My husband and I wanted to have a special night out – and it’s getting a bit tricky since we eat out regularly and celebrate each day as a gift. But this evening was a bit extra-extra special as I had been out of town that week, and Michael and I were missing each others company.
Unsure where to go, we listed off a few regular places and then remembered the great time we had at the Manor Bistro during this past summer when we went for a pig roast. I was able to make reservations through Open Table which is a great on-line reservation tool.
We managed to get the very last parking spot in the lot adjacent to the Manor Bistro, which is located in the trendy and squishy parking High Street area.
We were greeted by name the instant we walked in the door and were taken upstairs to a cozy table for two in front of a toasty fire. Seconds later we were provided our menus and wine list we were ready for a week long work-detoxification and chill out.
Upon ordering cocktails, Michael asked if they had Zaya rum – his new favourite thing since being introduced at Cask & Barrell by new Twitter chum Keith. They didn’t, but that doesn’t stop Tarquin Melnyk, bartender extraordinaire. Tarquin ran home to pick up a bottle of Angostura rum he happened to have on hand to prepare for an upcoming competition and thought Michael might like to try it. Who does that? Not many. We were delighted by this. Delighted!
On to food… our engaging server Molly told us the menu was just a few weeks old, and offered us some suggestions as we weren’t sure where to begin. Molly was great at relaying whats-what on the menu without over-the-top food romance. Food romance has its place, but tonight was about Michael and me catching up, and Molly sensed that.
For my starter I opted for the field greens – organic greens, caramelized onion vinaigrette, roasted squash, capers, cherry tomatoes, and brie. You must know by now I am not a big fan of my leafy greens, but this salad was fresh and delicious – a mix of the crisp greens, the warm roasted squash, and the creamy smooth brie. I finished the plate clean.
My main was the lamb tagine – braised lamb, Moroccan spice quinoa, sultanas, spiced olives, and saffron jus. The scent of the dish alone was exotic and heavenly. The mix of the spice and sweet a perfect balance. I’m still getting used to quinoa, and never had it in a dish like this before. It worked very well, and I felt healthy and better for it, after all, it is a new super-food, but I would have preferred regular old couscous myself. Why? Because couscous doesn’t stick in between your teeth or have those odd little curly-cues that give a person a idea they are some alien creature and starts to worry if Ripley/Sigourney Weaver is going to enter the room at any moment.
Michael started with the mussels, which for him is the measure of any food experience. They did not disappoint. They were served in a big pot along with pancetta, white wine and cream. This was served with a generous serving of baguette on the side for soaking up the succulent broth. Michael’s only frown came at the end when all his shells were empty, he didn’t have a spoon to ladle up remaining broth. But ever inventive, my hubby drew on his inner cave-man and used a mussel shell to scoop up the rest. I’m certain I heard him grunt. It kept him busy for a few moments, so I had time to enjoy the fire.
Michael’s main was the generous 9 oz steak – served pan roasted with herbs and butter, potato gratin, and mushroom demi. The steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare. The potatoes were served a bit too perfectly for Michael’s taste, in a tidy layered square, but they were delicious and extremely rich – topping off the tower of potato was some pork belly!
All this deliciousness was washed down with a pleasant cool and crisp, non-grassy Sauvignon Blanc that was featured. Do I remember the name? Nope. Sorry. And I am remiss, because it was just the right thing to have that night.
Molly was there when we needed her. We told her from the onset we were in no rush. We were left alone and did not feel any pressure to get out.
Our table was beautifully placed directly in front of the fire on the second floor, making for a very intimate, cozy setting. We already have visions of asking for that particular table on -30C nights coming up in the winter ahead.
Our fellow diners were like us. Relaxed. Intimate. Yet at the end of our meal we struck up a conversation with another table. As it happens Michael and a fellow diner were adorning similar argyle sweaters, and you know what argyle sweater-wearers are like.
Our thanks to Cyrilles Koppert, Lorraine Ellis, executive chef Alex Sneazwell, bartender Tarquin Melnyk, server Molly and everyone else around and in between for making our visit a memorable one. We look forward to our return and eat our way through the entire menu (and wine list).
10109 125 Street Edmonton AB
A parking lot is adjacent to the building, but it fills quickly. Street parking is available in the neighbourhood and remains free after 6 pm and on Sundays.
The area is served well by Edmonton Transit by routes 1, 5, 120 and 135. Nearest bus stops are:
#1242 southbound 124 Street and 102 Ave
#1971 westbound 102 Ave and 124 Street
#1828 northbound 124 Street and 102 Ave
#1917 eastbound Clifton Place and 102 Ave