Thursday, November 1, 2012

Meandering Dinner at Red Ox Inn

Pork Belly
We had heard from many people that Red Ox Inn was one of those places you take someone on a special occasion, but hadn’t a clue where it was located. So when the male humans boss offered to take the humans out to celebrate the males seven years with the company, I suggested they go to the Red Ox Inn and take Moo with them.

Located on the South side of the river in what looks to be a very residential neighborhood, the small strip of stores stuck out. The restaurant itself is very small, so small that we had to wait outside while they got our table ready. Inside there are banquettes lining all the walls, with tables in front of them and chairs on the other side of the tables.

Beet Salad
The only major disappointment of the meal was a change in the wine menu, which wasn’t relayed to us verbally. I had seen that they had my favorite French champagne, Gosset, in a 375ml sized bottle available on the menu. However, after being left alone long enough time to decide on wines, appetizers, and mains, when we ordered, I was dismayed to find out that they had changed their wine menu and the Gosset was no longer available. Although I opted to order a glass of Riesling instead, the server tried his best to convince this Moo to order the new champagne they’d substituted for the Gosset. Although I declined again, he persisted with his sales pitch. Only after declining a third time did he ask if I had had the Gosset before. When I informed him that I had and it was my favorite, only then did he finally give up his sales pitch.

Duck Breast
We started with the pork belly with sweet and sour, marmalade, and tempura bits, which had a nice citrusy taste to it. The meat was tender and the skin was extremely crispy. However, the beet salad with chevre, pickled veg and olive dust did not appeal to the female human as the texture of the dressing was a bit chalky.

Lamb Loin
The duck breast with gnocchi, beets, goat cheese and hazelnut was ordered medium rare – although the server had suggested medium, which we’re glad we didn’t go with – came out medium. Thankfully, it was still moist, though not as tender as I would have liked. The accompanying gnocchi was mostly light and soft, although there were a few dense pillows in the bunch. The lamb loin with Israeli couscous, artichokes and bacon jam had a lot of complex spices on it from the marinade and was very flavorful and tender. The couscous was also a bit spicy and the bacon jam was slightly sweet, smoky, and all around delicious.

Bread Pudding
The white chocolate bread pudding with berry compote and crème anglaise was dense, soft, and savory. When the berry compote and crème anglaise was combined into one bite with the pudding, it made for a moolicious mouthful. The chocolate dessert consisted of chocolate brownie, caramel ganache, chocolate mousse, and brown butter praline, and was my favorite dish of the night. The mousse portion stood out, as it was smooth, light, and airy, topped with salt, which brought out a more intense chocolate flavor and gave it a crunchy contrasting texture.

We also discovered a delectable accompaniment to dessert, the Michele Chiarolo Nivole Moscato d’Asti, a bright, effervescent, crisp, and refreshing tasting dessert wine that tasted of peaches.

The food had its highs and lows, but the flavors and textures were good overall, despite the service being less than desirable. First the sales pitch to start the evening and lack of relaying that the wine menu had changed wasn’t a fantastic start, requiring us to quickly regroup. Secondly the service was quite slow for Edmonton, at over 2 ½ hours from start to finish for a 3 course meal. The only places in Edmonton I spend that much time eating is when I have tasting menus, so the time is spent trying to pace myself through 5 courses or more! Thirdly the server talked a lot about each dish, as in WAY TOO much (I don’t often use all capitals in a post). For every dish he put down in front of us, he listed what felt like every single ingredient and a play by play of how it was prepared and cooked. Multiply that by four dishes for appetizer, entrée, and dessert, it took a long, long time before anyone got to actually to eat their dish.

I think Red Ox Inn is a place I’d go back to, perhaps on a special occasion as the prices are just slightly higher than average for Edmonton. However, if I got that same server again, I would definitely ask him to just serve us the food and save us the spiel and sales pitch.

Red Ox Inn
9420 91 Street NW
Edmonton, AB  T6C 1Z5
Twitter: @redoxinn

Red Ox Inn on Urbanspoon

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