Ernest's (NAIT)

December 12, 2012
Ernest's is the Bistro 101 of Edmonton. The restaurant is part of the School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts at NAIT and serves as a classroom for students to gain hands-on experience. Service was great from the start and we were quickly seated upon arrival. After placing our orders, a complimentary bread basket arrived with different varieties of bread and a side of butter. Judging from the size of the bread and butter slices, I knew the portions for the other dishes would be extremely small.

Another complimentary offering arrived shortly after the bread. One of the students had prepared an amuse-bouche in the form of crostini topped with marinated mushrooms. I'm usually not a fan of mushrooms, but these ones had no grassy taste and the flavour was very rich and savoury.

The menu had 3 sections and a full meal would supposedly consist of a course from each section plus dessert. I didn't want to spend my life's savings on this meal and I couldn't finish that much food anyway, so I just opted for a single course and dessert. The four whistle farms duck breast ($22) was a great choice as the duck meat was very tender and smoky with a delicious sweet-tart berry jus. The potato tart looked plain and unassuming, but within its folds were layers of ham and cheese.

I tried a bit of the local pickerel ($12) which was quite tender as well. It was accompanied by fennel-onion confit that reminded me a bit of sauerkraut. The sour onion and refreshing pea tendrils worked well to balance the richness of the butter.

I just couldn't resist the temptation of the dessert menu and I'm really glad I ordered the strawberry rhubarb ($7). The pie was served in a mini pan with a spoonful of smooth strawberry ice cream. And the red ribbon on top was not just for decoration; it was an edible candy ribbon!

I was very impressed with this meal despite the high price tag. No wonder this place is touted as one of the best fine dining experiences in Edmonton. And if you compare the prices to other fine dining establishments, I think this place is actually quite a bit cheaper. I'm already looking forward to a return visit.

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