Drawn to the promise of a new cafe that sells macarons, my wife and I decided to give Bel Cafe a go. My first impression was of a cafe that wanted to set itself apart from those competing in its weight class, e.g., Thierry and Thomas Haas. Its staff was professionally dressed and tried very hard to hit that tricky mix of polite without sounding cold, and deferential without sounding weird. The decor also possessed this same Janus-faced personality by being clean and uncluttered without feeling like an operating theatre.
The coffee was good, though it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea (I like my coffee mellow and sweet) but if you like your coffee to be like an old sailor – bitter and strong – then this is the place for you.
The maracons were delicious. We ordered a rose-flavoured macaron which was wonderfully fragrant and beautifully textured. The sesame seed and yuzu macaron was similarly well executed, and its mix of earthiness and sourness was a nice backdrop to the strong coffee. I thought that the macarons were a bit expensive, which is par for the course in the downtown peninsula, but given the entire “Bel Cafe” experience, I thought they were pretty good value.
As a whole, Bel Cafe charmed me with its attention to detail (notice their signature cups and plates), the quality of its products, and its tranquil atmosphere. I’d recommend this little cafe, which has a quiet feel where its customers can sit comfortably out of the rain and watch the comings-and-goings of downtown Vancouverites.