Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Upper Crust Cafe - Fork Fest


Edmonton has a dining event called the Fork Fest that runs twice a year — once in January and once in July — featuring $25, $35, and $45 set dinner menus at several popular restaurants in the city. My first Fork Fest encounter was at Upper Crust, a casual neighbourhood cafe with a small bakery section near the entrance.


Since I thought of Fork Fest as the Edmonton version of Dine Out Vancouver, I had expected most of the participating restaurants to be of the fine dining category. Contrary to my expectations, this place was as unpretentious as any place could be. It was more of an old-fashioned diner than a chic restaurant. But the price for a 3-course dinner was a reasonable $25 and there was even an option to have only 2 courses for $20.


The complimentary bread was awfully unimpressive for a bakery cafe. The buns were pale, bland, dry and cold.


I thought the meal was off to a bad start, but the appetizer got me hopeful again. I opted for the prosciutto rolls instead of the spinach salad, and that was a very good decision. The moist and slightly smoky meat was complemented with a filling of juicy julienne apples and creamy garlic herb cheese.


For my entree, I had the AAA beef tenderloin which I had assumed to be a regular grilled steak but turned out to be more like braised meat. Also the waitress never asked how I wanted it cooked when I ordered. Maybe I should've taken that as a hint that this was not a normal grilled steak. I didn't like it much and I found the caramelized onion asiago red wine jus a bit salty.


The dessert was similarly lacking in appearance and flavour. A perfect vanilla bean panna cotta to me should be silky smooth with a delicate hint of vanilla. This pudding had a rather coarse texture, made even worse by the gritty Saskatoon sauce. The whole thing was just really grainy as if there were bits of sand mixed in. And honestly the sloppy presentation did not help.


After dinner, I picked up a strawberry rhubarb pie ($6) from the bakery to take home. It looked deliciously tempting in a crude homemade way. Obviously it didn't come from a fancy patisserie, but it looked like a tasty treat that grannies would bake at home for the kids. I enjoyed the buttery and flaky crust, as well as the crunchy granola on top.


Although I didn't enjoy the entree and dessert, I still thought the meal was a good experience due to the price and value. I can see myself coming here again for some pie and comfort food, but I'll pass on the fancy dishes since the place seems more like a bakery and deli than a fine dining restaurant.

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would give this place another try, it seems like the fork fest does not bring the best out of a restaurant. I have been here before and had a pear stuffed chicken breast (had other ingredients but I can't remember what they were, sorry) and it was moist and extremely flavorful and paired exquisitely with the Riesling the waitress helped me pair with the meal. This restaurant always has new specials and they are what I like to try the most!

krispy on August 18, 2013 10:37 am said...

Pear stuffed chicken breast? Sounds delicious. Yeah I've found that a lot of restaurants don't do well during special events. I will try to make it back for another visit. I do like the bakery items!

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