Colette Grand Café, formerly Holts Café, is a modern French bistro located in Holt Renfrew in downtown Vancouver. This is part of a larger plan between Chase Hospitality Group and Holt Renfrew to replace the Holts Cafés at several Holt Renfrew locations across Canada, including Yorkdale, Bloor Street, Montreal, and Edmonton.
Inspired by Colette in Toronto, a beloved staple of that city’s upscale dining scene, Colette Grand Café at Holt Renfrew Vancouver is introducing what hopes to be a chic and sophisticated menu and atmosphere to complement the iconic retailer’s elevated offering.
Colette in Vancouver is currently undergoing a soft opening to debut its new Spring menu while it begins to update its décor - in phases - to align with the French-inspired aesthetic Colette is known for.
In most cases, local suppliers will be leveraged for both their food and wine and cocktail program, like Nectar Juice and Phillips Soda Works. Old world wines dominate while local craft breweries are king. Of note was a Côtes-du-Rhone from Les Cassagnes de La Nerthe (in southern Rhone Valley). Bright Grenache and Syrah berries dominate with a slight acidity and pepper on the tongue. This wine is elegant, with a smooth finish and a complexity, yet it’s balanced and offers a slight hint of oak.
While Colette does offer full meals, their strength is in the small plates. The beef tartare with Angus tip of tenderloin was especially delightful, served with a side of gaufrette (waffle-looking potato chips). Bacon-wrapped scallops offered tender morsels of ocean(wise) goodness while the Velouté fell flat despite the added black truffle cream in the center. For sufferers of gluten allergies who want a substantial meal, there’s an excellent flatbread with Dungeness crab, fontina cheese and jalapeños and other chilies. The cavatelli with braised lamb shoulder was unusually light, despite being bathed in a frothy white cream base.
Jason Harris has assembled a fine kitchen to deliver a decent line up of post-shopping delights. Whether Colette makes it as a destination restaurant will remain to be seen, but it’s certainly the best option for a quick brunch or lunch after shopping.
Its location is in an odd spot, quite frankly: at the north end of Holt Renfrew, tucked away from the center of gravity - otherwise known as the second floor near the handbags and luxury boutiques. It’s a good thing if you want some peace and quiet from the crowds but I wonder for the restaurant if it’s “out of sight, out of mind.”
Nonetheless, it’s nice to see Holt Renfrew finally raising their food game. Now they just need to refine the menu (I would take the Velouté off, quite frankly), get the décor up to speed and they’ll be off to the races. Now they just need people to find it.