Sunday, September 25, 2005

Truffles Night Bistro (Cornwall Ave.)

Take the quintessential university student's apartment, turn it into a restaurant, and you've got Truffles Night Bistro on Cornwall (1943 Cornwall Ave., in that grouping of restaurants just off the Burrard St. bridge). This place brought me back to my university days instantly, and in fact, I think the last time I was there was when I was a UBC student, quite a few years back. Nothing has changed there, as far as I can tell. It's still a great, relaxed space to enjoy drinks and nibbles, or desserts, especially if you like the idea of reliving your student days.

Let me set the scene...I wandered into this place on a whim, on an early autumn night, to escape the cold. The weather was just turning chilly, signalling the end of summer, and reminding me of back to school times. I ordered a drink, and it wound up being the perfect student apartment drink, vessel and all - my sangria was actually served in one of those clear glass mugs with raised flowers that everyone seemed to have in their place when they were students, acquired either from mom, or from the last students who rented the house, or the local thrift store. Each table had a white tapered candle sitting in a mound of wax dribbles, exactly like my university boyfriend would light up in his apartment when he wanted to be romantic. Which, of course, was always - hey, we were young and in love and corny as hell. So corny in fact, I remember that he went to great lengths to find drippy candles in the first place to get that wax mound effect. Come to think of it, Truffles must have to do the same, as most taper candles are dripless these days. The place is adorned with art posters, musical instruments, an Einstein photo, vinyl record covers, and dusty bundles of dried flowers hanging upside-down. Did everyone dry flowers like this when they were this age? Or was it just me and my bunch of my female friends? Also, there were the requisite bohemian prints on schlumpy pillows and weathered tablecloths and a hodge podge of mis-matched furniture just like all my friends' places when I was a grad student. I remember having great fun acquiring furniture from anyone moving away, and finding treasures in flea markets and garage sales. Even a jumble of twinkling Christmas lights hangs outside Truffles. It all felt as if it was a carefully constructed movie set of a students' house. I mean, even the server was looking like your typical housemate for the evening - a swarthy arts grad student, with his hair pulled back in a tight, dark ponytail.

To add to this chance student nostalgia experience, on this particular evening, I happened to have with me a book I had recently purchased on the very topic I obsessed about in university (animal behavioural ecology and sexual selection), making it feel all the more like a time warp. I also had with me a Feynman book essentially about the joy of scientific discovery, written by the famous physicist. I couldn't have chosen two more perfect books to complete the scene.

I ordered the French platter ($12.99, $17.50 if sharing), one of their three platters that include various deli type tidbits to nibble away at. This included brie, blue cheese, pissaladiere (onion tart), pepper paté, olives, roasted red pepper, marinated artichokes, marinated eggplant, organic baby greens, two slices of garlic oregano focaccia, a very tasty dilled potato slad, and tomato pesto. Most of these items are common to the Italian Platter and the Turkish Platter, just nice yummy little things that a student might pull out of their fridge to feed their friends who have come over to gab and drink. The menu also has other student-ish dinners like lasagne and quesadillas, as well as desserts (like the namesake truffles), and lots of drinks.

This place, for me, is all about atmosphere. A familiar-feeling place to thrash about your crunchy, late-night philosophical arguments with friends, or spoon out your thick, gooey, young dreams to your lover, or soak up your delicious book in warm, comfortable solitude...a place to languish in youth, or in my case, sweet memories of youth. I wouldn't change a thing...and neither, apparently, would the owner.


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