Very funky and upscale restaurant just on the downtown Edmonton outskirts. Slightly concerned about the autographed picture in the entrance of Emeril Lagasse (please read the review on Emeril's South Beach location), but we came with an open mind. We had initially tried to get the rather unique sounding table situated in an elevator shaft, but had to settle for a fireplace table instead. Very comfy chairs, very nice decor, excellent layout and open beam design, with an open kitchen and classy warm accents, but very bad service to start off with.
Brought to and left at our table without so much as a hello, the waiter walked off without taking any drink order, and in fact without even waiting for us to sit down. When I come to a place of this style, I expect that he will pull out the chair for SC, or put our napkins on our laps, or engage us in at least a small bit of welcoming banter.
Returning after a few moments, he took our drink orders, which he brought out very quickly. But still...personality on this dude is totally missing in action. Slightly odd and uncultured demeanor, he didn't really fit the style or feel of the restaurant. Not a judgement, just an observation. In a refined atmosphere such as this restaurant, one would expect to be served by an equally refined waiter. This felt more like service at a small rural family restaurant...only without the warmth and charm.
Anyhow, we decided on Seared Scallops with a Butter Poached Lobster Claw, and a rather unique sounding Prawn Dog, served with a jalapeño relish and wasabi sticks for appies.
For mains, SC chose Beef Tenderloin, which comes with banana potatoes, and a light chili hollandaise, and I selected the Veal Chop with Gruyere spaetzle.
Rather than bread, we were served homemade potato chips and fries, with a black bean aioli that was slightly spicy, and absolutely out of this world!!! Again, where most servers would explain what they were serving, this was just dropped off without a word.
Appetizers here were incredible. The scallops are done to absolute perfection along with the Lobster claw, drizzled with an unnamed sauce (further defined as "mostly butter" by our mono syllabic waiter), and the Prawn dog, done in the style of a hot dog...while difficult to eat without using your hands and looking a tad like a pig...was the perfect blend of flavors.
The Veal Chop...bone in...was a good size, and was cooked a little more on the well done side than I would have preferred, however I wasn't asked so I assume it is only done one way. SC's tenderloin was done way more on the rare side than the medium rare side, but was still quite good...although it could have used a bit more of the chili hollandaise. On that note, not sure why it is referred to in the menu as "hollandaise", as it doesn't resemble a hollandaise sauce in any way. I'm all for creative license, but I think a "light chili glaze" or something to that effect would have sufficed. Both of us could have benefitted from some knives designed more for cutting through the meat, but our waiter...who has now been nicknamed "ninja" hasn't brought anything to that effect.
For dessert, we have our menus dropped off...again, without a word from the ninja...and select the grapefruit and vanilla brûlée, and the banana, kahlua, and pecan bread pudding. Dessert is served, strangely with soup spoons. SC and I switch halfway through as SC is less than impressed with hers. I like both...remarkable as I have a distinct dislike for banana, but the bread pudding is very good in spite of this. The creme brûlée is very good as well, especially considering the infusion of an acid based flavor into an egg and cream based dish.
Overall, I would say this place is well above average, but slightly below our usual experience with restaurants in this style. Right at the end, the waiter warmed up quite a bit (just in time for the tip?) and actually engaged us in conversation, but it was a little strange given the lack of engagement throughout the meal.
Presentation: Above Average
Value: Above Average
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