I was in the Century Park area for a conference a couple of week ago, so went to Spring Roll Kitchen (2395 111 Street) when I got off the LRT for a quick lunch. I ordered the chicken vermicelli. The chicken was diced and did not have the deep, grilled flavour to which I am accustomed at other places. Also, some pineapple seemed to have made its way into the bowl. There was a lot of chicken though, and two large spring rolls that were sliced. It was good value, although I find the pho to be better.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
While running errands in the University area, lunch was required, and I stopped in to Phobulous for the first time in ages. I was definitely in the mood for soup, but not for lots of meat, if that makes any sense. So, I went for the tofu pho, which included a plentiful number of fried tofu cubes in a beef broth with loads of rice noodles. Obviously, this was not a purely vegetarian dish, but I did not mind. The tofu picked up the flavour of the broth and also absorbed a lot of it, which forced me to be careful when I bit into each piece, as there would be an explosion of piping hot broth in my mouth. The broth was indeed piping hot and remained so for most of the meal. It also had a deep flavour, if not a little too bitter to my taste, possibly due to an abundance of fish sauce. Next time, I might go for one of the non-soup dishes instead.
A friend was celebrating a milestone birthday a short while ago, and I offered to take him out for lunch - and even let him pick the place. He was in a steak frame of mind, so we went to Montana's in the South Edmonton Common area. I was in more of a lunch frame of mind and had the braised beef skillet. It was a perfect, lunch-sized portion of tender chunks of beef in a mushroom and wine sauce, arranged around a large scoop of mashed potatoes, served in a skillet with a piece of corn bread. The portion was not huge (especially for a $15 price tag), but it was an excellent comfort food combination.
I went to the Needle Vinyl Tavern last week to catch some tunes by John Guliak, a singer/songwriter whose work I really enjoy. Being as the performance was over the supper hour, I ordered one of the pizzas on the menu. I love barbecue chicken pizza, so opted for the Sweet Caroline. The pizza was about 12 inches - quite large for one person - and loaded with cheese, chicken, cooked onion, cilantro, and red sauce. A delicious combination, but oh my goodness, the spice level was quite high (at least, as far as my tastebuds went). I could only get through a few pieces before the fire got to me. Fortunately, I was dining with a friend who enjoyed sharing.
It was a rare Saturday afternoon off and to myself, so I headed to Block 1912 for coffee and dessert. I had a Mars Bar Square, which surprised me with its crispy lightness. It was a Rice Crispy square made to taste like a Mars bar, and it really did. The rice bits had been covered in a sweet coating resembling caramel and nougat, and the top was drizzled with chocolate and caramel. Very sweet, but not too heavy. To drink I had a Vietnamese coffee, which is more like a sweet iced latte here. The tiny bit of condensed milk sinks to the bottom, with lots of milk on top and fresh espresso (as opposed to the slow drip over condensed milk like you get in Vietnamese restaurants).
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
I love Ethiopian food, even if the spices can sometimes be a bit much for me, so I was delighted to finally try Langano Skies. It's conveniently located next to one of my favourite bars, so after the music was over, this was the supper destination. I ordered something that seemed basic - Kaey Wot, which is tender beef in a spicy sauce, and I opted for brown rice instead of the injera. We also took advantage of an appetizer special, and had the lentil sambusas (which are like samosas, but with a lighter outer shell). Those had a definite "wow factor." I could probably make a meal out of some of the appetizers. The food was incredible, but I will definitely take the spice level into consideration next time and ask the server's advice about something milder. Which should be no problem, because the service here was excellent.
I love fish and chips and have heard a lot of hype about Grandin Fish 'n' Chips, so I went here for lunch following an event at the Legislature on a Saturday afternoon. Despite it being an off-hour, the place was packed! You line up and order and pay, and then get a number and try to find a seat (unless you're taking your food to go). I love the decor and the service was good. The menu was also quite extensive as far as a fish and chips place goes: several different kinds of fish, salads, and even a few non-fish options. My main concern was the price. $16 for one piece of fish (I chose cod), which wasn't all that big, is a bit much. The fries were good and the tartar sauce and coleslaw were very fresh, but the sides really filled out the plate. The fish was delicious - flaky and the batter was just right. It wasn't too thick or greasy. I would come here again if I was in the area and my wallet allowed. Maybe I would splurge an extra $5 for one of the other sides (always wanted to try Bubble and Squeak!).
Friday, April 21, 2017
I visited XO Bistro on the advice of my brother, who says the vegan pho is excellent. It was. What made the soup was the broth, which is a true vegan broth but has much more flavour than other ones I have encountered. I ordered the small size, which was ample enough for lunch and slightly more expensive than Chinatown (not a surprise, given the location and upscale interior). I especially liked the tofu, which was fried but firm. Definitely deserving of a repeat visit.
I headed to the new food court in Edmonton City Centre this past week, and tried Paramount Lebanese Kitchen for the first time. I was impressed with the selection and the prices, and had a chicken shawarma plate. The chicken was definitely house-made, served with pickles, pickled turnip, and garlic sauce, and my choice of two sides. I opted for hummus and salad, both of which were fresh and delicious. Good portions and good prices - I'll be back!
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
I was hanging out on Whyte Avenue and wanted soup, but something different than pho for a change. So, I headed into the new location for Old Szechuan Restaurant, formerly of the north side. I had an onion cake, and it was excellent: chewy and salty. My beef stew noodle soup had a delicate broth, lots of meat (which was quite flavourful), and loads of noodles in a mild beef broth. A perfect portion for one person, and at a reasonable price.
I was asked to speak at a downtown church this past weekend, and after the service I went out for lunch at State and Main with a friend. I liked the complex flavours of my veggie burger, which included guacamole, hummus, and bruschetta - it made my tastebuds feel like they went on tour in the Mediterranean. My fries were lukewarm to cold, however, and this really soured the experience. I loved the dill dip that went with them, however.
I went to the Alibi on St. Patrick's Day because it was both convenient and I wanted to catch a music act playing there. Kudos to The Alibi for supporting local music. Being both a Friday night and St. Paddy's, the place was understandably packed. I got there around 7 and they were already out of a number of food items because, as my server later explained, they did not expect to be so busy. On a Friday night. On St. Patrick's Day. In a bar. Wow. It took a very long time for me to finally get my drink order in, and even longer to find out that what I ordered was not available. I ended up ordering something I really did not want, and I can't tell you if it was good or not because, honestly, I was so hungry by then it didn't matter. It was the beef brisket sliders, which was served on focaccia and covered in shredded lettuce. Lots and lots of lettuce, most of which I pushed away because it dominated the meat, which was sliced and diced and in a mild sauce. That's all I remember. And taking a cab home.
I was attending an event a couple of weeks ago at the Metro Theatre, so stopped in to Rosso Pizzeria for supper beforehand. I ordered the Funghi Misti which had lots of mushrooms, a very mild mozzarella, fresh parsley, garlic, and white truffle oil. There was another kind of cheese on it also which I held in favour of just mozzarella (I'm funny when it comes to cheese). It was incredible, with a thin, chewy crust, and a light feeling overall made decadent by the truffle oil. Definitely exceeded my expectations.
Sunday, February 26, 2017
So, the same friend I went for steak dinner with a few nights ago decided he wanted steak again. However, we needed a lower-cost option, so headed to the 170 Street location of Ricky's All Day Grill. Ricky's has Prime Rib available on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, so we decided to take advantage of that. You choose the size - I had the six ounce, which was the smallest option. It was cooked to perfection, but was rather underwhelmed by the flavour. It was actually the sides that made this meal, especially the vegetables and Yorkshire pudding. It was good for the price point, and I noticed others were coming in to order the same thing, but I tend to prefer Ricky's steak sandwich or one of their steak dinners.
I was between events/meetings and needed a bowl of soup after my previous engagement had me outside in the cold for over an hour. So, I ventured into Hoang Long Fresh Market for the first time. The place was very modern and fancy, albeit empty on a Saturday afternoon. I certainly did not mind having the place to myself, and ordered a beef satay soup. I've never had beef satay soup before, so I can honestly say this is the best I have ever had, but it truly was great. The broth was rich and flavourful without being too spicy. There was an abundance of beef, noodles, and cooked carrots, topped with lettuce, red cabbage, and peanuts. Really great flavour. Although it is slightly pricier than other Vietnamese eateries I frequent, I love the look of the place and will be back.
It was an evening to relax, blow off steam, and consume steak. So, I and a friend headed to the west end location of The Sawmill. We took advantage of a 10 ounce New York Steak special, which came with our choice of potato and vegetables. The steak was juicy and delicious. The sides were the perfect complements, especially the vegetables which were cooked to perfection.
As if that wasn't enough, we decided to go for dessert. My mocha brownie sundae was huge - I must have been super hungry. I wish the brownie pieces atop the mocha ice cream were softer. They were a bit on the dry, hard side, making it difficult to penetrate them with my spoon. Otherwise, I really enjoyed myself.
A meeting at City Hall led to lunch at Kids in the Hall Bistro. The vegetarian curry was a warm (but not too spicy) mix of chickpeas, potato, and other veggies, with rice and bannock (an interesting diversion from the naan which is typically served with curry). The flavour was great, and the rice carried the curry well (although it was almost the consistency of soup). A really great choice for a mid-winter lunch.
Sunday, February 5, 2017
I had a meeting at BRU Coffee + Beer House this past weekend. I was already familiar with BRU's coffee, and as it was time for lunch, was delighted to discover that BRU offers brunch on the weekends. I had what was an attractively arranged open-face sandwich on rye, with smoked salmon, hard boiled egg (my request, as opposed to the soft boiled egg on the menu), and avocado, with a dill yogurt dressing. I held the cream cheese. There was a lot of smoked salmon, and the yogurt was light and wonderful with the garnish of fruit on the side. Unfortunately, it's hard to get ripe avocados at this time of year, and my server even apologized for the fact the wedges were chewy. While falling short of perfect, I did enjoy the dish overall.
Sometimes my favourite comfort food comes from surprising places. Friends and Neighbours (10834 Whyte Avenue) has such an extensive menu, that it comes as no surprise that there are a number of reasonably-priced fish dinners. What the surprise was, for me, was how good my choice was. I had the pan-fried sole, which consisted of several delicate pieces of fish that were lightly breaded and garnished with sliced almonds. Basically, it was a take on sole amandine, which I have not had in ages. My baked potato was perfectly cooked and had a light, thin skin. Rounded out with some vegetables, coleslaw, and a huge piece of garlic toast, I remained happy and full for the rest of the evening.