L’Abattoir’s happy hour has actually been in effect since July 2014 but flew under my radar. Definitely one of the BEST dining values around, matched with assured execution, balanced and flavourful dishes, and experienced professional service. Recommended!
Note: we were busy talking the entire time, so my descriptions below don’t get into as much detail as I usually do. Doing proper reviews actually takes a lot of focus and attention!
Happy hour is only available from 5:30pm – 6:30pm, and ONLY at the 9-seater bar. Appetizers are 50% off (minus the foie gras terrine and the baked oysters) as well as (on this night at least) the small pasta.
My dining partner (the “he” in He Eats, She Eats YVR) and I were there on a Tuesday night and the bar never got totally full, although you should get there early because it’s first-come, first-served.
As I said above, the first main listed (the small pasta) was also part of the happy hour deal. You can also read their full menu online.
An “ok” beer list. The Parkside Pilsner is a solid pilsner. 33 Acres of Sunshine is also good. For heavier dishes I’d go with the Delirium Tremens. I decided to try out the cider:
Twin Island Old Growth Dry Cider (ABV unknown) – $11. To my tastebuds, it’s semi-dry rather than dry. I like my ciders bone-dry but this wasn’t too sweet. Not as complex as I anticipated, but still good.
Avocado Gimlet ($15) with rosemary and olive-infused Beefeater gin, fresh avocado, Lillet blanc, and lime. I’m not a cocktail person but I took a sip and thought it tasted balanced, even with the rich ‘n fatty avocado element.
We ordered five happy hour dishes, which they smartly paced by bringing out the first three, then clearing our dishes and cutlery before bringing out the last two. A level of service that’s a cut above the usual happy hour!
Beef Tartare ($10, reg $20) with radish, harissa, labneh, mint, and (I think) a tiny bit of chives. Served with fuckin’ beef fat fuckin’ cracker:
These glistening beef fat crackers are great. Thin, crispy…a natural pairing for beef tartare. A flavourful yet neutral cracker.
The tartare itself was perfectly seasoned. I’ve sat through some pretty bland, underseasoned tartares, and this was a refreshing change. It’s apparent that the cooks actually taste the food. The harissa reminded me of a Chinese chili oil or XO sauce, or even Betty’s King Sauce. Not exactly the same tastewise, but I think there’s some coincidental similarities.
BBQ Heirloom Carrots ($8, reg $16) with fresh goat feta, mustard, and “spiced seeds”. There was also a smooth orange puree on the bottom, which could be carrot as well. Carrots cooked to a sweet, tender-but-not-too-tender state. Love the light char.
Glazed Berkshire Pork Cheek ($9, reg $18) with brassicas, toasted buckwheat, and sherry jus.
Closeup of the pork cheek. Like the carrots, the pork was cooked to that ideal tender-but-not-too-tender state. Seasoning is spot-on. Flavourful but not overpowering the ingredients.
The brassica part of this dish also included the freaky, trippy, fractal-infused romanesco.
The service at the bar was flawless. They anticipated needs, like when they switched out our knives for ones with a sharper serrated edge so that we could cut through our next round of happy hour dishes.
Pan-Fried Veal Sweetbreads on Toast ($8.50, reg $17) with pickled shallots, and sauce gribiche with veal tongue. Not sure what the jus-like sauce was,
but I’ll update this review if I find out. It’s veal jus.
I love sweetbreads but I find restaurants overcook them to a dry, rubbery state. This was not the case here! They still had a moistness and creaminess. There was a bit too much of the tartar sauce-like suace gribiche, but this is a super minor issue that could be fixed by…not eating all the sauce gribiche 🙂
Good size for sharing. Balanced and not overly rich. Satisfying.
Pasta Filled with Ricotta Cheese (small for $8.50, reg $17) with soft poached egg, mushrooms, nettle, and toasted oats. Also shavings of cheese on top. Not sure what kind of cheese. The server might’ve said when they put down the plate, but it’s so hard to absorb all the details when dining in a chatty, casual situation! Some surprises with this dish:
MORELS!!! OMFG! I really enjoyed their woodsy, nutty quality.
I assume all the greens in this dish are nettles, but they’ve treated them in two different ways: sauteed and crispy fried!
Ricotta inside. Pasta was al dente. A joy to eat.
I initially forgot about the egg. Never again. Simply a great pasta dish that follow’s L’Abattoir’s theme of flavourful yet subtle, balanced, and interesting to eat dishes. Lots of techniques and components but never fussy.
Frankly, I’m stunned at the quality that’s available here during happy hour. I feel like I should’ve kept this a secret, but “game recognize game”…