Tzin and wine is a fabulous little restaurant in the heart of down town and makes for a great night out either with friends or with a date. The restaurant holds about 20 guests and has a very artistic vibe to it. The restaurant’s main website will illustrate that quite well. The staff are very friendly, knowledgeable, and have excellent recommendations for wines and food.
Karen and I ordered the mushroom tart and the seafood paella for two. The mushroom tart was phenomenal. Sauteed mushrooms and truffle were made to be paired together, but add a warm crumbly tart, melted Gruyere cheese, and a bed of crunchy spinach and you have heaven on a plate. You have to try this.
The seafood paella was loaded. Lots of huge tiger shrimps, scallops, and perfectly done mussels. However the rice itself was not that impressive. There was too much sauce making the rice overly soaked and wet. The rice in a good paella should not be this saucy and this mushy. We were a definitely a little disappointed with the paella. Unfortunately we did not order any other tapas, but seeing what other guests ordered looked delicious.
This is a great little Wine and Tapas restaurant with great service, friendly staff, and very decent food. I will certainly be back again to give the other tapas a try and to pick out a few interesting wines that Tzin offers.
Tavern 1903 at the Alberta Hotel is the new addition to the famous Hardware Grill. They focus on a modern twist on traditional food. It has two feels to it. The bar side is bright and lively, while the dining room side is a mellow and comfy. Both sides are decorated differently and both sides catering to different crowds. This gives the restaurant a sort of black and white variation, which gives the restaurant uniqueness and character. My companions and I sat on the dining side, but we realized soon, that we would have rather sat on the bar side. I think the causal ambiance on the bar side matches both the personalities of the staff and the food.
We started with 3 appetizers to share: the pork belly, the cauliflower, and the crab cakes. Starting with the pork belly, it was done well, albeit slightly overcooked to the point where the meat portion was a little chewy. That being said, the pork belly was actually very good. It was rich and the combination of the of the smoked ribs gave it an extra kick. Of course the fatty part of the pork belly melted in your mouth and when it does, you get the full flavour of the pork that is so satisfying. I felt that the pretzel bun was out of place. It didn’t add anything to the dish that was not already in the pork belly. It was odd since it was difficult to cut into pieces to eat with the pork belly and even if you were successful, it didnt pair well with it. I think a soft steamed sweet bun would accompany this dish much better than the pretzel did.
Moving on to the highly recommended Korean Fried Cauliflower. The cauliflower was fried in a crunchy batter and covered with a sweet, sour, and spicy sauce. The sauce was great. It was a perfect balance of all those three flavours. Also, although had been soaked in sauce, it still remained crispy and very enjoyable. My only issue with this dish is that we were unable to taste the cauliflower despite a non-overpowering sauce.
The final appetizer that we shared was the crab cakes. I’m going to have to say I was disappointed in these crab cakes. They were devoid of flavour and worst of all, they lacked crab meat.
After some good conversation over a bottle of red from their excellent wine list, our mains arrived. One of my companions and I ordered the short ribs and my other companions went with the crusted salmon and the chicken and waffles.
The fries were great. They were fried to perfection and flavoured with truffle oil to give it boldness. That was as far as I go in complimenting this dish. The short ribs were very disappointing. With my first few bites, I noticed that it lacked the flavour and moisture that I would expect from slow cooked short ribs, especially after trying the short ribs at Wildflower Grill. Here I was, constantly reaching for my glass of water to wash down the dry, bland beef. This dish would certainly benefit from more sauce and some seasoning for the beef. Even the accompanying vegetable medley which were seasoned with salt and pepper had more flavour than the beef.
Unfortunately, I did not try the salmon nor the chicken and waffles. However the consensus was that the chicken and waffles lacked flavour as well. The salmon was more enjoyable. It was crusted well and paired well with the sauce, but my companion was not overly impressed by this particular dish.
For the #2 rated restaurant of 2014 in Edmonton, I was not impressed. The atmosphere and the wine selection was great, but the food that we ordered was neither innovative nor satisfying. Their dishes lacked flavour and attention to detail. On top of all that, the prices were on the expensive side. With appetizers around ~$10-15 each, ~$30 main dishes, and $1 each for still water, we were looking at close to $50/head before the wine. This restaurant requires some major fine tuning before I can give out any recommendations.
Kaiten Sushi (name of the catering service), which is operated by Japonais Bistro, was hosting an event to promote their mobile sushi bar catering. They offered all you can eat of a select items on their menu for $30 + 15% gratuity, which includes sushi, sashimi, maki, and a variety of cooked dishes that they have created. If you didn’t know, kaiten sushi in japanese means conveyor belt sushi. We decided to give it a try since the menu looked pretty interesting and it was a good price as well.
The setup was very interesting. If you have ever experienced any type of kaiten sushi before, it is similar to that, except in this case you have to walk up to get your own food from the rotating conveyor belt as opposed to having the food rotate around you at your table. This was sort of expected since it is a mobile sushi catering service and it would be impossible to set up something like the ones in japan. The decor is modern and vibrant. The sushi bar is brightly lit so you can see the sushi chefs hard at work.
We started by trying one of each of their special rolls of the night and a few of their regular rolls. All the rolls generally tasted very good. They were all very elaborate and used a very unique combination of ingredients that I have never seen used together. Here are the ones we tried below:
All the rolls were 10/10 for creativity and uniqueness . I have never had any of these rolls before and each and everyone of them were worth trying. Some were obviously better than the rest. My favourite 3 rolls, in terms of taste and flavour, were the MT Fuji, Sunshine, and TNT. The MT Fuji shines because of the scallop, which gave the roll a very pleasant sweetness. The Sunshine was amazing because of the torched wild salmon on the top mixed in with the bonito flakes, which gave it a very smokey rich flavour. The sauce is on the TNT roll was outstanding and really made a very typical roll stand out and gave it that pop that landed it in the top 3. My least favourite roll was the MK roll. The combination of smoked salmon and fruity ingredients didn’t go well together for me.
The beef tataki was good but not great. The quality of the beef itself was done well, however it was a bit too thick for a beef tataki. Also there was too much ponzu sauce to the point where the beef was swimming in it. It was also a bit too sour for my liking. The glass noodles were done well and the sauce wasn’t too overpowering. The new style sashimi was great. They used very fresh tuna and salmon and I liked how they torched them on one side. The yuzu soy had a very subtle hint of yuzu flavour in it which added to the freshness of the sashimi. Tuna nachos were good and interesting to say the least. The combination of the avocado, sashimi, and a deep fried chip went really well together. However, I couldn’t say the same for the sushi tortilla. It was dry, bland, and poorly put together. Now onto the main menu items.
To start, we tried the pork cheek tempura. It was delicious. The outside had a lightly crispy batter and on the inside, there was a very tender and moist pork cheek that was relatively lean. It was topped with a wasabi sour cream and yuzu salsa. Although we couldnt really taste the wasabi or the yuzu flavour in the salsa, it was a very good dish and innovative. The seafood udon was not enjoyable. The seafood was not fresh (likely frozen) and the sauce resembled a condensed can of Campbell’s mushroom soup. It was not something you would expect at a Japanese restaurant. The Bob “Ishiyaki” bow was great. It came in a hot stone bowl which gave the rice at the bottom a very nice crispy layer. The sauce was excellent. It was soy based but the addition of the onions, seaweed, shitake mushrooms and butter gave it a very nice aroma that gave the dish an excellent flavour. I highyl recomend that dish. The ramen on the other had was very poor. The noodles taste like the frozen ramen you can buy at the grocery stores and the broth was bland and boring.
For dessert we had the Matcha Crème Brûlée and the Double Cheesecake brownie with yuzu yogurt icecream. The Crème Brûlée was delicious. The green tea flavoured custard with the hard caramel top was a real treat and a must try. Yuzu yogurt icecream had a very strong yuzu flavour but was very good. Unfortunately it was almost melted by the time it arrived. The cheesecake brownie tasted neither like cheesecake or brownie and was frozen solid. I wouldn’t recommend it.
Dining at Japonais Bistro and sampling the mobile sushi bar by Kaiten sushi was a very interesting and delicious experience. The food was certainly very innovated and intricate. There was a lot of attention to detail applied in creating the dishes as well the presentation of it. Most of the food tasted as good as it looked, however there were a few not so great ones. Although the servers were extremely busy at the event and were unable to attend to us consistently, the experience was very positive. There is another Kaiten sushi event next Wednesday, November 27th and I would highly recommend everyone to try it out.
Edmonton isn’t known for their Korean food, but there are a few restaurants with decent variety. Once in a while, my crave for Korean food kicks in and I need a quick fix. My friend and I ventured out to the south side of Edmonton to try Wing Chicx, a Korean restaurant famous for their chicken, as their name suggests. The restaurant is located in an obscure location in a small plaza just off the Anthony Henday. It is a small restaurant that you could honestly drive by and not even know it was there. It was pretty difficult to find especially at night since there were no signs that said Wing Chicx. Finally, after a few u-turns we found the restaurant and went inside. The restaurant was not typical of small Korean restaurants that are old and grungy, which commonly have several tvs playing popular Korean music videos. This restaurant was modern, bright, and extremely colourful. A good change from what I am used to. The waitress brought us to our table, which was unfortunately covered with grease, She quickly cleaned it up and apologized.
We ordered their famous fried chicken (half order) and their Spicy noodle soup with seafood. After we ordered, a few of the Korean side dishes arrived. We first got a small bowl of congee, which is a rice porridge (not shown above). The congee was thick, almost like rice that had been boiled with too much water, compared with Chinese congee which has an almost soup like consistency. It was mixed with a bit of parsley to give it an enhanced aroma. The other dishes were a fried fish cake, cabbage, and kimchi. Their kimchi was ok, a little bland and lacking spice. The cabbage was pretty poor side dish, but the fish cake was good. I was a little disappointed that their was no pickled cucumbers or bean sprouts, which are my favourite side dishes.
The spicy seafood noodle came first. For $12, it was a decent sized portion. The soup was spicy, but not overly so. I was able to taste the soup and not just the spice. The soup base was a spicy and rich tomato flavoured broth. The Korean udon was done well, not too soft or hard. This dish would have benefited more from a ramen instead, which would have been able to soak up more of the flavours. The amount of seafood in the soup was lacking. There was more soup than there was noodle or seafood. The seafood also was likely frozen seafood that you can get at the grocery store, definitely not fresh. This dish was OK, but not amazing. Gozen, in London Ontario does an amazing job at their seafood noodle soup, which is double the size, loaded with seafood, and only $8! But, that’s another topic for another day (Gozen, London Ontario review to come).
We were warned that the chicken may take up to 20 minutes to prepare. When you hear that, you know the chicken is prepared fresh and made to order. When it arrived, the fried chicken was piping hot. The sauce is a sweet and sour mixture that is both spicy and tangy. I thought it worked really well together and tasted great. They relied on this sauce for the taste, since the chicken itself had very little of its own flavour. The chicken was fried very nicely. The outside was crispy and the inside was moist, except for a few pieces of the breast meat, which I found to be a little dry and over cooked. Overall, I’d say this dish is good. It is the best Korean spicy chicken I’ve had in Edmonton, but definitely does not compare to elsewhere.
Wing Chicx is a good little Korean restaurant that I would say is worth the drive if you have not been to before. The chicken and the seafood noodle soup are good and worth trying. However, If I come back, I would venture and try other things on the menu. Their prices are not unreasonable, especially since a lot of effort goes into preparing the dishes, but a lower price point would certainly be much more justifiable for the quality of the final product that gets to your table.
Atmosphere: Modern, Korean
On a quiet Sunday afternoon in Edmonton, Duchess Bake Shop is far from tranquil. Karen and I were looking for a place to have some lunch and sweets. Duchess immediately came to mind.
The decor is elegant yet simple. The bakery gives you this Victorian feel. It is bright and vibrant, yet classical and comfortable. The environment is perfectly fitting for its name and for the food they serve.
You can see that every table is full. Karen and I had to split up: she waited by a couple who looked like they were about to leave and snagged their spot, while I waited in line to place our orders. It took about 15 minutes before it was my turn, but by then I had just enough time to decide what I would like to order from their extensive array of sweets and hot food. Their hot food options were not as robust as their desserts, but there were definitely a few to choose from. We ordered the Pear Tartine with Potato and Leek Soup and the Quiche Lorraine.
The Tartine was composed of a bed of chopped lettuce, under warm cooked slices of pear, on a toasted piece of rye bread, covered with a light melted cheese and garnished with fresh pepper. This combination gave a sweet and savory flavour to the tartine that was very appetizing, but not too heavy despite the cheese. Our only complaint was the the hardness of the bread which made it difficult to eat. The potato leak soup was fragrant and had a good combination of the two ingredients (potato and leek). However, the soup was a bit watery for my liking and lacked the consistency of a creamy potato based soup.
The quiche was amazing. It was fluffy, light, and moist. Combined with the perfectly browned surface and the flaky, rich, and buttery crust, this is hands down the best quiche I have ever had. Every bite was better than the last and Karen and I had to fight over who got the last piece. I highly recommend the quiche at Duchess.
To wash down our delicious lunch, Karen had a Latte and I had a iced Americano. There is nothing special to say about their coffee. Moving on to dessert, we ordered half a dozen macarons, a lemon tart, and raspberry white chocolate scone.
The first thing we noticed about these macarons were that they were handsome. The colours they used were not too vibrant, but instead resembled more of a natural look that closely followed the flavour of the macaron. Also, the addition of pistachio and hazelnut on their respective macarons gave them bonus points for presentation. The meringue was not too crunchy on the outside and not too light or airy on the inside, which gave the macaron a bit of chew to it. This was great as we dislike macarons that become almost like a hard candy texture when you bite into it. All the flavours were great and none of the macarons were too sweet (the pistachio and hazelnut stood out as the best ones). The only thing I would change would be to replace the buttercream with a ganache filling, which would give the macarons a more rich flavour and more physical support/structure to them.
The powdered sugar and the blueberry just completes the presentation of the Lemon Tart. The tart had a fresh lemon zest flavour that you notice as soon as you take a bite. The sourness is perfectly balanced by the sweetness. The filling was creamy and almost runny, which is a change from the typical jello-y lemon tarts that I’ve experienced. The crust was more on the hard side and not as crumbly as I would have liked. As a result, it was very difficult to cut with a knife.
Unfortunately we did not take a picture of the raspberry white chocolate scone, but we felt like we had to talk about it because it was that delicious. The outside was crunchy and the inside was soft, moist and crumbly. The pairing of the white chocolate and the raspberry was amazing. Both flavours were present and one did not overpower the other (the raspberry and the white chocolate flavour in the scone was in perfect harmony). The scone’s combination of the crunchiness and the softness as well as the perfect balance of the white chocolate and raspberry really impressed us.
Duchess Bake Shop is a great little bakery and cafe. With their beautiful decor to their amazing desserts and hot food, Duchess is a must try if you find yourself in Edmonton.
Three Boars is a small two storied restaurant located on a busy street in Garneau. You could honestly walk by and not even notice this restaurant and the interesting tapas they serve inside. Outside, there is a nice patio for the summer where you can enjoy the beautiful weather while dining here.
When you first enter, you see the bar immediately to your right and a small open kitchen behind it. It is definitely a nice area to have a drink and chat with some friends and enjoy some tapas. I really like their open concept area on the main floor and on the patio.
The upstairs, is quite different. It is much more closed and gives you a cabin homely sort of feel with its wooden walls and table tops. The decor is simple, inviting, and comfortable.
Now, onto the food. Everything is tapas style and so the food comes one at a time and everything is meant to be shared. We started with the Sauteed Mushrooms on Toast and Pork and Chicken Liver Bomb. The Sauteed mushrooms came served on a small piece of french toast served with a raw egg yolk on top. The presentation was nice but the sauteed mushrooms were not that flavourful and did not stand out to me. On top of that, the egg yolk didn’t really add anything special in terms of flavour or complexity to the dish and was just more for decoration. The Pork and chicken liver bomb was good but lacked any liver taste. Inside was shredded chicken and pork mixed with a light mayo and celery bits, which reminded me of chicken salad sandwich.
Here is the star of the night. The Oyster Braised Beef Chuck. The begin, the presentation was wonderful. The colours from the beef, cilantro puree, and congee just go really well together in this dish. The beef itself was very tender and juicy and had a very deep and rich flavour. The congee was rich and creamy which complemented the beef well. Combined with the cilantro puree, which added a very refreshing taste, this dish was perfect. On the other hand, we have the pulled pork poutine, which lacked the elegance of the last dish. The fries were large potato wedges and on top was the pulled pork slobbered all over. There were two distinct sauces in this dish, which contradicted each other. One was a rich beef flavour and the other a light bbq porky flavour. The sauces drowned the potato wedges which resulted in a “soggy” poutine. My biggest pet peeve about poutines is the use of regular mozzarella cheese instead of cheese curds. Unfortunately, the cheese melted immediately, and I was unable to hear any squeaks while eating this poutine.
Our last 2 dishes arrived. They were the Lamb Sirloin and the Blue Crab and Potato Salad. The lamb sirloin was complimented with a Peppercorn Hibiscus Gastrique dressing, which had flavours of rose and fruit. It was more of a salad than anything else and so it was fitting that it was served cold. At first, you expect the lamb to be tender because it is quite soft when you “forkit”. But once you bite into it, the meat was quite tough to chew. I would compare it to a blue raw steak. Although the lamb had good flavour, I would not recommend this dish. Finally, we had the Blue Crab and Potato salad. There was not much crab in the dish at all. The smoked mayo had a flavour like tuna salad sandwich, which did not really work for me. All in all, this dish was not too impressive even though it looked great.
After the 6 dishes between the 4 of us, we left still hungry and unsatisfied. Although three boars has very intricate dishes with a lot of attention to detail, the only dish that impressed our palates was the Oyster Braised Beef Chuck. The rest of their dishes did not taste special to me. In addition, their service and decor was average. Apart from a few beautifully presented dishes, three boars is an average tapas restaurant with nothing special to boast.
Here we are, one of the most talked about restaurant in Edmonton: Tres Carnales. When you enter, you see the menu written up on the boards in colourful, graffiti-like chalk. Below the menu you see the kitchen and the cashier.
The rest of the restaurant feels very open, with only a few tables. The decor is very interesting to say the least. The star chandeliers are eye catching as well as the large monkey wall painting. Along the wall there are a variety of Mexican decorations and toys.
Famous for their tacos, we decide to try 3 of them. We order the Pescado – Red snapper, the Carne Con Chile – Beef brisket, and the Al Pastor – Marinated Pork. We also added a side of Guacamole and Chips. We ordered, paid, received a number, and found a seat to wait for our food. Unlike a fast food restaurant, the food is brought to your table. I thought it was a nice touch.
The Guac and Chips were good. The chips were thick and crispy, which were perfect for scooping up the guacamole. The guacamole had a conservative amount of onion and garlic. It was creamy and not too thick. All in all the guac was good, but definitely not worth the ~10 price tag.
Now for the Tacos. Lets start with the tortilla itself. These are very likely mass produced tortillas and not freshly made in house. They used 2 tortillas for the meat tacos and a single one for the fish taco. The reason for this is because the meat tacos leak a lot of juices and a single tortilla would get soaked and the meat would probably fall through. Their tortillas are soft and not grilled. Personally, I prefer them a bit crispier so that they don’t get soggy as quickly, which was exactly what happened with all the tacos. Nobody likes a soggy taco.
The beef brisket in the Carne Con Chile was soft and tender. Beef brisket is a fattier beef and so there was a lot of beef flavour. The added kick from the chiles in the sauce was a nice touch. The raw onions and fresh cilantro helped balance the heartiness of the meat. The Al Pastor was very similar to the Carne Con Chile. The only difference is the lack of spiciness and more of a pork flavour instead of a beef flavour so I will not comment too much on it. Although this was my least favourite taco, it still tasted good and was enjoyable. Of the three tacos, the Pescado was the best. Although you only get 3, the taco’s are much bigger. Each taco consisted of a very large piece of battered pacific red snapper and topped with a salad of tomato, onion, cabbage, lettuce, and a slice of radish. The fish was cooked just right and the toppings made this taco taste very refreshing. My only suggestion for this taco would be to avoid battering and deep frying and just go for a pan-fried fish instead.
Having been to Mexico, I can see where the inspiration from this restaurant is coming from. They make a very good attempt at serving real Mexican food with a modern North American twist. But, their tacos are far from being close to the real thing. Having said that, the food here is still very enjoyable. Even though this is one of those restaurants where you order, eat, and leave within 30-45 minutes on a lunch break, I did not feel rushed. If you are in the area, I would recommend that you give Tres Carnales a try.
It was a great weekend. Karen came to Edmonton to visit me and we do what we both love to do: try new restaurants together. Our reservation at Corso 32 was at Sunday night at 9pm and this was the only reservation available even though I had called in a month in advance. Not that surprising since Corso 32 had been rated as Edmonton’s best restaurant by AvenueEdmonton and of course we were both very excited to try it. As we walked into the Corso 32, the dimly lit restaurant gave us a very relaxing and homely feel. The restaurant itself was very small and the tables for 2 were spaced very close to each other, which felt like we were almost eating with the couple next to us. The hostess greeted us with a friendly welcome and let us know that there will be a bit of a wait. However we ended up waiting an extra 25 minutes. When we were finally seated, the waitress did not even apologize for the long wait. We concluded that because of Corso’s popularity, waiting is almost expected.
Since they did not offer us any bread, Karen and I decided to order quickly because we were getting hungry. We decided to share the Wild Arugula salad and the Arancini. The salad was perfectly dressed. The cheese was not too overpowering, which can often happen in salads, especially with the large amount of cheese in this dish. The roasted hazelnuts added complexity, flavour, and texture to the salad. None of the ingredients were the star, which made for a very well balanced salad. In addition, the Arugula was warm, which matched the temperature of all the other ingredients in the salad and gave the salad a homely feel that matched the restaurant. This shows Corso 32’s attention to detail and their goal in making this salad feel harmonious. The Arugula Salad was absolutely delicious.
On the first bite of the Arancini, it had a very rich flavour of cheese and mushroom with the added thickness of the risotto all covered with a crunchy deep fried outer layer. It was very tasty, but by the second one, we felt like we were getting full very quickly and were almost overwhelmed by the flavour of the Arancini.
For our mains, Karen ordered the Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli and I ordered the Full Hen. The Ravioli was accompanied by a flavourful buttery brown sage sauce. The pasta itself was thin and soft, which is something that Karen really enjoyed. Once you start tasting the pumpkin inside, it begins to stand out. The pumpkin was not too sweet and was blended very consistently, but not to the extent that it became creamy. This pasta was absolutely amazing and we both agreed that it was the best pumpkin ravioli we have ever had.
The hen was very generously portioned. The outside was crispy and well seasoned. The lemon zest in the seasoning gave the hen a very refreshing taste. When you bite into it, you get the crispy texture from the skin as well as the juicy and tender meat inside. Overall, I thought the hen was very good, but I must admit that it was a little bit too salty and over-seasoned because seasoning overpowered the flavour of the hen. Feeling full, Karen and I decide to skip dessert. We were very satisfied with our meal at Corso 32. All the ingredients were fresh and the dishes were innovative. The decor was very homely and their dishes matched that style. The attention to detail is very evident in their dishes and everything tasted great. Corso 32 is a gem in Edmonton and I will definitely be coming back for another try.