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Mar 3, 2012 09:06 AM

Puzzling Experience at Niche - YEG

How could the person that greeted and seated us then sit at the table right next to us and enjoy her dinner while ours was clearly unraveling, largely due to a single server driven to distraction by a full house. We are still puzzled.

When we arrived we asked to sit at the table next to the one we were offered and were told that it was reserved. A little later the host (maitre d'?) sat and enjoyed her dinner at that very table.
It took a little while before the server ( who was bartending, delivering food, and setting and clearing tables)came to take our orders. My appetizer waited on the counter for a long time until it was delivered tepid, with my wife's, which was not what she had ordered.

Half way through our meal I had to get up and cancel the bottle of wine we had ordered because it was MIA. The correct appetizer finally arrived and it was the best aspect of the evening, house made gnocchi with a perfectly balanced blue cheese and cream sauce, wild mushrooms and arugula.

The swordfish main was a generous portion of fish with a tasty tapenade crust and served on cus cus, but again, temperature was a problem, it was tepid.

My goat cheese agnolotti main portion was smaller than the wonderful gnocchi appetizer, it was overcooked beyond a recognizable texture, and the roasted vegetables mentioned on the menu were MIA. It is not often that I order the vegetarian option but the prospect of house made pasta was irresistible.

The brownie desert for which Niche is apparently well known lived up to its billing, and its taste and texture is reminiscent of the excellent duke cake from Duchess Bakery , probably because of the chocolate and salty caramel combination.

The server apologized with a pair of free glasses of wine ( probably paid from her wages) but the host was MIA.

Niche has potential, and probably deserves a second chance , but they have to fix the problems in the front of the house.

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  1. That's really unfortunate. We visited Niche for the second time recently, during Edmonton's Downtown Dining Week. We were also not particularly impressed - when we first visited last fall it was much better. My husband and I both ordered the $25 menu. Happily, they were able to accommodate my celiac disease and even had gluten-free bread to go with the app. But, the food was underwhelming. In the duck parfait appetizer, there wasn't enough duck compared to the amount of berry compote. The lamb shoulder main was inconsistent, with some pieces tender and others dry, and the accompanying fig demi was flavourless. The minted pea risotto on the side wasn't so much a typical risotto as a mixture of rice and peas, and also lacked flavour. I swapped out the crepes suzette dessert for the gluten-free salted caramel brownie, and as you already mentioned, it was excellent. Definitely the best past of our meal. My husband's crepes were cold and he said they tasted like they had been cooked hours earlier and refrigerated.

    The service was mediocre, and a little bit slow, but at least there were two servers working, unlike during your meal!

    I doubt we'll return, which is too bad since it's right near where we live and we like the atmosphere.

    1. My wife and I have been once and enjoyed our meal, although it was more in the "good" category than "great". Hard to believe that what you described could be allowed to happen!