DB Bistro Moderne on West Broadway, Vancouver

Updated: 4th July 2012; This restaurant had closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

The one meal I had always looked forward to each week is Friday dinner with Suanne. It is not that you don’t already know that if you had been following this blog.

The one place we had always wanted to go to is DB Bistro Moderne. Frankly, we held back from going there because it is not exactly cheap and requires a special occasion to justify it … until now.


DB Bistro Moderne is located on West Broadway. It is just next door to its more illustrious sister restaurant, Lumiere. Just a few doors away is a place called Moderne Burger. DB Bistro Moderne and Moderne Burgers are two totally different and unrelated restaurants. Just thought we point out the obvious.

Before DB Bistro Moderne came to being, this was Feenie’s which we blogged about oh, so long ago. It is a long story and so I won’t go into that. Needless to say, it is stuff that one could creatively write a story about Feenie’s rise to fame (and fall). Did you know I worked with Rob Feenie before? A few years ago, I was the Project Manager for the launch of a range of high end home appliance in Canada. We had Rob Feenie do a demo and invited the media and public. Gosh, I still can’t believe the bucks the company paid for a 1 hour appearance.

Enough of Feenie … today DB Bistro Moderne is inspired by another great chef, Daniel Boulud of New York.


I had no idea. We had assumed that DB Bistro Moderne a lot like Feenie’s. We were wrong. This is certainly more upscale than Feenie’s ever was.

As usual, Suanne and I went very early at 5:30PM. That was the time that DB Bistro Moderne opens for dinner. We were the first one there. So it is kind of misleading seeing a lot of empty tables above. The place was absolutely filled by 6PM.

With dim lights and soft music, the ambiance was beautiful and it was perfect for a dinner date. The place is very dim for picture taking but who other than us takes pictures in dinner, right? Wrong! When we were there we could see TWO other tables taking pictures of their food too. Gosh, I have a feeling that this is getting so common that restaurants is so used to this nowadays.


As expected, service was excellent … and very French-y. Too French-y for us. We were surprised by some Amuse-bouche. As much as we tried to understand what it is called, we couldn’t understand, despite asking twice. Rather than end up looking stupid, we decided not to get the server say it a third time. Some Frenchy name. All we got was that it is some kind of cured fish. There you go. But nice touch!

Our server told us that their special of the day is Prime Ribs. Well, it was not just called Prime Ribs but a very longish description that really captivated us. It is one of those sharing plates. You know, big big portions for two people that many restaurants are doing these days. Our server was doing such a great job in describing that I was having half a mind already of ordering that. Then she said “This is $40 …”. Oh … interesting … now we are talking.

And she added “… per person”. Hmmm … on second thought maybe we’ll get the burger instead.


Le Bread came next. Pardon my French but this is what I call Le Bread de la Excellente. Very good, very nice.

There is even three different types and served with butter. The first is cheesy and crusty. The second was herb-y and soft. The third was regular baguette.

We gobbled that down rather quick. The server came and asked if we wanted more. “Of course” we said. We had more.

Two things was on my mind before I came. It was “foie gras” and “burger”. I was quite set on getting that. We finally decided get between the two of us a selection from the prix fixe menu ($35) … and a burger and … a foie gras appetizer.


Foie Gras. I said I can’t remember if I had this before. Suanne said I had and I had forgotten. Whatever right? If I can’t remember, I might as well not had foie gras before. Well, at least not as big as this.

I think they call this Torchon. Twenty one bucks. This was not on the menu and we were told this is the special of the day. The foie gras is made in a pate with a fig in the center … and …


… served with fig puree and 2 very crispy toast. Two very, very toasty crispy toast. Four would have been perfect’er.

Smoooooth … is how we say the foie gras is. Now I can say I had tried foie gras before … that is until I forget again.

Très joli mais vingt-et-un bucks … courtesy of Google Translate.


The above is called the country duck terrine. It is the appy part of the $35 Prix Fixe menu.


With onion compote, whole grain mustard, home made pickles scattered all over the plate, we debated how to deal with this. They even had sea salt and pepper placed in the corners of the plate that we almost missed because it was dim and that there was just a small portion on the side.


This is IT.

This is what I always wanted to try. I call this the twenty-eight bucks burger. They call this the New York’s Original DB Burger.

I don’t think I had ever tried a more expensive burger in my life. For twenty eight bucks it had to be perfect. It WASN’T!!!

Well, let me explain …

The problem was not with the top sirloin meat with braised short ribs they used with the burger. It was not with the black truffle that they had in it too. The problem was also not that they had foie gras embedded right in the middle of the mouth watering patty. It certainly was not the fact that it was served on a toasted super soft Parmesan bun.

The big problem was that my $28 bucks burger could not stand on its own and was leaning against the bucket of pommes frites.

How could they?!?

I tried to prop it up but failed. It just could not stand on its own. It was way to tall. Law of physics prevailed.

I looked across to the table ahead of ours. They ordered the same twenty eight bucks burger. Theirs is worse. Theirs was lying on its side. LOL!

I felt better.


Oh just look at it. Every meatatarian must try this. I know it is expensive but if you just save 10 cents a day, you would be able to save enough in nine months to buy this.

We spent like five minutes looking this over and debating how we are going to tackle this. I wanted to use my hands but Suanne insisted it is impossible.

Our agony and dilemma must have been obvious. Someone in a nice jacket came over and asked if everything is OK. “Of course we are NOT OK” we said. How on earth are we going to deal with this?

That someone in a nice jacket turned out to be the new GM of DB Bistro Moderne and Lumiere, Chris Gonzales. I guess he must have noticed that we were taking pictures and notes. It was later when we were about to leave he introduced himself to us and asked us if we were “working”. It turns out that he follows chowtimes. We felt honoured that a GM of this prestigious Vancouver restaurant reads chowtimes. [shhh … don’t tell him and let’s see if he comes to this post and put in his comment!]

So we consulted Chris on the best strategy to deal with this 4″ tall and 2.5″ wide burger. He wasn’t so helpful because he just said there is no rules here in eating the burger. Gosh! I felt like he is saying to me that it is MY problem.

“Fine”, I said. “Then how many percentage of your customers eat this with their hands versus using the knife and fork”.

“About 50/50”.

Oh sure … that was helpful. LOL!

It was MY problem after all.

Knife and fork it was.


The fries were perfect. On the side they also served it with 3 sauces — ketchup; Dijon mustard and some kind of mayonnaise, maybe horseradish.

I can’t believe I am saying this but the sauces were all perfect.


Traditional Coq Au Vin. That was the main for the prix fixe menu.

It had bacon, wild mushroom, pearl onion but the broth was very rich (‘lau’ in Cantonese). Good thing it came with something called the …


… spaetzle. This is some kind of pasta which DB Bistro Moderne made fresh in house. So I am like curious, right? I ask all kinds of dumb questions I know. I wanted to know more about this because I had never eaten this before and the spelling is co complicated that I can’t remember how to spell it.

The server told us that their chef (who I presume he is saying Daniel Boulud) cooking is influence in the region of France, near Germany. The spaetzle  has a soft texture very much like teenie weenie mantaos.


The server said that chef recommend to mix the spaetzle in the broth as the spaetzle by itself has not much taste and when coated with the broth, it’s excellent.


It was excellent, as he said it was.

By itself both the broth and the spaetzle is nothing you will really enjoy. But together, it manifests itself as a different dish altogether.

But the serving was too big for us. With all the spaetzle and 2 drumsticks and 1 chicken thigh, it was too much for us to finish.


So it was just one dessert to share for us. The dessert of the day is called the Tiramisu Parfait.

Suanne enjoyed this very coffee’ish dessert. The candy like thingy adorning the top of the dessert is surprisingly both bitter and sweet.


We had a good meal and enjoyed ourselves. It was $88 but guess what … this meal is $20 less … about $68 give and take.

The secret is that we used a letsgofordinner dinner certificate for this. The way it works with letsgofordinner is that you can purchase meal certificates at 50% off. With DB Bistro Moderne, they have a $40 dinner certificate which costs only $20. You got to be a member first. If you go out for such dinners like 2-3 times a year minimum, it would be way worthwhile to get the certificate. Check it out.

Chris (the GM) told us that the dishes we had were exactly the same ones that they serve in the DB Bistro Moderne in Manhattan and are the signature dishes of Daniel Boulud himself. Not convinced that Daniel Boulud is really running the show here, I had to ask how much involvement that Daniel Boulud has. Chris said that Daniel personally makes periodic visits to Vancouver and will be here during the Olympics.

So yeah … we are happy. We got our money worth. Seriously, it was a fabulous dinner. We are going to save up to enjoy Lumiere one of these days.

DB Bistro Moderne on Urbanspoon

This Post Has 0 Comments

  1. Mary

    Wow, that burger looks incredible! I’ll start saving my ten cents today. 🙂

  2. Chris

    I’d say that the price is very reasonable for food of this quality. Am still saving up for foie gras…it’s on my bucket list! Spaetzle is kinda like a German pasta; dry version is available but fresh is always better. Fry in a little butter till a bit golden brown and serve with shnitzel..yum!

  3. Chris Gonzalez

    Hi Ben & Suanne,

    Thank you so much for the lovely post. Your photography is fantastic. Hope to see you both again very soon.

    Kindest regards,

    Chris Gonzalez
    GM | Lumiere | db bistro moderne

    1. LotusRapper

      Well after reading Ben’s review, we’ll DEFINITELY be coming to DB Bistro soon, hopefully before the Olympics.

      Bon appetit !

  4. Marie

    I can attest to the spaetzle. A friend and I attended one of Stephane’s cooking classes in the fall and learned how to make his fabulous coq au vin with spaetzle, plus a fabulous fall soup and alsatian apple tart. ‘To – die – for’ is all that needs saying. Spouses joined us for dinner after the class and the 10 of us sat down with the Chef and our spouses (who arrived just in time for cocktails) in the private room in the back. It was too much fun. Now I’m hungry for spaetzle. When’s the next class?

  5. Marike

    I don’t know about others, but my Asian frugal upbringing prompts me to ask for a “doggy bag” anytime I can’t finish a restaurant meal…

    This is a bit of a dilemma because people don’t usually take doggy bags when they go to fancy restaurants (kind of embarrassing?). But if you think about how much money you paid for the food, you should definitely take it home! xD

  6. Pamela

    The burger looked great,but the soggy bottom bun would have thrown me off.

  7. Ant

    How curious…

    I tried making spaetzle when I was working in Peru. It failed. Miserably. They use it to make a German dish called “kaesespaetzle,” which is basically a VERY savoury German macaroni and cheese. Mmmm.. Mac and cheese.

  8. Chris

    Ok, one more spaetzle comment..saw a spaetzle-maker in a German deli once..plastic and looks a bit like a grater. No idea how it’s used, recipe etc but check in specialty stores or eBay.

  9. etranger

    The food looks great. You must have really played with the exposure because you talk about it being dim but the light quality in the pictures is pretty bright!

    RE: Spaetzle (which you prounounce SHPET-zul)

    It is very easy to make. I have made it many, many times. It is basically a loose pasta dough that you press through holes into boiling water or broth to cook. Mix flour, water, eggs and salt in the consistency of a stiff pancake batter, and you have spaetzle dough. They are related to “rivels” which is a Pennsylvania Dutch way to make noodles by dripping loose noodle batter into a soup.

    I have had the official spaetzle press and it broke. I prefer a food mill with the large hole disc, or a potato ricer with the large hole disc (takes less room in the kitchen for storage). Some recipes have you knead the batter but I have never done that and never want to!

    Some have you “press through a colander”. If you ever want to get frustrated cooking something new, try this method. The benefit of the potato ricer or food mill is that it has a means of pressing the batter through the holes. A spoon does not work.

    Open up the hopper, scoop in some batter/dough, and press into the boiling water or broth. As soon as they float, which is almost immediately, skim them out and put them in a bowl.

    It is traditional in Germany to fry them in butter, then sprinkle a little nutmeg in. They’re great with gravy. It is a noodle, so it would be a natural thing to make a macaroni and cheese dish. You can freeze them if you like to make things ahead.

    1. Ben

      Hi etranger: I wasn’t too happy about the pictures really. I managed to salvage them to a certain point. It is at the expense of softness you see in the pictures. Thanks for the detailed steps for spaetzel … much appreciated.

  10. Ed Lau

    We went for the burger awhile back: http://www.ededition.com/lunch-at-db-bistro-moderne/

    I didn’t have as much trouble eating the burger but yes, it is strangely tall. Did you notice the custom toothpicks that keep the burger together? They’re crazy expensive…

    I’m a bit jealous that yours was more rare than mine. I can’t stand it when meat is cooked all the way through.

    1. Ben

      Yeah I did notice that double “d” and “b” toothpicks, if you can even call those toothpicks. Are you saying that the custom toothpicks are super expensive? What do you mean … how did you know?

  11. grayelf

    I finally got a chance to try the fabled db burg on my birthday. I liked the flavour very much, and I didn’t mind having to use a knife and fork (although it felt a bit weird) but I wish the burger had been warm. When I inquired, the server said they can’t make it too hot because they want to serve it medium rare but it was verging on cold… she offered to refire but I felt that would ruin the pace of our dinner. The SO’s venison special with foie gras was spot on, however. We will go back to try other dishes but maybe not the burger.

  12. Caroline

    What you ate about “foie gras” is actually “paté”of “fois gras”. Fresh foie gras should be grilled. Paté du fois gras is usually eaten as “hors d’oeuvre” or said “appetizer” which could be put on bread or cracker.

    All the French restaurants in Vancouver are expensive but not lots of choices of food.

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