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Here's your first look at downtown Vancouver's charming new French bistro (PHOTOS)

A West Coast homage to traditional French bistro fare, and an emphasis on fun

Did you sing the French song "Alouette, gentille alouette" in elementary school? Alouette means "skylark," and the songbird is the namesake of a brand new French bistro in downtown Vancouver.

Alouette, which replaces Copper Chimney at the Executive Hotel Le Soleil on Hornby St, will debut in its "soft open" phase for dinner service starting Friday, Aug. 20.

The elegant high ceilinged main dining room has been cleverly renovated to reflect a sojourn in the south of France, with warm accents, florals, palm leaves, and the aforementioned skylarks as part of the decor. The two-level dining room includes a bar area and seating upstairs and down, including some charming intimate second-level window seats, a private dining room with a secret patio area, and a street-side patio.

Copper Chimney was a favourite for locals and tourists alike, in particular for the many office workers in the downtown core. With Alouette timed to re-open as schools and workplaces are expected to welcome back a higher volume of people, the timing could be ideal for the restaurant, which hopes to launch its breakfast and lunch service sometime in September once they get things going this month during dinnertime.

The menu at Alouette - which is getting its final tweaks and touches - is rooted in an approach of traditional French bistro fare made with an infusion of West Coast influence, predominantly in the use of local ingredients, like foraged mushrooms and Two Rivers beef, used with delicious results in dishes like a beef tartare, assembled tableside.

There are plenty of injections of fun and old-school dining out planned for Alouette, but with a contemporary vibe - nothing stuffy, nothing pretentious, and an emphasis on fun. 

What's on the menu at Alouette

The menu is also part of the fun, thanks to baseline notes of simplicity that reflect the best of what's expected of a French bistro coupled with some exciting components and extras. For example, you will certainly find a burger on the menu, but Alouette's rendition is a house-ground beef patty decked out in house-smoked bacon, gooey raclette, foie gras, and a sunny side up egg. It's served alongside addictive triple-cooked fries (which you can also enjoy with steak or Salt Spring mussels bathed in a broth of pastis, fennel, tomato, and leek. 

Look for other classic bistro fare like Salade Nicoise, Bouillabaisse, and Duck Cassoulet - and more - on the Alouette menu.

Though French dishes tend to land on the side of meaty and buttery, there are a few dishes that will work for folks who are vegetarian or vegan. There's no meat in the Vol-au-Vent, a buttery, crispy puff pastry smothered in a creamy sauce with thick, juicy morsels of B.C. mushrooms and a refreshing salad on the side to cut the richness. Skip the aioli and you can stay plant-based with an order of panisse, a traditional street snack in Marseille, that is basically chickpea fries.

Speaking of fun, you can expect Alouette to ultimately launch happy hour, which will feature buck-a-shuck oysters. For drinks, there will be plenty of champagne on offer, along with an impressive array of French reds, whites, and roses, in addition to a full cocktail program from the bar. 

If you can't resist French desserts, you're in luck, as Alouette will ignite your Crepes Suzette table-side, or you can opt for a creme brulee with fresh berries and floral notes of elderflower. 

The team behind Alouette, including Chef Albert Tran and General Manager Mark Featherstone, are keen to offer a space - and food and drink - in downtown Vancouver that is perfect for celebrating a return to dining out, for all those who are comfortable to do so. 

Alouette will open for dinner service from 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The restaurant is located at 567 Hornby St in Vancouver.