking up pie to take home. Dining alone at a restaurant is a treat that I indulge in, but it's really only enjoyable in certain restaurants. It's a delight for me to be able to leisurely read a newspaper, while eating at a restaurant. It also allows me to focus on the food, much like taking a walk alone allows me to focus on the scenery more intensely than when I walk with company. Of course, I still want to share this particular restaurant with other people too. And I'm sure I'll be back to do so.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, one of my Downtown standbys. And for a workout post-meal, check out the stairs to the restrooms. Steep and narrow from what I recall, not for the faint of heart.

~ Wanda

Dumpling_Girl said...

The stairs? I think the bathroom itself is not for the faint of heart! :) It must have the oldest sink I've ever seen in a restaurant. Yah, the stairs were funny - like they were built for elves or other little, nimble folk. I'm going to try their avocado milkshake next time I go, I think.

linda said...

All because of you, I tried this place out today for lunch. Three of us went, I had the checken and orange sandwhich, one had cuke and Cream Cheese and the other had Avacado and Banana!! I like this place. Good, simple, interesting food.

Dumpling_Girl said...

Oh good, I'm glad you enjoyed it! The "all because of you, I tried this place..." start of your comment had me a little worried. :) Thanks for your comment! Those sandwiches sound nice! If anyone has any comments on the pie there, please post.

Dumpling_Girl said...

Just an update. I still like this restaurant a lot, but when I went for a second visit, I tried their macaroni and cheese, and it wasn't very cheesy. I don't recommend it. It had, I think, a tomato (rather than cheese) based sauce, which was very thinly distributed on the macaroni, and just the tiniest token bit of melted cheddar on the top. It was so uncheesy that when I went home, I was compelled later in the week to try making my own homemade macaroni for the first time. I used generous amounts of FIVE different cheeses that I had hanging around my place (gruyere, emmanthaler, havarti, parmesan, and pre-shredded "mexi mix" of cheddar, jack, and spices). I also added mushrooms and a little spinach to my bechamel-cheese sauce. So take that, Cafe SVP! Anyhow, I'll still go back to the place - I just won't order the mac and cheese. I still want to try their avocado banana milkshake though!