Canteen – Downtown Edmonton

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Karen was visiting me in Edmonton and this was our first night out together. We picked Canteen because it looked like a great place to try. It is located on the western edge of downtown.  Its decor is dark and grungy with a modern twist with the back-lit wall, the modern hanging light fixtures, and sofa seating along the back row. The cloth napkins were nicely held together with a Canteen elastic logo. Overall we thought the decor was good but not exceptional.

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We ordered a few appetizers, The first was a tomato salad with creme fraiche. The tomatoes were the standard hothouse tomatoes you can get at grocery stores. They could have used on the vine tomatoes for a more earthy and richer tomato that would certainly have improved the dish. The addition of the cherry tomatoes was a plus though. The creme fraiche could have been more light and airy, but instead was more of the consistency of light cream cheese. Overall, it was a good salad but could definitely be improved.

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Gull Valley Tomato Salad with Creme Fraiche, Thyme Oil, Greens, and Balsamic

The biggest disappointment of the night was the mussels.  To start, for $17, you get a very very small amount of mussels. To make things worse, the mussels themselves were tiny (about 1/3 the size of the shell). A few of them were not even opened either, which means that the mussels were not fresh. Another thing that is lacking is the sauce. The mussels were virtually dry. They give you two pieces of bread, but we weren’t able to eat it because there was no sauce to dip it in. The smoked bacon flavour was prevalent, which made the mussels taste quite rich, but the white kidney beans did not go well with it. Overall, terrible dish with a terrible price to go along with it. I would not recommend it.

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P.E.I. Mussels, double smoked bacon, tomato fennel sauce

After that disappointment, we were hoping that our mains would make up for the appetizers. For the most part, they did. Karen had the Scotch Egg. The outside is deep fried mashed sweet potato and on the inside, is a semi-done hard boiled egg. It sort of reminded me of a croquette but with more filling and a softer shell. The egg was placed on top of a bed of spaghetti squash, which was delicious and crunchy. Karen did not like the roasted lobster mushrooms due to the earthy taste. The sauce tasted like a creamy, less viscous tartar sauce that went well with the dish. Overall, Karen thought this dish was very good.

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Vegetarian Scotch Egg, spaghetti squash, marinated chanterelle, and grilled lobster mushrooms

I had the pork chop with roasted pork belly. I thought this dish was really well done. First off, the presentation is nice. The pork chop was done very nicely because it was very juicy and tender. The roasted pork belly was also very good. It was very moist and rich tasting. My only complaint was that some portions of the outside were roasted unevenly resulting in a few dry and tough spots. The Gnudi Succotash was delicious. They are these gnocchi-like pasta dumplings made from corn and beans. They have a doughy like texture when you first bite into them, but they quickly break apart and release the flavours of its ingredients. First time having them and they were a delight. The roasted beet bbq sauce had more of a sweet beet taste than bbq, but the sauce went well with the roasted pork belly. Overall, great dish that I quite enjoyed.

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Irvings Pork Chop, Crisp Pork Belly, Roasted Beet BBQ Sauce, Gnudi Succotash

Canteen follows the style of recent new restaurants. They are casual, modern, and creative. I really enjoy the style of these restaurants because you can really try something that you have never tried before and at these restaurants it really brings out your adventurous side. The food at Canteen is good, but their appetizers need a lot of work. Their mains, on the other hand, were absolutely delicious. The prices were generally reasonable for the quality of food you are getting (only exception being the mussels). I would recommend this restaurant.

Service: 3.5/5
Food: 8.5/10
Atmosphere: Casual, grungy, modern
Price: $30-40 per person

Canteen on Urbanspoon

~Thomas

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