Welcome to this blog’s inaugural post! I visited St. Lawrence for dine-in a couple years ago when they just opened, but it’s their takeout offering that has kept me going back in a COVID-19 world, eagerly awaiting new dishes to discover as their menu changes monthly. In fact, it’s what inspired the creation of this blog: to show that a properly plated three-course meal at home is possible with takeout.
Chef/owner J-C Poirier seemed to win instant accolades when he opened St. Lawrence in 2017. It’s not surprising, considering he worked in Toque! in Montreal and Rob Feenie’s Lumière, and was behind Ask for Luigi and Pizzeria Farina amongst others. While Vancouver has its share of French restaurants, St. Lawrence is unique because it combines classical and rustic French cuisine with a Québécois twist. Here you’ll often find rich classical French sauces and buttery puff pastry paired alongside Quebec cheeses.
The Take-Out Experience
The takeout menu at St. Lawrence is simple: $49 for a three-course meal with a choice of starter, main and dessert. This is incredible value, considering the same menu is $69 for dine-in. Each diner can make independent choices too, potentially allowing a couple to try 6 different dishes between them. The menus change monthly, but several of their most popular dishes seem to appear consistently. The ordering process is super easy through Tock, where you order and pre-pay for the time/date you want to pick up. Tip: there are limited “tickets” for each time/date, and peak Friday and Saturday pick-up times sell out quick, sometimes weeks in advance.
The takeout service is excellent. Someone always greets you at the door (you don’t even need to step foot inside), they ask for your name and promptly retrieve your order. The hallmark of good service is always seeing how a business handles hiccups; when they left out a dessert one time, they were prompt to respond via email the same night and were very gracious in making things right… they even remembered me the next time! Another time they had to substitute peanuts and made sure to call me personally to ask about allergies and marked the dish with a warning sticker.
The dishes at St. Lawrence are beautifully plated in round paper containers, it’s ingenious since they make you feel like you’re eating out of a plate instead of takeout containers. The meal comes packaged in an elegant dark blue bag with their logo on it. Although this looks great, it’s not very practical since it’s tall and narrow, and the dishes are stacked high. The top of the bag isn’t stapled shut, so no matter how careful you are, the dishes on the top are going to topple over in the car. I make sure to unpack the contents in the trunk and store the dishes on top separately.
The complimentary bread is excellent for takeout as it won’t dry out or turn soggy during transport. The inside is soft with a touch of sweetness. It comes with cretons, a pork spread which is like the Quebec version of rillettes. The meaty-umami-goodness is honestly one of the best parts of the meal. Pairs perfectly with the tangy mustard, whose seeds give a textural “pop” to every bite.
Being served cold, the terrine was also perfect for takeout. It was wrapped in pastry and wasn’t too fatty, served with regular mustard (not as good as the blend that comes with the bread) along with a variety of pickled vegetables.
This looks like a dessert, but it’s basically a savory cream puff stuffed with duck liver mousse. It gives your mouth an explosion of flavor. The tartness of the sauce (not sure what type of berry that is) works really well to cut the fat from the duck liver. It doesn’t feel like a heavy dish even though it sounds like it should be.
This is probably one of their more popular dishes as it’s always on the menu at St. Lawrence. The pork chop is tender and cooked perfectly medium with a slight tinge of pink. Restaurants here tend to overcook pork, so this is a really welcome sign. Maybe one day we’ll see medium-rare pork in Vancouver.
It’s topped with a generous slice of Oka cheese, bacon, chives and some cornichons. The flavors really compliment each other, and at no point is the pork overpowered. The potato puree on the other hand was a little underwhelming. Perhaps it’s because they used Robuchon in the name, and having tried the real thing this is nowhere near as silky or potatoey. The recipe is normally like half butter, so it probably solidified slightly as it cooled during the hour it took to get it home and finish the first course before digging into the dish. This is one dish I would love to dine-in and try hot out of the kitchen.
With that being said, it’s still delicious and probably the best pork dish I’ve ever had in Vancouver.
I couldn’t resist cutting into the above dish, before remembering to take a photo. The truffle sauce was a little bland for me, but the chicken was flavorful. The potatoes done both ways was rich and delicious.
I find many of their desserts too sweet (it’s probably just me), but the mille-feuille was excellent. The coffee filling in the middle is sandwiched by two chocolate layers, each with enough bitterness to not make it oversweet. The pastry was crisp and the hazelnuts (I think) made each bite taste like a more delicious version of Ferrero Rocher.
Since the main dishes consisted of chicken and pork, and everything was quite rich and fatty, I wanted a delicate wine with some acidity but also some body. The Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir was a great pairing. It’s a full-bodied pinot with ripe cherry flavors and medium tannins. This is perfect for those who like darker full-bodied wines, but need a pinot noir for their meal (it’s my go-to turkey wine). It’s available at BC Liquor Stores for $39.99, and considering it costs more than $40USD at the winery, it’s one of the very rare finds that cost less as a Canadian.
Considering St. Lawrence is widely regarded as one of the best restaurants in Vancouver, $49 for three courses is a no-brainer and incredible value considering the quality of ingredients and level of care and attention that’s going into the food. The richness of the food is something truly unique compared to most West Coast-inspired restaurants in the city. Just make sure you’re not on a diet!
269 Powell St, Vancouver, BC
Price Range: $$$$ ($50-$100)
Rating: **** (4/5 – Recommended)