Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.
Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tip and taxes: Basic, $40; loaded, $80
Food: 4 of 5 Suns
Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns
Service: 4 of 5 Suns
By GRAHAM HICKS
The new Brasserie Bardot, taking over the lovely old Edmonton mansion vacated by The Manor Bistro, is NOT a high-falutin’, snotty, pretending-to-be-a-five-star French restaurant.
Quite the opposite: it’s a comfortable, casual bistro with a menu that, like so many good restaurants of late, offers twists on the familiar.
I would describe Brasserie Bardot as “French-inspired” or “In the French style.”
It has poutine, burgers, steaks and wings.
But over the poutine’s French fries, cleverly named “fontine”, is poured two types of fondue cheeses – white cheddar and smoked raclette.
The “French Onion” burger features melted/browned brie and gruyere over the beef patty.
The wings arrive with a spiced orange glaze.
A raft of more Euro/French dishes are disarmingly presented in bistro-style – veggies in puff pastry, steak tartare, escargot Wellington, croissant stuffed with ham, cheese, prosciutto, croque monsieur, moules et frites (mussels and fries).
Fresh, warm French bread arrives as part of the meal, under a linen napkin. Chivalry is not dead!
To top things off, Brasserie Bardot is most competitive in its pricing. Generously sized appetizers range from $10 to $12, mains (other than steaks) are $19 to $29, fancy sandwiches and burgers $15 to $18.
Few other establishments offer such a wide range of wines by the glass – with many three, six and nine-ounces within the $4 to $14 range.
On tap are two excellent French beers – Kronenbourg 1664 and the brown, nutty Grimbergen Double Ambree, priced at $5 for a baby pint, $9 for a full.
This is most intelligent. In the “old days” nobody thought twice of driving home after sharing a bottle of wine, or after two pints of beer. With today’s stringent driving ‘n’ drinking laws, few dare to drive after anything more than a pint or a six-ounce glass of wine with dinner. Yet few restaurants offer multiple good wines by the glass, or beer by the baby pint.
Nowhere was the notion of a French twist on casual dining more interesting than the creamy bouchees appetizer that must be a Brasserie Bardot original – mini-portions of foie gras (goose liver) enclosed in small triangular puff pastries and deep-fried, seven of them for $12. Deep-fried foie gras in puff pastry may not be the purest way to experience foie gras, but it’s a start.
The baked brie, inside a panko coating, was pleasingly gooey and at the perfect temperature. Most interesting was the “feuilletee aux legumes” a puff pastry shell filled with roasted veggies. The crowd pleaser was a dollop of whipped (real) cream mixed with a Dijon mustard on top, creating a savoury, crème-fraiche like-sensation that transformed the veggies into something special indeed.
The only dis-satisfying aspect to a full evening of dining for four was the moules (mussels) in white wine. The wine sauce was inexplicably pedestrian, dull. In contrast, the same mussels in the house tomato-compote sauce was full of zing. While admiring the creativity of deep-fried foie gras triangles, the foie gras taste was obliterated within deep-fried pastry.
Brasserie Bardot is offering unique, accessible, informal and inexpensive dining with a French flair. Congratulations are in order for Chef Shariq Naujeer (coming from Jasper Park Lodge) and brasserie owner Jason Pechet, who also owns the next-door Violino Italiana.
The many black & white photos on display of Bridgette Bardot, surely one of the most physically beautiful human beings ever to walk the face of this Earth, don’t hurt either.
Unless you’re in Vegas, nightclub cabarets are not generally renowned for food. An exception is right here in Old Strathcona. The Spotlight Cabaret, in addition to a top-notch musical theatre show, includes an excellent pre-set four-course dinner with a choice of entrees.
We shared just one serving of a delicious tomato-based linguine full of fresh seafood and were still stuffed. At $50 for the show and dinner, ($75 on Saturdays) It’s one of the city’s best-priced live entertainment/dinner packages.
Imitation is the highest form of flattery: Smokey Bear, featuring grilled meats, has opened directly across 104 Street from the long-successful MEAT BBQ operation … Siu To’s Green Onion Cake Man on 118 Avenue has a second, downtown location, the take-out kiosk on Jasper Avenue above the Central LRT station … discerning food blogger Sharon Yeo suggests the new Kobachi in Sherwood Park is among the best Japanese in the region … I am hearing good things about Lux’s re-vamped menu … After a glowing review of Turquaz Kebab House (Turkish/Lebanese), I asked readers about other Mediterranean restaurants. At least five responded with the excellent Sofra Turkish Cuisine.