An almost free pot of moules frites at Chambar Belgian Restaurant.

By Tana Kosiyabong

It was the night before Christmas eve. While many shoppers still scrambled for last-minute gifts, I had no shopping left to do. So I headed to Chambar, a fancy Belgian restaurant in downtown Vancouver, to celebrate the holiday spirit. Don’t worry. I wasn’t out of my mind. I knew exactly what I was doing.

Normally Chambar was way out of my reach in terms of price. However, earlier this year, the Canadian Association of Photographers and Illustrators in Communications (CAPIC) gave me two ten-dollar Chambar coupons as tokens of appreciation. I had saved them for a special occasion like this. Although it would be costly for you to repeat this Cheap Appetite mission without the coupons, you could still live vicariously through my experience free of charge.

As I walked into the dimly lit interior of Chambar, I was impressed yet slightly intimidated by the decor. The restaurant featured high ceiling with exposed wood beams, a bare brick wall, and an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary furnitures. A receptionist promptly took me to an empty table near the front window with food, beer and wine menus.

Chambar dishes were priced higher than my typical budget. For under $10, the best I could get was an order of Poutine ($9). If I only had $5, I could order some bread rolls with smoked paprika butter ($3). Chambar Les Petit plats (the small dishes) ranged from $11-$17. All Moules Frites (mussels with fries) were at $22 each. The Les Grosses Pieces (the big pieces) were around $30 each. If I didn’t have $20 worth of coupons, I’d be better off dining somewhere else.

Once seated, a friendly waiter soon came by. Since I perused Chambar online menu the night before, I wasted no time to order Congolaise Moules Frites ($22). Before long, a pretty big pot of mussels had arrived along with Belgian fries and mustard seeds mayonnaise. After a quick photo shoot, I immediately dived in. The first mussel was big, juicy and tender. But not all of them were as big as the first one. The fresh tomato coconut cream broth with smoked chilies and lime was very tasty. Cumin and fresh cilantro had livened up the dish even more. The African Congo flavour ensemble reminded me of a lighter version of the East Indian butter chicken sauce. I felt like I was on cloud nine with a pot full of happiness right in front of me.

I had truly enjoyed Congolaise moules frites up until two third of the pot. Then it went downhill from there. I started to get full and would rather stop eating. But because I rarely dined in fancy restaurants, I didn’t know if I should ask for a doggy bag in case my “invisible dog” at home would get hungry later. Perhaps the intimidation had taken over my brain, I decided to shove the rest of the mussels down my throat instead. Towards the end, I felt like I had enough of these marine creatures for at least a few years. With 21 mussels rested happily inside my stomach and half way up my throat, I reluctantly said “au revoir” to the savory tomato coconut cream broth left inside the pot.

Despite the mouth-watering mussels, the Belgian fries were uninspired. It wasn’t bad, but I had higher expectation for Belgian fries. The creamy mustard seeds mayo was definitely good with fries, but not for your hearts.

If you were to try this dish, I would recommend sharing it with a friend. Also ask for an extra order of bread rolls with smoked paprika butter($3). Both of you can enjoy this satisfying, fancy dinner for $12.50 each (tax and gratuity not included).

Chambar Congolaise Moules Frites (with $20 off coupon): ©©©© 3/4
Chambar Congolaise Moules Frites (full price) ©©© 1/4

NOTE: I assume a neutral position on the French vs Belgian fries dispute. However, since I talked about “fries” in a Belgian restaurant, I think it’s appropriate to call them “Belgian fries.”

©2009 Tana Kosiyabong and™. All rights reserved.

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20 thoughts on “An almost free pot of moules frites at Chambar Belgian Restaurant.

  1. Hey, Merry Christmas to your tummy! What a great way to spend a delicious Christmas Eve. I’m a total coupon-fan. I sign up for everything, I print them out and keep a special coinpurse stuffed with discount cards, coupons, etc. always in my purse, just in case I happen to be at a place where I can use them. The meal looked fantastic, and I love anything that highlights a non-stressful Christmas Eve. I hope you had a grand holiday weekend — happy eating!!!!

    1. Hey wasabi, thanks for your comment. Merry Christmas to you too. Yeah it was a fun night. And I only spend $3 plus tips for a big pot of moules frites. What a good way to end the year! I wish I could give those coupons to everyone. So they can enjoy this experience like I did. Now that would be a great hoildays:)

  2. chambar was actually the place that i had my bacholette party. as far as i can remember, their food were pretty good and i loved the causal atmosphere. and u know what i mean about “causal”? the gals prepared me a cake with a giant peXXs, when they took it out, ALL the customers and the staff in the restaurant actually rushed over and wanted to take a picture with it! it’s super fun! 😀 i’m not sure if other restaurant would actually kick us out!

    btw, i hope you had a happy xmas, and i wish you a happier new year!

    1. That sounded like a fun party you had. Very interesting cake indeed. I’m think most restaurants should accommodate that unless they are really stuck up. Then you don’t need to eat there anyway. As far as my experience went, the staffs at Chambar were nice and friendly (as they should be). They made me feel a bit at ease towards the end. However, I rarely dine in one of these fine dining places, so I need time to get used to them. Anyway, I wish you a great holidays too:) Cheers!

    1. lol. well… I ate all the fries too! 😉 I think that’s why I couldn’t eat the rest of the delicious tomato coconut cream soup. I wish I asked for the doggy bag instead. Happy Holidays Conor:)

  3. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Your write up is making me hungry. They’re so full of flavor I could almost taste it. You are great in describing the dishes. Have a great year ahead. It’s nice knowing you too. 😀

    1. Merry Christmas and happy new year too you too divana. It was a good dish so I try to describe it the best I can. I was impressed by the food, not the price. lol. But I had to be thankful for the $20 coupon. Otherwise, I would have the chance to taste it. Take care. I’ll talk to you again next year!

    1. Well… no buns here but there were belgian fries. And I ate them all too. And the mussel were in a decent size pot. But I saw plenty of times on your posts that you do have a big appetite. Sometimes I couldn’t believe that all the dishes were for just you and your mr. 🙂 Happy new year to you too, penny.

  4. Happy New Year! 2009 I discovered Thai Basil thanks to you! I’m glad you liked Chambar, they serve my favourite Belgian beer in the whole world called Fruli. If you have the chance, try it its the only beer that taste almost like a strawberry smoothie believe it or not!

    1. Imkoonta, Happy New Year to you too:) Wish you have a great, delicious year. I’m glad to hear from you again. Thai Basil is one of my favorite restaurants in Vancouver. And their Pad Grapow is my most favorite dish. Fruli Beer sounds very interesting. I have never tried it before, but if it tastes like strawberry smoothie, It must be great! Talk to you again soon:)
      Take care, Tana

  5. I laughed my butt off at the end… are you expecting a big “to-do” over the French vs Belgian thing? Then allow me this… They are “Freedom Fries”, my Canadian friend. So there!
    BTW… I have been known to store food in my esophagus when intimidated by my surroundings, too.

    1. Happy New Year to you too French Cooking:). The fries wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t awesome either. I expected more from them since they are a Belgian restaurant. I’m sure I’ll get awesome Pomme Frites in Belgium:) Well… one day I will. Thanks for stopping by 🙂 Talk to u again soon.

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