SOME neighbourhoods have it all: good looks, friendly residents, leafy parks to stroll and recreate in.
Deep Cove, of course, has all of that. It's ridiculously pretty, and there seems to be no shortage of smiling, happy people . . . not surprising, given where they live.
What isn't in abundance, though, is good eats. There are several worthy restaurants: you can have pizza, pizza, pub food, sushi, or doughnuts, or splash out a bit more for a lovely meal at the bistro in the heart of the Cove. But when dining here you aren't spoiled for choice.
Which is why the new Saucisse Restaurant, located in Dollarton Plaza, is a welcome addition to the 'hood. Saucisse, of course, is the French word for sausage. (So much more refined when translated into French, isn't it?) First opened as a café called Cove Fine Foods in the summer of 2011, the cosy space underwent a transformation in the fall to become an upscale restaurant. The 26-seater is now all luxe navy walls, dark wood, white linens and sparkly chandeliers.
I finally made it in to dine last week. Which brings me to a short aside on the topic of the Open Table online reservations system. It took me weeks longer to visit than I originally intended, because I couldn't get a table at a suitable time. Each time I tried to reserve online, tables were available at 6 p.m. (too early), or 8: 15 p.m. (too late), so each time I gave up and ate elsewhere. Eventually I got wise; as an experiment I checked available reservations for every night in a week. Sure enough, these are the only times the restaurant accepts online reservations.
It's a small room, so I can understand wanting to save seats for phone reservations or walk-ins, but if that's the case it would be better not to bother with Open Table at all. The way it's set up is a deterrent to people who'd like to dine between 6: 30 and 7: 30, and when we did dine in, after I finally reserved by phone, I noticed several empty tables at 7 p.m. I couldn't help wondering if there were others who'd tried to reserve and gave up thinking the restaurant was fully booked.
The menu, created by executive chef Kyle Wainwright, is "French-influenced Pacific Cuisine" using local ingredients as much as possible - no easy feat at this time of year. There's lots to choose from, including the chef's prix fixe menu, $50 for a seasonal four-course dinner. During our visit it included options like Kushi oysters, a wild mushroom and arugula salad, an Oceanwise trio of seafood, Cornish Game Hen or wild boar charcuterie.
The regular dinner menu is composed of starters ($12-$16) like sweet breads and house-cured meats; charcuterie plates ($9-$11); and soups and salads ($8-$13).
The French Onion Soup Gratinée was exactly what a frosty night called for: a deeply flavoured composition of slow-roasted caramelized onions, baguette croutons, and gratinée of luscious Comté cheese. A Gem Romaine Wedge Salad was not exactly a wedge, but still, the lettuce was crunchy and delicious spiked with tangy blue cheese emulsion, crispy pancetta, and brioche croutons.
Main courses ($19-$38) include Garlic Sausage and Lentils, Steak Frites, Smoked Ling Cod, roast chicken and dry-aged steaks.
We tried the latter: a ribeye aged in-house for at least 45 days to intensify the flavour and tenderize the meat. So richly flavoured was the meat that our choice of green peppercorn sauce was hardly necessary (especially given the extra $4 charge for it), but sautéed wild mushrooms ($6) made for a perfect complement. The only off-note was a Yarrow Meadows Duck Confit Cassoulet. I prefer the traditional casserole style to the deconstructed dish that landed on the table. Usually, the duck and fatty pork and sausage bits mingle with and help flavour the beans, which doesn't happen when it's all laid out separately. Also, for having been cooked sous vide (sealed, in a water bath) for 24 hours, the duck confit was surprisingly dry.
A rotating list of craft beers is on tap, and the wine list is small but thoughtful, with bottles from both Old and New World regions, including B.C., and a nice selection of wines by the glass. Our bill for dinner, which also included bottled water and HST, added up to $137.76.
Saucisse Restaurant is at 437 North Dollarton Hwy., North Vancouver. Visit saucisserestaurant.ca or call 778-340-1919 for reservations.