Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fork Fest - Blue Pear

We arrived at The Blue Pear this evening at 7PM to a packed restaurant - Fork Fest is obviously doing its job and getting diners in. The host quickly greeted us, hung our coats, and seated us around the corner of the entrance.

Bread from Tree Stone was already on the table, but it did take a bit for our server to appear with menus and water. Once menus were provided, we were given a quick explanation of its organization, then we were left for slightly too long to make our decisions.

Of course we were there for Fork Fest and we stuck to it - there was no chance of jumping to the $89 - 5 courser. We did however choose to go with the "mini wine pairing" - a glass of sparkling wine, a glass of wine paired with the entree, and another with dessert for $29 per person. For food, Charles went for the Caesar and the Beef Two Ways, while I chose the Cauliflower Soup and the Guinea Hen Breast & Braised Chicken Thigh (they would bring the dessert menu later).

Our sparkling wine was brought out straight away, and I have to say it was a nice thing to have on an average mid-week day... it made it a bit celebratory, which we both appreciated. Our soup and salad followed quickly (I'm sorry I didn't take a picture of either). The soup was lovely and rich, and the bit of blue cheese sprinkled on top made it even creamier, while chopped walnuts provided crunch. They really did make the Caesar their own - while the dressing was fairly classic, the Parmesan-custard was a departure from the norm, and unfortunately it wasn't quite Charles' thing

We had to wait a bit for our mains, which turned out fine as we needed some time to soak up the rest of the sparkling wine. But just as we finished our glasses, our entrees appeared along with a slightly delayed glass of red for each of us.

The flat iron steak on Charles' plate was melt-in-your-mouth exceptional, and certainly the best steak he's had in the City thus far. The chili con carne was based on Heston Blumenthal's In Search of Perfection version (I wasn't sure what to think of that), and Charles' enjoyed its richness, and said the wine went well with the slight spiciness.

Beef Two Ways

My plate was equally good - the chicken and guinea hen was crispy on the outside, but moist in the middle, and the cranberries around the plate cut through the richness of the sauce with slightly sour bursts of flavour. The stuffing reminded me of my Mom's, although the chestnuts studding this one gave it a slight edge. And as promised, the red paired with my meal went with the cranberries and stuffing nicely (although I'm still looking for a restaurant that will be able to pair a beer with my meal).

Guinea Hen Breast & Braised Chicken Thigh

Once we were both finished our meals (I'm a slower eater than Charles' and I appreciate when they don't remove his plate right away), both our plates were cleared and after another slightly lengthy wait, we were provided with a dessert menu. Charles made a bee line for the chocolate cake, but I was intrigued by their version of "Ants on a log", something I ate a lot of as a child. Our pairing with dessert was a Riesling with Charles' Chocolate, and a Tawny Port with my raisin focused dessert.


Dessert came out relatively quickly and we dove in appropriately. Charles' chocolate dessert was just that - chocolately, although there were some hints of berries throughout. My "ants on a log" was pleasantly nostalgic - there was some crunch with the peanut milk chocolate log and peanuts around the plate, a heavy concentration of celery in the sorbet, and some spiced cinnamon sultanas to round it off. It was a playful grown up version of a child hood favourite and I would certainly have another plate of it.

Ants on a log

After our dessert plates were cleared, we decided on an espresso for me and a latte for Charles before we faced the final bill...

We really enjoyed our experience, and while we were left wishing for slightly more polished service, the food made up for any delays in drinks or otherwise. Of course we would love to head back, but at $89 per person for their traditional five course menu, we are going to have to fill up our change jar.

The $45 - 3 course menu made us both happy though - it was essentially the "Baby Blue Pear" menu, which ordinarily goes for $59, and we feel there was some definite value there. Plus, the restaurant had been on our list for awhile, and we are both glad the Fork Fest deal gave us the chance to head over.

The Blue Pear
10643 123 Street
Hours: Sun & Wed through Sat (5-9:30PM); Mon & Tues (Closed)
The Blue Pear on Urbanspoon


Erin said...

I thought I saw someone surreptiously taking a photo of their entrees last night as I was leaving the Blue Pear.. that's so funny. I thought to myself- now which local food blogger would that be? What's also funny is that I enjoyed the exact same meal you did. I'm surprised you didn't mention the celeriac puree- it was delicious enough to make me rethink my loyalty to the mashed potato.
Anyway, I completely agree with your review- great food, good enough service. And hurray for Fork Fest, without which I probably would never have visited.

Marianne said...

The celeriac puree was amazing, you are so right. I didn't really mention the celery part at all which did seem important to the dish.

I love Fork Fest for that. I wouldn't have made it either if it wasn't for the event.

Thanks for commenting, Erin!

Isabelle said...

This is hilarious - we were there on the same night too, but a bit later! I decided not to bring my camera because I knew it would be pretty dark. We enjoyed our meal although we also found the servive not great - kind of stiff and snooty. And the room itself has no personality, which really disappointed me. But the food was really good and the value undeniable. I had the lobster lasagna which I really enjoyed, and the tropical dessert plate which had some really interesting flavours and textures. They are definitely pushing the boundaries in Edmonton in terms of desserts. Thanks for the review!

Marianne said...

I was wondering about the lasagna... glad it was also good. I'd like to head back on a normal evening (not for awhile, but...) to see if the service is improved at all. "Stiff" is a good way to describe the service end of things.

I know, the dessert selection was great! Usually it's an afterthought, but they really seem to have it together in that department, which is great.

Thanks, Isabelle!