Partake is re-inventing classic European dishes like this version of a Salade Nicoise. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton

Partake
12431 102 Avenue
780-760-8253
ouipartake.com

No listed delivery service
No reservations

Mon. to Sat. 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. (1 a.m. Fri. and Sat.)
Closed Sundays

Dinner for two excluding tip, taxes or beverages: Basic, $30; loaded $60

Food:  4.5 of 5 Suns
Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns
Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns

By GRAHAM HICKS

As darkness  falls over fine dining in Edmonton, a new dawn breaks.

Partake is the brainchild of Dutch-born, French-trained restaurateur Cyrille Koppert (Urban Diner, Manor Bistro).

It’s a cozy nook beside the Urban Diner on 102 Avenue just west of 124 Street, transformed into a Euro-bistro/bar.

Koppert has gleaned the best from the ultra-informal dining trend that has enveloped Edmonton, such as small plate portions, a hipster bar, quick service, and less seating (30) to minimize staffing.

Cyrille Koppert holds a cured pork haunch from which Partake’s charcuterie meats are carved. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUN Edmonton

But here’s its secret.

Partake has added CHARM to the mix.

It’s hard to believe Partake is not in a historic landmark building. The polished wood beams, exquisite ceiling tiles, dark wood booths and subtle lighting make for a comfortable ambience that’s new but true to history.

Charm:  Koppert has produced a magic “rustic French” small-plates menu, all in the $12 to $18 range. Classic European favourites have been re-invented, such as Beef Tartare, Coq au Vin, Salade Nicoise, French Onion Soup, even Escargots.  All are re-imagined, refreshed and delicious.

Charm: If you come by for drinks only, Partake extends a complimentary snack.  Not just popcorn or peanuts, but interesting tidbits depending on what’s in the kitchen. For us, it was a chopped mushroom duxelle under melted brie on baguette slices.

At its bar, Partake offers complimentary snacks, like this mini-mushroom/brie toast with drinks. Graham Hicks/Edmonton Sun Edmonton

Charm:  Some Partake dishes are “finished” table-side.  It’s token – not really needed – but cute and attentive. The final flourishes to the Beef Tartare – capers, beet-barley relish – were ritually mixed into the fine-chopped tender  beef by our server in our presence.

The final mixing of Partake’s Beef Tartare is done table-side. Graham Hicks/Edmonton SunEdmonton

Charm: The interesting and oft-rotated wines are not cheap – starting at $12 for a five-ounce pour, $54 for a bottle – but of good quality. Re-fills are generous. Partake servers are encouraged to add an extra splash as a gesture of hospitality.

Charm: The first question asked of newly arrived guests. Do you want your order quickly and all at once, or spread out over an hour or two?  While a small line-up may form at the bar/bistro’s entrance during peak periods, sitting customers never feel rushed.

No culinary short-cuts here – the two drumsticks in the coq au vine ($12) are marinated for two weeks in wine. The sauce is winter-rich with a long-steeped wine reduction, simmered onions, mushrooms … and smoked bacon.

The Coq Au Vin drumsticks with a rich wine reduction chases away any winter blues. Graham Hicks/Edmonton Sun Edmonton

The diced tuna in the generous Salad Nicoise is sous-vide cooked for 45 minutes. A superb shaved meat in Partake’s popular charcuterie, called Wagyu Bresaola, is Wagyu beef tenderloin, in-house smoked, cured and herbed for many weeks.

The potato fluff “duchesses”, their peaks lightly browned, are as light as cotton with a hint of truffle.

“Pissal-a-dessert” was invented by a Partake chef, pizza-like but using a pissaladiere-style puff pastry, not dough. Apricot and prune jams are spread under bubbling brie, topped with lines of caramel. Scrumptious!

The final touch: apricot/prune jam spread on hot puff pastry under bubbling brie with threads of liquid caramel. Graham Hicks/Edmonton Sun Edmonton

Partake is old world, but thoroughly new. It incorporates today’s restaurant survival strategies – no big entrees with scary price tags, small plates catering to individual choice and appetite, a charming bar, minimal seating to lower labour costs and improve service, constant customer turn-over to increase per-seat revenue.

Above all, it’s about excellent light fare in a cozy ambience with attentive service.

Much like the Bodega Tapas and Wine bars, Clementine, Bar Bricco and Pip, Partake represents a “new” fine dining trend in Edmonton that acknowledges the best of the old.

FOOD NOTES

• After 25 years, in April, Koppert will be closing his Manor Café just around the corner from Partake, having opted not to renew that lease in favour of the new bistro/bar.

• Following the downtown 109 Street location and Pampa Ellerslie, Oscar Lopez has opened a third Edmonton Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse at 17020 100 Ave. in the west end. Meat lovers adore Pampa’s all-you-can-eat rodizio (meats carved table-side). Vegetarians graze in the extensive salad bar.

• Looking like fun is the Pink Gorilla Pizzeria in the former Parkallen Restaurant on 109 Street just south of 76 Avenue. Pink Gorilla is a side project by the Local Omnivore meat sandwich boys in Holland Plaza. They know how to cook. Look for the Parkallen to re-open elsewhere in 2019.

• The fancy pizza market appears endless. Coming to Holland Plaza is the sit-down Artistic Pizzeria, with over 60 pizzas on its menu.