Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Spectacular Tastes at Stages Kitchen & Bar

The Valley Affair
Although I had never been in the old Mayfield Inn, I was curious to see what the renovations to turn the hotel from the Mayfield Inn, into a Double Tree by Hilton would look like. As well, this was the first time I’d been invited to the restaurant opening of a restaurant located inside a hotel, so I was curious to see what it would be like. Generally when I think of hotel restaurants, I think of restaurants that serve fairly generic food in order to cater to the widest range of visitors as possible. In the past when I’ve travelled, with the exception of an included breakfast, I try to avoid eating at the hotel restaurant, as it’s usually not very good. Although that seems to be improving recently, with Charcut Roast House at Hotel Le Germain being an exceptionally good restaurant located in a hotel.

The "all you can eat" spread at Connections Cafe
at SilverBirch Conference Centre
When we arrived, we were immediately greeted by Grant McCurdy, the General Manager of Double Tree by Hilton West Edmonton, as well as Brigitte Diem-Guy, Vice President, Sales & Marketing for SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts who had flown in from Vancouver for the tasting event. We were escorted to Connections Café, located in the SilverBirch Conference Centre, where we were offered a yet to be named martini, created by their restaurant manager with Victoria Gin, muddled Saskatoon Berries, and mint. Once all the guests had arrived, there was a contest to name the martini, with a prize including an overnight stay at the Double Tree by Hilton West Edmonton, as well as a pair of tickets to any show this season at Mayfield Dinner Theatre, which was ultimately won by @littlemissandrea who named it “The Valley Affair”.

Function Room at SilverBirch Conference Centre
While we were enjoying our cocktails, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic available, we were treated to some appetizers. Their panko crust west coast crab & shrimp cake with Asia slaw and wasabi mayo had a good crab taste to it that wasn’t overwhelming, while the texture of the cake itself was soft and smooth without being gluey like I find many crab cakes tend to be, while the slaw helped to balance out the crab cake with mild acidity. They also served a pave truffled potato cube that was perfectly crispy, had a mild truffle oil taste without being overwhelming and served with a tomato horseradish dip that complemented the potato well. There was also an Alberta feeb carpaccio with shaved Parmesan served that the humans enjoyed. 

Executive Chef Willie White
Next we were taken on a tour of the SilverBirch Conference Centre, which consisted of a variety of configurable conference rooms, breakout rooms, and conversation rooms. The female human who has seen and booked many functions in her life was impressed with the all inclusive nature of their conference centre, as each room had all the audio visual equipment such as projectors and wifi built in and included with the rental, as well as the truly configurable nature of the rooms as all the room furniture, including the tables, were on wheels, so although rooms would come set up as requested, tables could be moved throughout the day as required. As well, use of Connections Café with all you can eat snacks like pastries, candies, fruits, nuts, as well drinks such as juices, smoothies, coffee and tea were also included in the cost of rental, something she had never come across before in all her years booking functions for work.

Alley Kat Beer and Yellow Head Brewing Company
Afterwards, we were taken on a tour of Stages Kitchen & Bar, which consisted of a buffet for breakfast and lunch, as well as different seating areas for more private functions, a restaurant area and a bar area. We were seated in the bar area at three different tables, along with a variety of senior management from Double Tree by Hilton West Edmonton and the SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts group at each table. We wound up at a table with @thepolishviking, Brigitte Diem-Guy and Grant McCurdy, while @baconhound, @LadyAgathist, @littlemissandrea, @YEGfoodie and Edmonton Sun writer, Graeme Hicks, were seated at the other two tables.

Tuna Tataki
Executive Chef Willie White is originally from Scotland, but most recently was the owner of the River House Grill in St. Albert and has worked in a variety of hotel restaurants around Europe before moving to Bermuda and finally Canada. Now he has returned to working in hotels, and has focused on utilizing the best local ingredients he can find in Stages Kitchen & Bar. Neil Allem, Director of Food and Beverage for Double Tree, had chosen a variety of beer and wine pairings to go with the food we would be tasting that evening, with a majority of the choices coming from Canada including Edmonton local brews, Alley Kat Beer and Yellowhead Brewing Company, and British Columbia and Ontario wines. 

Wine Pairings
We started with four different pizzas including a gentle tasting fontina cheese and refreshing roma tomato and basil pizza. Next was a bocconcini and elk sausage pizza with elk from Smokin’ Elk Ranch. The jerk shrimp and pineapple pizza had some nice kick to it from the jerk seasoning, balanced by mouth wateringly juicy pineapple and was inspired by one of Chef White’s daughters, whose favourite pizza combination is shrimp and pineapple. Lastly, my favourite pizza of the night was the Sunworks Organic chicken pepperoni and mushroom pizza, which was mildly spicy. The pizzas were accompanied by a zesty chipotle cream and Blue Kettle blue cheese dressing for dipping. The pizzas were all flavourful with lots of toppings, and even the male human who normally dislikes all pizzas enjoyed them.

Artic Char, Seared Prairie Chicken Breast
and Local Alberta Bison Ranch Meatloaf
Next we tried two of the sausages on the five fork banger appetizer which included an elk sausage from Smokin’ Elk Ranch which had a strong game meat taste to it but was moist, as well as a bison sausage from Alberta Bison Ranch which the humans found was somewhat dry. The tuna tataki was perfectly seared on the outside, thinly sliced, light and a crunchy wonton crisp, topped with sesame oil and crème fraiche, contrasted the soft texture of the tuna beautifully. The slaw underneath the wonton was mildly salty and acidic, mouth wateringly delicious. These appetizers were paired with glasses of gewürztraminer and a pinto grigio, both British Columbia wines.   

More wines

The main courses consisted of a flaky pan seared artic char with tomato, ginger and fennel chutney which was paired with a Kim Crawford sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. Next we had a seared prairie chicken breast with a enjoyable peppery field mushroom sauce. Lastly a local Alberta Bison Ranch meatloaf with a delightfully sweet tomato glaze, Rickards Red beer sauce reduction and caramelized onions. The humans thought the meatloaf was surprisingly light and moist considering there was no bread mixed into the meatloaf, making it gluten free. 

As if we weren’t already about ready to burst by this point, there was still a selection of desserts to sample, starting with a dark chocolate molten cake which was chocolaty tasting without being sweet, with a smattering of crumbly salted chocolate earth and cappuccino ice cream accompanying it. Next a very light yet creamy crème brulee, and finished with an unusually shaped by airy vanilla bourbon cheesecake with a wild berry compote, all paired with an Inniskillin Vidal Ice Wine from Ontario, which I was pleasantly surprised to find was not overly sweet. 

So full!
At the end of the night, we were all given gift bags which were insulated lunch bags, as well as a jar of Chef Whites’ salmon and artic char seasoning, the salted chocolate earth that was used on the dark chocolate molten cake, a USB key with all the information we needed about Stages Kitchen & Bar including their menu, a travel mug, a notebook, and two $50 gift certificates for Stages Kitchen & Bar to entice us to come back and try more of their menu.

Overall I was impressed not only with the food at Stages Kitchen & Bar as it was all consistently well-presented and prepared, not to mention flavourful. But also with the way the entire tasting event was handled from being greeted at the door of the hotel, to the seamless transfer of our coats from the conference centre to the restaurant so when we left at the end of the night, we didn’t have to go back to the conference centre to retrieve our coats, to how senior management spent the night engaging everyone in conversation. Although they did talk about the restaurant, the hotel, other properties they own, and their organizations philosophy, it wasn’t done in an obtrusive manner. They ensured that they spent the majority of the evening getting to know us as people, and allowing us to get to know them, such as discovering as the female human and @thepolishviking discovering they and General Manager Grant McCurdy were all from Saskatchewan. As well as learning interesting differences between Canada and Europe from Brigitte Diem-GuyVice President, Sales & Marketing, who’s originally from a town in Switzerland that overlooks both the German and Austrian border, and about her new love of peanut butter when she moved to Canada. It made the evening pass by swiftly and enjoyably as we felt like we were making new friends instead of being pitched at all night. 

Chef White visited the table with every course that came out, and in between so that we could ask detailed questions about the meal and the local producers he uses, but the staff seated with us were very knowledgable as well since they had eaten the same meal the night before to familiarize themselves with the dishes and to allow them to each discover their favourites. I also appreciated that they brought out both the kitchen and front of house staff to recognize them for their hard work at the end of the evening, a nice touch that I can say I have only seen occur once before at the Chris Cosentino lunch at NAIT in 2013.

Swag Bag

Thanks to the Double Tree by Hilton West Edmonton and SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts teams for a very smooth and well organized tasting event. After attending some less than spectacular openings recently, I can say hooves down has been the most well coordinated, thought out, and executed restaurant opening I’ve ever attended. Thanks to Chef White and his staff for a moolicious meal! I thoroughly enjoyed and will definitely return to try several other interesting looking items on the menu! If you’re anywhere near Double Tree by Hilton West Edmonton in the west end, definitely give Stages Kitchen & Bar a whirl!

More photos at PhotoBucket!

Now because I enjoyed my visit to Stages Kitchen & Bar so much, I have not one, but two $50 gift certificates for Stages Kitchen & Bar to giveaway! I will pick two lucky winners, who will each win one $50 gift certificate for Stages Kitchen & Bar, which expires July 24, 2014. Winners must live in or around Edmonton since these gift certificates are only valid at Stages Kitchen & Bar located at the Double Tree by Hilton West Edmonton. There are a few different ways to enter and to earn additional entries. Contest closes Wednesday, February 12, 2014!  (NOW CLOSED)

UPDATED Thursday, February 13, 2014: The contest is now closed! Thanks to everyone who participated! We had 142 entries! And the winners are... Margaret G. and Joanna C.! Congratulations and I hope you enjoy your meals at Stages Kitchen & Bar!

Stages Kitchen & Bar
Double Tree by Hilton West Edmonton
16615 109 Ave NW
Edmonton, AB  T5P 4K8
Twitter: @StagesYEG

(Note: There was no financial compensation from Stages Kitchen & Bar, Silver Birch Hotels & Resorts or Double Tree by Hilton Edmonton for this blog post, although they provided free drinks – both alcoholic and non-alcoholic – and food. Any review provided by me will completely reflect my thoughts and opinions – good or bad, and will not be swayed by having free drinks and food provided.)

Stages Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon


  1. My fiance and I stayed in a little chateau when we were in Quebec City - it was so nice! All the rooms were set up like individual condos. The rooms were fantastic, the service was impeccable and the bed was the most comfortable I've ever slept on!

  2. I loved staying in the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel as it was my honeymoon. We were treated like royalty. We had to climb a spiral staircase to get to the bedroom as we were in one of the parapets. So unique and special.

  3. Hilton Waikoloa village on the big island of Hawaii - it's huge with tons to see and do and the most incredible location!

  4. fiarmont lake louise by far is the best!

  5. Huge fan of the Metterra Hotel in town! #supportlocal!

  6. Grande Rockies Resort in Canmore because they have rainfall showers in the bathrooms.

  7. Really like the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver. The view is fantastic and most importantly Bella Gelateria is pretty much right downstairs.


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