Hicks' Weekly Dish: Revel Bistro is a winner BY GRAHAM HICKS First Published EDMONTON SUN: October 31, 2017
WEEKLY DISH FOR WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2017 – REVEL BISTRO & BAR
Revel Bistro & Bar
9802 Jasper Avenue
Tuesday to Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to midnight
Closed Sunday and Monday
Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $55; loaded, $90
Food: 4 of 5 Suns
Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns
Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns
Excellence breeds excellence.
Another young chef is to be welcomed into Edmonton’s fast-growing club of elite chefs – recognized across Canada when three of our top eateries – Clementine, Café Linnea and Alder Room – made Air Canada’s enRoute Magazine’s list of Top 10 New Canadian Restaurants. (To have three from one city, let alone a city a fraction the size of Vancouver, Montreal or Toronto, is unheard of.)
His name is Tony Krause, chef and partner in the new Revel Bistro & Bar, on the ground floor of the replicated Alberta Hotel, directly across Jasper Avenue from the Shaw Conference Centre.
In two dinners at Revel last week, my fellow diners and I were surprised and delighted by a menu unlike any other in the city, a menu that is courageous and bold, a menu that represents ownership willing to take chances to truly showcase the artist in the kitchen.
Krause and fellow owners Kaylen and Kaylan Como have quietly been polishing their craft for some five years, as the owners and working partners in St. Albert’s culinary gem, Privada Wine and Tapas. Joining the group is general manager Ron Kaufman, long-time manager of Von’s Steakhouse & Oyster Bar before that establishment was sold.
Revel’s menu consists of interesting dish after interesting dish – octopus cassoulet, soft shell crab, chicken liver funnel cake, a cod “chowder” that’s immediately one of the best fish dishes in town.
Krause has an intuitive sense of how far to go, being adventurous but staying just inside his customers’ comfort level.
I haven’t seen soft-shell crab offered in Edmonton before – a very small crab with a tender, edible shell that is lightly coated and quick deep-fried, offered up with Krause-inspired accessories like dabs of sweet lime gel.
The chicken liver funnel cake is a sophisticated variation on fried chicken and waffle – funnel cake being a feather-light crispy sweet tube-dough, layered over with the purest of chicken liver pastes. The combo is a fine sweet/savoury fusion.
Revel’s delicious octopus cassoulet. Graham Hicks photo
The octopus cassoulet is tremendous – silver-dollar sized octopi baked into French-style brown beans, smoked bacon pieces and mushroom casserole. Who knew such an unusual combo could be such a culinary hit?
Likewise, a lightly-sautéed cod filet is presented within a chowder-like puree, dotted with clams and, again, bacon pieces glazed with maple syrup. Dee-licious!
The ‘large’ dishes are more mainstream, but each – stuffed chicken wrapped in bacon, a braised sweet and sour beef, a crab & corn tortellini – has its own Krause-inspired twists.
Revel had a few hiccups, to be expected in a new restaurant. The veal sweetbreads in a Caesar salad are unlikely to stick – the sweetbreads are too pasty to be combined with charred romaine lettuce. Four very small bits of scallop, no matter the presentation or quality, are not worth $15. We were not made aware, until checking the menu after the fact, that Revel charges $6 for its tasty side of kitchen-baked sourdough bread.
Revel needs a few career servers –hospitality veterans who know the food inside out, rather than young adults who haven’t grasped the quality of their own kitchen.
Overall, small quibbles within an exceptional food experience. Revel was full on a Saturday evening, an encouraging sign. Edmonton is embracing Krause cuisine!
IT’S AUCTION TIME!
The Homefire Grill teams up with me for our annual contribution to the ATCO/Sun Christmas Charity Auction, a beautiful five-course Canadiana meal, with wine, cooked at your home for a party of eight by Homefire executive chef Kyle Duncan and served by yours truly.
This year it’s Package #127.
By coincidence, Homefire Grill chef Duncan, sous chef Cliff Elias and I were on deck last Friday, cooking and presenting a magnificent meal for the 2016 auction’s highest bidders Sid and Nellie Braaksma and their friends. The chefs outdid themselves – bison carpaccio, walleye cake, venison chop and elk tenderloin, Inuit ice cream.
I can unabashedly say, and Sid will vouch, that this is a superb dine-at-your-home dinner package. The Homefire Grill is also hosting Package 135, dinner with CTV’s Rob Williams and Stacey Brotzel.
Bid high! Bid often!