It’s Fork Fest time again, and this time I managed to eke out a little time to take advantage of one of the offers and have a meal at the Red Ox Inn last night. Fork Fest is run by Original Fare, a collective of independent restaurants in Edmonton. For 2 weeks, Monday to Thursday, each restaurant on the list offers a special set meal for either $20 or $35 per person. It’s an excellent way to try a new restaurant without shelling out a tonne of cash.
This was my first time dining at the Red Ox Inn, although I have heard many good things said about the place. The restaurant is very, very small. I took a quick count, and it seemed like there were only 30 seats in the dining room (although you may be able to squeeze a couple more people into one of the booths). I’d say reservations are vital. The place is decorated modernly but is warmed with wood floors and the small size gives the dining room a cozy feeling. It’s a good place to go with friends for a nice dinner.
What struck me most about the food I had at the Red Ox Inn was that for the majority of our meal there was one outstanding element on the plate, but that the remainder of the dish was good and perfectly cooked without being extra special.
For appetizers, there were two choices – a soup (purée of wild mushroom with Madeira and Gruyère-mushroom rye crostini) or a goat cheese salad (medallion of warm chèvre with spinach, almonds, bacon, and cranberry port dressing). We both wanted to try the soup, but opted for the salad instead as we both needed more vegetables in our diet.
The star of the salad was the warmed goat cheese. Coated and lightly fried, texturally the cheese felt like biting into a crispy-on-the-outside crab cake, but with gooey cheese in the middle. The cheese was relatively mild too, which is nice because sometimes I find some goat cheeses are too sharp. The rest of the salad was good but didn’t seem like anything I couldn’t have made at home.
For the entrées, my dining companion chose the fish (seared Arctic char with ratatouille, roast garlic butter sauce and mashed potatoes), while I chose the meat (marinated pork rack chop with Moroccan BBQ sauce, tropical fruit chutney, savoy cabbage and herbed rice).
The fish skin was nice and crispy and the fish cooked all the way through. The star of this dish was the accompanying sauce and ratatouille, which gave the fish and mashed potatoes a wonderful subtle flavour. Without the sauce, the mashed potatoes were too salty to eat on their own.
The pork was barbequed all the way through with some nice grill marks. Like the fish, however, this dish also was not the same by itself and needed the sauce from the fruit chutney as well as the savoy cabbage. The sauce gave the meat a kind of sweet and sour flavour, and the cabbage had been made into a wonderfully tasting sauerkraut.
There were two choices available for dessert, so we chose one each. My dining companion had the warm chocolate cake (individually baked warm chocolate cake served with vanilla bean ice cream), while I had the bread pudding (blueberry and white chocolate bread pudding served warm with crème anglaise). The dessert portions were perfectly sized to end a full meal, rather than having giant-sized desserts that people have to struggle with to finish.
The chocolate cake was dense and strongly tasted of dark chocolate. It would satisfy any chocolate lover.
The bread pudding on the other hand… we both agreed that this was the best dish of the meal. Sliced very thinly from a loaf shape, the bread pudding was firm enough to cut and easily eat with a fork. Once it went into your mouth, it melted into a custard-y pudding bursting with berry flavours. I didn’t notice any white chocolate flavours, but I was too busy moaning with pleasure to care. Freaking fantastic. I may have to go back to the restaurant just to have this dessert again.
Total for the meal came to $74 plus tax and tip ($35 each per person, plus $2 each for coffee/tea).
Red Ox Inn
9420 91 St.