Thursday, March 28, 2013

My Poutine at MyFries

MyFries is an Edmonton-based fast food/casual restaurant that serves up poutine in many different ways. The fries are baked, not fried, making for a healthier experience. The cheese curds come from Quebec and they make their own gravy. However, customers can top the fries with basically any combination of meat, cheese, sauce, and veggies available, along with being able to choose from some pre-established options like donair, pizza, and pulled pork.

I opted to build my own with fresh guacamole (very fresh and chunky), salsa (medium spiced), sauteed mushrooms (delicious), and homestyle gravy (unique). I did not opt for cheese or a protein. The fries themselves get their flavour from the toppings and taste very bland and starchy on their own - MyFries does offer fries on their own, so I would recommend a dipping sauce. Otherwise, it just felt like I was eating a combination of a lot of different, albeit delicious, ingredients without any real cohesion. The portion is also huge - I could not finish my regular serving.

On the other hand, my dining companion raved about his donair fries, topped with donair meat, sauce, diced tomatoes, and cheese. He had a large and found it very filling - more so than a burger and fries.

MyFries is a really unique concept - the food just did not really "sing" to me. However, people who love poutine should definitely check it out.

Breakfast for Lunch: Trying Tasty Tom's

Tasty Tom's (9965 82 Avenue) is definitely one of Old Strathcona's gems. It is a very homey diner with German-inspired mains, lots of sandwiches and burgers, and an extensive brunch menu. There is also a lot of beer and other beverages available.

I tried the steak and eggs off the brunch menu, and found my meat and eggs to be cooked exactly to my specifications. The steak was broiled and soft, getting most of its flavour from its marinade.

The home fries definitely made my plate though - not greasy, perfectly seasoned, and with fried onions bringing the flavour up to another level. I would come here again just for these mouth-watering potatoes.

The meal also comes with toast, which I skipped due to this week being Passover. I did not miss it. The portion size was adequate enough. Service was also wonderful and the place is absolutely charming.

Grilled Beef and Rice at Pho King

I usually get soup at Pho King, but when I was there earlier this week for lunch, I opted for a more basic dish of grilled beef and rice. The beef was grilled to perfection and practically falling off of the skewers, with a delicious flavour undertone of lemongrass. The rice was plain and its neutral flavour went well with the meat (I don't do fish sauce). The garnish salad was a nice touch - I especially liked the vegetables that were pickled. Simple food and good value.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Steak Sandwich at Tavern on Whyte

When the music from Blues on Whyte and Black Dog stopped ringing in my ears, I needed to go somewhere a little more quiet and enjoy a meal. I tried Tavern on Whyte (10507-82 Avenue) for the first time. The food was a little on the expensive side but the menu had a good variety.

My steak sandwich (around $15) was thick and cooked to perfection. I should not have shelled out the extra $1.50 on sauteed mushrooms and onions as the amount was really little more than a garnish and they did not really add much to the meal. The hand cut fries were indeed home made, but I kept tasting sugar amidst the light salt seasoning.

So overall the meal was not great but decent. I would possibly come here again to try something a little less expensive.

Coffee Break - Chocolate Chai

When I want a hot drink and don't want coffee, I usually go for chai. On my last visit to Wild Earth Bakery I decided to try the chocolate chai - it had the warmth and spice of chai with an overtone of chocolate that did not dominate. A really great winter drink.

A Cheap Lunch: The Wokkery

The Wokkery (10969 98 Street) probably has the cheapest lunch in Chinatown. Items are around $6.95 each, and there is also a selection of combination plates for the same price. I had sweet and sour chicken balls, beef and vegetables, and chicken fried rice (one piece of my friend's Szchechuan beef is pictured here - I just had to try it!).

The food was delicious. Sometimes chewy, the chicken inside the fried balls was tender. The rice was very flavourful (we both thought it looked bland, but it sure did not taste that way).

We also got a cup of the soup of the day as part of our lunch specials. For $6.95, there can't be a better lunch deal, at least in this part of the city.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Veggie Burger at Highlevel Diner

Veggie burger #yegfood by raise my voice
Veggie burger #yegfood, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

Highlevel Diner has one of the city's best veggie burgers. The crispy patty of grains and seeds is filling and delicious. Served on a large, whole wheat bun with tomatoes, sprouts, mayo, and lettuce, it is almost impossible for one person to finish - especially if you have the hand cut fries on the side. Oh, and the ketchup is also house made and tastes like salsa without the chunks. This is definitely one of Highlevel Diner's signature dishes.

Coffee Break: Chai Latte at Highlevel Diner

Chai latte #yegfood by raise my voice
Chai latte #yegfood, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

After a long day of marching and rallying, I made the trek over to Highlevel Diner for supper. For my beverage, I did not want alcohol, and it was rather late in the day for coffee, so I opted for a chai latte. Smooth, creamy, and delicious it was. Just what I needed.

Dessert at Block 1912

The dessert tray at Block 1912 was just too beautiful to resist. The colourful assortment of cakes, tarts, and other delights made by Block 1912's baker drew us in.

I had a vanilla panna cotta with fruit. The panna cotta was delicate in flavour and very cold in the centre - I suspect it had been frozen after it was first made. The selection of fruit that surrounded it was varied and delicious, with the syrup mixing well with the custard.

The chocolate chili square was rich - and spicy. I tried just a corner of it and my mouth was aflame. I do not recommend this for the faint of heart, or taste buds. I suspect the burn would have overwhelmed me had I continued.

Chili at Wild Earth

I was desiring a mid-afternoon snack of something a little healthier than a dessert, so while I was at Wild Earth Bakery I had a small bowl of chili. This small bowl packed a punch - it was thick, full of meat and beans, and a rich tomato base. Definitely recommended for cool days and big appetites.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Butter Chicken "Panaani"

Naanolicious is becoming one of my "go-to" food places on Whyte Avenue. I unexpectedly ended up there for lunch and had a pressed naan sandwich, whimsically called a "panaani." The combination of the crispy naan bread with rich butter chicken on the inside satisfied by cravings for both. I would have appreciated a few more of the savoury Bombay potatoes and the salad was more of a garnish. Still, I really enjoy how Naanolicious presents Indian food in unique ways.

Breakfast for Lunch: Another Mixed Plate at Smitty's

I was dragged (almost literally) back to Smitty's a couple of weeks ago, except this was the location at Kingsway instead of Westmount. I had another build-my-own platter, this time with perogies, a slice of French toast, eggs, and potato pancakes. Our server was very attentive and brought me loads of condiments - I loved the salsa for the eggs (something I don't normally do, but enjoyed). The potato pancakes could have been cooked a little more - I think I am going to stick with hash browns from now on.

Breakfast for Lunch: Murrieta's

A couple of weeks ago on a busy Saturday, I took time out to enjoy brunch at Murrieta's on Whyte Avenue. I have had supper here a few times, but never breakfast.

I had the basic two eggs and toast dish I normally get at all of the chain places where I have breakfast. This was definitely the champagne and limousine version. The potatoes were hand cut and fried to perfection while the organic grain toast was so excellent, it was almost the highlight of the meal. And I was given two slices instead of just one!

The eggs were wonderful. Locally sourced, they were cooked to perfection and the flavour and yolk colour made them quite distinguishable from their factory farmed counterparts.

I had smoked salmon as my additional protein (bacon, sausage, and other choices were also available). The portion of it was reasonable. So was the price - at around $10 it was delicious and affordable.

Coffee Break - Chai at Da Capo

Although I was having one of those days where I was all coffee-ed out, I was meeting a friend "for coffee" at the Whyte Avenue location of Da Capo. We both had chai lattes. Da Capo uses chai from Remedy and it tastes fantastic. Total win here.

Breakfast for Lunch - Steak & Eggs at Ricky's

Yesterday, at a visit to the Ricky's All Day Grill at South Edmonton Common, I decided to splurge and instead of my usual two-egg breakfast, I had Steak & Eggs. Here is the report card:

Toast: crispy but not burned and with no butter like I ordered. Plenty of jam on the side.

Eggs: Done over easy as I had requested, and the yolks were still intact.

Potatoes: The spicy potato wedges really weren't spicy and obviously had been frozen, but they were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Steak: Done perfectly to order, and quite juicy. I was also surprised the order came as fast as it did, considering I ordered it well done.

Definitely a B+.