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Edmonton restaurant review of the month - October (Karmel)

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Edmonton Chowhounders have decided to to start a monthly restaurant review.

Each month we will decide on a restaurant (we will try to stick with new(er) places). As many of us as possible should eat at this restaurant and post a review.

the goal is to get varied reviews to have a more comprehensive view of the restaurant.

Please keep reviews fair, try to be frank and critical without being negative or mean-spirited. If any owners are responding, it would be fair if you told us that is who you are.

Our restaurant for the month is Karmel Cafe 9420 118 Avenue NW. Happy eating!

if anyone has any further suggestions on how to implement this, feel free to post here. Since this is the first month we may have some bumps in the road.

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  1. Karmel here we come...

    1. I think this is a great idea and cant wait to read/participate in it!

      1. Thanks cleopatra,

        Just e-mailed my son. Hopefully he'll be up for it next week.

        1 Reply
        1. re: happyeats

          Good idea all.

          Regret that I will not be able to participate this month as we are off to Vancouver Island on Sunday ...let me clarify, I have absolutely NO regrets that we are off on holidays...just that I cannot take part in this first effort at a "global" review [smile].

          Maybe I'll add one or two of what is happening in Tofino and Victoria instead [grin]

          Bon Appetit

        2. Bob Mac:
          I wouldn't have regrets either if I was going to Vancouver Island. Have you ever been to Cherry Point vineyards? We were there this summer but unfortunately didn't have a chance to eat at their little bistro. They have a very good pinot gris, though. Didn't try out too many restaurants as we had my elderly parents with us. We did enjoy good fish and chips at beacons landing in Sidney. Hope you have a wonderful holiday and looking forward to your reviews.

          1 Reply
          1. re: happyeats

            Thank you Happy Eats.

            No, I have not tried Cherry Point vineyards. In fact, we have tried very few of the vineyards that have sprung up around Saanich and then down from Duncan and the like.

            My favourite vineyard on the Island is Alderlea and that is one we have tried to locate without success on a couple of occasions. This year we have more time and may venture back from Victoria to see if we can locate it and others.

            The only vineyard we have gone to is Vignetti Zagnatta....decent sparkling but the rest were forgettable. Andy Johnson who used to be one of the principals behind the Medi-Centre concept and who used to live in Edmonton has opened Averill Creek that we may try to drop in to see as they are supposed to have a beautiful tasting room.

            Did visit the Sea Cider operation last year which we quite enjoyed near Sidney.

            You mentioned pinot gris. I think it is the varietal that BC does best and love trying the various types, i.e. bone dry, off dry, colourless, salmon berry hued, etc. etc. I'll keep my eyes open for a bottle of Cherry Point.

            "Two more sleeps" and we are off.....

          2. Maybe post some info about the type of food that is served, if available, when the restaurant is chosen?

            A quick Google search tells me that Karmel serves Ethiopian, Somalian and Kenyan food.

            1. Like Bob Mac, I agree that this is a great idea - a reason to try new restaurants - but probably won't make it this month. Am in Vancouver right now, then head directly to Ontario for some family time. But hopefully November...

              Am in yvr alone on business, and am having a solo foodie weekend: just returned from Fuel, tomorrow is Blue Water and Sunday will be West...

              1 Reply
              1. re: Dan G

                Dan G.:

                Will be interested in reading a review on West.

                I have only been there twice...the first when it was originally called Ouest...and a second time we introduced it to friends from North Van when it was still run by Hawksworth. Both meals were excellent.

              2. ok....here we go. Stopped off before the Oilers home opener. The place is a former Thai restaurant (so our server told us). Not much to rave about in the decor department . Service was very informal and friendly.

                For the appetiser we both ordered the chicken soup. It was delicious, a creamy chicken broth with orzo. Great start.

                For an entree, we ordered the goat (only one goat dish). It and other dishes came with either fragrant rice or chaputti (a very thin flat bread). I ordered the rice. The goat was perfectly cooked, fall apart tender and juicy. It was also a very meaty cut. Unfortunately there was almost no flavour. I was SO disappointed!

                My SO ordered the Chicken Sugaar (stew) with the chaputti. It was perfectly prepared with potatoes, green pepper and onions, but although it had a little flavour, it had no depth at all. We both liked the chicken better than the goat. We added the harissa like sauce that came as a side and that helped a bit.

                Both entrees came with a basic side salad of iceberg lettuce and tomato with generic Italian dressing (we asked to be sure). Yuck!

                We did not have time for desert, but they had halvah and baklava on offer.

                Overall, not a good first impression. We really wanted to like the place because a) it is a local owned and ethnic resto, b) they were so friendly and c) they tried so hard. The first big issue though is that there was very little ethnic on the menu. The menu is predominantly western (philly cheese steak for example). The family that runs it is Somalian, but it sounds like they get a lot of business from cab drivers and tend to cater to them. I don't blame them for looking for revenue where it is to be found, but they risk limiting their business to that thin group.

                Would we recommend it right now...no. Will we try it again with an open mind...yes. Nonetheless, we look forward to the opinions and experiences of other foodies, so try them out. We told them we would be posting our thoughts on this board - hopefully they will read them.

                11 Replies
                1. re: foodiesnorth

                  Great job foodiesnorth. Thanks for getting a look at it so early in the month! Bummer to hear about the goat, as that's the dish I have my heart set on.

                  1. re: raidar

                    excellent job! good for getting out there already :)

                    do you guys think it would be worthwhile withholding out reviews until the end of the month? the only reason I say this, is now I feel a little jaded about going and knowing what foodiesnorth ate, will I look at the menu differently? perhaps choose something else just because?

                    just a thought...

                    1. re: cleopatra999

                      I agree. Reading the review, I now wouldn't order the goat - which would have been my choice (had I had time this month to go...). I would say unless there is some absolute crucial time-sensitive info - health warning basically, or something else that might make someone want to warn others away), holding off until the end of the month would be a good idea.

                      1. re: Dan G

                        Excellent idea...I was worried that a first review with any degree of negative comment might sour the crowd. I suggest that we post our reviews at the beginning of the following month. The trick of course will be to right the review while it is fresh and then cut and paste it into the post when the time comes.

                        PLEASE do try them out so we can see if it was just a bad night,or a bad reviewer. They do have the elements of a great ethnic resto and the place is some warm and friendly. As I said in my review, I plan to go back. Also: DO try the goat...as I said it was perfectly cooked, meaty and juicy....it just needs flavour. It bears trying. After all this is merely my view on one night.

                        1. re: foodiesnorth

                          don't worry, I will still go try it!

                  2. re: foodiesnorth

                    Sorry your experience wasn't better.

                    FTR, goat is only tasty if the goat is under a year old.

                    1. re: Sonic Monkey

                      We hit the Karmel Cafe on I think the wrong night. It was a Wednesday, early, not another soul in the place. They sold out all their goat, they did not have the chicken stew ready yet.

                      I opted for the Chicken Steak (breast of chicken), while SO had the beef stew with chapatti in it. The soup for starter was a nice vegetable soup with a good dose of vinegar, very tasty, borscht like, this came with our meal. The chicken steak was super tender and moist. I believe it had been marinate and pounded then grilled. The spice was unique, but subtle. I ordered the muufo bread with it, it was really interesting. Sort of like a cross between a pancake and a muffin. it came with a dipping sauce (soup) that looked suspiciously like the starter soup. When I asked the waiter if it was the same he replied no, but did not say much other than 'different spice'. The different spice was remarkably similar to ashtray....I am not kidding, it smelled exactly like an old ashtray, not burnt though. I could not even stand having it on the same table as me. Apparently they use the same spice in the Beef dish my SO had. One taste of his was all I could muster. He got through it but said that he had to make sure not to inhale through his nose while bringing the food to his mouth. I am not sure if this is an accident, when i tried asking, the waiter did not really say much.

                      Overall, I don't think I would return, I was looking forward to trying the goat but I can find somewhere else. I have had Ethiopian food b4, which was really enjoyable, this did was not the same. That is the extent of my African food experience, I would be more than happy to try a different African style of food....just hold the ashtray please!!

                      I am so curious to see if anyone else noticed this. If not, I shudder to think what actually went wrong that night....yikes.

                      1. re: cleopatra999

                        Can we change the topic now to which Vancouver Island vineyards have you been to? Come on people.

                        1. re: Boxytoes

                          huh?? I don't get it boxytoes, am I missing something?

                          1. re: cleopatra999

                            We're in the same boat cleo, because I don't get it either.

                            1. re: raidar

                              I think they were 'dissing' us, but I don't quite understand why.