Anyone who’s been visiting Metro Vancouver restaurants during the pandemic has noticed distinct differences in safety levels. Some places require you to reveal your name and phone number at the outset. Others don’t bother doing this.
Some require you to write your contact information down with a pen used by previous diners. In other eateries, staff write this down themselves. That’s to ensure you can be contacted if anyone in the restaurant had COVID-19 while you were on the premises.
In some restaurants, servers still chat you up during the meal. In other dining establishments, staff keep their interactions to a minimum. For those fearing COVID-19, a restaurant’s safety measures have become as important as the food itself.
Then there’s Les Faux Bourgeois, which I would characterize as Vancouver’s perfect pandemic restaurant. The French bistro in Fraserhood did everything right during a recent visit.
Not only was the food exquisite, but safety measures exceeded anything I’ve witnessed in a Vancouver restaurant since March.
Let’s start with the dinner itself. I knew I was in for a treat as soon as the bread arrived. That’s because the garlic-flavoured butter left me feeling like I was savouring something from the Parisian neighbourhood of Saint-Germain. Rich and succulent.
The beef parmentier—a French version of shepherd’s pie—was a deliciously moist casserole. Accessorized with pearl onions, carrots, and mushrooms, and topped with mashed potatoes and herbs, it was a hearty antidote to a rainy and cold December night. The garlic spinach, and the chocolate mousse dessert were also superb, though the steak frites could have benefited from a stronger peppercorn sauce. All things considered, the meal was magnifique.
That’s not a surprise, considering that Les Faux Bourgeois was voted by Georgia Straight readers as the city’s best French restaurant in the 2018 Golden Plate Awards.
So why is it also the best pandemic restaurant that I’ve entered? Here are a few reasons why.
First off, my dining companion was immediately instructed to wear a mask when not at the table. I was even advised to wear a mask if I wanted to use the washroom. Plus, there was hand sanitizer right at the entrance. It was impossible to ignore. And we were greeted by a masked staff member standing behind Plexiglas.
We were seated at a perfectly polished dark wood dining table. But even more importantly, Plexiglas separated each table, enhancing the safety of everyone in the restaurant. There was even Plexiglas in front of a couple dining at the bar. And there was ample space between the tables.
That’s not all. The server darted in and out, choosing to dispense with the usual chit-chat. Chalk up another mark for reducing the risk of infection.
But what really stood out at Les Faux Bourgeois was the lack of walk-in traffic. During the pandemic, there’s been a constant parade of drivers from SkipTheDishes and Uber Eats, and takeout customers showing up at restaurants across the region.
It’s necessary, of course, for these dining establishments to remain in business. I don’t begrudge them for their reliance on takeout.
But for those who dine in, it’s often distracting and, on some occasions, worrisome, particularly when these visitors aren’t wearing masks. Sometimes, restaurant staff are so focused on takeout that diners inside the room receive second-class service.
Les Faux Bourgeois, on the other hand, does takeout in a different way. It sends those picking up orders to a separate entrance. That ensures they’re never clogging up the dining room.
It makes for a far more tranquil and genteel experience. It’s the one place in town where you can actually forget about COVID-19 for a sustained period of time. And that’s why it’s my choice as the best pandemic restaurant—so far.