Jules Bistro has created a portal to Paris in the heart of Vancouver’s Gastown. This casual yet elegant restaurant will transport you, letting you imagine for a minute that you are sipping a glass of wine after a morning of exploring the Louvre.
The Beauty of the Bistro
The ambience of Jules is perfect. Vancouver is not nearly as old a city as Paris, but the exposed brick of the historic Gastown building that Jules occupies adds the right touch of age. The black and white tiled floor is quintessential. The room is romantic and cozy, with chandeliers and dark wood. The front windows overlook Abbott and the street lamps of Gastown. On the evening of my visit, each table was lit with a candle and had a small vase of assorted carnations. All these little touches add to the transportive atmosphere.
Jules highlights the beauty of French bistros. The food and wine selection are elegant and refined but the atmosphere is casual. The menu is also flexible. A bowl of French onion soup is a classic and comforting lunch option, while happy hour specials begin mid-afternoon, and full entrees like duck confit are also served. You can stop in any time and stay as long as you like, either grazing or feasting.
According to some preliminary research, the bistro is typically a small restaurant serving moderately priced meals. The word itself originates from the 19th century and may be linked to “bistrouille” meaning cheap liquor. This is not to say that the quality of wine found at Jules or any other bistros is inferior or lacking. It does explain how the word bistro came to mean both somewhere that serves simple, hearty fare as well as a place to enjoy an alcoholic beverage. And Jules is the kind of place where, no matter the time, it feels appropriate to have a glass a wine.
French Classics on the West Coast
Jules is open as of 11:30 am from Tuesday to Sunday, offering a wine menu that includes local BC and French wineries, and a food menu that includes French classics as well as a burger and fish and chips.
The owner of Jules, Emmanuel Joinville, was born and raised in Dijon where he opened his first French bistro in 1984. After years cooking in France, Joinville relocated to Vancouver and opened Jules in 2007. His vision is to serve French classics informed by Vancouver’s own culinary identity, and made with local ingredients.
Abroad with A Board at Jules
A new menu feature at Jules are the sharing boards. They offer guests a classic charcuterie board, but also some creative takes on the classic. There is a vegan board with roast vegetables and plant based mozzarella. There is a raw board that comes with oysters and caviar as well as a shellfish board which comes with lobster and crab claws. These boards are perfect for sharing over a lunch or happy hour gathering. They also work well for a shared appetizer for the table.
Heureux Heure (Happy Hour)
Jules has other happy hour specials as well. They offer their happy hour menu everyday from 2:30 – 5:30pm. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, it is available all day long. The menu features a smaller, sampler-size version of the charcuterie board, as well as smoked salmon carpaccio, chili dusted calamari, cauliflower bites, and a prawn cocktail with sesame-chili mayonnaise which is a delightful dish. The prawn cocktail is served with a French style mayonnaise-based cocktail sauce versus tomato. The West Coast influence comes through with the addition of black sesame seeds. All the happy hour dishes are priced at $9. For those who are most interested in a good deal on a nice wine, Jules offers 50% off featured bottles of wine on Sundays.
Frites and Treats at Jules
Jules also runs an all day menu of French classics. One of which is the foie terrine which is marinated in Sauternes. It is served with a beet chutney, which adds a little sweetness and acidity, as well as beautiful colour. I tried the aged ribeye which comes with roasted fingerling potatoes, which are delectable. I did feel obligated to get the truffle fries as well because a French meal without frites feels incomplete. Of course, I accepted a side of mayo for dipping. Bistro vibes is eating fries with your fingers while enjoying a steak and a lovely glass of wine. If you need guidance in selecting a wine, ask your server.
If you find you’re in need of a petite vacation, step inside Jules. Enjoy a glass of wine or a French classic, and pretend you’re in Paris.