L’Abattoir has always been one of my favorite restaurants in Vancouver, offering a level of sophisticated and modern cooking that frankly isn’t very easy to find in our city. This French-inspired West Coast restaurant opened in 2010 under chef/owner Lee Cooper, who previously trained at The Fat Duck in the UK (a three Michelin star and former “best restaurant in the world” run by molecular gastronomy pioneer Heston Blumenthal).
L’Abattoir’s delicately plated dishes and unpretentious service was one of the things I missed most during the pandemic, and when I finally dined-in this summer I could tell they haven’t missed a beat. Little did I realize they also offered takeout! But does it live up to the expectations? Read on to find out!
The Take-Out Experience
A three-course prix-fixe dinner takeout menu for $61.50 is available on Fridays and Saturdays every week, which includes their bacon brioche plus a starter, main and dessert. The menu is fixed and you don’t get to make any choices, so unfortunately if one of the courses don’t sound appealing, you’re going to have to wait until next week to see what’s offered.
Ordering and payment is done online in advance through their website. Tax and service charge is included for the takeout menu, which is refreshing to see and reminds me of Europe! It’s a great value for what you’re getting and significantly less expensive than dining-in à la carte (the prix-fixe menu is offered for takeout only). However you do need to plan ahead and order within the 4-5 day window between when the menu gets posted and when it sells out, assuming you see what you like that week.
Service is good as usual, but they don’t meet you at the door and there’s no separate waiting area. The couple minutes it takes while waiting for your order can be awkward as you try to stay out of the way and hope no one else walks in to put you in a social distancing dilemma.
Like most other higher end restaurants, the meal is packaged in what looks like an elegant shopping bag but isn’t very practical. In my order for two, the 2 starters, 2 mains and one dessert container were all stacked on top of each other and the top of the bag was open. Unless someone’s holding on to it, the containers are guaranteed to topple over in the car like a game of food-Jenga. I’d highly recommend unpacking it in the car before driving off.
The starters and main courses are individually packaged while the dessert is combined. It works well, but you’re still reminded that you’re eating out of a plastic takeout container. It would be nice if they used round containers like St. Lawrence so that the plating could more closely replicate the dine-in experience.
The review might’ve sounded slightly negative up to this point, but once again the food never disappoints at L’Abattoir.
“Famous” might be a slight overstatement, but the bacon brioche at L’Abattoir is delicious. It’s a must-have item akin to the cheese toast at Hy’s, and I’m so happy they include this with every week’s menu (I’m still bitter that bread service was extra during Dine Out Vancouver). It’s served warm and pillowy-soft with the perfect amount of sweetness. And then every other bite has just the right amount of bacon to tantalize the taste buds with savory meatiness.
This dish looks and sounds simple, but the flavor combinations just work. It’s probably one of the most delicious salads I’ve had, and it barely needed the dressing. The endive and watercress were refreshing with a splash of lemon while complimenting the saltiness of the smoked trout. Every bite was punctuated with the freshness of the herbs and flavor of raw shallot while the capers and pickles gave some acidity. My taste buds were firing on all cylinders but I could still taste each individual ingredient working together to make this salad perfect.
The quail was another knockout dish. The legs were grilled and had a really smoky flavor along with a bit of sweetness. It almost reminded me of yakitori in the very best of ways. The breast was cooked to a perfect medium rare but the flavor of the foie gras got sort of drowned out in this combination. The potato fondant was super buttery and so good… I only wish there was more than one piece!
This was a great dish, but I can’t help but compare it to a similar one I had while dining-in during the summer. I still think about that quail, and really hope they bring it back. It was honestly as good or better than anything I’ve had at 3* Michelin restaurants in Europe:
Anyways, back to takeout.
The addition of passion fruit gave this citrus tart a tropical kick. I’m not normally a fan of lemon tarts but this was a great way to end the meal.
My first thoughts would’ve been to pair the quail with a lighter red like Pinot Noir or low-tannin Merlot. But I really wanted something that also goes well with the smoked trout salad, so went with a Chardonnay. I’m glad I did! It had a freshness that went well with the salad, but also some body and oak to stand up to the quail. I randomly stumbled upon Privato while looking for vineyards to visit in Kamloops, and had a great tasting experience there. Their Woodward Collection Pinot Noir and Merlot are also excellent.
Although certain aspects of the takeout experience could be further refined, the quality of the food really blew me away. I never realized I could eat like this at home in the middle of a pandemic lockdown, and L’Abattoir has given the gift of something to look forward to. I’ll definitely be dining-in when I can, but hope L’Abattoir continues to offer compelling takeout options like this.
217 Carrall St, Vancouver, BC
Price Range: $$$$ ($50-$100)
Rating: ***** (5/5 – Highly recommended)