LaCigale is a French bistro in Vancouver's Kitsilano area. Enjoy a casual relaxed atmosphere and a menu of Southern French dishes and Wines.
This is our second time here, and the experience was worse than the first time. First time was actually alright.
I am trying to give La Cigale the benefit of a doubt, maybe even persuade myself that it's Valentines and everyone's just hectic and busy - especially French restaurants.
But tonight at La Cigale, it seemed everything was just off the track.
At 37.00 per head for the Valentines prix fixe menu, I won't complain about the value. It's not pricey and good for people who want an overall solidly designed and set up French bistro gastrique experience.
Most of my reviews below are due to one critical flaw tonight. NOT ENOUGH SERVERS.
We made a reservation around 2 weeks before Valentines (Today). I would have expected better seat placements or at least give some time to clear one of the now vacated tables so those with reservation could at least feel it was worth giving their time to reserve in the first place.
We stepped into the restaurant and waited at the door for nearly 10 minutes before being greeted and than were told to pick one of the empty seats. There were 3 empty tables. 1 by the door (Literally by the door), 1 by the call out kitchen order window and one somewhere in between. The seats by the call out order window were too narrow for a regular guy to fit in (Girls "Should" be fine if you are thin and petite).
We asked the server if they could clear the now vacated table beside the restaurant window. It's a great table after all and should take no more than 5 minutes to clear.
The server said sure. We waited another 5 minutes before being told it's going to be awhile and we should just pick one of the empty tables.
Now there were only 2 tables left. By the door or by the order window. Guess we were forced to sit by the door.
I am lenient, to an extent so I was trying to think of better moments later tonight.
2. Sit Down
Upon sitting down, it was nearly another 10 minutes before a server came by and gave us tonight's menu. Another 10 minutes before we got our water.
Now, I understand fatigue, business but I do think the main culprit tonight were simply lack of servers. I don't really blame the servers, they are doing their best. I blame the management, who could not foresee the importance of today for many patrons.
On one note, servers did confuse many people's table's orders and had - for our duration stay of nearly 2 hours, uncertainly ask the tables if this was their order or our order before realizing the dishes were for another table.
Food was ok, and I am reviewing this aspect in relations to the amount paid. I don't expect 5 star cooking paying only 37.00 a head. what sort of surprised me was at the golden hour of tonight's service - between 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM - the kitchen ran out of their most in demand meat - duck. There were really only 4 entrees to choose from - 2 pastas, 1 beef, 1 duck. Duck was out during the most busiest time. A let down indeed.
We ended up ordering the mushroom and seafood pasta. Both were solid, but not wow.
Appetizers were 1 tart, onion soup and salad. We got the soup and salad. Salad was quite a let down. It's a salad and at least it could have been made with more texture, flare and variety.
The onion soup was very good and was the star of tonight's menu. The desserts - creme brulee, lava cake and blue berry crumble. We got the lava cake and blue berry crumble.
Both desserts were a let down. no texture variation. Lava cake had no outer layer, just tasted like a very heavy and melted puddle of chocolate jam. The crumble was slightly better but still, a bit more texture variance would have been better. Too sweet as well the desserts.
At the end of our bill, the servers did kindly surprise us with a 10% discount on our total.
We felt this was the only little redeeming quality tonight but not enough to save the poor experience we encountered. We still left a friendly tip amount as we understand restaurant industry is hard work.
For this place to improve, it's not the amount they charge as even if they charged 50.00 or 100.00 per head, if they do not up their game in terms of service and cuisine design, it will be very hard to attain loyal patrons in Vancouver's cut throat restaurant market.
We will not be returning any time soon.
What an amazing experience. We tried La Cigale because of a promotion that travelzoo offered - $49.00 for 1 appetizer, 2 entrees and 1 dessert. It was amazing value and they did no skimp on the portion sizes because of the promotion.
We found the restaurant to be really charming. They have large windows up front that they opened. The room had nice pictures on the wall and the chandelier had wine bottles suspended on it. The tables are not too close together so you can have a really nice dining experience and good conversation with your companion. There were only 2 tables with customers when we were arrived but the restaurant filled up very quickly. Even with a full restaurant it was not overly noisy.
The service was absolutely exemplary. Our main server was Michelle. She was an absolute delight. She knew the wines and was able to give us detailed descriptions regarding the various varietals contained in each wine and the different characteristics of each wine that we were interested in. She was also able to give us more detailed descriptions of the entrees we were most interested in. She was very attentive and responsive to our needs and engaged us in conversation but she was in no way intrusive. There were two other men working the room as well and they also served us very well. It was nice that we had a main server but the rest of the wait staff was also so atune to the customers needs. The owner should be very proud that she has such competent and attentive wait staff.
For an appetizer we shared the tomato and goat cheese tart and it was delicious. The pastry was nice and flakey and the tiny tomatoes were really fresh and flavourful. We ordered ½ a baquette with olive tapenade. It was brought to the table piping hot with a crusty exterior but a nice soft centre. It was a very generous serving for a $3.00 charge. Delicious. For the main courses I had lamb shank with a lovely sauce seasoned with cumin, curry and tomato. The bread dipped in the sauce was perfect. My lamb shank came with cous cous. I did not care for this but I’m not a fan of cous cous. Michelle noticed this and said that I could probably substitute frites for the cous cous next time. My husband had the duck confit and he literally swooned over his duck. He said it was the best duck he has had in awhile. It come on top of sliced potatoes with onions and garlic. For dessert we shared a rhubarb and strawberry crumble with ice cream. It was a good size serving and a wonderful dish. It was not too sweet. Just the perfect end to an outstanding meal.
We came because of a coupon offer but their prices are very fair for the quality of the food and service. We had one of the most expensive appetizers and it was $11.75. The duck was $32.00 and my lamb shank was $24.00 on the regular menu.
Bridgette used to be at La Regalade. She came by our table after we had finished and wanted to know how our dinner was. This restaurant is a real gem. I would highly recommend it to anyone.
I went there 2 weeks ago. And I loved it. Fresh and French,
The chef deserves at least one Michelin star. I ordered the French baguette with tapenade, lovely and very creative. Then the Escargot garlic and parsley butter, so tasteful, and the Fish of the day. an ocean of flavors. If, as I do, you love rock fishes, go there. it was a dream.
I did not take any desert, but I heard many happy comments from the other tables.
I had a glass of a great organic French red wine. I recommend it to you. No bitterness in it, just some red fruit taste and an agradable mouth feel
Waiters and waitresses wewre fast and smiling. I even got the chance to chat with Brigitte the owner who take care of each of her customers and is really happy when you are!