If there is one thing that I’ve discovered Sarah and I are not short on, it is friends who want to dine out. I love this. I love it so much that I can’t put it to words. But every so often, it’s really nice to grab Sarah after work and just head out on the town by ourselves. I know this means I can’t conquer the menu like a larger group could, which in turn means less enticing pictures for you, but it’s just relaxing to talk about our life. So when I heard about Bistro La Persaud in the Edmonton Journal, I went on a limb and hoped this would be a good place to sit back and take in the season.
With an official launch date set for the end of January, Chef Emmanuael David, is having what could be considered the worlds softest opening. And really, with almost no publicity, it is no wonder that Sarah and I walked into an empty restaurant. Of course, I don’t imagine the location helps. Located in the bottom corner of La Cité Francophone, basically kitty corner to the University of Alberta’s Faculté Saint-Jean campus, it’s not in a high traffic zone.
The space is clean, intimate, and very modern. The tables were laid out with a mixture of two and four tops, with 4 or 5 seats set up at the bar for solo diners. A quick look at the menu online before we left had me craving a few things, and after a quick scan through, Sarah and I were soon on the same page. First to the table, and one of my favourite offerings, Steak Tartare – traditional, fingerling chips. Right behind it was Niçoise Salad – green beans, fingerling potato, niçoise olives, bleu cheese, mint, seared tuna, poached quail’s egg, anchovy vinaigrette.
The tartare was presented wonderfully, with a small line of pink salt and ¾’s of a quail shell waiting to be overturned sat along side perfectly fried fingerling crisp. The meat was fresh and bright with a fantastic combination of classic ingredients. The only problem I could foresee, was that the amount of tartare was dwarfed by the supply of crisps. More meat please! The salad was a creamy mix of vegetables that worked together in unison. A bite of olive, then some potato and maybe a chunk of bleu cheese, or perfectly poached quail egg; awesome. The tuna, which was given a quick sear and it tasted great, but I had to wonder where the gargantuan portion went that was mentioned in the Edmonton Journal.
Chef David, while not presenting the dishes, did come out to inquire after every plate. His confidence was very strong, and after our appetizers, I was starting to see why. As he took notice of my camera, he became very straight faced and quickly stated, “your criticism is welcome”. In fact he was full of one liners during the evening. Two other great ones, “I measure success one customer at a time, one table at a time” and “how can I expect to wow the masses, if I can’t wow you”. I definitely want to see if he’ll participate in my culinary q&a sessions.
Our mains, which we decided to share just like our appetizers, arrived after a perfectly timed gap. The Filet mignon (6oz) – potato pavé, chevre noir crust was put down in front of myself, while the Pork Filet – wild rice, maple bacon wrapped, stewed apple & cognac demi-glace went to Sarah. The presentation was again, stunning. This man, who’s participated in on both Team Alberta and Team Canada for the Culinary Olympics, is definitely going full out. I wonder what he was doing at Dante’s Bistro for all those years.
The filet, which was not crusted, but topped with chevre noir, sat on a square of thinly slices of potato. Almost like a potato lasagna. The meat, which was cooked to my requested rare, was delicious on it’s own. Combined with little bits of quickly softening cheese, the meat seemed to melt down my throat. With an option for a sauce, I went with the port demi-glace and didn’t feel let down. As we cracked into the pork tenderloin, we both gasped with glee as the glowing pink interior gave hints as to what would come in our first bite. I don’t know about you, but I can safely say regarding this piece of pork, cooked on this specific night, it was the best piece of pork I’ve eaten in this city. Absolutely wonderful! Both mains came accompanied by clay pot, which, once opened by the staff, contained a collage of yummy cubed veggies. As Chef David came back for another round, I was almost speechless.
Asking us to save room for dessert, I gave him free reign over our decisions and we waited in anticipation. First our coffee, which came with the cutest of sugar sticks, and then the sweets; Caramelized Apple Crepe – vanilla bean ice cream and Lemon Curd Tart – citrus creme fraiche, walnut thuile. The apple crepe was cooked to golden brown and delicious, with apples that had caramelized enough to make it fantastic. The vanilla bean ice cream, who doesn’t like this stuff, was sweet and yummy. The lemon curd was a perfect counterpart to the crepe, as the tartness exploded right from the get go. With the candied slices of lemon, you could almost picture the freshly squeezed juice that went into the dish. Oh, and lets not forget about the house made crème fraiche that cut the tartness to a T, and made the entire meal a bit smoother.
For what could have easily been another run of the mill Thursday evening, I’d have to say that Chef David and Bistro La Persaud turned it into something amazing. Maybe it was like very intimate space, what with only one 4 top showing up near the end of our stay, or the constant attention from Chef David, or the food, which just so happened to be cooked, presented and delivered in a most fantastic way. Oh and in case you are wondering about the prices. Let’s just say that without drinks, the food ran under $100. Good food, great atmosphere, solid prices. I think we just found our new favourite spot in the city.