Cibo – Edmonton (Oliver Village)

Cibo is quietly located in Oliver Village just north of downtown Edmonton near the Macewan University City Centre Campus. It offers excellent Italian food made from fresh local and in house ingredients. The result is an excellent food experience that satisfies the palate. DSC_0768

Inside, is a cozy, candle lit environment, which can be intimate, yet casual enough for gathering with friends. Tables are wood finish with a central modern looking bar and an open concept kitchen. There is also a large table tucked away in a semi-detached room giving you more privacy for a larger party. The servers were friendly and knowledgeable.

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Polpette – veal and pork meatballs, tomato sugo, dried apricots, peperoncini, pine nuts, Pecorino

We started off with the veal and pork meatballs. The appetizer presented simply yet elegantly. There were three very large meatballs topped with microgreens and pecorino romano. To start, the sauce was a robust and spicy tomato, which packed a punch but was not overwhelming. The meatballs themselves were quite delicious. They were soft, moist, and flavourful. The incorporation of the dried apricot gave it a nice fruity sweetness that complemented the veal and pork flavours very well. Together with the tomato sauce, these meatballs were excellent. The serving size was quite generous as well. Overall, it was a very good start.

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Brussels Sprout – sautéed with garlic, shallots, fresh lemon, and pancetta

With our mains, we ordered a side of Brussels sprouts. The sprouts were sauteed with pancetta to add a buttery and peppery flavour. Although the Brussels sprouts were a little undercooked, they were quite enjoyable and was generously portioned.

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Pappardelle – braised lamb, sugo pomodoro, mint, Pecorino Romano

For our mains, we ordered the pappardelle and the gnocchi. The hand made pasta was cooked al dente and gave a perfect bouncy texture with each bite. This is how pasta should be done. It was coated lightly with a garlic tomato sauce. On the first initial bite, you taste the soft tender lamb and the warm tomato sauce. Immediately after that you notice a refreshing flavour of mint which fills your palate and nostrils, but not in an overwhelming sense. It adds freshness to an otherwise warm dish, which gives this dish such uniqueness. I have to say, it was an excellent pasta dish and I would highly recommend this dish to anyone.

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Gnocchi – Truffled cream sauce

My better half ordered the Gnocchi, which was excellent as well. The gnocchi was soft and tender and “melted” in your mouth. The filling was quite light and fluffy. The cream sauce is not at all heavy. The initial flavours are light and subtle hints of the romano cheeses and the gnocchi filling followed by the rich and earthy truffle. The soft gnocchi and the flavours of the romano and truffle make this a very comforting dish. If you are a fan of gnocchi, this dish is a must try.

Cibo is an excellent asset to Edmonton’s growing restaurant scene. Their ever changing menu provides fresh local and house made ingredients that cater perfectly to the season. Their dishes are simple, yet unique and creative, and focus on providing complementary flavours. I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a new contemporary Italian restaurant and excellent pasta.

Service: 4/5
Food: 8.9/10
Atmosphere: Contemporary, Bistro, Cozy, Romantic
Price: $30-40

~Thomas

Cibo Bistro on Urbanspoon

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Biiru – Japanese Bistro – Latin Quartier

Starting work at the hospital this past week, it has been tough. So some of my friends and I decided to catch each other up on our exciting new experiences by going to grab some food (and drinks of course) at an izakaya very close to where we live.

Biiru was a place that we’ve all seen recently, and since it is still relatively new, there wasn’t much information about it. From the pictures and the menu, we decided it was worth trying.

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The décor is a love-hate for me. I love the vibe it gave, from the wood tables to the bouncy stools at several of the tables. I love that they had many different types of wall décor, and I absolutely loved their washroom signs. However, I would’ve liked to see cleaner typography when it came to the katakana and hiragana on the walls and on the back of the chairs. I didn’t like how it wasn’t clean, and were literally painted on by hand. Perhaps that was the style they were going for, but it just looked amateur and sloppy to me.

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We were seated at the bar since there were no other spots available (even though the whole time we were there, there in fact was a table open…). It was obviously difficult to talk to everyone, but worked out well in terms of sharing food. My friend and I shared four dishes: their Japadog, Mushroom Okonomiyaki, Chirashi, and a seafood tempura.

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Starting off with the Japadog, it came in an Asian dinner roll, the ones that are glazed and are very buttery and sweet inside. My friend hated this type of bread (but I quite enjoy it). The “dog” was a handmade shrimp and porc sausage which turned out quite well. I loved that it wasn’t perfectly rounded, and looked house-made. The flavouring was okay, not too strong or bland. The sauce was a mix of mayo and generic teriyaki-type sauce, giving a creamy yet sweet taste to the dog. It was also garnished with a good amount of purple cabbage. Overall, it was okay for $7, with them being lazy with the bread, but picked it up with the sausage.

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The Mushroom Okonomiyaki was probably the best of the bunch. Although it was priced at $13, I did think that this was probably the most authentic (while being innovative) compared to the other dishes. There was a very generous amount of bonito flakes, which I loved. The dough was quite good, and it retained that slight uncooked texture that I absolutely love (not everyone’s type of thing). The mushrooms were not incredibly tasty or rich, but complimented well with the very small amount of truffle oil they added. It was simple, tasty and overall a good filling dish.

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The Chirashi was absolutely awful and just plain sad. The only raw fish included was 3 sad pieces of leftover sashimi, not cut properly, and of bad quality. The rice was done quite well, and I did like the lettuce they added to give a freshness. But the rest that was on the “chirashi” were cucumbers, egg and one piece of eel that was probably 1/8th of your palm. Sad and pathetic, I wish I never ordered it.

Lastly the tempura was also a huge fail. The batter was awful, the selection was also awful. We didn’t go for the celery tempura, because that’s just silly. They did not have any type of crunch to it, and were a little too damp. When you pick up the shrimp, tiny pieces didn’t crumble off, and fell limp in my chopsticks. The sauce was some strange, non-traditional sauce as well. Priced at $12, I wasted my money on this one.

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My overall impression of the place is just a mediocre, caucasion-fied izakaya. I was a little surprised at the Japadog implementation, but the execution didn’t exceed or meet my expectations. It was by no means any comparison to Vancouver or Japan’s Japadogs. The service was mediocre, given that we were given the bar when there was a table available the whole time we were there (probably a no-show reservation). The cocktails were weak and nasty. They tried to incorporate Japanese ingredients with some traditional North American bar ingredients…but it really didn’t turn out well. You should just stick to beer here. It was a good night solely because the conversations were good.

Biiru on Urbanspoon

Service: 3.5/5
Food: 7/10
Price: $40/person
Environment: Bistro, Izakaya, Asian, Loud, Bustling

~ kehwon

 

Glasshouse Bistro – St. Albert

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Well here is an interesting restaurant. Located on a country road in St. Albert near Edmonton, is a restaurant that is part of The Enjoy Centre, which includes a market, spa, and boutique shops. The restaurant is decorated beautifully, with a style that is young, modern, and fun.  The entire restaurant is covered with glass and filled with trees and shrubs, which makes you feel like you are dining in a greenhouse. You can see in the pictures of the restaurant below.

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View from our table

I ordered the fresh pressed juice with orange, apple and ginger. The juice was fresh and the combination of apple and orange went well together. I was worried about the amount of ginger in the juice but the taste of the ginger was not overwhelming and it pleasantly added a bit of kick to the juice. The only issue was that for $5, you get very little juice with a large glass, which makes the quantity of juice seem even smaller.

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Karen ordered the yogurt. It was delicious. The yogurt and the berry compote were as fresh as it gets. Mixed with the house granola and raisins, it was the perfect yogurt combination. Definitely worth the $4.

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Local Yogurt & House Granola w/ house-made fruit compote

For my main, I had the baked eggs. I was a little disappointed with this dish. The eggs themselves were good. However the sauce underneath the eggs, which was a heavily spiced cumin tomato sauce was not. It was too heavy on the cumin and too salty, which ended up masking the taste of the eggs and feta cheese. All I could taste was the spicy sauce, which wasn’t good in the first place. The house hash wasn’t bad but nothing spectacular to boast about. It was a bit bland and the potatoes were too soft for my liking. The bread, which was likely made in house, was great though. Overall, a poor dish, but definitely deserves credit for having such fresh ingredients.

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Baked Eggs – 2 eggs soft poached in roasted garlic tomato sauce, feta cheese, sauteed kale, house hash & rye toast

Karen ordered the farmers scramble which included turkey sausage, scrambled eggs, winter vegetables, and hash (sweet potato and yellow potatoes similar in my dish). This dish was ok. The sausage was definitely the star of this dish, but the hash was similar to mine in that it was a bit bland and too soft. The eggs were also a bit overdone and dry. It was a pretty average dish and not worth $16.

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Farmer’s Scramble SandyView Farms turkey sausage, local eggs & herbed winter vegetables w/ hash & whole grain toast

Glass house bistro is a beautifully decorated hyper-local restaurant that cultivates and utilizes its own organic foods to create wholesome dishes. There is no doubt that the ingredients that go into the food are as fresh as it gets. However, their creativity with their ingredients in making not only a dish that is fresh, but innovative is lacking. There is nothing amazingly special about their dishes and that is certainly one area that they can improve on.

Service: 3.5/5
Food: 7.5/10
Atmosphere: hyper-local, bistro, modern, fun
Price: $20-30

Glasshouse Bistro & Cafe on Urbanspoon

~Thomas

Au Pied de Cochon – Plateau Mont-Royal

Two summers ago, tfung had come to Montreal with me as I needed to find an apartment to live for my upcoming school years at McGill. He had wanted to visit Montreal as he used to come here often with his family, as his mom is a McGill alumni.

We had booked Pied de Cochon about a week in advance and were only able to land an 8pm booking. From word of mouth, this was apparently a very good time. A lot of my friends can only get a 5pm or 9pm booking. Perhaps it was because we went on a weekday, I’m not sure.

Either way, we had closed the deal on my apartment, paid the deposit and signed the contract, so I was obviously very relieved and happy. I had said that this meal was my treat, as he was a huge help in my apartment-finding ordeal.

To be honest, the restaurant was a little difficult to find. The area wasn’t too difficult, but there wasn’t a huge sign that said Pied de Cochon, and I wasn’t used to the Montreal  restaurants back then. Nonetheless, we finally found it and were seated straight away.

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The decor of the place is a hybrid between a grill and a seafood restaurant. There were huge tanks filled with different types of seafood, and right behind if was the kitchen where all the grilling and stewing was done. There was also a bar by the kitchen, which was nice for patrons who wanted a heavy snack with a light beer. We were seated close to this bar and so we were able to get a good look at everything.

Bread came after we ordered, and I thought their logo was super cute. Au Pied de Cochon means Pig’s leg.

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We ordered half a dozen oysters. It was this summer that we started getting into raw oysters and this was probably one of the first places that we had it together. It was quite fresh and I really enjoyed it. There was some salt at the bottom so on some oysters, you could taste it as you ate the oyster. I believe the oysters were of the East Coast which was why they were sweeter and did not carry the fishy taste.

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We also ordered the Foie Gras “Tout Nu”. It was a decently sized piece of foie gras of a firmer consistency. There was a reduced fatty sauce on it, served on a crostini. Honestly, when it first came I was thinking “That’s it for $21???”. But as we started eating it, it was REALLY filling. The two of us could barely finish this piece. It really was delicious and didn’t have a strong organ taste that can turn a lot of people off. It was rich and the sauce complimented it well.

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We were recommended the Duck in a Can by our friends, but we opted for the Pied de Cochon as our main. We figured there was a reason that this dish was named after the restaurant. What we got was a piece of pig’s leg covered in a scrumptious mix of onions, tomatoes and other common veggies. On top of the pool of mashed potatoes, was a piece of deep fried mixture of pig’s leg meat, fat and gelatin. I didn’t enjoy the deep fried package much, as I didn’t like the texture and it just tasted gross to me. However the pied de cochon and the mashed potatoes were very delicious. The pig’s leg was completely braised, tender and almost melts in your mouth. The medley of vegetable-filled sauce went well with the braised leg. The potatoes were not too salty or too bland. They were extremely silky which leads me to question whether it’s real potatoes. But altogether it was really good. However the portion size was a little much and we really couldn’t finish it.

The service was quite good. They came when we wanted them to and gave us enough but not too much time to decide. I hate when they rush us in the beginning then don’t come back to take our order for another 30 minutes. They were nice about us sharing a main dish, and were overall quite hospitable despite us being anglophones.

Although it was really good, the food was really really heavy and fatty. It was yummy but I felt guilty about eating this for days after. I haven’t gone back in the last year, mainly because I didn’t want all that fat in my mouth again. If you’re not conscious about what you put into your body, definitely give this a try, and make sure you make a reservation early!! I would recommend at least 1-2 weeks before!

Service: 4/5
Food: 8.6/10
Atmosphere: casual, bustling. grill
Price: $30-50 per person

Au Pied de Cochon on Urbanspoon

 

~ kehwon

Holder – Old Port Montreal

This was one of the first restaurants I went with my new found friends in Montreal. I’m not sure whose idea it was but it wasn’t something that I found myself. After that first time, I’ve come back many many times and it’s been tried and true in my books. Other than the fact that their signature dishes are ALWAYS this good, it’s not impossible to get a reservation and the price is very reasonable. It just makes it so easy to come here to eat!

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I had come back tonight with my parents and we ordered a Salmon Tartare with Mujjol Caviar to share as an appetizer. The dish was quite good but I didn’t think there was anything special compared to other salmon tartares I’ve had. However it should be noted that they do give you a fair amount for 11.50.

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True to form, I had ordered the Duck Confit. At 21.50, this dish is a must have. The duck is so tender and moist on the inside but fried and slightly cripsy on the outside. It is served on my favourite salad, arugula, dressed with truffle oil. There are also some fingerling potatoes at the bottom. Aesthetically, this dish does not look very appetizing. However when you start eating, it is very rich. The truffle oil made the salad taste amazing, as it often does. There wasn’t much else in the salad which was fine as it was so rich already. The potatoes were done well.

On other occasions, tfung and I ordered the Buffalo Mozzarella salad dressed with balsamic reduction and pine nuts.

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It was absolutely delicious, very fresh tomatoes and the cheese was not overwhelming, as I do not like very strong cheeses. I loved the balsamic reduction and the pine nuts added a nice touch.

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tfung and I ordered the duck confit as well as mussel and fries. The mussels were quite good, but they weren’t the best I’ve had. They weren’t the freshest mussels, as they did shrink quite a bit. It did come in a very large portion for 20.50 though. The house fries were quite good and were served with mayonnaise.

Overall, I love this restaurant and the service is decent. It can become very noisy especially later at night. There is a wide range of people dressing up and dressing down, which is nice to know that you could go in shorts and they will not give you snooty looks. One thing I would complain about is that this restaurant is a little heavy on the salt.

Service: 3.5/5
Food: 8.5/10
Atmosphere: casual, lively, bistro
Price: $20-30

Holder on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon