2 Canteen | by Steve Munro

Guest post from local writer and blogger, Steve Munro.

When a friend texted me birthday plans for supper at Canteen, I couldn’t say no. It’s a relatively new arrival in Edmonton’s restaurant scene, has an easy to find location on 124 Street, and didn’t have a problem with a reservation for ten guests.

We were off to a good start when the servers took our coats for us at the front door before showing us to our long table with a leather cushioned bench seat at one side. Behind us, the bar was circled with hand-crafted metal bar stools with contoured steel backs. Once settled in, the birthday girl ordered herself a Bee’s Knees: a gin and honey drink that she enjoyed. I opted for a simple Americano coffee.

Unfortunately, my coffee was delivered in a mug that needed another run through the dishwasher, but our server quickly took it away and brought me a fresh brew in a new mug. The coffee itself had a strong, bitter aroma, but went down surprisingly smooth without leaving an aftertaste.

Our group decided to try almost one of everything off their “Small Stuff” menu, which seemed to be an alternative to the standard appetizer menu. I was very surprised by the pea falafel and spicy yogurt dip. The falafel was made with sweeter green peas rather than the typical chickpeas, but still maintained the same consistency, crunchy exterior, and texture. The spicy yogurt was fantastic. It had a smooth start and a gradual build to the spice delivery. The spicy flavor mixed very well with the sweeter green peas, and didn’t linger too long after the appetizer.

I also sampled one of the corn fritters with smoky maple syrup and seriously wondered which was better. I still haven’t made up my mind.

Most of our table ordered the Korean beef striploin. My medium-rare steak was excellent. The meat was just tender and juicy enough behind a firm cooked outer layer. It was served with a kimchi cake and yam puree that was surprisingly sweet. The kimchi cake was cut into triangles and cooked with a crispy outer skin to conceal a smoother mousse-like interior. There was an unfortunate mix up between two orders and a rare striploin ended up going to someone who ordered a medium-rare.

Another guest in our group decided to have some fun with her order and asked for all three of their dessert selections as her meal. Somewhere along the way, this order wasn’t processed with the rest of the group’s orders. It wasn’t until we checked on the progress of the dessert-as-supper order that our server realized the mistake.

As far as the desserts go, I loved the dark chocolate ganache – a rich, dense slab of smooth dark chocolate presented in a tart berry sauce. The portion size looks small but is so satisfying that a larger piece would only be a waste. When our friend who asked for all the desserts finally received her order, the only one she reported an issue with was the Poached Pear Verrine, which came across as a bit bland.

If you’re planning on visiting Canteen with a large group of people, say, more than four, you may have a few problems hearing each other. The modern layout and décor takes the form of textured concrete walls and concealed indirect lighting. The restaurant itself is long and narrow, and this tends to create a noticeable echo, which makes a conversation across ten people nearly impossible to participate in. The service staff seemed friendly and courteous enough but, at the same time, unsure and hesitant with a lack of confidence.

Overall, if you’re in no rush, can be patient with your order, and don’t mind the background noise, the menu itself is worth a try!

Canteen
10522 124 Street
Edmonton, AB T5N 1R9
(780) 485-6125
Tues – Fri: 11:30am-10:00pm
Sat – Sun: 10:00am-10:00pm

3.5/5

Canteen | by Steve Munro

Guest post from local writer and blogger, Steve Munro.

When a friend texted me birthday plans for supper at Canteen, I couldn’t say no. It’s a relatively new arrival in Edmonton’s restaurant scene, has an easy to find location on 124 Street, and didn’t have a problem with a reservation for ten guests.

We were off to a good start when the servers took our coats for us at the front door before showing us to our long table with a leather cushioned bench seat at one side. Behind us, the bar was circled with hand-crafted metal bar stools with contoured steel backs. Once settled in, the birthday girl ordered herself a Bee’s Knees: a gin and honey drink that she enjoyed. I opted for a simple Americano coffee.

Unfortunately, my coffee was delivered in a mug that needed another run through the dishwasher, but our server quickly took it away and brought me a fresh brew in a new mug. The coffee itself had a strong, bitter aroma, but went down surprisingly smooth without leaving an aftertaste.

Our group decided to try almost one of everything off their “Small Stuff” menu, which seemed to be an alternative to the standard appetizer menu. I was very surprised by the pea falafel and spicy yogurt dip. The falafel was made with sweeter green peas rather than the typical chickpeas, but still maintained the same consistency, crunchy exterior, and texture. The spicy yogurt was fantastic. It had a smooth start and a gradual build to the spice delivery. The spicy flavor mixed very well with the sweeter green peas, and didn’t linger too long after the appetizer.

I also sampled one of the corn fritters with smoky maple syrup and seriously wondered which was better. I still haven’t made up my mind.

Most of our table ordered the Korean beef striploin. My medium-rare steak was excellent. The meat was just tender and juicy enough behind a firm cooked outer layer. It was served with a kimchi cake and yam puree that was surprisingly sweet. The kimchi cake was cut into triangles and cooked with a crispy outer skin to conceal a smoother mousse-like interior. There was an unfortunate mix up between two orders and a rare striploin ended up going to someone who ordered a medium-rare.

Another guest in our group decided to have some fun with her order and asked for all three of their dessert selections as her meal. Somewhere along the way, this order wasn’t processed with the rest of the group’s orders. It wasn’t until we checked on the progress of the dessert-as-supper order that our server realized the mistake.

As far as the desserts go, I loved the dark chocolate ganache – a rich, dense slab of smooth dark chocolate presented in a tart berry sauce. The portion size looks small but is so satisfying that a larger piece would only be a waste. When our friend who asked for all the desserts finally received her order, the only one she reported an issue with was the Poached Pear Verrine, which came across as a bit bland.

If you’re planning on visiting Canteen with a large group of people, say, more than four, you may have a few problems hearing each other. The modern layout and décor takes the form of textured concrete walls and concealed indirect lighting. The restaurant itself is long and narrow, and this tends to create a noticeable echo, which makes a conversation across ten people nearly impossible to participate in. The service staff seemed friendly and courteous enough but, at the same time, unsure and hesitant with a lack of confidence.

Overall, if you’re in no rush, can be patient with your order, and don’t mind the background noise, the menu itself is worth a try!

Canteen
10522 124 Street
Edmonton, AB T5N 1R9
(780) 485-6125
Tues – Fri: 11:30am-10:00pm
Sat – Sun: 10:00am-10:00pm

3.5/5

Cavern

Serving up delicious espresso-based beverages with local chocolate fixings, charcuterie boards made with a variety of cheeses and cured meats, and liquor to delight everyone (wine, scotch, bourbon, port, cognac), Cavern is a revelation in everyday coffee shop gastronomy.

Cavern is a next generation coffee shop. Similar to (the dearly departed) Roast, the cafe offers not only amazing coffee, but a variety of beautiful food items and lots of liquor. Lovely, lovely liquor.

Found in the basement of Phillips Lofts on 104 street, Cavern is a small (i.e. four 4-top tables and a small bar) but beautifully well-kept cafe that specializes in one of my favourite things in the world: cheese. The restaurant sells retail cheese along with a light menu for brunch and lunch that features some excellent cheese board and charcuterie options.

Featured cheeses include anything from Spanish manchego, to the Cheesiry’s lavender pecorino, to British cheddar. Cheese-lovers will find much to rejoice in at this particular location – pair your favourite cheese with a hearty latte, a glass of malbec, or mini chorizo. Whatever you like.

It might sound like a regular cafe/diner/cheese shop to you, but there are several things that make Cavern really stand out above the rest.

First, they’ve built a partnership with JACEK Chocolate in Sherwood Park and have utilized this partnership to expand their menu offerings. Guests can order a hot chocolate made from JACEK chocolate, or a mocha – a latte that comes with a chocolate JACEK spoon for you to stir in. You can order a cheese and JACEK Chocolate pairing for nibbles. You can buy JACEK Chocolate bars at the till.

Secondly, I’m a fan of nice bathrooms in restaurants. It’s that small, unexpected touch that can really impress me about a place. Cavern’s individual bathrooms are a work of art in white marble and shiny brilliance. They’re just lovely.

As for food, I’m convinced. I ordered a Charcuterie for One, which included two cheeses or meats. I selected the prosciutto di parma and the brie de meaux, and paired them with the Don Rodolfo malbec. Beautiful.

The charcuterie came served on a lovely slate cheeseboard with a handful of almonds, figs, cranberries, apricots, and pears. On a separate slate board came half of a baguette and a delicious jam, both of which were spectacular when combined with the brie.

The prices are reasonable at Cavern, too – $16 for a Charcuterie for One, which is enough for a light lunch, and $8 per 6 oz glass of wine. You can get a fresh baguette sandwich for $11 and a UK-inspired brunch of baguette, cheddar, fruit, and accompaniments for the same price.

All in all, Cavern won’t break the bank, but it’ll definitely tantalize those taste buds.

Cavern
#2, 10169 104 Street
Edmonton, AB T5J 1A5
(780) 455-1336

 5/5

UNDER THE HIGH WHEEL

Under the High Wheel is a cute, hip diner that serves simple comfort food made from local ingredients. Under the High Wheel reminds me very strongly of the Glasshouse Bistro in St. Albert’s Enjoy Centre: both serve an amazing brunch, both utilize

CHEFS, UNCENSORED: THE DUCHESS BAKE SHOP TEAM

Ever wondered who’s behind the delicious dishes? Here’s your chance to get to know the masters of grilling, the best of the bakers, and the kings and queens of Edmonton’s food scene.

Welcome to Chefs, Uncensored.

Duchess Bake Shop has been around since 2009 and is one of 124 Street’s staple foodie havens. All items are made daily in-house…from scratch. There are over 20 pastry chefs in the Duchess kitchen, so this interview was put together as a collaboration from the whole team, with pastry chef Kerri Stennes as a representative.

How would you describe your baking style?

The baking style at Duchess is mainly French inspired, but we also include some popular Canadian favorites.

What’s your food/shop philosophy?

Our philosophy is that there are no shortcuts to making good quality product. For us, that means using the best quality ingredients we can find, and making everything by hand in small batches, in house, every day. Those basic techniques allow us to maintain the freshest and best products.

What inspired you to become a chef?

Being able to bake a pie from scratch, give it to a friend or neighbour and then seeing the joy that it brought is what made me realize my dream was to become a pastry chef. Working at Duchess has brought that dream to a new level because everyone on our team is so passionate about creating memorable experiences through pastry. I have learned that baking is a great art; it requires careful attention to detail and a steady hand!

What’s the first thing you ate that made you realize food was an important part of culture?

A blueberry muffin in my grandmother’s kitchen. From a young age I knew that food had the power to bring people together. My mother was always encouraging us to help out with dinner or baking, and I have fond memories of sharing that time with her. It was great watching the family enjoying our food over multiple conversations.

What’s your favourite wine and what do you like to pair it with?

My favorite wine is a rich, Spanish Rioja paired with a goat cheese blanc mange and muddled blackberries.

What do you think is Edmonton’s next big innovative ingredient?

I don’t think it is one particular ingredient. Edmonton is realizing the potential of using high quality, local ingredients. Any ingredient can be innovative when you experience how unique its flavour is and feel inspired to create a dessert around it.

Why should people visit your bake shop?

We’re trying to create an elegant, cosmopolitan environment full of amazing people and world class food – it’s a unique experience.

Duchess Bake Shop
10718 124 Street
Edmonton, AB T5M 0H1
(780) 488-4999

New Location: Cactus Club Downtown

Last night, I was lucky enough to have attended the new Jasper Avenue Cactus Club Cafe’s media reception launch party. The 25th Cactus Club location in 25 years will open on Jasper Ave and 111 Street sometime next week, with a few new menu items, brilliantly ambient art pieces, and a brand new, shiny interior.

Several of Cactus Club’s big names were in attendance, including Richard Jaffray, founder of the Cactus Club restaurants, Executive Chef Rob Feenie, Canada’s first Iron Chef America champion, and Chef Matt Stowe, product development chef at the Cactus Club Cafe and Season 3 winner of Top Chef Canada.

The Cactus Club Cafe chain is well-known for its stylish interiors, excellently curated wine lists, and their innovative take on classic dishes.

“We really strive to innovate and push the envelope in the casual fine dining scene,” says Jaffray during his welcome speech.

With items such as the Cohiba, a cocktail made from muddled fresh blackberries, lemon, spearmint, vodka, and soda, and tuna sushi cones wrapped in soy paper, it’s easy to see the innovation. And it’s even easier to taste it.

I can’t wait until this location opens so that I don’t have to trek myself over to WEM for a fantastic peppercorn steak. I’ve been a fan of Cactus Club ever since I had an amazing Valentine’s Day meal there (you can read about it here!) and left with my hands gripping a brand new, complementary Rob Feenie’s Casual Classics cookbook.

To whet your appetite for this new location, here are a few sneak peek pictures from last night’s event, including shots of food, people, and the delicious Cohiba cocktail! Enjoy!

Cactus Club Cafe (Downtown)
11130 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2V2
(587) 523-8030
Hours: Coming Soon