|Manor Nosi Goreng|
It was a long 8-week rotation through Internal and our whole crew was absolutely exhausted by the grueling hours and call shifts. By the end of February, we were all beat and looking for something to celebrate. Coincidentally, my companion’s birthday was just around the corner – February 29th, a leap year baby! – and I decided that getting everyone together for his birthday and the end of our core rotations would be a fantastic way to end the month. Originally, I had planned to have his birthday celebration at Red Ox Inn, one of Edmonton’s best fine dining restaurants. Disappointingly, Red Ox Inn was unable to accommodate a party of twelve and neither was their more casual sister restaurant, Canteen. I had never had a problem with finding a fine-dining restaurant, in Ottawa at least, that could accommodate large parties and was actually baffled that any restaurant would turn down a large party ready to spend decent amount of money on a meal (don’t large parties booking a week in advance mean guaranteed business?!). After a little bit of digging on Urbanspoon, I found a quaint little restaurant which featured French-style cuisine with just a bit of a new-age twist, that was perfect for the occasion. Manor Bistro, a restaurant owned by and operated by Executive Chef Alex Sneazwell, was located in Edmonton's Westmount neighbourhood and were more than happy to accomodate our party of twelve.
|Parmesan Pomme Frites|
For our main dishes, I decided on the Roasted Duck ($34) while my companion decided on the Catch of the Day - Special of the Night ($28). Eric W. and his companion decided on the Manor Pasta ($22) and the Chicken Supreme ($28), respectively. The Roasted Duck featured seared duck breast, blueberry gastrique, crispy pork belly, apple fennel puree, and house gnocchi and was served on a gigantic square plate. The elements of the plate were actually quite a distance from each other and the size of the plate actually made the elements look very disjointed from one another. As mentioned in many previous posts, I generally like my proteins rare (except when it is unsafe to do so, as is the case with pork) and was a little disappointed that the duck breast came out medium-rare. The duck breast overall was quite tender and went very well with the apple fennel puree. The duck breast skin was crispy, well-salted, and not overcooked. I would have liked to see more duck breast skin in the dish, however, as it is generally my favourite part of a duck dish. The crisp pork belly was tender and the pork belly skin was quite crispy. However, Manor Bistro made one of the most fatal flaws (in my opinion at least) in serving crispy pork belly – the fat-to-pork belly ratio was grotesque, with the fat portion being much too overwhelming for the small bite of pork belly. While flavourful at first, the pork belly fat leaves an unappetizing residue on your taste buds and ends up sitting heavily in your stomach by the end of the night. Having traveled through a majority of Italy, I had tasted my fair share of gnocci – from the good, to the bad, to the ugly. Manor Bistro’s house gnocci was the traditional flour-based dough pasta and was pan-seared along with the rest of the dish. The gnocci themselves were relatively lukewarm by the time it was served to me and were definitely leaning more towards the “bad” side of gnocci. I found the gnocci rather tasteless and starchy and found myself trying to scoop up as much of the apple fennel puree as I could to give the gnocci that little bit of flavour boost. The blueberry gastrique, though full of fresh blueberry flavour, was somewhat at odds with the rest of the dish and did not add any highlights to the dish nor unify the dish in anyway. Overall, although the duck breast and crispy pork belly combination sounded like a gastronomical experience, the execution of the dish fell flat of expectations.
My partner ordered the Catch of the Day – Special of the Night which featured tilapia, roasted potatoes, and steamed vegetables and the soup special, which was an asparagus puree soup. We both found the asparagus puree soup rather bland and overall entirely underwhelming. His main course was a pan-seared tilapia in a white sauce served with roasted potatoes and steamed vegetables. The tilapia was actually very well cooked and I found the sauce was extremely flavourful. However, having had many tilapia-based dishes, I have decided that I am not the biggest fan of tilapia as a fish; I find tilapia a very bland white fish that flakes in all the places I don’t want it to. My companion mentioned that the potatoes were well cooked but a little under-seasoned. The vegetables, similarly, were well cooked but under-seasoned.
The night ended with a round of dessert, which was literally shown to us on a platter – the most creative way I have ever seen a dessert “menu” presented! Of the four house desserts made from scratch, we decided on the Goat-cheese Cheese Cake ($9), Tiramisu cake ($9), and Chocolate Ball ($9). The Goat-cheese Cheese Cake had an overwhelming goat-cheese flavour that I found took away from the light and creamy flavour of cheesecake that I so enjoyed. Only Eric W. was able to wolf down the goat-cheese infused cake at the end of the night. The Tiramisu cake had a nice wine flavour to it and was definitely a good choice by my companion. Eric W.’s companion settled on the Chocolate Ball which featured a delightful chocolate cake encrusted by a familiar chocolate coating (though we never quite figured out which chocolate bar it resembled). The Chocolate Ball was definitely my favourite dessert of the night.
Overall, the Manor Bistro was a quaint little restaurant that provided the perfect ambience for the entire crew to catch up and celebrate my companion’s birthday as well as the end of our core rotation. The food was fairly hit or miss, however, and I’m not sure my palate is entirely compatible with Chef Alex Sneazwell’s take on French-cuisine. With the final bill between the four of us coming to $193, I think I would have to think twice about coming back to Manor Bistro.
Top Pick of the Night: Parmesan Pomme Frites and Chocolate Ball
Rating: 3/5 Erics'