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Anyone else been to the new Wildflower Grill in Edmonton?

EdiblePrairieJennifer Feb 27, 2008 10:11 PM

Hi all,

I was at the new Wildflower Grill recently. It's the new restaurant in the newly re-opened / re-branded Matrix Hotel (formerly Inn on 7th) across from Il Portico in Edmonton. I had a fairly good experience, though I'm not sure about the logic of the incredibly over-sized plates dotted with the radically small portions. I had the "hot vichysoisse" with butternut squash. It was a nice, velvety potato soup. It was about 4 spoonfuls. What can I say?! Then I had the tomato and buffalo mozzerella salad, which unfortunately lacked ripe tomatoes! My friend, however, had the squash ravioli and asparagus, and it was very good. We were both taken with the lovely roasted/grilled squash that was finely sliced lengthwise and twirled into a flower. It sounds hokey as I write it, but it was a lovely garnish and vegetable. The bill for lunch was kind of steep $25 per person before tip for two courses, no booze. Loved the cutlery and the prompt lunch service though.

Has anyone else been here? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Frankly, I was too wrapped up in visiting with my friend to be paying too close attention to the details.

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    Bob Mac RE: EdiblePrairieJennifer Feb 28, 2008 05:23 AM

    EPJ:

    I was having lunch at L'Azia yesterday and thought to myself that I should have taken a bit of a longer stroll and tried Wildflower. Depending upon what the balance of the week has in store for me I might try it out today or tomorrow and will post my thoughts.

    1. maplesugar RE: EdiblePrairieJennifer Feb 28, 2008 07:35 AM

      Just a thought but I wouldn't expect much from a tomato-heavy salad in the middle of winter. The tomatoes at the market have improved a bit in the past few weeks but they're still not like the summer ones.

      I'm thinking the radically small portions looked comically small on their oversized plates. I find that at the average QSR the portions are huge, enough for two or three people really, and at some "fine dining" places they're so small it's ridiculous... as though you should pay a premium for the priviledge of being at the table, nevermind the food. Geesh. I'm glad to hear that at least the service was good even if the serving size wasn't.

      2 Replies
      1. re: maplesugar
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        Dan G RE: maplesugar Feb 28, 2008 08:04 AM

        "tomatoes at the market"? I assume you aren't talking about farmer's market here, because i haven't seen tomatoes there yet this year.

        Wildflower is on my ever-expanding list of places to try...

        1. re: Dan G
          maplesugar RE: Dan G Feb 28, 2008 09:46 AM

          Sorry no, not referring to the Farmer's Market (I miss Gull Valley!) replace "market" with "grocery store".

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        garkim RE: EdiblePrairieJennifer Feb 28, 2008 08:52 AM

        What was the restaurant itself like?

        3 Replies
        1. re: garkim
          EdiblePrairieJennifer RE: garkim Feb 28, 2008 09:32 AM

          Ha, I always go for the dishes like the tomato buffalo salad in the middle of winter...specifically because there's NO WAY anyone should have that on a menu in the middle of winter, unless they are buying from a good local greenhouse like Gull Valley or Hotchkiss. Too bad that Whisky Creek Greenhouse is no more!! But yes, sadly, I did the test and the tasteless tomatoes on my plate told me plenty.

          That said, the other dishes we had were very well executed, and the flavours were lovely. They also have some interesting BC / Okanagan wines which is nice, in keeping with their "Canadiana theme". I think it's overall a good addition to the city's restaurant scene. The menu is unique to the restaurant (which is becoming more of a rarity!) and if they can tune in a bit more to the seasonally available ingredients we have here, instead of bland imported tomatoes...it'll be all that more notable. The space is nice and contemporary. The kitchen obviously has talent. They just need to follow their tastebuds to what is good and local, in a seasonal context. My two cents, at least.

          1. re: EdiblePrairieJennifer
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            Bob Mac RE: EdiblePrairieJennifer Mar 1, 2008 08:43 AM

            EPJ:

            Went Friday afternoon for lunch.

            Verdict. Will definitely be going back for dinner.

            Garkim:

            NIce room. Clean finishes. Wood. Built in wine cabinets with bottom lighting to show off the decanters and some, not surprisingly, wildflower paintings to add some colour.

            One side is long and rectangular leading back to the open kitchen. The L continues to the right of the front door into a small but serviceable working bar rather than a holding bar. Just the two seats with tables for another 10 or so adjacent. 3 or 4 smaller tables for 2, most for 4 or pulled together to accomodate larger groups.

            As EPJ observed lovely flatware, big plates, nice stemware, interesting placemats.

            Nice touches. When one customer requested some salt. A tray was presented with three small bowls of different salts, French with herbs, Australian and I forget the third.

            I had the sea bass served over an orzo risotto with a lobster beurre blanc sauce topped with a couple of prawns, roast butternut squash, red peppers. I know the sustainable fishery folks out there will cringe about me eating Patagonian toothfish but it was beautifully cooked. Crisp exterior with a melt in ones mouth interior. Not a huge piece but it was all I wanted as it was rich indeed.

            Expensive lunch. Soups I think were in the $10 range, salads $16 to $18, another appetizer at $22 was several warm appetizers served together that I might try another time when I wanted to linger with some wine.

            My sea bass was $22. Also saw another table have the ravioli that EPJ commented on, their "take" on a club and a steak sandwhich. From the exclaims the 3 ladies were enjoying their food.

            Decent wine list. As EPJ also remarked, several Canadian wines from both the Niagara as well as Okanagan regions. I enjoyed some Sandhill Pinot Gris with my fish. Sommelier Cory will be sprucing up the list as time goes on.

            Chef Yoshi was making the rounds, checking out customer responses to his food.

            This is a very nice addition to the Edmonton dining scene.

            1. re: EdiblePrairieJennifer
              felix the hound RE: EdiblePrairieJennifer Mar 22, 2008 04:59 PM

              I know this will sound like heresy, but I bought a container of roma tomatoes two days ago at Costco and they were deliciously ripe and redolent with the smell of the vine. I ate them just out of the box, waiting only to let them warm up to room temperature.

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            egon61 RE: EdiblePrairieJennifer May 4, 2008 04:03 PM

            Dinner for 6 last night. No complaints. Quality tableware & glassware & Frette linens. Efficient but friendly service. Serving brioche as the bread is a nice touch and had our table oohing and ahhing. Appetizer sampler ($22) was split between 2 people and as other posters have said, the portions were a little on the small side. I'd appreciate a different sparkling water choice than something imported all the way from Norway. Horrible use of the planet's resources considering we live in the most water-abundant country on earth. Passed on dessert but the mignardises that were offered were deliciously rich. (Personally, I really wanted to try dessert after seeing that they had a dedicated pastry chef but nobody else at my table had room so I didn't want to be the only one...)

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              chark RE: EdiblePrairieJennifer May 11, 2008 08:37 PM

              Just went for Mother's Day dinner. Perhaps one of the most disappointing and unappetizing meals I have ever had. From the service to the wine selection, nothing about this restaurant lives up to the reputation it's been given. Firstly, the wine selection was depleted of all affordable wines. As a party of 6, we do not want to be drinking $125-$160 bottles. The sommalier could only offer a $75 bottle that was 'off his list'. This restaurant should seriously consider a more accessible wine selection.

              The appetizers were average. It is obvious that the chef, being Japanese, is extremely skilled at Japanese cuisine as the sushi trio appetizer was by far the best thing of the night. I ordered the sirloin steak and for $48 you'd think it'd be amazing. Mine however came with mediocre sides–a cheesy quiche, small bundle of vegetables–and an undercooked, flavourless piece of meat that had a strong butane flavour. Two others had the chilean sea bass with little complaint; two had the rack of lamb which while big in portion was served warm and undercooked (rare instead of med rare). Both were sent back to the kitchen. The last member of our group ordered the salmon which was spoiled.

              The chef came out and asked how our food was. When we told him about the disappointments, the chef was defensive and implied that something was wrong with us. Even the table next to us complained about their vegetables tasting like gas.

              For a meal that totalled over $500, THIS WAS INEXCUSABLE!

              I am adamant about not recommending this restaurant to anyone with taste buds.

              Verdict:
              - unjustifiably expensive
              - slow and unattentive service
              - inexperienced kitchen ridden with problems.
              - SAVE YOUR MONEY!

              3 Replies
              1. re: chark
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                Bob Mac RE: chark May 13, 2008 07:30 AM

                chark:

                Sounds like an unmitigated disaster. Too bad. I had high hopes for this spot after my lunch there some weeks ago. Have not been back for dinner but despite the poor bad experience will do so to judge for myself.

                I am curious about the winelist. I am acquainted with the sommelier/general manager and I knew that he would be revamping his list but are you saying that there were no wines available under $125 apart from the $75 "off list" option? The L'Azia group does price their wines a tad more expensive than the competitition but usually there are a few more options. I think I drank the Sandhill Pinot Gris by the glass when I was there for lunch.

                Yes, Chef Yoshi is very good. In my limited experience both with Japanese as well as other fare. Spoiled salmon? That is something I would not have expected in a kitchen he operates. I know I did not sense an inexperienced kitchen when I ate [I had the sea bass] but again, I ate during a relatively busy Friday lunch rather than an "event" like Mother's Day which I usually avoid like the proverbial "plague"..i.e. Mother's Day, Valentines, New Years and the like.

                Oh well, I guess you will not be going back. Cannot say I "blame" you given what you have described.

                Anyone else been more recently than me?

                1. re: Bob Mac
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                  Sylv F RE: Bob Mac May 14, 2008 12:10 AM

                  My parents and a couple visiting from Germany went to the Wildflower the other night. My dad says it was "fine", but that it wasn't a busy night. He's been there a few times for business lunches as he works in the area, and he says it's not a bad place but he finds it a tad pricey.

                2. re: chark
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                  qotc RE: chark May 20, 2008 10:47 PM

                  Had a similar experience re unattentive service a few weeks back. Will not be going back.

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                  drbarry RE: EdiblePrairieJennifer Sep 28, 2008 07:49 AM

                  The best Restaurant in Edmonton. Food colorfuland beautiful. Amazing tasts. No wonder chef Yochi has won 42 awards.
                  drbarry@lestout.com

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                    egon61 RE: EdiblePrairieJennifer Feb 14, 2009 03:44 PM

                    Visited last night. 7:15pm reservation, which was great as so many places seem to require either 6-6:30 or 8-8:30 timeslots, neither of which I like very much. Food was great, from amuse to mignardises. Place was steadily busy. Wine selections veered towards the expensive (overpriced?).

                    1. Bellavino RE: EdiblePrairieJennifer Feb 17, 2009 05:53 AM

                      I was also there on Friday night and had a mediocre experience.
                      I had made my reservation on thursday and was thrilled that they were able to accomodate me on such short notice on a night that I am sure was very busy. My reservation was at 915 and I was happy to see that I was not the only late table.
                      We were a little disappointed in the wine selection. All of the wines by the bottle were quite expensive but having been there before I had expected that. We decided to go with wines by the glass but were a little put off when after three of us made our three different orders we were each told that they didnt have that selection and the waiter tried to upsell all of us the 18$ per glass selection.
                      When we went to order out appatizer I took a quick pause to get the wording right for the order and the server assumed that I was going to order the appatizer tasting - which happen to be the most expesive appatizer on the menu. It did look fantastic but I did not appreciate the level of upselling that was being pushed on us.
                      Our appy was amazing but for some of us the entree left a bit of a bad taste in our mouths. The Steak & Lobster had a bit of a weird taste to it - not off but different. It was like the meat was cryovacked with some kind of flavour that penetrated the meat all the way through. It was good but overbearing after a few bites.
                      The rest of the dinner was great and while I will be back - I am anxiouse try the Sunday Brunch - I did not appreciate the server trying to sell me the most expensive item at every level of the meal. I do understand that is their job but sometimes it just comes across as pushy.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Bellavino
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                        Bob Mac RE: Bellavino Feb 17, 2009 07:21 AM

                        Bellavino:

                        You have every right to be upset with "blatant" upselling.

                        I mentioned the wine prices to the person who was then, has apparently since left, the manager and he was going to revise it.

                        Does not sound like he did.

                        1. re: Bob Mac
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                          Dan G RE: Bob Mac Feb 17, 2009 07:57 AM

                          is the problem that the wines are too expensive for what they are (as in marked up way too much) or that they only offer expensive wines (but ones that warrant the price)?

                          I just looked at their website and there isn't a wine list. But the menu seems odd - some stuff at OK prices, then $48 for a striploin! That is one of the most expensive in town I think (not sure, as I seldom pay attention to steaks in restaurants, as it is one thing I do really well myself)

                          1. re: Dan G
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                            Bob Mac RE: Dan G Feb 17, 2009 10:35 AM

                            Dan G:

                            I have to go from memory since looking at my post above it has been almost a year since I was there.

                            With that proviso my recollection is that it was more a case of the price list being expensive rather than necessarily "plonk" being priced as "first growths"

                            1. re: Dan G
                              pants RE: Dan G Feb 17, 2009 11:48 AM

                              their mark-up is higher than usual - it's almost triple on some bottles....

                          2. re: Bellavino
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                            egon61 RE: Bellavino Feb 17, 2009 09:01 PM

                            Sorry to hear about the aggessive upselling. I can't stand it either, and fortunately didn't have any issues with that on my visit.

                            For the record, I think the appetizer sampler at $22 is not quite enough food for two people. I say 'not quite' because the actual amount of food is probably OK but they way it's divided the two guests really each have to pick 2 of the 4 items each vs. trying all 4. Or for 1 person it would be a pretty expensive appetizer.

                            1. re: egon61
                              Bellavino RE: egon61 Feb 18, 2009 05:29 AM

                              I am thinking that the upselling was just the style of my waiters service and not a reflection of the restaurant itself.

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