- 10228 104 St.
- Tuesday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
- Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to midnight
- Closed Sunday and Monday
- Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns
- Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns
- Service: 4.5 of 5 stars
- Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $40; loaded, $80
Bundok is misleading.
The name of Edmonton’s latest downtown, chef-as-chief-attraction bistro sounds very Asian. Indeed, it means ‘mountain’ in Filipino.
Bundok owner and chef Ryan Hotchkiss will likely play with Oriental flavours in the future, depending on the season. But for its wintery opening months, Bundok’s menu is all about French-inspired comfort foods, not rice and soy.
Delicious, top-notch comfort food it is. The subtle, soft hand of a culinary master is at work. A relationship exists between all 12 starter/sharing small plates ($4 to $9) and the four entrees ($18 to $28, with a striploin at $38), a similarity defined by the use of foods and earthy flavours so darn comforting in winter – roasted hen, merguez sausage, pork ribs, melted cheeses, chicory salads, mashed root veggies and wheat berry grain.
Let it snow: The merguez sausage (lamb and pork) with a rutabaga mash was the perfect indoor antidote, the rich home-made sausage beautifully balanced with the slightly tart rutabaga root veggie mash and lamb juice stitching it all together.
Let it snow: The grilled hen (actually a few pieces making up about a quarter-hen) was delectable, deeply herbed, glistening and oily rich on top of a wheat berry bed. Never was shredded cabbage this tasty.
Baby, it’s cold outside, but who cares when two lovely tartines – a fancy word for toasted French bread covered with toppings – are on the table. Sliced apple atop oka cheese and honey hit the spot. The smooth chicken liver pate with pear jam and rough-ground salt was a home run.
The soup, a light parmigiana concoction with crispy bacon and shredded leek in the middle, was just right for early March.
Hotchkiss’s citrus posset (basically a lemon mousse) dessert, with a hint of tea and artfully arranged apple cubes will be a year-round favourite. The posset had enough cream to be ultra smooth, yet was just as refreshing as a more coarse sherbet.
The only disappointment were the little, bland puff pastries known as gougeres, an alternative to starter bread. They were dry and dull. The pommes dauphine on the menu — crispy potato balls with a core of hot gooey fontina cheese- were a better alternative.
We left, this beautiful meal having defeated winter for the time being. It will be great fun to see how Hotchkiss (ex-NAIT culinary school, Jack’s Grill, Bar Bricco, Red Star) re-does his menu as the seasons change.
Bundok is squat in the middle of all the latest restaurant trends – chef-led with a hip, light-industrial décor that’s annoyingly clattery, the obligatory soft-lit cocktail bar with home-made ginger ale and root beer, a manageable 38 seats, and an open kitchen separated from guests by only a waist-high wall. Several veteran servers have moved to Bundok, leading to impressive service. Bundok also has a well-rounded Canadian wine list.
- There’s sadness in the food truck and Chilean communities over the passing of Churros King food truck founder and proprietor Luis Caro, 67, in late February from cancer. Luis, always wearing his pork pie hat, was the undisputed king of churros-making in Edmonton. His chacareros – beef slices, green beans, tomato and salsa sandwiches - were to die for. Luis’s son Volkhart promises to carry on the Churros King tradition. The food truck will be on the festival circuit this summer.
- The Tomato Food & Drink magazine’s annual “Tomato Top 100” — featuring readers’ dining-out favourite food items — is now published in print and online at thetomato.ca. As always, it’s full of must-try unusual restaurant dishes and local food products. Daniel Costa’s three side-by-side restaurants on Jasper Avenue – Corso 32, Bar Bricco and Uccellino – took six of the top 30 slots, and nine of the 100.
- Finally, finally, finally: Ben Staley’s new restaurant Alta is open, right across Jasper Avenue from the Costa group. Staley was the boy-wonder chef at North 52 when it first opened. Creating Alta took so long that Staley is now a young-adult wonder.
- From the top-quality folks at the fabulous Jack’s Burger Shack comes Ong – Hanoi-style Fried Chicken. Ong joins another Jack’s offshoot, Cerdo Tacos and Tequila and the Burger Shack in a mini-food empire clustered at 15 Perron St. in downtown St. Albert.
- Other new openings of note: A second Vivo, this one downtown at 10505 106 St. and a bricks-and-mortar version of Theo Psalios’ Little Village food truck at 14816 Stony Plain Rd.
- Some 30 suggestions poured in from readers after last week’s Weekly Dish on Edmonton restaurants frozen in time. Another review featuring liver ’n’ onions, veal cutlets and rice pudding will soon be forthcoming.
- In a true blast from the past, Chicken on The Way is returning as a re-born franchise, soon opening at 10070-163 St., with a seating section but no home-delivery food trucks.