May 6, 2010

Zinc at the AGA

This morning on CBC radio I reviewed Zinc, the new restaurant at the Art Gallery of Alberta. You can listen to the review here. Usually when I review restaurants for CBC, I leave my camera at home. I don't want to draw atttention to myself and make the restaurant think I'm doing some kind of review. But I really want to return to Zinc if only to take photos! It's the most beautiful restaurant I've been to in Edmonton, and one of the most beautiful I've been to anywhere. Chic table settings with luminous blue water goblets, light coming in everywhere from floor-to-ceiling windows, and that amazing end-cut douglas fir wall.

The food looks great too, but the results weren't always fantastic. Definitely not worth the price tag for us. I found the menu pretty blah - a lot of typical choices, and very French preparations. Food like this doesn't have to be boring, of course - it all depends on the chef. The cocktails were delicious, though, and there are some other dishes I'd like to try (like the blueberry and lemon panna cotta and the Brome Lake duck breast).

I've read a lot of negative comments about the service on forums and other blogs, but our service was quite polished. A bit too earnest, and as others have noted, pretty green, but well-timed and polite, even when my husband had to send back an after-dinner drink twice.

We generally eat out at moderately-priced, casual places. The only other high-end restaurants we've visited in Edmonton are the Red Ox and the Blue Pear. We went to the Blue Pear during Fork Fest for the reduced price menu, and I still consider their regular prices prohibitively expensive. The food there was impressive and really pushed the envelope, but the service wasn't great and the atmosphere stank. We really liked the Red Ox and I think it is worth the price. The other high-end places I am itching to try are Madison's and Wildflower Grill - and although it's a little more casual, Wild Tangerine is also near the top of my list. It would be nice to find another special-occasion restaurant in Edmonton.

What are your favourite high-end Edmonton restaurants?


A Canadian Foodie said...

Great to hear your review. Happy to hear your experience was great - and the dishes are beautiful. Ouch about The Blue Pear Atmosphere. Was it the regular atmosphere - or something that happened the night you were there?

Marianne said...

Great review, Isabelle. Glad you encountered some good service at Zinc. I agree - the prices are extreme, especially when the food isn't bang on.

I was at the Blue Pear the same night you were, and found something similar with the service (I'm sure we chatted about this awhile back...). And Blue Pear's regular prices are well beyond our reach unless it's a very special occasion. I'm not willing to give up our casual spots for that night out alone either.

Red Ox is my favourite. While I wish their food pushed the envelope a bit more, it's consistent, and service is always bang on. I really want to try Wild Flower for dinner too, and while I've been to Madison's a couple times for lunch, I really need to get there for dinner.

erika edith said...

I am a sucker for the hotel mac - service there can be hit and miss too, but the wood and chandeliers seem to make up for it.

We Eat Together said...

i hear Creations does some good work.
It is in the Sawridge Hotel.


Natasha said...

Definitely go to the Wildflower... its amazing. The food is beautifully prepared and the staff are great! Very attentive and knowledgeable. Their lunch menu is fantastic too!

noodle_58 said...

I'v eaten at zinc twice now, once was okay the last time was disasterous.... I love the presentations at wildflower (try the saskatoon venison!) and the service at blue pear can't be beat! I would have to say though that my tastebuds always bring me back to Creations. I caught your review on it and thought I'd try it out, I've been there three times since. I find it affordable and consistant...and I'm inlove with their elk and chocolate.

Isabelle said...

Thanks for your comments everyone!

Valerie - it was a regular night at Blue Pear. I just think their room could do with some updating.

Julianna - I reviewed Creations back in January and to be honest, I wasn't that impressed. Also expensive for what you get, I thought.

noodle_58 - interesting to hear your thoughts on Creations. Maybe I will check it out again someday, although my initial impressions weren't great.

Alex P said...

Just tossing in my two cents, Wild Tangerine will be good to you- their food isn't SUPER expensive, their drinks are unique and their deserts are AMAZING. I suggest the ginger bread (which is like a soft white gentle version of the scary brown dry version youre expecting). I know this is ages later than your normal comments, but I have to say- I await your review!