Saturday, October 29, 2011

Shepherd's Pie at High Level Diner

Shepherd's Pie by raise my voice
Shepherd's Pie, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

I don't get to High Level Diner nearly often enough. I made it here this evening though, and had the best shepherd's pie I have ever had.

First of all, the portion size was huge. The dish was filled to the brim with fresh mashed potatoes and organic ground beef that had just enough seasoning and some veggies (corn and peas).

I chose the house-made fries as my side because I cannot resist them. I also cannot resist the house-made ketchup that is so thick and tangy, it almost borders on salsa.

Shepherd's pie is known as comfort food, but I was uncomfortably full afterwards. I was happy though.

The Pho Files: Northern Vietnamese Soup

Thanh Thanh is on 107 Avenue and 101 Street and is a very popular place for Vietnamese food. The decor is upscale as far as Asian restaurants go, and the prices are slightly higher - then again, the service is much more attentive and the food is excellent.

One of my favourite dishes at Thanh Thanh is, of course, the pho. But the pho I order here is unlike any other - it's the Northern Vietnamese Soup featuring a medley of well done beef, medium beef, and chicken. It is a feast in a bowl.

My only problem consuming it was the fact that the meat was under the noodles (instead of above as it usually is in pho) and I could not find the medium beef until the broth had cooled downn. The beef was all clumped together and after I separated it, it was still pink and did not have a chance to cook fully. Note to self: fully excavate all meat while the broth is still piping hot.

Otherwise, this is a bowl of soup that packed a punch - it doesn't look huge, but that is deceptive.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ensenada Chicken

Ensenada Chicken by raise my voice
Ensenada Chicken, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

The Oliver Square location of Red Robin is where I had supper Saturday evening. I opted for the Ensenada Chicken which is two breasts with a savoury/tangy run served up alongside salad and two dips: salsa and lime sour cream. I decided to be naughty and have their famous french fries instead of the salad.

The breasts were done to perfection and I enjoy how the rub is seasoned and flavourful without being overly hot. I actually used the dips more on my fries than the chicken, which I found flavourful enough without them. Portion size is excellent.

I know Red Robin is known for their burgers (which I have never found to be that big of a deal), but I'm glad there is some variety on the menu.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Pho Files: Pho Ga at Ninh Kieu

Pho Ga by raise my voice
Pho Ga, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

Ninh Kieu on 98 Street and 107 Avenue is one of my go-to places for pho. The brother is always well seasoned, the noodles plentiful, and the meat tender.

Today, I decided to go for a bowl of Pho Ga, which is chicken (instead of my usual medium rare sliced beef). The broth was great as always, the noodles were plentiful as always, and the bowl was full of sliced white chicken meat.

I had beef salad rolls as an appetizer instead of my usual onion cake. The grilled beef was fantastic, and the rolls were packed with noodles, cilantro, and lettuce. They were served with peanut sauce for dipping.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tsuke Ramen

Tsuke Ramen by raise my voice
Tsuke Ramen, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

Noodle Maker is the best little ramen house in Edmonton. The menu recently expanded with even more variety of ramen dishes, rice bowls, fusion dishes.

I was pleased with the addition of more vegetarian meals. I tried the Tsuke Ramen which is a mountain of boiled ramen noodles in a light soy broth, topped with tofu, wheat gluten, and sprouts. The portion was huge and the flavours were savoury. The ramen maintained a firm consistency.

Overall, this was a very interesting dish.

One of the Best - Onion Cake at Noodle Maker

Onion Cake by raise my voice
Onion Cake, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

The man behind Noodle Maker is an experienced restauranteur who is masterful when it comes to Asian fusion cuisine.

For example, the place has one of the best onion cakes in Edmonton. It is likely the most flavourful of the flat variety (as opposed to the ones shaped like doughnuts) that I have ever eaten. Packed with onions and delightfully salty, the malt vinegar served alongside is the perfect accompaniment.

Pizza with Mushrooms and Black Olives

Tony's Pizza Palace (96 Street and 111 Avenue) is always busy - and for good reason. The place is one of the oldest places in Edmonton serving authentic, thin-crust pizzas - and one of the best.

The organization for which I work hosted a volunteer appreciation event at Tony's last night. We had 30 volunteers (and family members) enjoying a variety of pizzas. As for me, I like to keep it simple and shared a two-topping, extra-large pizza with mushrooms and black olives.

This was definitely a "knife and fork" pizza, as there was so much topping part of the bottom crust would have given way if picked up. I loved how it was loaded with black olives, providing a tart, salty flavour.

Everyone else seemed to be enjoying their pizzas as well. Thank you Tony's for having us!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Pho Files: Pho with Medium Beef and Brisket at Pho Huong

Pho was calling my name for lunch today - and I answered. I headed over to Pho Huong, which replaced the Hoang Long on 107 Avenue and 98 Street a while back.

I ordered my pho with medium sliced beef and beef brisket. I decided against ordering onion cakes, thinking two of them would be a bit much to eat. I made the right call. The bowl of pho was huge - possibly the largest regular-sized pho I have ever experienced. The broth was delicious and intensley flavourful, while the sliced beef was tender.

Unfortunately, the brisket was a disappointment. Mostly gristle, my enjoyment of my soup was constnatly interrupted by search and destroy missions against the offending morsels.

I will definitely head to Pho Huong again, but stick with the medium beef.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Chicken Breast - Euro Taste

Chicken Breast by raise my voice
Chicken Breast, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

Euro Taste is a great little spot in Little Italy (108 Avenue and 95 Street) that used to be a sports bar but is now a cafe specializing in Eastern European meaty delights, particularly Balkan.

I find the place's grilled meat to be superb. It always tastes nicely charred without being dried out. I had a chicken breast for a weekend supper and it was perfectly done as always. It was served with a few grilled vegetables and some rice pilaf - the pilaf was new. Previously, this meal has been served with roasted potatoes. The rice was very flavourful, and was probably cooked in stock.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Penne with Meat Sauce

Penne with Meat Sauce by raise my voice
Penne with Meat Sauce, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

The pasta at Santo's (108 Avenue and 95 Street) is hearty. I especially enjoy their sauces, which are fresh and flavourful.

I had a full serving of penne with meat sauce for supper yesterday evening. It was hard to go wrong with it. The penne was cooked perfectly al dente and the sauce was rich and meaty.

Santo's may not be the prettiest place in the world, but the food is excellent.

A Mixed Lunch: Steak Sandwich at Early Bird

Steak Sandwich by raise my voice
Steak Sandwich, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

The steak sandwich on the menu of the Early Bird Cafe (102 Avenue and 97 Street) was listed as one of the diner's (it really was more of a diner than a cafe, with an open kitchen) signature dishes. I went for it, and was impressed with the portion size. The sauteed vegetabled in particular stood out - they were freshly prepared. The fries were crispy and nicely seasoned, and the three large onion rings atop the steak were a hearty garnish.

The steak itself was average. It was a seven ounce piece of broiled meat which could have done with a bit more seasoning to bring out the flavour. I also asked for well done, and it was closer to medium well in some spots. I am also not sure how fresh the bread was which was used for the garlic toast.

The menu variety and reasonable prices would bring me to Early Bird again, but Ia m not sure I would order this. I would try to come extra early to have a breakfast item, which is what I understand the place really shines at.

Starters: Chicken Barley Soup

Chicken Barley Soup by raise my voice
Chicken Barley Soup, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

When I ordered lunch at Early Bird Cafe yesterday (102 Avenue and 97 Street), I did not expect that it came with a starter. What a pleasant surprise: this chicken barley soup tasted absolutely made from scratch, with a rich broth, flavourful barley, and lots of chicken. It was one of the highlights of my meal.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Udon with Tempura - Ichiban

Udon with Tempura by raise my voice
Udon with Tempura, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

I was really hungry, so I decided to order a second of Ichiban's lunch specials - the udon soup with tempura (I requested veggie tempura only - no seafood). Piping hot and full of chewy noodles, the udon really hit the spot. The tempura is not served on the soup, which is probably a good thing since it would get soggy.

Chicken Teriyaki - Ichiban

Chicken Teriyaki by raise my voice
Chicken Teriyaki, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

Yesterday for lunch I was craving Ichiban's (149 Street and 88 Avenue) chicken teriyaki. The restaurant put a lot of strips of breaded, fried chicken (dark and white meat) over a mountain of rice in a sweet teriyaki sauce. Crunchy and wonderful!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Breakfast for Lunch: Omelette With Lox and Mushrooms

Today's "Breakfast for Lunch" is my most decadent yet: a fluffy four-egg omelette from New York Bagel Cafe (84 Avenue and Gateway Boulevard) with house-made hash browns, fresh fruit, and a bagel. I opted for multigrain.

Omelettes come with a choice of two fillings, and I went with mushrooms and lox. You can never go wrong with lox and eggs. The mushrooms were sliced portobellos - fresh ingredients really do make all the difference.

Add a house coffee (which is like a latte, except you pour in the steamed milk yourself), and you have one happy and full Paula.

An important note: this is a small cafe that gets very busy on weekends. There is usually a lineup, and once you get a table, quite a wait for the food, which is one reason a handout explaining the concept of "slow food" is given along with the menu. I waited close to an hour for my meal but was prepared with a book and writing materials. Nor was I in a hurry to get anywhere else after. Be patient - the food is worth waiting for.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Breakfast for Lunch: Vegetable Omelette

Vegetable Omelette by raise my voice
Vegetable Omelette, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

I hereby declare Route 99 Diner's vegetable omelette to be the best "breakfast for lunch" I have had as of yet, and certainly the best veggie omelette in the city. It is huge! It really reminds me of omlettes my parents used to make at home. The mountain of home made hash browns is formidable (and delicious). Great good, great value, and lots of character in the place.

Breakfast for Lunch: Two Eggs, Toast, Hash Browns

I've done the "two eggs, any style" thing (and variations thereof) at numerous places, and the other day it was Ricky's turn. Yes, I know I already ate there another time this week, but I happened to be near another location of the chain and the person I was with decided that Ricky's was exactly what he wanted. Simple and inexpensive, this is a dish that is difficult to be disappointed by.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Breakfast for Lunch: Smoked Brisket Eggs Benedict

I went back to Ricky's All Day Grill on 170 Street with the expectation of having a simple lunch of eggs, hash browns, and toast. Instead, I was greeted with a featured menu of new items to try and vote for. The items with the most votes will be integrated into the regular menu.

The Eggs Benedict with Smoked Brisket caught my eye. I went for it, with the hollandaise to the side. My eggs were hard cooked, as per my instructions, but it was the brisket that blew me away. Thinly slicked, crispy, and perfectly marbled, at first glance I thought I had mistakenly been served bacon. The smoky taste was reminiscent of bacon as well. Along with the sauteed peppers and onions underneath, it was a great flavour combination.

The hash browns were a bit on the greasy side, but plentiful, and the fruit was more like a garnish, but overall this was a great meal. I hope it makes it to the regular menu, because I would love to have it again.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie by raise my voice
Chicken Pot Pie, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

My main course at ABC Country Restaurant was much better than the appetizer. The chicken pot pie was flaky and full of chicken and vegetables in a creamy, but not overpowering, sauce.

I made a bad choice for my side dish. ABC's fries are of the wedge variety, huge and starchy. I could only eat a few of them before I was defeated. A salad or soup would have gone with the meal better.

Beer Battered Onion Rings

I went to ABC Country Restaurant (108 Avenue and 170 Street) over the weekend for supper. Before readers cry "Oh no - another chain restaurant" - take a few deep breaths. This one is Canadian, at least, based in B.C. and Alberta.

As my appetizer, I opted for the beer battered onion rings. Our server mentioned he had tried them, and did not like them. I had onion rings as a side order with a recent burger, and remembered them as thick and flavourful, the batter bursting with beer flavour. He insisted these were different.

He was right. The coating was crunchy and grainy, and tasted mostly from the oil in which it was cooked. The onion part was nice and sweet, but I would definitely not order these again. Fortunately, the onion rings served as a side dish are still the previous kind.

Coffee Buzz: Cappuccino at Italian Centre

Cappuccino by raise my voice
Cappuccino, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

The Italian Centre Shop on 109 Avenue and 95 Street has a cool vibe. It's a great local place to do grocery shopping, and the Bar Italia area is a wonderful place to hang out and enjoy some fresh pastries and espresso drinks.

I go for the lattes, straight espresso shots, and cappucino (pictured). It's strong, foamy, hot, and delicious.

Breakfast for Lunch: Hamburger Steak and Eggs

The Kingsway location of Humpty's (101 Street and 108 Avenue) is one of the few places in the McCauley neighbourhood where I can get breakfast food. So, growing hungry after a morning shoot, I headed there for my late breakfast/early lunch.

I ordered the Hamburger Steak and Eggs, which is a large hamburger grilled to perfection topped with red onions (also grilled) and a tomato (I held the parmesan), as well as two eggs, potatoes, and toast. It was a heavy, protein-rich meal.

Humpty's is also one of the few chain restaurants in the area. I prefer mom and pop shops, but when I want my eggs in the inner city, this is the place I head.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Comfort Food: Chicken Fingers, Fries, and Salad

Chicken fingers is one of my ultimate comfort foods. Breaded, deep-fried strips of breast meat makes me happy.

I ordered chicken fingers at Avenue Pizza for supper yesterday evening. I received three huge strips of chicken, a mountain of fries, and a small sald on the side, which came as a surprise. The salad wasn't just lettuce either, but a mix of greens. It was a nice contrast to all of the fried food on my plate.

Unpretentious, not too greasy, and filling, this chicken fingers meal was indeed very comforting.