Revel Bistro & Bar
9802 Jasper Ave.
Reveledmonton.com (reservations as well)
No delivery listed
Tues. to Fri. 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. (12 a.m. Friday)
Sat. 4:30 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Closed Sunday and Monday.
Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns
Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns
Service: 2.5 of 5 Suns
Dinner for two excluding tip, taxes or beverages: Basic, $40; loaded $80
By GRAHAM HICKS
The Weekly Dish recently commented on very fine chefs working in Edmonton with little, if any, public profile.
Here’s another one: Kunal Sawhney, now six months at the Revel Bistro + Bar as executive chef.
A dinner at Revel – in the historic Alberta Hotel across from the Edmonton Convention Centre – was worthy of 4.5 out of 5 Suns for the food.
Every Sawhney creation was a pleasing, exciting culinary adventure.
It’s all the more uplifting because the restaurant space – despite its ideal downtown location and historic authenticity – has had a rough go since opening in 2013.
Original restaurateur Larry Stewart (Hardware Grill) opened Tavern 1903 in the space, only to leave due to a dispute with the landlord. Spencer Thompson’s Alberta Hotel + Grill lasted from 2014 to 2016.
Kaylen and Kaylan Como (Privada Wine & Tapas in St. Albert) took the space in 2016 as Revel Bistro & Bar (not to be confused with Rebel in the inner west end). But then executive chef Tony Krause – now at Beaumont’s Chartier – exited.
Revel’s planets deserve alignment under Sawhney.
Sawhney is Edmonton-raised and trained. Before returning, he was a sous-chef at Vancouver’s prestigious Hawksworth eatery.
In presentation and taste, his roasted cauliflower was bold and dynamic. The visual was a mini-Wall from Game of Thrones – a roasted cauliflower foundation, crispy chicken wing buttresses, pureed eggplant buttons as sentinels, with added flavours from Middle-East condiments and pickled cucumber.
The man is a master of fusion: The smoothest, creamiest dahl soup ever was poured, table-side, around a pakora. The contrast between the submerged pakora with its shredded cucumber/mint raita and the pureed dahl was near-sensational.
And then the big, light, fluffy gnocchi, sprinkled with crumbled pancetta and potato crumbs, crisped and embellished with a whisper of pickled asparagus.
Finally, beautifully seared scallops, each perched on a smoked pork belly morsel, flavoured with a subtle romesco sauce.
Clearly we were in the hands of a master chef. Sawhney has a deep understanding of flavour combinations, of artistically outstanding presentations.
Would that the same could be said of Revel’s service. A sloppily-dressed young man took care of us — pleasant enough, but obviously untrained — with no knowledge of what he was serving.
May Sawhney have a long run at Revel. His food alone ought to make the restaurant/bar one of the most popular in Edmonton.
Lindsay Porter, owner/chef at London Local, is competing in the Food Network Canada’s Firemasters grilling competition episode airing this Thursday, April 25, 2019 at 8 p.m. To celebrate, London Local is offering a “Brewmaster Meets Firemaster” dinner during the show, a four-course meat-lovers delight with Belgian/German beer pairings for only $65 a person. Google ‘Eventbrite’ and ‘Brewmaster’ to reserve seating.
Coming to London Local Tuesday, April 30, is the 152nd gathering of the Art of Conversation from 4:30 p.m. on.
• Welcome home: After a stint in the Okanagan, chef and former Sun food writer Phil Joy is back home as the Sorrentino Group’s Director of Culinary Operations.
• Opening in early summer is Nate Box’s Fox Burger/June’s Delicatessen in the under-renovation Gibbard Block in the historic Highlands neighbourhood. Once home to La Boheme Restaurant, it will come with a third-floor rooftop patio.
Meanwhile, Nate’s Elm Café sandwich shop is about to become Speedy Cantina, home of the city’s best burritos.