Vancouver restaurants/cafés: Mon Pitou a charming French café


Welcome to a new warm and welcoming hub in this neighbourhood tucked between South False Creek and South Granville

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Mon Pitou

Where: 1387 West Seventh Ave., Vancouver.

When: 9 to 5, weekdays; 10 to 5, weekends. Changes coming in summer.

Info: 604-730-0217.

How could you not like Mon Pitou? Two adorable bulldog mascots. Two very personable owners in front of house. A Parisian je ne sais quois. French music. Cloth napkins. Pastries. Good coffee. Brunch. Lunch.

With that charming synergy, the bakery café shot out of the gate. In fact, the first time we went we did a sharp 180 upon seeing the lineup down the sidewalk. We returned a week later after learning we could reserve a table for weekend brunch. It was a rare sunny day, our food looked radiant in the sunshine and life couldn’t be sweeter.

And the lineup? Many are there to buy takeout from the deli and bakery counter, so it moves quickly.

Jessie Hawes and Triet Duong opened the café in February thanks to a nudge from the 2020 viral villain. More accurately, it was a shove into a whole new life.


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They had great jobs and as a couple loved selling their home baking at farmers’ markets for three years. They had flirted with the idea of one day opening a bakery café but when the world pandemically upended, they felt an acute “now or never” moment.

Hawes quit his job as a flight attendant for WestJet. Duong was going to play backup while he kept working at Canada’s largest bio-tech companyrecruiting scientists. “Recently the company helped the Chinese CDC (centre for disease control) in their research to grow a lung environment to study the COVID-19 virus,” Duong says. But he gave his notice when Mon Pitou turned wildly successful. “After the first week, it was evident we both needed to be there.”

“His company was very sad when he left,” says Hawes.

Mon Pitou is an expression from the south of France for ‘my pooch’ and their bulldogs are part of the branding, but it’s also a term of endearment and Hawes’ nickname growing up in Ontario. Unlike in France the bulldogs, Ru and Jellybean, can’t hang out in the restaurant despite some customers wishing they would. “We’re offering some tastes of France, but that’s one thing we can’t do,” says Hawes.

The tastes of France, for now, are premium, imported French pantry staples in a dry goods corner and baked goods at the front counter. You’ll find a lot of French on the weekend brunch menu — eggs royale, croque madam, crepes aux poulet et duxelles, frisee lardon, french toast, onion soup — but during the week it’s baked goods, grab-and-go sandwiches with bread from Beyond Bread. As well, they sell everyday essentials like milk and eggs, fresh flowers and produce.


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The croque madame with free range egg, smoked ham, bechamel, gruyere cheese and a frisée salad with champagne vinaigrette at Mon Pitou.
The croque madame with free range egg, smoked ham, bechamel, gruyere cheese and a frisée salad with champagne vinaigrette at Mon Pitou. Photo by Mia Stainsby

They’ll soon be selling takeaway rotisserie chicken Sunday to Thursday, and then in May they’ll introduce a French-bistro style dinner with dishes like steak frites, mussels and oysters. Allvery traditional except Duong will add his Vietnamese pho on that menu, a nod to French colonial Vietnam. They have fingers crossed every which way awaiting a liquor licence approval. And they’ve recently hired a chef, Hoang Nguyen, who has cooked at Le Crocodile and Cactus Club, to work with them.

For our brunch, my husband ordered the croque madame with free range egg, smoked ham, bechamel, gruyere cheese and a frisée salad with champagne vinaigrette; I had French toast with chantilly cream, banana cream, maple syrup and caramelized sliced bananas. The croque madame was made with great ingredients including Beyond Bread’s sourdough. My French toast was made with a lovely house-made brioche bread but I found it was overwhelmed by melting chantilly cream, maple syrup and whipped mascarpone banana cream between the two slices. Meats are from Two Rivers and eggs are from ethically raised chickens and except for the breads, everything’s house made. 

To finish, we shared a lovely apple galette with almond marzipan base and flaky pastry. Other choices from the bakery counter: Their signature triple chocolate brownies and carrot cake, once popular at farmers’ markets. The “super moist and nicely spiced” carrot cake is Hawes’ grandparents’ recipe. I also spied pavlova with lemon curd, scones, financiers, madeleines, croissants, chocolate cake, vegan croissants and a daily savoury galette. We bought the latter with an onion and mushroom filling to take home that was tasty but a little heavy on salt.


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Although it’s Duong and Hawes’s first foray into running a café, they’ve created a warm and welcoming neighbourhood hub in this False Creek neighbourhood. I felt a locational nostalgia as I’d had lunch at previous café iterations in this very same spot when the Vancouver Sun and Province newsrooms were a block away before its 1997 move downtown and then, in 2017, to East Vancouver.

Duong’s young years prepared him for this life. His parents ran a business, so he spent time baking with his aunt and grandmother in Vancouver. “It was either study or bake with them, so I chose baking,” he says. “The first thing my grandma taught me was a Vietnamese version of a pound cake.”

He gleaned business knowledge helping his mom in the family’s food distribution business. “As the eldest son, I was the face of the family business in sourcing and building vendor relationships,” he says. “Mom was great in analytics and I gained a lot of business acumen.” And also, about doubling down on work: “Any time we travelled, mom’s motto was ‘We can’t lose money,’ and she’d find a vendor to sell something to make up for the money she ‘lost,’ ” he laughs. She’s still helping, he says, in whatever way she can at the café.

All of it — it’s what makes you want Mon Pitou to be your pitou.

Mon Pitou will continue with takeout service of lunch, brunch and bakery/grocery items and patio tables will be open during the provincial order to temporarily halt indoor dining.


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• Editor’s note: Due to recent provincial health measures related to COVID-19, indoor dining has been temporarily halted. Please check with the restaurant directly about current takeout, outdoor dining and delivery options.

Marie Grapé, owner/chef of MANNA | Sacred Meals.
Marie Grapé, owner/chef of MANNA | Sacred Meals. Photo by Juno Kim

Side Dishes

MANNA Sacred Meals, a meal delivery company, is loaded with social conscience. Their vegan meals are good for animal welfare, health and environment. The kitchen sources locally. Owner Marie Grapé pays staff for a 40-hour week but they work 30 hours over three days and are paid at 15 to 25 per cent more than market rate. They operate with near zero-waste packaging, picking up and reusing or recycle packaging. Five per cent of meal subscription fees are donated to a charitable organization. Pandemic frontline workers are offered 40 per cent off.

Grapé tapped many of her chef mentors and friends to contribute recipes and she’s developed vegan dishes with exciting flavours like truffle wild mushroom pasta, Sichuan chili eggplant with tofu, BBQ meatless ribs, puffed tofu coconut curry with sesame rice, pesto mac and cheese, ‘smoke salmon’ fondants, sesame pulled pork bowl with rice. Meal packages include four to six servings per person per week and prices range from $79 for one person to $289 for four. For more info:

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