The Blue Pear – Edmonton, Alberta

The Blue Pear
10643 123 St
780.482.7178
The Blue Pear on Urbanspoon

Serving a set menu, one that rings in a $89, there aren’t that many every day opportunities to dine at The Blue Pear. So when Fork Fest comes around, the smaller-than-normal $45 menu makes things a little more available. It just so happened that one of Sarah’s good friends, Pilates, was just about to celebrate an upcoming birthday, which pushed us over the edge into making this night special. So along with her husband Red Shag, Sarah took the initiative to get us a reservation last night and we were soon stepping out of the sunshine into the cool, soft ambiance of The Blue Pear.

With Pilates and Red Shag running a few minutes behind, Sarah and I settled on some sparking water. Not really thinking much of it, and neither of us opting for a wine pairing, we sipped a few glasses throughout the night. On an evening where we spent $45 on the meal, it hit me like a ton of bricks when the bill showed $30. 30 DOLLARS for WATER! Those are some pricey bubbles! The bread mix was nice, including a rustic white, sourdough, seedy, and rye loaf. I found the flavour good, but the rye slices seemed past their prime.

With two choices for a first course, it’s no surprise to see we conquered the options; Melon & Prosciutto Ham with Fresh Lemon and Olive Oil & Braised Baby Beets, Anjou pear, Goat Cheese Coulis & Candied Walnuts. I was the lone receiver of the melon dish, and found the melon perfectly rip while the prosciutto was chewy; something I didn’t expect. The beets seemed to be a hit with everyone, but Sarah (being the goat cheese lover she is) didn’t seem to be alone in hoping for a deeper goat cheese profile.

With 4 mains on the menu, I let it quietly slip that I would order last in hopes that the table would end up seeing every option. Lucky for me, and you, my dream ordering succeed and after a peaceful, and well timed break, our table was swimming in food; 1) Crispy Pork schnitzel served with soft corn polenta, morels, peas and garlic herb boursin cream sauce 2) Veal scaloppini finished with hand diced Ahi tuna tartare, tuna caper sauce, baby potatoes and spring asparagus 3) Farmed Barramundi grilled and served with rice dumpling, Asian mushrooms, greens and coconut-lemon grass broth 4) Guinea hen leg braised in red wine sauce served with foie gras , carrots, cipollini onions, mushroom and mashed potato.

Red Shag and Pilates split the schnitzel and barramundi. Both dishes seemed to be well received, but there was a few notes. The fish, and broth could have used something to really give it a kick, as it came across on the blander side. The pork was fried to perfection and sat on a delicious polenta; a definite thumbs up. Sarah had the veal, which was tender and delicious. However, we both wondered how much of the veal we were tasting, as the predominant flavour was the sauce. If you can’t tell by the picture, the dish was basically swimming in sauce. Sarah quite enjoyed the cubes of tartare and the vegetables. With 3 out of 4 options ordered, that left me with the guinea hen. Arriving on a creamy bed of mashed potatoes, the bird was cooked so soft that the bones literally fell out when I touched them with my fork. Soft, and luxurious with the slice of foie, I actually found the dish was spoiled by the gravy. With it’s heavy and salty attributes, everything from the potato to the onion eventually adopted the gravy flavour.

After putting away the mains, we settled into a french press of locally roasted Catfish Coffee and contemplated the dessert options. Unlike the mains, we ended up with one double plate; 1) Flourless dark chocolate-citrus cake with mixed berry sorbet and berry pudding sauce 2) Cherry clafouti with macerated & fresh cherries, kirsch foam finished with cherry pudding sauce 3) Fresh figs with parmesan cheese ice-cream, feuilles de brick & balsamic glaze.

The double order was the chocolate cake, and it went over well. A sample of Sarah’s dish led me to believe that if you like chocolate, this is the dish to get. The richness just seems to coat your mouth, putting you in a land of chocolatey goodness. Red Shag went for the clafouti, which at such a small size, was very manageable but seemed to mean that the cherries were outside rather than in. Either way, it was a first for Red Shag and something that he enjoyed. Going for play on sweet and savoury, I went with the fig dish. The parmesan ice cream wasn’t overly savory and went well with the sweet glaze below. I personally found that the thinly sliced figs were some what lost in the glaze, and unless I snipped off the outside edge, weren’t that noticeable. I’d pulled the parmesan chip out as I began eating the dish, and regret doing so. The chip, which tasted like an intensified version of the cheese, left a strong and undesirable last flavour. Although, I did trick Sarah into trying it as well, and let’s just say that after her chocolate cake, she did not appreciate this ‘token’ of my kindness. 🙂

For my first visit to this famous Edmonton culinary institution, I have to say it was good. You can tell that every bit of the meal is planned and executed according to some very strict standards. Yet……I don’t know if I’d come back for the larger menu. Not one person was wowed by the food, or had anything that was really memorable. As we sat and chatted about the meal, it seemed like no one would be going to work today and expressing what great food we had. It just didn’t hit us, or make us crave more. I don’t think my expectations were too high; after all, this is one of, if not the, go-to high end dinning restaurant in Edmonton, but the food didn’t do enough to entice me back.

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13 thoughts on “The Blue Pear – Edmonton, Alberta

  1. Nice review. Great pictures.

    What was the Schnitzel coated with?

    here in YYC, at UNA PIZZA+WINE, they serve Q Water, basically tap water hooked up to a filter AND to a CO2 container, which for 2.00 they serve you endless.

  2. I kind of feel the same way, Chris. I went for dinner there three years ago, and have never felt a strong desire to return. I’m not sure if it’s the pompous atmosphere, the try hard food that fails to impress or price to value ratio; I’m just not sold, I guess.

  3. I’ve heard about this place for ages, but never got around to it. I’d heard the clientele skews to the older, white haired demographic, perhaps that’s what turned me off. The veal looks the most appealing, but can see what you meant by the dominance of the sauce, just by looking at the image.

  4. H.Peter – Now that I look at it, the schnitzel actually looks like it was breaded with a waffle-style chip, but I’d have to double check with Red Shag to confirm. I quite like the process of hooking up regular water to a CO2 container. Ingenious, and considerably cheaper!

    Kelly – I think it’s easy to create a fine dining institution in a city that doesn’t have a long history or amazing eats, but with the advent of the $40 entrée and a big push for local products at other mid-level restaurants, I think fine dining runs the risk of never hitting the bar unless they really push for ingenuity. Like I mentioned, everything was good. It just wasn’t memorable. Something I would expect.

    Shokutsu – I could easily see the clientele in that group, but last night, there was actually another table (besides ours) below 40. I imagine that had something to do with Fork Fest and it’s cheaper prices. The veal was tender, but yes, it was coated in a sauce that stole the show.

  5. I thought your review hit all the highs and lows very fairly and it would seem to me that a proprietor could learn a lot about his clientele by reading such a review. I would have gladly gone for the guinea hen looked quite lovely. I too have never been a fan of sauces and gravies that “steal the show” either.

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  7. I’ve been to the Blue Pear three times now (once for a full meal, once for a Fork Fest and once for the Baby Blue Pear menu) and I think that generally there is a mix of decent dishes with a few standouts here and there. It’s not enough to make me go back regularly at those prices though, although the Baby Blue Pear’s cheaper prices help. What makes me keep recommending the place to people is that they do try to make a lot of dishes that you don’t normally see in Edmonton. But with all the new places opening up around the city, I think that there is a lot more innovation and competition available now and the Blue Pear isn’t holding up as well in comparison.

  8. Chris, we were eating there with you Sunday night — came in for a 6:15 reservation. We noticed you taking pictures and thought you were probably a local food blogger. We were the two middle-aged women on the opposite side of the room. We saw your table with the special water and am outraged they charged $30! Sheesh, glad we stuck with tap water and wine.

    We had somewhat different opinions on the food. I had the Melon & Prosciutto and agree the melon was perfectly ripe. I didn’t find the prosciutto chewy and we thoroughly enjoyed the dish (we shared bites of everything). Katy had the beets and we both found both the presentation and taste excellent. I liked the subtle goat cheese sauce because it allowed the flavours of the different beets to come through. I ordered the mini wine pairing and was served a Spanish Rosé with the melon and prosciutto — it went very well with it.

    The Pork schnitzel was spectacular, really great. The breading was crispy and not at all greasy, the sauce, polenta and peas went perfectly with it and the pork was perfectly cooked. We shared a piece of foie gras as an extra and wow, it was like butter.

    We weren’t as impressed with the Veal, although I thought the opposite — the sauce didn’t have enough flavour to stand up to the veal and the flavour of the veal was unremarkable. I loved the Ahi Tuna Tartar on top. I don’t have a copy of the wines with me but they served it with a California white that was nice complement to the tuna tartare and caper sauce.

    For dessert, I ordered the figs and Katy ordered the chocolate cake. We promptly switched and both enjoyed our desserts. The 10 year old tawny port serve with the dessert was just dull. I’d much prefer a dessert wine over an run-of-the-mill port.

    All in all, the set menu for $45 was impressive, but I don’t think we’ll go back for a full price menu. They regularly do the less expensive three course menu on Sundays, but we just don’t like the live music they do for Sunday night dinners. No offense to the musicians but having a saxophone honking in your ear while you’re trying to have a quiet dinner conversation isn’t our cup of tea.

  9. “I don’t have a copy of the wines with me”

    I do! The Spanish Rose was a 2009 Marques de Caceres, the California white was Uvaggio Vermentino 2007, and the port was Noval. Meh. The Rose was nice, though.

    The schnitzel was really outstanding; everything on the plate was lovely. We didn’t bother eating all of the veal, but our elderly greyhound was very happy indeed with his veal doggie bag.

    Our standard restaurant test is the after-dinner espresso. High marks for the lovely hard candy stir stick, although the coffee itself was slightly scorched.

  10. Ruth & Katy – First off, thanks for stopping by! I’m pretty sure I do recall seeing you ladies (the room isn’t that big after all). Thanks as well for your breakdown; it’s always nice to hear about a fellow diners experience. I’m glad you liked the tuna, as I felt the cubes were just perfect…and you went with a slice of foie. How decadent!

    As well, what a treat for your greyhound (I had one, and still miss her dearly). I can’t say I order espresso that much in restaurants anymore Katy, as the quality from places like Elm Cafe, Da Capo, Luzzara, and Transcend has just spoiled me.

    Hopefully next time we dine in the same room ladies, you’ll come by and we will be able to chat in person!

  11. A thorough review, Chris, and great photos. Believe it or not, we have only been there once: last year on Valentine’s day. I mean LAST year… 2009. It was a special V-Day menu and we did the wine pairing, though don’t drink it, really… but love the tastings, and it was fun. I wouldn’t do the wines again, with my palate. I just don’t like some of them. I would always do the dessert wines. Love those. And ports. I think this is a place for 4. I would never go again without another adventurous couple willing to have one of each of everything on the table to taste and enjoy. It is a dining experience, more than a dinner – to me. I love the sense of adventure Darcy invests in while developing his menus and though some of the plates do not appeal to me (Like the fish main, or the fig dessert) I love the learning experience of trying them all, and then taking away that learning into my own kitchen to adjust whatever I want to adjust to fit my palate. But, I have to say that it must be memorable at 90 dollars a person, for me to return. Our experience definitely was. It was really incredible. And, 90 dollars is really a bargain for the quality of food we were served while there compared to what you get elsewhere for the same. However, you should have been told the price of the water. That is outrageous. Truly. After having wines with our meal at The French Laundry and finding that the three glasses were about 150 US dollars, we opted to never again accompany this kind of a meal with anything but water. It was a hilarious to find that three glasses of wine could cost so much… and it was after our Napa Wine Tasting day, so we were into it. We tasted… did not drink and I cancelled my glass for the second half of the meal… thank G!!! At the Fat Duck, we had 2 bottles of water totally 2 pounds Sterling each. Fair. At Joel Robuchon’s Atelier in Paris (to be posted later today) we also had 2 bottles of water at 2 Euros each. Again, fair. I was shocked at the water bill. A sad reflection on what could have been a really great meal. Something like that can truly affect one’s psyche. Mine, anyway. Like the wine price at TFL!!!
    I didn’t post our visit as the lighting is so poor in there. I felt like asking to visit the kitchen to take the photos of the dishes before they came out… and I didn’t find the atmosphere at all pretentious. It was just relaxing and peaceful to me… but, maybe that is because I was so thankful that there was not a dress code. Vanja hates to be told what to wear, and when he has to wear a suit jacket to a dinner, he rarely has a good time.
    🙂
    Valerie

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  13. Dinner 06 November – Very special occasion. Expected quality to be on par with restaurants like Characters, Parker House etc. Was very disappointed. Server was a dud -seated us and left us – example – some folks came in some time after us and we sat there twiddling our thumbs while he took their orders first. Did not explain the wine options. The duck/ham appetizer was a perfect marriage of sweet and salty – but that was only one bite. The rye bread is mediocre. The mushroomm barley soup – well neither of us finished ours – flavourless. The pate – I think it was boar was so-so.
    Now to the main course – I had lamb which was tough. Also it was luke warm when it arrived at our table. My wife had venison which she said was fine except the potato squares which were almost unidentifiable as such and were not eaten. Cheese cake is a classic with a classic flavour – if we had not known what we ordered the sweet portions were again unidentifiable. All in all the $200.00 plus special events dinner was a bust and I wish I could remember the name of our server as I would suggest you fire him.
    Ed Jerowsky

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