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Edmonton - Suggestions for tough situation

Okay, here's the challenge:

I'm taking an old flame (whom I'm trying to rekindle) out for dinner in a few weeks. It's her birthday. I'm on a bit of a budget, so I'm looking for nice, tasty, and not too pricey (Say $100 all in, for two of us). I'm living in Calgary, and she lives in Edmonton. I know nothing about what's good in Edmonton, so I need some help.

There are a couple of complicating factors:

She has worked very hard and lost an incredible amount of weight in the last 12 months, and I want to support her in that, so heavy cream sauces and grease should not form the majority of the menu. We've recently been out for sushi, and to the garlic restaurant (I think it was called That's Aroma), and they were both tasty, but not really the atmosphere I'm looking for.

I'm still trying to figure out her tastes, but can say with some certainty that escargot is probably not on her list of things to try. Being a proper Alberta boy, my personal tastes lean more toward meat and potatoes, but I like an occasional jaunt to other cuisines. Besides, this is her birthday, and frankly I'm hoping the way to her heart is through what's left of her stomach.

I'm thinking seafood might be a good thought, but I don't know if she's into it. I may need a few suggestions to choose from or alternatively one place with a fairly wide ranging menu.

My standard thought is the Keg, or something like that, but I'd like something romantic too.

So, let's review the wish list:
- reasonably inexpensive
- low calorie options
- tasty
- intimate / romantic
- memorable
- a place that make me look like Prince Charming

Anyone up for the challenge?

S.

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  1. Culina. Reasonably inexpensive, with non-heavy dishes. Very tasty. Intimate and romantic (but not white linen kind of romantic...think small and cozy bistro romantic), that is memorable.

    As for Prince Charming, that's more on you, and less on the restaurant my man :)

    7 Replies
    1. re: yen

      I second the recommendation for Culina.

      I would also mention Il Portico, can be expensive or inexpensive depending on what you order, however it is Italian, so it may not fall in the low cal range.

      A sushi resto with a private tataki (??) room would fit the bill.

      Von's is a reasonable steak house, comparable in price to the Keg, way better food & atmosphere tho.

      what about Sofra?? Can anyone comment on the atmosphere? I have not been yet?
      Or what is the Parkallen like inside...anyone??

      1. re: cleopatra999

        Il Portico doesnt work for me for several reasons - it doesnt really fit into low cal, it could cost more (and really, you don't want to tell the person you're with that "i cant afford that" if they order a certain dish, how romantic or Prince Charming is that?)... you're better off somewhere that they can order anything off the menu and you'll still be safe. The food is consistent, and decent, but nothing special.

        I love Sofra, and it fits all of the criteria, except for the atmosphere. I wouldnt consider it intimate nor romantic. It has a servicable atmosphere.

        Private tatami rooms (tataki is dish :) ) are nice as well, but also not what i consider to be romantic. They also have paper thin walls, and are often used by families and have kids running around next to them. The OP also isnt sure on the seafood preference.

        Von's is old school, waaay too old school, but you're right that it's better than the Keg. Parkallen is kitschy, and i find the food is overpriced.

        For other romantic places, i like Red Ox, but it's too expensive. Manor Cafe would've been on that list in the past, but with several price increases, they've priced themselves out of that category. I personally would consider Bistro Praha too... old school European charm, but the food would not be anything resembling healthy.

        I can't think of any other options other than Culina that fit all the criteria :)

        1. re: yen

          YYCSpeedy: I like the Red Ox far better than Culina, but it is a bit pricier. If you go with Culina, you could pop into their quaint little wine bar two stores down for a few post-dinner drinks.

          And I'm quite partial to Bistro Praha, but given that you're not looking for anything too heavy I don't think it fits the bill -- unless you two plan on just having the cucumber and tomato salad.

        2. re: cleopatra999

          Sofra, I agree has it all except atmosphere/romanticism. Culina will work great, but you a little close to the next table....and the big ears thereat. What about Renoir? Might be a bit more expensive than you are thinking (not sure), but very romantic and you have a bit of space between tables. Is La Bohoeme still around? What an experience resto...like Blue Nile. Not exactly romantic, but it makes conversation easy because the food is an experience. Try the wonderful Ethiopian beer and do the coffee ceremony. Another idea might be the Blue Chair, within your budget, a little space, interesting food, maybe even entertainment. Good luck!

          1. re: foodiesnorth

            LTR is way out of the price range, as is La Boheme. Blue Chair has all the atmosphere of a cafeteria. Blue Nile would be an interesting choice - it wouldn't be your classical romantic dinner, but it is kinda adventerous, the coffee ceremony is neat, and when is it not fun to eat with your hands?!? :)

          2. re: yen

            Yup, Culina was the first thing that popped into my mind too, especially the reasonable price and intimate part.

          3. As I read about your situation, I immediately thought of Culina. I see yen was already on top of that for you. I agree whole-heartedly. Good luck to you!

            2 Replies
            1. re: Cheers

              I forgot about Manor Cafe, i go there fairly often, and considering that the entrees at Culina are $23+, and are a la carte, it may be about the same price. As would Cafe de Ville, however it is probably not low Cal being french inspired.

              1. re: cleopatra999

                I like Cafe de Ville, but it would not qualify as low cal at all :) Especially after you pound through 2 baskets of that yummy bread!

            2. I would go to Koutouki for Greek and have the feast for two, which would fall well within your budget for everything. It almost like a tapas dinner -- 10 or so small servings of great food. I always think food that you share in very romantic and these guys really do quality version of all the Greek classic dishes.

              The decor is not posh.

              Here is the menu description:
              MEZE means delicacy: For 2 or more people, you will sample about a dozen different dishes, from dips and salads, vetetable, meat and seafood. But beware, don't be tempted to finish every dish that arrives on the table, or you will may feel as though you've eaten for a week by the end!! Take your time and enjoy your Meze 'Siga-Siga' or slowly, slowly.

              1. What about one of the "private" rooms at the New Asian Village on Saskatchewan Drive? There are low fat options with loads of flavour (I'm thinking tandoori), you can get meat and potatoes (though with a little bit of zing), you get the privacy - and it's memorable, and possibly romantic (depending on the company), and I believe it would fit your budget.

                Yes - it's not the perfect Indian food choice for Edmonton (neither is Khazana, but that might be an option for you too), but it may fit your needs.

                As an added bonus - it has a most wonderful beer fridge...

                1. Culina or the Manor Cafe. I was recently at the latter - very romantic, we had wine and dinner and with tip it was $130. So maybe a bit out of your price range. If so, go Culina.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ihatepickyeaters

                    Manor Cafe is a really good suggestion, I think. Lovely atmosphere, and if it's nice out you can suggest a post dinner stroll in the tree-lined neighbourhoods with a visit to High Street for a Starbucks.