Friday, 4 July 2008
502, Oh I Love You
It's been a long time since I did a restaurant review, mostly because unless I want to review Kelsey's or Moxies, there's nothing else in the Hat.
A new restaurant opened on Monday. I only heard that it was different and upscale, but since the two-step lessons fell through last night (don't ask), Chris said we could go anywhere I wanted.
502 South is located at 502 South Railway Drive, underneath -- and by the same owners of -- the Ottoman Lounge (another place I'm keen to check out, it being a martini bar... but that will have to wait a few months). From the outside, it looks, well, unfinished - the only sign indicating that it's there is one of those neon-lettered sign boards that says "502 South - Now Hiring", but as soon as I walked in the door, I was blown away.
It looked and felt like a restaurant in the Market, maybe MTL, maybe Social. There was dark tile, dark hardwood, funky low-hanging lights, dark leather couches at the large, dark wood tables... I had to tell myself to calm down, not to get too excited. I mean, just because it LOOKS like a cool urban establishment doesn't mean that it won't serve up the standard quesadillas-and-steak fare.
I had a glass of their house red (Bin 555 Shiraz) (my doctor says moderation is totally fine, so no comments/lectures, please!) (you know who you are), and Chris had their brewed-on-site Ottoman Ale, which he liked.
The menu was just printed on a piece of paper (real menus coming soon, apparently), but it had us drooling. We ordered the romaine salad to start, and started the bread (slightly sweet and sourdough, with awesome butter) while we waited.
I wish I had my camera with me, but picture crisp romaine leaves and a marinated, grilled romaine heart, all tossed with a delicious citrus-herb dressing, baked asiago cheese crumbles, pancetta, and a cheesy crouton thing that we were probably supposed to crumble over the salad, but just ate plain. It was fantastic.
Second course: I had the cornish hen, juicy and somehow citrusy inside, crusted with some kind of tasty... crust... and sitting jauntily atop a mound of couscous, with grilled veggies and a quite-spicy peppercorn sauce drizzled around. Points for presentation and serving size, but the flavours seemed a bit too intense, too young. Instead of having one strong flavour and the rest complementing it, there were several flavours vying for first billing. /end food snob. Overall, I liked it.
Chris ordered a seafood trio -- prawns, scallops and something else...with vermicelli noodles and... well, not being interested in seafood, I didn't really take notice of what he was eating; the fact that it was served in a giant bowl that I couldn't see over the edge of was also a factor, I suppose. He did like it, but had the same feeling that the three very different (and delicious) flavours were too many for the dish. He also made a comment about why he never eats seafood in Alberta. Ah, foreshadowing.
The dessert menu, another printed piece of paper, seemed too good to be true. I ordered the flourless chocolate cake (somewhat like the lava cakes I make, without the lava), topped with ice cream and raspberries - no more needs to be said about that than "yum". Chris was blown away by his port-poached pear with brie ice cream (which I can't eat! Booo!) and a brandy snap. One day, when soft cheeses are no longer taboo for me, I will order the apple and stilton tart...
For the two of us, with a split appetizer, and a glass each, before tip, it came out to $73, which we agreed was a great price for what we had. Of course, normally, we would also order a bottle of wine... so really, we'll be MAKING money for the next six months or so... right?
All in all, with the exception of the Alberta-seafood-induced stomach-and-headache that struck Chris shortly after we got home, it was fantastic, and I have been raving about it all day to anyone who will listen... which really isn't many people, it being Friday and all.
Seriously, there were 2 other people here today, and they're both gone again now.