There is a space that I absolutely love in downtown Edmonton and that is the restored Alberta Hotel on Jasper Avenue. When it was Tavern 1903, it was my go-to place for all occasions, so I was devastated when it closed. Recently though, the Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen has taken over the space and started serving up delicious bites and drinks.
Earlier this week, Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen had their grand opening with a set menu. A few friends were there for dinner and I heard it was a wonderful meal. I wasn’t able to make it but I did pop over during their soft opening phase! I am always dubious about reviewing soft openings and I tend to go in expecting to see kinks that need to be worked out. In fact, I was not planning to write about Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen, so didn’t even bring my camera with me (sorry for the lower quality phone photos), but *spoiler alert* my meal was so good that I had to share it with y’all.
The cocktail menu is quite interesting and all the drinks run between 2-3oz around the very reasonable $13 mark. We tried the boulevardier, absent sun and strange brew – the boulevardier was a hit with my bourbon loving friend, but much too strong for me, especially when it had 3oz of liquor in it.
The absent sun had Solstice vodka, green chartreuse, bénédictine, hopped grapefruit bitters, and cinnamon and is a drink created by Brandon Baker of Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen. My friend liked it, although it was definitely one that you had to have a few sips of before deciding how you felt about it. We weren’t quite sure what to do with the giant cinnamon stick but the cinnamon flavor it imparted was quite nice.
My drink was the strange brew, which consisted of Eau Claire Parlour gin, falernum, pineapple juice, lemon juice, IPA and mint. The main flavor I got was the pineapple juice, but the 2.5oz of liquor hit me hard by the end of our meal. -_-
We decided to share a few dishes and started with the bone marrow agnolotti. The bone marrow agnolotti came with wild mushrooms, celery root puree, brown butter and pecorino. This dish was very good – the agnolotti was fantastic and the wild mushrooms gave the dish an incredible earthiness. The celery puree was great with each bite of agnolotti and added to that earthy flavor. This dish is perfect for fall weather and comfort food at its finest.
The seared scallops with king oyster mushroom, apple gremolata and duck fat potatoes was good but not the greatest value in my books. The scallops were perfectly cooked and the apple gremolata added a hint of sweetness and crunch to the dish. However, for $18, I can’t justify ordering this very often despite how much I liked it.
The entree that we shared was the pembina pork cheeks with tomato jam, buttermilk polenta, wild mushrooms, arugula and local pecorino. This dish was absolutely amazing… Normally I find polenta to be quite hit or miss, but the one we had was creamy and just worked so well with the beautifully tender pork cheeks. There is nothing I didn’t love about this dish and I can’t wait to order it again.
I was feeling quite full but our server convinced us that the Alberta Hotel banana smores were worth ordering and she was not wrong at all. This dessert was phenomenal and I plan to order it every time I go to Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen. I typically don’t love banana flavored desserts but the liquid nitrogen banana ice cream, caramelized bananas mixed with the marshmallow and chocolate was just ridiculously delicious. If you’re only going to eat one thing at Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen – this should be it.
My dining experience on what was effectively the very first day Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen was open to the public was so stellar that I couldn’t believe it. There were a few hiccups with service as everyone tried to get themselves oriented but it was actually more attentive service than a lack of it. Everyone was friendly and so excited to share and talk about the food and drinks! I like that they kept the menu quite small so you know that they can focus on a few dishes and make sure they are done right. The food was outstanding and not just for a soft opening – the quality of food we received was what I would expect from a restaurant that has found its feet after a few months.
*Edit* I did end up going back to Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen to celebrate Andrea‘s birthday and the experience was a little more hit and miss, but the dishes I ordered (bone marrow agnolotti, manitoba pickerel, banana smores) were still quite good. My friend Cindy has a much more detailed review on her blog on both meals she had at Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen.
So What Would Argenplath Pay?
Our bill came to a total of $106.45 + tax and tip, which I felt was relatively reasonable considering the location and food. The prices are on par with most places in the downtown core and the cocktail prices are definitely a great value in my opinion. Below is the price breakdown of what we ordered, although there are a few price changes on the current menu.
- Boulevardier – $12.50
- Absent Sun – $12.95
- Strange Brew – $13.00
- Bone Marrow Agnolotti – $16.50
- Seared Scallops – $18.00
- Pembina Pork Cheeks – $21.50
- Alberta Hotel Banana Smores – $12.00
Obviously I had a very positive experience at Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen and it is working its way up my list of go-to restaurants to recommend. In fact, I am going back tonight and can’t wait to try more items on the menu!