Beaujena’s French Table
Neighbourhood: St Boniface
Address: 302 Hamel Ave
Entrées: Prix Fixe $55
Beaujena’s French Table is the definition of a passion project. The cozy St Boniface restaurant helmed by husband and wife duo Beaujena and Randy Reynolds clearly operates out of a love for food and an enjoyment of cooking. They serve what they want to serve—in a 7-course surprise tasting menu—open two nights a week, and even take to the streets in a food truck during the summer.
The proof of this zeal is in the pudding, as they say; or in this case, in the perfectly crisped skin of a sockeye salmon, or an airy slab of semifreddo. Before your meal begins, Beaujena Reynolds may say that they view this venture as a dinner party with friends every week. By the end of the night, you’ll agree. Amidst murmured conversation from other tables, diners settle in beneath sunny orange walls punched up with royal blue accents and paintings of flowers. A ceiling enshrouded in draped fabric and fairy lights adds to the quirky warmth.
Each month brings a new 7-course menu dreamed up by Randy Reynolds, who in seven years has never repeated a menu item. Surprise plates also translate into revelations for the palate, with dishes tweaked and re-imagined in enlightened combinations. Shrimp ceviche, brightly singing of lime, is set on a jalapeño-flecked warm corn pudding, a pairing that shows off a thoughtful mix of creativity and restraint.
Dishes show devotion to technique as well as an eye for flavour. Perfect potato gnocchi, outsides crisped by a pan fry, are pillowy parcels accompanied simply by green peas in a silky goat cheese cream sauce.
Classic French fine dining is the major influence, with frequent detours around the continent and twists on tradition. The pesto that lends grassy notes to a rich, earthy veal scalloppini swaps spinach for basil, and aromatic almonds for pine nuts. Atop the meat, a dusky bed of sautéed local chanterelle mushrooms is finished off with a blanket of marsala cream sauce.
After a palate-cleansing salad of watermelon and goats’ milk feta, the chef appears with dessert—a personal touch befitting a restaurant that feels like home.