• The Parlour Italian Kitchen & Bar

    Nov 6 • CHARCUTERIE, EDMONTON, FOUR GLASSES, GLUTEN FREE, PIZZA • 29 Views

    I have a particularly bad habit of neglecting to review restaurants that I regularly frequent. Which is silly, of course—if I’m eating there all the time, then there must be a reason why I keep coming back.

    Parlour, by Century Hospitality Group, is one such restaurant and hopefully they’ll forgive me this oversight.

    I’ve been regularly dining at Parlour for a year and a half, partly because they’re the best lunch option within walking distance of my office, and partly because their pizza always keeps me coming back for more.

    Situated in the midst of downtown between MacEwan University and construction-riddled Norquest College, Parlour offers a modern take on classic Italian cuisine. As they say on their website, “The Parlour is where modern meets tradition, where Italian dining meets Century Hospitality.” The restaurant interior is stylish and comfortable, with two levels for diners to choose between: a brightly lit, window-heavy downstairs portion that revolves around the central bar, or the more intimate, quiet atmosphere of upstairs.

    I’ve tried their regular pizzas, which are made in the Neapolitan style from Organic 00 pizza flour that’s shipped over from Italy—they’re delicious. And I’ve tried their gluten-free pizzas, which had a bit of a rocky (i.e. salty) start when the restaurant first opened but which have since blossomed into a great and tasty alternative to wheat-based dough.

    The crust is important, as purists will tell you, but I’m very much a toppings kind of gal. Parlour uses high quality ingredients for each of their pizzas, including prosciutto, braised beef short rib, and shaved truffles. The Sonny Boy is a lunchtime favourite, with soppressata salami, fior di latte, mushrooms, tomato sauce, and fresh thyme, as is the Hawaii 5-0, with farm fresh Canadian back bacon, fresh pineapple, tomato sauce, and provolone.

    If you’re going for the pizza (which I strongly recommend you do), you have to try one of their Dippers. My favourites are the truffle dip and the black garlic aioli. They’re stunningly rich but go perfectly with a piece of dry pizza crust.

    Gluten-free Create Your Own pizza

    Gluten-free Hawaii 5-0 and Create Your Own

    If you’re just in the mood for cocktails and appetizers, you can’t go wrong with the antipasto board. The smaller size is enough for up to four people and is great when paired with one of their wines on tap.

    I’m very impressed by the way Parlour is willing to accommodate alternative diets, such as gluten intolerance. During my last visit, Chef Tony Le, Executive Chef for Century Hospitality Group, brought us complimentary plates of the flourless chocolate torta dessert, which was served with berry coulis, blueberries, and a raspberry sorbet. I was full…but I still made room for this delicious treat.

    Flourless chocolate torta

    Overall, I’m a huge fan of Parlour and I’ve no doubt that I’ll be back. Next week, probably. And again next month. Man, I love working downtown.

    The Parlour Italian Kitchen & Bar
    10334 Capital Boulevard
    Edmonton, AB T5J 1L9
    (780) 990-0404

    4/5

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  • Giveaway: Tickets to the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival

    Oct 20 • EDMONTON, EVENT, WINE • 26 Views

    It’s one of Edmonton’s biggest foodie events of the year–filled with tasty nibbles and more booze than you have time to taste–and, this year, it will be even bigger.

    Here at Wine + Dine, we’re giving away two tickets to the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival Saturday afternoon session (12-4pm) on Saturday, November 7th!

    Simply enter by retweeting the following tweet BY MIDNIGHT ON OCTOBER 31, 2015:

    You can learn more about the event, which vendors will be present, and what breweries and wineries to expect at rockymountainwine.com.

    And that’s it! Best of luck! We’ll announce the winner on Monday, November 1st.

    Please note that tickets include admission to the event; tasting coupons must be purchased separately.

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  • Product Review: Bacon-Wrapped Boneless Turducken Roast with Italian Sausage Stuffing

    Oct 20 • AMERICAN/CANADIAN, EDMONTON, REVIEW • 26 Views

    A short while ago, a representative of Echelon Foods reached out to offer me a chance to taste something I’d only heard about in TV shows and through word-of-mouth: a turducken. Not quite the same as Ted’s “turturkeykey” (a turkey stuffed with another turkey) in How I Met Your Mother, a turducken utilizes a similar concept, combining turkey, duck, and chicken meat in one complete and boneless roast.

    With Canadian Thanksgiving on the way, I thought it would be a good time to give a turducken a shot. Here are my thoughts.

    Product: Bacon Wrapped Turducken Premium Roast, stuffed with Italian Sausage

    Cooking Time: Approximately 4 hours

    Result: Taking no longer to cook than a roast leg of lamb or a hearty Sunday stew, the turducken goes in fully seasoned and requires only very minor cooking adjustments before pulling it out and letting it rest under tin foil. I was amazed at how easy it was to cook, especially compared to some of my turkey preparations in the past. And oh, the aromas that filled the house while it was in the broiling stage!

    Even though it doesn’t seem like a huge roast, it’s easy to see how this turducken could feed ten people. Each sliced was filled with generous helpings of turkey, chicken, duck, and Italian sausage stuffing, all wrapped with layers of perfectly crisp bacon. Two generous pieces are enough to satisfy even the heartiest of appetites, which means plenty of leftovers for the family if you’re only serving up to five people (we were serving three, so you can imagine how much we had left over).

    Not wanting to outshine the turducken, and knowing that there was enough protein at our fingertips, we made simple sides for the meal: garlic mashed potatoes and a medley of roasted vegetables. The turducken left plenty of juice in the pan–enough to make a gravy or simply drizzle over the meat itself.

    As for taste, I was impressed. While many people overcook turkey, leaving it dry and tasteless, the turducken was moist and flavourful. Each bite revealed a different kind of meat, which added to the variety of the meal and was, to be honest, completely delicious.

    Based on the ease with which the turducken could be cooked, cut, and served, as well as the delicious meal that resulted from it, I would strongly recommend this product to any family looking to serve a big meal around the holidays.

    You can purchase a turducken from Costco or learn more about it on the Echelon Foods website. Enjoy your holiday dinners this season and be sure to comment below if you decide to try a turducken for the first time!

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  • Buco Pizzeria + Vino

    Sep 16 • EDMONTON, FOUR GLASSES, GLUTEN FREE, ITALIAN, PIZZA, REVIEW • 30 Views

    A great pizza is a wonderful thing. With Neapolitan style on the rise (think Famoso and Rosso), it’s only natural for more pizza places to pop up throughout the city with their own attempts at a traditional Italian pizza.

    Buco is St. Albert’s iteration of this trend. A branch of the Sorrentino’s Restaurant Group, Buco held its grand opening on July 26th, where they invited media guests and bloggers to enjoy a variety of appetizers and pizza, and to watch the owners as they cut the ribbon and officially declared the restaurant open.

    I’ve been back once since the grand opening–I wanted to make sure I’d tried enough to give a trustworthy review, since they didn’t serve gluten free pizza at the event–and I can say in full sincerity that I’ll be back. Often.

    The restaurant itself is a stylish and boutique little pizzeria located at The Shops at Boudreau in St. Albert. Ceiling-to-floor glass covers half of the restaurant, which is filled with a mix of modern furniture and traditional elements (olives, olive oil, and more). There’s a small, heated patio that’s great for a summer drink and bite to eat.

    Food-wise, they’re excellent. The charcuterie is amazing (that cacciatore!), the caprese salad offers just the right amount of flavour with a beautiful dash of pesto, and the gluten free pizza (while a bit tough to cut) was delicious and covered in high quality toppings. Nothing has passed my lips at Buco that didn’t delight me–from prosecco to the warm spiced olives.

    Drink-wise, they’re even better. I’ve often lamented the lack of restaurants that featured a BYOW (Bring Your Own Wine) special in Edmonton. Montreal spoiled me for them, since they were everywhere. I was very excited to see that Buco offers this special on Mondays–a perfect reason to grab some friends, enjoy some amazing food, and drink your favourite wine at cost. Buco also has $5 2oz cocktails every Wednesday; I’m dying to check out their version of the Negroni.

    I’d easily situate Buco as better than Famoso and on par with Rosso. The fact that they offer much more than pizza is a great selling point, but it’s also in the fact that their execution is so well done. It’s not kitschy and it’s not cheesy. It’s a classy pizzeria that offers exactly what you’re looking for if you’re a fan of pizza a la Naples. Good job, Buco. See you next Monday.

    Buco Pizzeria
    The Shops at Boudreau
    St. Albert, AB
    (780) 569-2826

    4/5

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  • LOBSTER SUMMER AT THE KEG

    Jul 22 • AMERICAN/CANADIAN, EDMONTON, GLUTEN FREE, SEAFOOD, STEAK, STEAKHOUSE, WINE • 29 Views

    Seafood. Steak. Wine. Few things give me greater pleasure, especially when I have access to all three at once. Which is why the Lobster Summer tasting event at The Keg was such a pleasant (and mouth-watering) experience.

    On July 16th, I attended an event at South Edmonton Common that showcased The Keg’s Lobster Summer promotion, a 15-year annual tradition that features dishes made from Canadian hard-shell, full-meat lobsters shipped over from the North Atlantic. Owen Abrams, The Keg South Common’s General Manager, informed us that the restaurant brings in Atlantic lobsters every summer and humanely kills them as they’re used.

    Alongside communications partner Kwittken, The Keg’s event brought together food bloggers and local foodies to taste this year’s selection of seafood dishes, including a number of new starter and casual plate options.

    “We’ve added a few dishes to adjust to the rising prices of seafood,” said Owen. “We’ve added some lighter seafood fare, which is more casual and at a lower price point so that everyone can enjoy it.”

    We started the evening with the Szechwan Lobster—golden fried lobster and shrimp with a mix of chilli peppers, red peppers, and asparagus, all tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce.

    Szechwan Lobster

    For the gluten intolerant (a.k.a. me), the starter was a Shrimp Cocktail with chilled black tiger shrimp and a martini cocktail sauce made with olives and gin—two of my favourite things. The tiger shrimp were gigantic: a perfect starter for one person or to share. These dishes were paired with a glass of Knotted Vines Chardonnay, Viognier and Riesling from British Columbia—the medium sweetness and light aftertaste of this wine went really well with the Shrimp Cocktail.

    Shrimp Cocktail

    Two of the Lobster Summer menu’s new casual plates, the Crispy Lobster Tacos and the Lobster Roll, were brought out. I was unable to taste either, but the consensus at the table was that the Lobster Tacos were a nice light dish, while the Lobster Roll had generous helpings of lobster and shrimp to match the heaviness of the brioche roll.

    Lobster Roll

    Instead, I was given a plate of the Scallops and Bacon, another favourite of mine. The scallops were cooked perfectly and I enjoyed them with a glass of Veramonte “Ritual” Pinot Noir from Chile–a lighter red wine that paired perfectly with the delicate scallops.

    Scallops and Bacon

    We were all fairly full to bursting by this point, so being presented with a huge plate covered in a 6oz sirloin steak, half a lobster, and grilled mushrooms was almost laughable. I gave it my best effort but, despite the tender medium-rare steak and buttery sautéed mushrooms, I was only able to eat the half lobster.

    Steak and Half Lobster (Image courtesy of The Keg Steakhouse + Bar)

    To be fair, our meals were also accompanied by a 1lb lobster tail (we had one per two people at the table), so I’m sure you can understand why I was in a food coma by this point. Finish that dining experience off with a glass of J. Lohr Estates “Riverstone” Chardonnay from California and I’d say that Lobster Summer was a complete success.

    In all honesty, I’ve always been much more a fan of crab than lobster, but this event and these dishes turned my opinion around completely. The half lobster was lovely, but the 1lb lobster tail was the centrepiece of the entire event. It was huge—as well it should be, at $40 per tail—and pieces dipped in the ramekin of butter would melt in your mouth. A superb example of lobster at its finest.

    I was very impressed by The Keg’s Lobster Summer menu and also very appreciative of their diligence in accommodating my gluten intolerance. Owen spoke to me before and during the meal to ensure that everything was suitable—and it was. More than suitable, in fact.

    I’ll definitely be returning to The Keg to enjoy items from the Lobster Summer menu before it ends on August 30th. If you’re having a special occasion dinner or simply want to treat yourself, I strongly recommend adding the 1lb lobster tail to your meal. You won’t regret it.

    The Keg Steakhouse + Bar (South Edmonton Common)
    1631 102 Street
    Edmonton, AB T6N 1M3
    (780) 485-6530
    @TheKeg

    Cover photo courtesy of The Keg Steakhouse + Bar

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  • BLISS BAKED GOODS

    Feb 6 • AMERICAN/CANADIAN, BAKING, EDMONTON, FIVE GLASSES, FOUR GLASSES, REVIEW • 42 Views

    As a British expat living in Canada, there are a number of things I miss about my birth country that I just can’t seem to find even in the busiest cities of the Great White North.

    Certain foods, for example, remind me of my childhood. A smell or a taste can bring me back to my life in our quiet British village—a life that saw me regularly making the trek to the local newsagents to pick up the latest Beano comic. I’d grab a Sherbet Fountain (a tube of sherbet that came with a black liquorice dipping stick) along with my comic before heading around the corner to the bakery, where I’d buy my favourite cheese straws (cheesy puff pastries).

    Flavours and textures bring back memories—sometimes I can seek them out, such as finding Lyle’s Golden Syrup at Save on Foods. Others come upon me when I least expect it, such as a taste of pizza in New York reminding me instantaneously of Cottingham’s sole pizza takeaway joint. Food has an uncanny ability to prompt involuntary memories, creating an instance of time travel with a mere taste.

    The same feeling came over me the second I bit into a cinnamon and sugar doughnut from Bliss Baked Goods, a family-owned bakery located in Edmonton’s Glenora district.

    Found next to Gini’s Restaurant, Bliss is a modest bakery that uses their space solely to make and display their products—there’s nothing superfluous in the setting. The bakery is owned by husband-and-wife team Lawrence and Shaindel Bliss, who have been running Bliss Baked Goods since they started the business on 118th Avenue more than 11 years ago. They moved into the new Glenora location in September 2014.

    Lawrence Bliss

    The bakery specializes in 100% kosher, dairy-free and nut-free baked goods, with a number of vegan options, including pastries and some specially made doughnuts.

    We visited on a Friday morning to pick up a dozen doughnuts for the office and ended up chatting with Lawrence and Shaindel, who explained their bakery’s philosophy and specialities. They gave us a taste of the cinnamon and sugar doughnut, which immediately brought me back to my favourite bakery in England—the soft, fluffy texture of the doughnut mixed with the gritty sweetness of the perfect blend of cinnamon and sugar. I haven’t had a doughnut like that in years.

    They insisted I take with me a vegan maple doughnut, which I devoured as soon as I returned to the office. I’ve never had a vegan doughnut before and, to my surprise, it wasn’t much different from a regular doughnut. It was delicious, creamy, soft—everything you’d assume a vegan doughnut could never be. (Then again, if they can make vegan bacon…)

    After tasting the delicious treats at Bliss Baked Goods, I’m not surprised to learn that they were recognized in Avenue Magazine’s 25 Best Things to Eat (2013) for their cinnamon and sugar doughnuts. If they can bring back my memories of childhood innocence, sweet cravings, and English cobblestones, then how will these sugary treats work their magic on you?

    Bliss Baked Goods
    10710 142 Street
    Edmonton, AB T5N 2P7
    (780) 453-0101

    4.5/5

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  • Lemon-inspired Recipes for Super Bowl Sunday

    Jan 29 • AMERICAN/CANADIAN, RECIPES • 24 Views

    It’s one of the biggest sporting events of the year and you’re having people over. You want to make something easy but delicious. Something that you can eat with your hands but that doesn’t get too messy. Whether you’re drinking beer, cider, or wine, these recipes all have a delightful lemon-inspired twist to help make this the most satisfying Super Bowl Sunday ever.

    All recipes were provided by the good folks at Savanna Dry, but I’ve put a little ‘Cheryl’ spin on each of them for those who are feeling exceptionally adventurous. Game on!

    Lemon Salsa

    Ingredients:

    • 2 medium lemons
    • 2 tbsp. minced onion
    • 1 tsp. sugar
    • ½ tsp. sea salt
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 2 tbsp. mint, minced
    • cilantro
    • basil

    Directions:

    1. Cut ends off the lemons, exposing the fruit. Stand it up on one end and use a knife to remove the peel and pith.
    2. Chop the lemon flesh into small pieces. Discard the seeds and large pieces of membrane.
    3. Transfer lemon and juices to a small bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients and serve with tortilla chips.
    4. Cheryl’s Twist: Add chopped cucumber to make this dish even more refreshingly satisfying.

    healthfitnessrevolution.com

    Lemon Pepper Wings

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. chicken wings
    • 1 tsp. lemon pepper
    • Oil

    Directions: 

    1. Heat oil in deep fryer. Place seasoning in a bowl or zip style bag and set aside.
    2. Deep fry wings for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned.
    3. Take cooked wings and place into seasoning and coat. Make sure the wings are still hot in order for seasoning to stick.
    4. Cheryl’s Twist: Coat the wings in two heaping tablespoons of corn starch before cooking to make the wings perfectly crispy.

    thefitnessfashionista.com

    Dill, Cucumber and Lemon Dip

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup Greek yogurt (plain)
    • 1 cup diced and peeled cucumber
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 tbsp. fresh dill, minced
    • 2 tsp. lemon juice
    • 1 pinch salt and pepper

    Directions: 

    1. Place yogurt into a small bowl and add cucumber, garlic, dill, and lemon juice.
    2. Stir ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste.
    3. Serve with chips or vegetables.
    4. Cheryl’s Twist: Toss in a tablespoon of paprika to make this the best tzatziki you’ll find this side of the Atlantic.

    And don’t forget to pair your Super Bowl appetizer creations with a few bottles of Savanna Dry!

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  • Dundee Hills Pinot Noir and Sautéed Pacific Salmon

    Jan 10 • AMERICAN/CANADIAN, EDMONTON, RECIPES • 27 Views

    When I first made the foray into drinking red wines, pinot noir was always a favourite. The pinot noir grape produces a softer, lighter wine with low tannins that acts as a perfect entrance into the wild and wonderful world of reds. For newbies, it’s a great starter wine. For those who have been in the game for quite some time, it’s a beautiful alternative to the full-bodied, heavier options. Pinot noir wines can have as much complexity as their bolder cousins and even more versatility–it’s a great wine to pair with any number of dishes: red or white meat, sweet or savoury.

    On a cold and quiet winter night, I sat down to taste the Dundee Hills Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir for the first time. The first few sips showed a delicate, dry red wine with minimal sweetness but an almost overwhelming hint of berry fruits. The best part about the wine is its ability to give off flavourful hints of raspberries and cherries without actually being sweet.

    I paired this wine with L’Extra’s Pure Goat Cheese, which has a light yet distinct taste. Similar in appearance to a round of brie or camembert, this goat cheese is delightfully creamy and delicious when eaten alone, atop a cracker, or paired with a nice red wine.

    I haven’t had a pinot noir I’ve enjoyed this much in quite some time and I highly recommend it for newer wine drinkers or established winos looking for an intriguing lighter option. And, if you’re someone who’s concerned with pesticides in wine, you’ll be happy to know that the Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir is made from 100% organic grapes. The wine itself retails for around $35-45 a bottle.

    Sokol Blosser recently partnered with several restaurants in Calgary and Edmonton to challenge local chefs to create a perfect salmon appetizer to go with the wine. In support of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, restaurants such as Edmonton’s Bothy Wine and Whisky Bar and Calgary’s Q Haute Cuisine and La Chaumière develop unique salmon recipes to pair with the Dundee Hills Pinot Noir at each of their locations. A portion of sales of the wine are donated directly to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. The full list of participating restaurants can be seen on the Sokol Blosser website.

    Below is a recipe for Sautéed Pacific Salmon, courtesy of La Chaumière Restaurant. We hope you enjoy it alongside a bottle of the pinot noir!

    Sautéed Pacific Salmon with Lentils, Bacon and Red Wine Butter

    By La Chaumière Restaurant (Calgary)

    Main Dish

    • 4-120g Pacific salmon filts, skin on
    • 160g cooked red lentils
    • 50mL chicken stock
    • 25g finely diced bacon (approx. 3 strips)
    • 1 shallot finely chopped
    • 1 carrot finely chopped
    • 1 leek finely chopped

    Instructions:

    1. Sauté shallot, carrot, and leek with bacon, slowly rendering fat and cooking the vegetables.
    2. Add lentils and soften with chicken stock; reduce gently.
    3. Season and sear salmon (skin side down) slowly until top is warm to the touch. Finish with lemon juice.

    Sauce

    • 120mL Sokol Blosser Dundee Hills Pinot Noir wine
    • 1 shallot sliced
    • 30g unsalted butter
    • 1 lemon

    Instructions:

    1. Whisk wine and shallots until thick syrup is achieved.
    2. Add butter and whisk over low heat.
    3. Season with salt and white pepper.

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  • Ampersand 27

    Dec 30 • AMERICAN/CANADIAN, CHARCUTERIE, CHEESE, EDMONTON, FIVE GLASSES, FOUR GLASSES, LOCAL PRODUCE, REVIEW, SEAFOOD, TAPAS • 49 Views

    A short while ago, I was invited to the Ampersand 27 media night on November 13th, where a number of Edmonton’s magazine editors and restaurant critics came together for a tasting of the new restaurant’s sharing menu.

    As the new inhabitant of the space that was formerly Murrieta’s, Ampersand 27 is in a prime location on Whyte Avenue, occupying a portion of Varscona Hotel’s ground floor. The restaurant is the newest venture of Chef Nathin Bye, of Wildflower Grill and Lazia fame.

    As for the name–well, it’s an unusual one. There’s a story behind it that you can read on their website; a cute tale that involves the ampersand as the 27th letter of the alphabet (prior to the 19th century). Chef Bye stated during the media event that he was a big fan of fonts, which explains the quirky name. As a copywriter (and not a graphic designer), I personally hate ampersands; thus, despite the restaurant’s use of alternative typography within their name (&27), I will humbly defer to the 21st century letters of the alphabet for this post.

    I wasn’t sure what to expect before I visited. I’d heard that the charcuterie was the thing, but that portions were akin to many higher-end fine dining restaurants (i.e. teeny). I’d browsed the menu online and wasn’t sure whether to be amused or exasperated at some of the hipster-esque terminology (i.e. specials that were “evolving daily”; bread options that are referred to as “flour & water”; a menu item called “The Living Salad”). Was the restaurant aiming too high? It’s vision of uniqueness too grand?

    Charcuterie

    In a word: no. Chef Bye has crafted something incredible with Ampersand 27–a stylish and unique concept that feeds off a family dining experience, variations in texture, and edgy menu items that offer just the right amount of daring. I came, I ate, and I was charmed.

    There’s nothing quite like walking into a stunningly decorated restaurant and being presented with two plentiful charcuterie boards: wooden platters overflowing with an abundance of Ampersand 27’s specialties. Cheddars, bleus, chevres paired with mounds of your favourite salumi: chorizo, prosciutto, genoa–accompanied by pickles, mustards, grains, and the most decadently creamy duck and chicken liver pate you’ll ever taste.

    Charcuterie

    Their cocktail list is just as inspired as the menu. I tried the Flora cocktail, made from gin, elderberry liquor, hibiscus raspberry shrub, and tonic. I’m a huge fan of gin cocktails when done well; this one was a little sweeter than I usually drink, but it was delicious and the hibiscus shrub was a cute touch.

    Flora Cocktail

    After the charcuterie boards came a flurry of tastings from their menu, as per below.

    Beet Texture: A dainty salad of roasted, gelled, and crisp beets, served with sous vide and goat cheese ganache. Beautifully different for those who don’t usually eat beets, or who generally think all beets are served pickled. I thoroughly enjoyed the sweet and savoury flavours of this dish.

    Beet Texture

    Confit Parsnip: Sliced parsnip served with gremolata, pine nut, red pepper dust, and jam. A creamier take on the average parsnip and one that combined flavours together that were completely new to me. A nice dish, although I did prefer the Beet Texture.

    Confit Parsnip

    The Living Salad: Ah, The Living Salad. Order this and you’ll be presented with a mini tree trunk hosting a plant pot of local micro greens and a jar of cold pressed canola emulsion. And scissors, so that you can harvest your own salad. It’s a really cute concept, especially for those who think the novelty of cutting your own salad at dinner is exciting. For $15, though, it’s a fairly pricey novelty–especially for just a handful of micro greens.

    The Living Salad

    Maple Butter Pork Belly: It’s pretty difficult to screw up pork belly. Add some maple butter and Chef Bye’s inimitable talent, though, and you’ve got a winner of a dish. A true homage to the south, the pork belly was served with southwestern mesquite corn, baked beans, green peas, and fritters. Lovely and savoury.

    Maple Butter Pork Belly

    Pastrami Pork Cheeks: I feel like this dish is Chef Bye’s sharing menu’s understated pièce de résistance. Coming out under a glass dome (reminiscent of the one covering the rose in Beauty and the Beast), the pastrami pork cheeks are unveiled amidst a heady, charcoal-scented haze of smoke–the smell of which will incite memories of barbeques, smoked meats, and everything good and smoky and tender. Served with braised red cabbage, rye spaetzle, and sauerkraut creme, this dish is delicious and exciting. I strongly recommend giving it a try.

    Pastrami Pork Cheeks

    Seared Albacore Tuna: Almost every restaurant in Edmonton has a version of seared tuna or tuna tataki at the moment. It’s become a popular dish, particularly for those who aren’t quite ready for sashimi but want the flavour and texture of not-quite-cooked tuna. Ampersand 27’s version takes the seafood aspect a little more seriously than most, serving the tuna with pickled hearts of palm, citrus, seaweed, and cashew puree. The result is a seared tuna dish that’s a little more fishy than I’m used to, but that combines some interesting textures and flavours together that will surprise even the most veteran of seared tuna-goers.

    Seared Albacore Tuna

    The Seashore: I missed out on a photograph of this dish, which offered scallops, prawns, smoked trout brandade, and sea asparagus. A lovely option for seafood-lovers, The Seashore combined some of my favourite under-the-sea items and made them taste spectacular. Scallops. I’m always for the scallops.

    We were also given the Pressured Octopus, which I only nibbled at because I despise the thought of eating octopus or squid (they’re two of the few things I won’t eat). Nevertheless, I tried the dish’s sea salt crusted potato and slices of chorizo. The chorizo tasted as most chorizo is wont to taste and the potato was delightfully seasoned. There were some concerns from the table that the potato was too salty, but I thought the salt level was just fine.

    Rocky Road: For dessert, we were treated to a taste of Ampersand 27’s Rocky Road, a selection of “rocks” that have a hard shell and liquid interior and are served on edible “moss and sand.” In continuation of the restaurant’s attention to textures, this dessert is unique and delicious with a beautiful presentation. The “rocks” come in chocolate, mint, mango, and lychee flavours.

    Rocky Road

    Neaveau Misu: The restaurant’s most popular dessert is a modern take on tiramisu–a toffee pudding served with coffee caramel, amaretto, hazelnut, and brown butter, topped off with a side of macaron and ice cream. Bring me any kind of toffee pudding and I’m satisfied, but this one was exceptional. This was my favourite dessert of the evening.

    Neaveau Misu

    Citron Bleu

    Citron Bleu: The Citron Bleu is a light, delicate serving of lemon buttermilk mousse alongside a portion of blueberries, earl grey gel and milk crisps. Lovely and sweet, this dessert is a must-try for those who like fruity and tart flavours.

    There were so many things to taste and try that I’m certain I’ve missed out a few in this post, where I’ve simply tried to focus on the things that stood out during my experience. Regardless, I was very impressed by Chef Bye’s vision come-to-life at Ampersand 27. I look forward to returning to try a full-blown charcuterie, filled with my favourite things. And, in the future, I’d like to give some of their “Larger Provisions” a try–doesn’t a lacquered leg of duck and duck fat potatoes sound amazing?

    I strongly recommend this restaurant with one small word of warning: it isn’t cheap. Like most other high-end restaurants in the city, the price point can be higher than most. A single charcuterie with two meats, two cheeses, and a few accompaniments can easily shoot past the $20 price range into the $30s and $40s, depending on what you order. Sharing plates range from $11 to $19 and the full meals start at $23. It’s not overpriced, by any means, but be wary of those charcuterie boards if you’re on a budget.

    Ampersand 27
    10612 82 Ave
    Edmonton, AB T6E 2A6
    (780) 757-2727

    5/5

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