Bistro Pastis Makes April Moroccan Month

Moroccan cuisine shows that lots of spice doesn't mean "spicy."

Credit: Michael Robertson

Moroccan Chicken at Bistro Pastis

To many, Casablanca is the most important thing Morocco has to offer, but it’s the spice markets of this corner of Africa that Vancouver’s Bistro Pastis honours


To the foodies among us, the spice markets of Marrakesh and the blends of spices that feature so predominantly in its cuisine hold pride of place. Living in the south of France, I’ve had my fair share of lamb tagines and have come to love cumin in my cooking.


Bistro Pastis


2153 W 4th Ave, Vancouver


This month, John Blakely and Tobias Grignon of Bistro Pastis (don’t let their names fool you; John is French, Grignon is Canadian) are offering up their salute to Moroccan food with a prix fixé menu, offering three courses for $42.


The prix fixé includes three choices each for appetizer and main and another two for dessert.


Between the four of us we couldn’t decide what to get (it all sounded so good) so we ordered everything on the menu and played pass the plates. It’s not the best way to do it. Although none of us had food envy, we all ate more than we needed; it would be far better to try all the plates over a couple of visits.


Crab Bastilla at Bistro Pastis

Crab Bastilla with a saffron yogurt from the Moroccan menu at Vancouver’s Bistro Pastis.


Moroccan prix fixé menu at Bistro Pastis

Click the dish name on the menu to discover each dish’s pièce de resistance.



April 19 – May 1, 2011



Classic Spiced Tomato and Lentil Soup


Crab and Bastilla

Creamy Saffron Yogurt Sauce


Chermoula Honey Grilled Quail

Orange, Mint and Butterbean Salad




Ras El Hanout Grilled Chicken Breast

Baby Potatoes, Apricot and Green Olive Râgout, Preserved  Lemon Yogurt


Seafood Tagine

Ginger, Saffron and Tomato, Crispy Aubergine


Le Couscous Royal

Grilled Lamb, Chicken, Merguez, Vegetables, Couscous and Harissa




Orange Honey Beignet

Ginger Ice Cream


Serpent Cake

Almonds and Rosewater Phyllo Pastry, Whipped Mascarpone and Berries
(pictured below)


Moroccan serpent cake at Bistro Pastis

Moroccan serpent cake at Bistro Pastis.


Harira – This classic Moroccan soup is a wonderful example of spice and herb blending (Colonel Sanders eat your heart out). The lentils are pockets of relief amidst the complexity of the spices.


Bastilla – This crab only bastilla is a more refined take on the usual cacophony of seafood’s but I especially liked the saffron yoghurt.


Quail – The tiny bird takes centre stage in this dish. It is grilled to perfection.


Ras el hanout – This is almost a westernized tagine but the green olive ragout is pure North African.


Seafood tagine – The tempura eggplant with the dish is a delicious touch of genius.


Le couscous royal – The merguez is made on site, grinding the lamb and mixing the requisite spices  (including their own Harissa).


Beignet – I love fluffy doughnuts but the ginger ice cream takes the cake.


Serpent cake – A rich marzipan dessert, large enough and sweet enough to share.


Which French (or former French) department should the chef at Bistro Pastis feature next? Thailand? Vietnam? Somewhere in East Africa or Polynesia?