Thursday, February 18, 2010

Skinny Legs & Cowgirls... A Sort of Bistro

We ended up at Skinny Legs and Cowgirls (12202 and Jasper Ave) on Wednesday evening instead of Valentine's Day... Finding out after making our February 14th reservation that they would be offering a $200, five course, pre-fixe menu, we thought we'd better test out the place on a regular evening before getting into that sort of indulgence. So we arrived right on time last night for a 7:15pm reservation.

The restaurant just opened in their new location (which used to house Ziveli's) a couple months ago, and while they haven't done much to the exterior (they are planning a patio reno this summer, according to Liane's post on the restaurant's move), the interior is quite rich and lovely, with deep red walls and a sparkling red-orange glass tiled bar, fireplace and north wall. We were seated a few minutes after arriving, and after another small wait, were provided with wine and food menus.

There were three servers working last night - part owner/daughter, Amy, one who was training, and another who seemed newer to the restaurant. Confusion seemed rampant when we arrived (probably a combo of the newer staff, the larger dining room, the open kitchen and a packed house), but as the earlier seating began to vacate, and with the arrival of our bottle of wine - a Michel Torino Cuma Malbec ($30) on recommendation of Amy - everything seemed to settle down a bit.

Bar and east side of dining room

On the food side of things, everything is meant to be shared sort of tapas style. I love this concept... so much more interactive and participatory. Since it was just the two of us, we decided on an appetizer of the Three Cheese Salsa Bake with in-house smoked cheddar, cream, and goat cheese ($14), and the Signature Mixed Grill for two, which included pork ribs, bison rib eye, lamb chops, potatoes au gratin, and lots of grilled and roasted veggies ($90).

West side of the dining room

I had heard both good and bad about wait times during meals (here's a link to Chowhound's latest thread on the restaurant), but I was happy to see our salsa bake arrive about ten minutes after ordering. It was not quite what we expected, but it was fantastic - the salsa was a nice hit of brightness through the rich cheese, and we had no problems cleaning out the bowl.

Three Cheese Salsa Bake

Our main arrived quickly after our salsa bake bowl was removed, and we appropriately dove right in. All the meats were fantastic - the bison was flavourful and moist, the ribs had an amazing sweet and savory sauce and the lamb (my first ever!) was delicious, with a tangy mustard rub lingering on each piece. The abundance and variety of roots and greens made me happy as well - cabbage with a rich tomato sauce, roasted parsnips and carrots, sweet potato mash, grilled zucchini, eggplant, artichoke, fennel, asparagus and broccolini all filled the plate. We got through all the meat selections, but about half the potatoes and veg came home with us (this made a great lunch today though!).

Signature Mixed Grill

For dessert we were offered two options - a bread pudding with Cognac sauce, or a lemon tart with meringue. We chose the lemon, but our server quickly returned to let us know they were out, so of course we opted for the bread pudding ($10), along with a couple coffees ($3.10 each).

Bread Pudding with Cognac sauce

Dessert arrived quickly, and as expected, it was certainly rich after our large main, but enjoyable and delicious all the same. The show stopper for Charles though, was the cream vessel...

Creamer in action

Cozy fireplace at the end of the evening

Our evening at Skinny Legs and Cowgirls was probably one of the stranger restaurant experiences we've had (in a good way!!!) - I think it was the combination of the higher priced food and the incredibly casual service and atmosphere (we were just discussing expectations/assumptions according to the cost of food in Anthro last week... so ironic). While the service side of things wasn't traditionally polished, it was friendly, knowledgeable and personable, and all three servers stopped by our table to answer questions, to remove empty plates, or to fill wine and water glasses when needed. 

The food was amazing, with quirky service and an atmosphere to match, and in the end, we had an enjoyable and relaxed belated Valentine's evening. We will certainly be returning.

12202 Jasper Ave
Online reservations through Open Table
Hours: Mon (5-11pm), Tues through Sunday (Weekday Lunch and Weekend Brunch 11am-2pm; Dinner 5-11pm)
Skinny Legs & Cowgirls Bistro on Urbanspoon

Liane, of the Edmonton Journal's Bistro section, wrote a post on recent brunch at the restaurant on her blog.


Isabelle said...

Thanks for the review Marianne! I was curious about their new location ... hoping to visit sometime soon.

Marianne said...

Thanks for the comment, Isabelle! Definitely give it a try, it's an interesting spot... I'd love to know what you think compared to their old local!