Belgravia Hub Chef Max Pierce's chicken Dijonnaise.

Belgravia Hub
7609 115 St. (close to McKernan-Belgravia LRT station)
780-756-3344  (call for reservations)
belhub.com

No delivery listed

Tues. to Fri. 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (Friday to 11 p.m.)
Sat. 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Sun. 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Closed Mondays

Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns
Ambience:  4 of 5 Suns
Service: 4 of 5 Suns

Dinner for two excluding tip, taxes or beverages: Basic, $40; loaded $60

STORY CONTINUES BELOW

By GRAHAM HICKS

Don’t get me wrong.

I love all the Edmonton chefs who are media darlings, like Daniel Costa (Corso 32), Shane Chartrand (SC Damn Good Food) or Larry Stewart (Hardware Grill).

They are practically household names, as they should be. They are all wizards in the kitchen.

But in the background are scores of equally talented chefs, as adept in the kitchen, but with much lower profiles. Because they are not good at, or simply don’t care for, the public-relations game.

I give you Max Pierce, chef at Belgravia Hub.

You haven’t heard of Pierce. Neither had I, until, looking to review something clean, quiet, tasty and off the beaten track, I thought of Belgravia Hub.

Quiet, unassuming, not really caring about publicity – it fills up nicely from word-of-mouth – the last time Belgravia Hub was reviewed in any media of note was in this column and the Edmonton Journal shortly after its 2013 opening. (Not fully true: For years, The Hub’s corn fritters have been listed in the Tomato magazine’s annual “best things to eat and drink in Edmonton”.)

So, unless you live in the neighbourhoods surrounding the University of Alberta, you likely haven’t heard of Belgravia Hub. Believe me, this is a neighbourhood dining spot, not a student hangout.

Meanwhile, chef Pierce is sending into his 46-seat dining room some of the best bistro dishes to be found in Edmonton … at great prices!

Our dinner (for three) was one of the finest I’ve experienced in the past 12 months of reviewing – worthy of mention in the same breath as Tzin, Kanu or Café Linnea.

The “famous corn fritters” were not much to look at but were sublime to the taste buds. Canadian soul food at its best, they arrive hot out of the deep fryer with a lovely, lightly crisped exterior, an interior bursting with warm, soft corn-bread dough – without a hint of mushiness.

A second appetizer was a distinct flatbread thanks to a naan style base, with a riot of colours from peppers, spinach, red onion, quality mozzarella and healthy chunks of tasty Italian sausage.

Still playing on the soul-food-of-the-frozen-north theme, The Hub’s jambalaya  was another excellent dish, the seasoned rice soft and luscious, sweet malleable green pepper, sausage, shrimp and fresh chicken chunks chasing each other around the plate.

The Hub’s jambalaya is truly northern soul food.

Chef Pierce’s strength is his subtlety. No one seasoning ever jumps out, all are in careful balance to create an overall food ambiance. His chicken Dijonnais does not shout mustard as so many Dijon-based dishes do. Instead, the sauce delivers a compelling herb/condiment balance, on top of amazingly fresh chicken.

The menu itself is intelligent – the 11 entrees, most in the $18 to $22, range from conventional to eclectic. There’s interesting chicken, pork chops, salmon and burgers. There’s also French-style cod stew  and green cauliflower curry.

Belgravia Hub is all about neighbourhood – it was full on a pleasant Friday evening, folks dressed as if hanging at home.

But it’s probably the best “neighbourhood” bistro in town.

• • •

The defining dish for the Sorrentino Group’s famous 28th Annual Garlic Festival?

The black garlic risotto!

This risotto is sinful temptation come down to Earth – rich and dark, mushroom and cream, leavened with black garlic’s allure. Its spicy notes are such that it paired perfectly at the Garlic Festival’s kick-off with the featured Zenato red wine.

The black garlic risotto, a Sorrentino’s Garlic Festival special, is sinfully good. (Photo supplied)

The festival – a collection of garlic-influenced dishes created by Bistecca’s Sonny Sung and Sorrentino Downtown’s Alberto Alboreggia – runs at all Sorrentino’s, Buco and Bistecca from April 1 to May 1, 2019, culminating in the Garlic Stomp charity ball at the Expo Centre on April 25, in aid of the Pilgrim Hospice Society’s soon-to-be-built Roozen Family Hospice Centre.

Another Garlic Festival special – mozzarella balls wrapped in prosciutto.

Taking the family out to Sorrentino’s during Garlic Festival has become an Edmonton tradition, thanks mostly to the enduring high standards and creativity of the Sorrentino’s culinary team.

In addition to the black garlic risotto, may I recommend the beef ravioli and chicken Supreme?

In another tradition, this year’s Garlic Festival king and queen are the 102.3 Now radio weekend team of Marika Friesen and Brayden Mack.