Manor Bistro

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.

I was worried that this would be served in a full tagine. Happy to receive this easily managed bowl instead.

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.

Oh I do like lamb alright, but Michael made the error of sharing a few pieces of his beef. I’m a beef girl through and through. This stuff was perfect. Thanks cow.

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).

Manor Bistro
10109 125 Street Edmonton AB
780-482-7577

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

Manor Bistro on Urbanspoon

This Little Piggy…

The following content is not suitable for vegetarians. And a note for those who were wanting more detail: What happens at the pig roast, stays at the pig roast.

This little piggy didn’t have a chance to squee squee squee all the way home. No siree. This piggy ended up dinner.

Michael and I attended the High Street Social Club’s first annual Pig Roast and Patio Party, which was held at the Manor Bistro this Sunday past.

On the menu? Pig! Not a few bucks worth of pig wrapped in cellophane on a foam tray with a moisture absorption pad like I’m used to at my local Soby’s, but a whole pig… including its head, all four legs and tiny little tail all trussed up and getting roasted.

I thought I was a tough old bird when it comes to meat. I eat meat several times a week. I watched local food advocate Kevin Kossowan’s video Episode 27 – The Kill Floor. It was  not easy to watch, but it was done in a respectful way and I felt it important to understand butchering and processing.

So even with some hardening to the cold hard facts of being a meat eater, I have to admit I had a few seconds of “OMG that’s a whole pig and I’m going to be eating it”. And just when the thought enters my head that becoming a vegan is not all bad, a fellow diner made a comment, that to me sounded like the pig was named Rose. Found out later she meant the pig was “roasting”, but no matter, I deemed the pig’s name to be Rose after that, and for some reason, that made it okay for me to eat it for supper.

When the pig came off the spit and it was time to chop him up for supper, Michael and I were hanging over the balcony railing watching the slight of hand knife work of Chef. Chef for the night was Alex Sneazwell. Michael was particularly pleased as Alex handed him a meaty rib straight from the pig.  Michael claims it was the best piece of pork he ever ate. I know for a fact it also made Michael feel mighty manly to be eating a meaty rib straight from the pig (whilst in the other hand he had a very pretty looking sandinista cocktail – a mix of rum, lime, bitters and grapefruit).

Piggy business aside, let’s talk about the evening! Woooo eeeeee! What a night. First, we had most excellent weather. Second, everyone there seemed to be into it. The mood was light, people were chatty and social. This was due in part to the excellent hosting skills of Lorraine Ellis and Cyrilles Koppert. Here’s a pic of me and Cyrilles:

Then, we had the witty sharp charm of Joshua Black who was on bar ticket sale duty. We kept him busy to say the least. And those tickets had to go somewhere, and we had choice. We had the highly energetic Tarquin Melnyk – Bar Director, who can make any beverage out of anything you can think of, including pork au jus. No. I’m not kidding. On the patio, we had the very popular Volstead Act, creating “those” sorts of alcoholic beverages that are so tasty you forget they are made with alcohol and could drink through five of them without even batting an eye – if you were so inclined that is.

The rest of the evening was spent chatting over dinner, which was delicious, but as I always say, nothing makes food taste better than the company you keep. Michael and I were surrounded by Bothy bosses Doug, Eileen, Louise and Dennis, and also were privileged to have Co Koppert on my right for a most animated and entertaining dinner companion.

Michael and I both enjoyed ourselves at this event, meeting new friends and getting acquainted with others. It will be a night to remember for a long time.

Congratulations to the High Street Social Club, The Manor Bistro, and Urban Diners Ltd. for a terrific, fun, memorable evening!