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Desperate-please help LA hound 1 nite Edmonton

Fresser Apr 15, 2007 08:18 PM

Dear Edmonton Hounds,

Looks like the posts for your city are not very recent. I will be in Edmonton (Westend, but will drive) and have only one night for a wonderful dinner. It's my birthday so something special, but great food is most important. I prefer warm "old school" as opposed to trendy, hip ambiance. Comfort foods over fancy sauces. All the posts seem to have such mixed reviews., Hardware Grill, Nourmands. Jackson's Cafe, Il Portico, Ric's, Jack's. Desperately need some current input. HELP!

Thanks in advance.

  1. a
    arch Apr 24, 2007 04:11 PM

    I hope you haven't already made your trip out here, but the Manor Cafe is a great restaurant. I believe you can access their menu online. The ambience is great and the food is consistently very good. I have never had a disappointing meal here.

    3 Replies
    1. re: arch
      Fresser Apr 24, 2007 04:37 PM

      Thanks. Leaving tomorrow. Definately considering Manor. Looks like we have a 10-15 min cab ride to wherever we decide. Nothing good in the West end??

      1. re: Fresser
        y
        yen Apr 24, 2007 10:26 PM

        Not really no. Mostly chains along the 170-178 street strips. Everything else will require a cab ride. Edmonton is quite spread out unfortunately...

        1. re: yen
          Fresser May 1, 2007 07:33 PM

          Yes, it certainly is. Unfortunately, our schedule did not allow to seek out a good spot. Wound up at a Moxie's. Edible, but that's about it. Next night we were treated to a BBQ at our hosts with some excellent Alberta beef, some Molson. Sublime.:) Then we were off to Banff. Very good meals at the Buffalo Mtn Lodge dining room and the Quarry in Canmore. Rockies are beautiful and everyone was super nice.

    2. m
      MrsCris Apr 18, 2007 08:05 AM

      I support the previous posters' votes for Hardware Grill. My fella and I went there for Valentine's, and it was superb. I was sceptical about the so-called "set menu" but as it turns out they offered at least four options for each of the courses. The meals were sensational - I hope Chef considers keeping the braised short ribs with pea-meal bacon mashed potatoes as a permanent fixture somewhere on the menu. (An excellent comfort meal.) We returned in March with some guests and again had excellent meals, attentive and professional service, and enjoyed the wine selections.

      1. littlegreenpea Apr 17, 2007 05:44 PM

        This is totally in a different line of thought than most of the previous suggestions, but if you're looking for comfort food, you might want to check out Bistro Praha - wonderful Czech food. I suggest it because I'm not sure how many eastern european restos you have in LA, whereas Edmonton has a (relatively) large eastern eurpean population. Maybe just something different to consider (as long as you are not a vegetarian of course!).

        Oddly enough, I'll be going there for my birthday this week too!

        4 Replies
        1. re: littlegreenpea
          Fresser Apr 17, 2007 09:19 PM

          Thanks littlegreen pea and Happy Bday to you.
          We don't have a lot of Eastern European in LA. Several Russian, 1 or 2 Polish, a Balkan, and a couple Croatian and Serbian. Do they have an online menu?

          1. re: Fresser
            littlegreenpea Apr 17, 2007 11:50 PM

            I can't find an online menu. But I'll tell you what I know about it. It's located downtown, and has been around for years apparently. I recently moved to Edmonton and it instantly cured my homesickness (since my mom can't just make czech food for me anymore; on a side note, I guess I should finally learn how to cook czech food!); anyhow, I can attest to its authenticity!

            I've only been once, so maybe other hounds can confirm my experience there for you.

            On the menu:
            Apps:
            - the typical tomato and onion salad, or cucumber and onion salad, or cucumber and tomato and onion salad... you get the idea
            - soup (Czech soups are generally excellent, but I can't remember what kind they had)
            - there might also be a tartare (my memory sucks)
            Mains:
            - several varieties of schnitzel (at least three on the menu, plus one or two variations as specials that night), served with potato salad
            - roast goose (which was great! I hadn't had it in ages.)
            Dessert:
            -crepes
            - maybe strudel, can't remember
            Can't remember the other mains, as it was a while back. Obviously the menu has a lot more variety. I think I'm going in a couple of days, so if you're still interested I can report back with more details.

            As I recall, we spent about $70 (tax and tip) for the two of us: We each started with a soup, I had the roast goose, hubs had the schnitzel special, split a dessert; he had a beer and I had a small carafe of wine.

            Anyways, have a great birthday wherever you end up! And let me know if you'd like me to report back on the weekend.

            1. re: littlegreenpea
              Fresser Apr 18, 2007 03:55 PM

              Sounds yummy. Do report back. I have to make a decision and reservation before next Wed. How long of a cab ride from WEM to downtown?

              1. re: littlegreenpea
                s
                sackman May 1, 2007 12:35 PM

                I believe that your talking about Cafe Praha, downtown.

          2. e
            egon61 Apr 16, 2007 05:50 PM

            Have to butt in here and respectfully disagree with some of the previous replies. The original poster specified "comfort foods over fancy sauces" and in this area I think Hardware Grill leans more towards the fancy side. Their menu is delicious but has loads of elk, foie gras, etc. on it. Hardly stuff that would classify as "comfort food" for most. Last time I was there I had lobster risotto and sea bass....nuff said.

            I would suggest Sicilian Pasta Kitchen on Jasper Ave. Might be a little "down market" for a special dinner....but finding a spot that's both "special" but has a non-trendy atmosphere and "comfort food" might be tough, in any city.

            Does anybody know if Hy's has re-opened on Rice Howard Way? There you'd get classic old school steakhouse, but the meat is grilled over real charcoal and they do all the "special" stuff like preparing caesar salads right at your table, etc. That might fit the bill of what the OP is asking for. Haven't been there in some time myself though.

            If anything, I'd suggest you throw the decor issue out the window and just focus on getting some tasty food. I second the earlier suggestions of Culina and I actually posted some more info about it on these boards the other day.

            P.S. I'd strongly urge you to drive out of the west end and at least go downtown. Out west by 170th St. all you find are chains like Olive Garden etc.

            2 Replies
            1. re: egon61
              y
              yen Apr 16, 2007 06:42 PM

              You make a good point, but im guessing the phrase "comfort food over fancy sauces" depends on the interpretation of what the OP said.

              When i saw the words "wonderful meal", "something special", it interpreted it to mean a more upscale meal. Ingredients like elk and foie gras don't necessarily mean fancy sauce in my interpretation. Something like Braised Elk Short Rib is a simple preparation. I took fancy sauces to mean a place that focuses more on presentation than on substance and taste. In which case, Hardware Grill still delivers.

              Guess it's up to the OP to clarify what they meant. If it's straight up comfort food - go to The Dish. But im guessing that isnt what she meant.

              Oh, and my eco-pitch for the day: everyone, please reconsider eating non-sustainable food stocks like Sea Bass. There are plenty other fish that are tasty and fresh.

              1. re: egon61
                b
                Bob Mac Apr 16, 2007 06:43 PM

                LOL...chacun a son gout I guess egon61.

                As fine dining spots go, I think Hardware fits the "comfort food" label better than most despite as you point out the fact that foie gras [goodness gracious what would the good folks in Chicago think?] and to a lesser degree elk appears on the menu. That latter I concede probably does come with a rye or other whisky type sauce.

                Larry features local produce, poultry and game and I have never thought that the sauce overwhelms the featured course. However, I do concede the foie gras observation as someone who does not particularly enjoy nor as my cardiologist would advise require any more fat in my diet. That having been said the best foie gras course I ever had was as dessert years ago when I requested it at lunch off their dinner menu. A baked blue potato topped with a piece of seared foie gras with a sprinkle of fleur de sel and some veal jus....killer!

                Again, I guess it is a matter of taste. I would not ever think of spending my birthday at Sicilian Pasta ... to be fair you have already noted that...or any other of the "red sauce" Italian places in town like Sorrentino's out of downtown, Piccolino's, Tasty Tomato. I can do that cooking myself with a skillet, some hot Italian sausage and bottled tomato sauce from Spinelli's.

                I do not think that Hy's ever in fact closed down. Sol bought or re-bought it from the Hy's chain and changed the awning to read like its former incarnation the Steak Loft. The Steak Loft used to be on the top floor on Jasper above the Old Bailey and the basement Lucifers. Yes it certainly does get you "old school steakhouse". Personally I would emphasize the old and eliminate the classic. Not a fan.

              2. Fresser Apr 16, 2007 04:07 PM

                Has anyone tried Moxie's new place CHOP?

                1 Reply
                1. re: Fresser
                  b
                  Bob Mac Apr 16, 2007 06:55 PM

                  Fresser:

                  Tried to reply but I do not think that my post went through. If it did, forgive the repost.

                  We [my wife and I] have been to Chop about a dozen or so times whether for lunch, a late lunch/early dinner or dinner.

                  We have eaten in the dining room on the first occasion and the lounge, out of choice, on the balance of the occasions. It is a nice room, decent service, typical chop house menu and pretty good wine list and atmosphere. Obviously, the dining room is more sedate and without the televisions and louder music of the lounge.

                  It competes well with its west end "competition"..."mother" Moxies, Earls', dreary Dantes, The Keg, Sawmill, the Outback and the like.

                  Their menu is typical chop house. Various cuts of beef with some stuffed chicken and tuna and the like.

                  I personally like it but that perhaps is more because I am tired of the competition where it seems we inevitably end up at Earls' more out of default and their excellent well priced wine list than because we just had to have this or that off their menu.

                  The barely seared tuna on Chop's list is terrific but of course that is maybe an overworked standard offering on most steak house menus for many others.

                  It would not be my first choice for a birthday dinner but that having been said I could very easily end up there tomorrow for their prime rib beef dip sandwich at lunch.

                2. Fresser Apr 16, 2007 02:34 PM

                  Thank you all so much for the excellent input. BTW, not dining alone, but with my man. He's letting me pick :) Sounds like the consensus is Hardware Grill is the place to go!
                  I'll be sure and report back.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Fresser
                    b
                    Bob Mac Apr 17, 2007 06:41 AM

                    Fresser:

                    "Sorry about that Chief" [insert appropriate Maxwell Smart accent]

                    [smile] I reread your original post and clearly nowhere did you indicate that you dining solo but for some reason that is how I took it....

                  2. alau2 Apr 16, 2007 07:40 AM

                    Culina or Hardware Grill for sure.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: alau2
                      CookieGal Apr 16, 2007 12:22 PM

                      RED OX INN! I love it there, warm small welcoming, a fabulous spread!
                      Hardware Grill is my Very close second!

                    2. b
                      Bob Mac Apr 16, 2007 06:29 AM

                      Fresser:

                      "...I prefer warm "old school" as opposed to trendy...Comfort foods over fancy sauces...." IMHO cries out for Hardware Grill over the others.

                      That having been said we have not been dining out of late in the evenings and since Hardware has not been serving lunch for a number of months....another victim of the Alberta boom and the difficulty in competing for servers and indeed line kitchen staff...I was speaking with a chef on Friday who was lamenting the difficulty in keeping kitchen staff with the allure of the big bucks being offered by the oilfield "camps"...I cannot speak from recent personal experience but Larry Stewart usually features "stick to your ribs", large portions, good solid comfort food.

                      My brother-in-law enjoyed his anniversary dinner at Jack's last week-end but I have heard good and mediocre.

                      Il Portico I have not been to in years and years more due to the fact that to go there one has to return to downtown.

                      Ric's? Not sure which one was mentioned as I think that there are at least three in the city, Downtown Metals Building, St. Alberta and Riverbend. Pretty standard "chop house" fare. I have not been particularly impressed. There are better chop/steakhouse options in my view.

                      If you are out in the west end in any event I have read good things about the Saege Restaurant in the Casino Resort built on the Enoch Reserve immediately west of the city southwest of Lewis Estates. I think the operators took back control of it from the Marriott Hotel chain. Just head immediately west on the Whitemud freeway. You cannot miss it.

                      I am in the minority I am sure but I have never understood Edmonton's fascination with Normand's. For me, it is at best ok and most of the time I have left disappointed. However, others, particularly those who enjoy wild game have "raved" about it.

                      Blue Pear might not be what you are looking for if dining alone. Red Ox Inn is quite a drive and tiny. Culina is one of my favourites but you should check out the menu on line first. Blue cheese and chocolate with your beef may not be what you are looking for on your birthday.

                      Hope you enjoy your meal and visit. Let us know what you liked...or didn't.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Bob Mac
                        y
                        yen Apr 16, 2007 09:04 AM

                        Bob has it nailed pretty much dead on. Hardware Grill is warm old school, not hip and trendy. The food is consistent, and consistently excellent. It's main drawbacks are that it's expensive (for Edmonton anyway), and that the menu doesnt really change. If you havent eaten your way through the menu yet, you'll have a great experience here. They also have a WS award-winning wine list. Lots of Big Red's - Bordeaux's, Burgundy's, Grange's and Super Tuscans. The restaurant is well appointed, the service is excellent. You'll enjoy it.

                        Other options you may want to consider (since options are good) are Blue Pear- 5 course prix fixe ($75), with excellent, innovative food. The atmosphere is a bit sterile in my opinion (it's not very warm), but the service is excellent and well paced, and you will enjoy your meal there. I've dined for one with the wine pairings, and had an enjoyable time. It's a small room though, so if you arent one comfortable having people glance at you occasionally, it might not be the place for you. Hardware grill is much warmer, and better situated for solo diners. And there's lots of action (open kitchen, other tables) for you to always be watching.

                        Red Ox Inn would fit too... but it is very small. I've enjoyed the food there as well.
                        Culina, imo, wouldnt be a good fit. The food would fit, but the atmosphere is more eclectic neighbourhood bistro. There's local art hanging on the wall, spacing is cozy, it's a bit dark.

                        Other restuarants that don't get a lot of mention that may work for you include Unheardof, Harvest Room (Fairmont Hotel MacDonald), Madisons, Characters, La Ronde. These would all meet the atmosphere criteria... the food has mixed reviews.

                        In terms of the rest, I am one of those that has had bad experiences at Jacks in the past couple years. It's also in a strip mall in the southside, so the frontage to the restaurant isnt all that "special occasion". Rics is a chain offering mediocre food. Sage, i enjoyed the food immensely, but it's more hip and trendy atmosphere. It's frontage is also through a casino, which doesnt sound like it would work for you. Normands is average food in my mind as well. And non-average prices.

                        Anyway, I suggest Hardware and only Hardware. It's no Providence or Spago, but they serve excellent food featuring fresh Canadian ingredients. You'd enjoy it imo. If you need other options, try for them list above. Good luck!

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