Plant-based Delights: The Moth Cafe

January 19, 2018

The start of a new year brings forward the idea of New Year's resolutions. Eating healthier is one that often tops the list for many people, and a big food trend this year is to adopt a more plant-based diet.

The Moth Cafe - 9449 Jasper Avenue - Edmonton AB

Plant-based diets are gaining in popularity, where vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes and fruits make up a majority of the diet. While I'm not moving towards a plant-based diet, I definitely appreciate the movement as I'm learning to incorporate more pulses as a source of protein in my diet. After all, Alberta is rich in pulses - we are one of the biggest pulse producers in the country!

Just east of the downtown core, amidst the revitalization of the Quarters, a new plant-based cafe has opened up in the space formerly occupied by Trang Tien. The Moth Cafe is the little sister to vegan and vegetarian restaurant Cafe Mosaics, but The Moth differs with it's focus on plant-based food and drink and healing elixirs made with nutritious raw ingredients.

Walking through the arched doorway into The Moth, the space is bright and inviting with accents of exposed brick and greenery. Any remnants of the family-run Vietnamese restaurant are gone and replaced with a beautifully tiled counter space, marble-top furniture, and a cozy lounge area complete with seating suspended from the ceiling.

I will admit that I am not a person to go out of my way to eat plant-based food - I've actually had some previous bad experiences at vegan restaurants, which has steered me away from them. But I'm always willing to give things another shot, and The Moth answered the call.

I have stopped by The Moth on two occasions now, the first of which was for lunch on a weekday. My fiance and I were pleasantly surprised by how busy the cafe was, given that they had only opened their doors a few days prior, but that's always a good sign. The menu can appear overwhelmingly long, but three quarters of the pages were dedicated to teas, elixirs, and other blended drinks. We chose to start with some smaller bites and ended up with a main dish to share.

We started with the Gluten-free Jackfruit Crabcakes ($12) which arrived as a plate of four with a light citrus cream for dipping. One of the things I truly admire about vegan cuisine is the use of a variety of different ingredients for texture, and the jackfruit really worked for this dish. While the texture differed from a traditional crab cake, the ingredients held together nicely and gently flaked apart with each bite. The cakes were flavourful on their own with their crispy exterior and kick of heat, but the citrus cream gave it that extra little zing.

The name makes this dish sound less appealing, but the Moth Banh Mi ($10) was a truly delicious homage to the traditional Vietnamese sub. Sandwiched within the crispy baguette was a delicious vegan mutton made primarily of soy protein and mushrooms. The texture of the mutton really did mimic that of meat and there was so much umami in each bite. The mutton also packed a generous amount of heat, which was balanced by the the lentil paste, pickled carrots and cucumber. I loved The Moth's banh mi, and would almost pick it over my usual banh mi.

The menu featured two noodle soups, so as a self proclaimed noodle soup lover it wouldn't be right if I didn't give them a try. We chose the Banana Blossom Shiitake Miso ($15) noodle soup, which came topped with meaty shiitake mushroom slices, chives, sliced banana blossom and silken tofu. We were surprised at just how large the portion was - it was quite the substantial meal for one person. After the first few bites of the noodles it became evident to us that our bowl probably wasn't prepared properly. The clear broth had a predominant lemongrass flavour, overpowering any trace of miso, and all the rice noodles in the bowl were broken into short 1 inch pieces. I was fairly certain no miso had been added to the broth, and the bowl was pretty difficult to eat using the chopsticks provided. We looked around the restaurant at others who had ordered the same bowl and their noodles were long and easy to pick up, leading us to our conclusion. The noodle soup wasn't bad, but had the preparation been executed properly I'm sure I would have enjoyed it much more.

On our second visit to The Moth we found ourselves seated for breakfast shortly after the cafe opened. We were the first customers for the day, but soon after the room started to fill up even on one of the coldest mornings this winter. I wanted something hearty to kick off my day so I ordered the Moth Breakfast Bowl ($15). The colourful breakfast bowl was filled with roasted vegetables (eggplant, mushroom, peppers, brussel sprouts, asparagus), fresh cherry tomatoes, soy-based sausage, and an egg-like crumble. On it's own the bowl was comforting, but the cashew sauce on the side really brought the dish together. Think of it as vegan hollandaise and you'll understand why I poured it all over the contents of my bowl.

Gordon opted for the Gluten-free Chai Pancakes with Cinnamon Banana ($15) and extra blueberries. The portion of fluffy pancakes was more than generous and sweetened perfectly with the side syrup and bananas. He did find the whipped 'cream' to be a bit too sweet for his liking, making the bites with all the components together a bit too rich.

The Moth Cafe is a great addition to the Quarters and will hopefully appeal to the diverse residents that the community currently serves. The prices are affordable and the space has a relaxing vibe, which makes it a perfect setting for a coffee or bite to eat at any time of day. Gordon and I were actually quite surprised at how long we were satiated after each visit, and we really didn't miss the meat at either meal. Both of my visits have been pleasant and have left me excited to return again in the future. So if you're hesitant to try plant-based, give it a shot! It may surprise you, like it did me.

The Moth Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Edmonton food

Your Favourite Dishes Delivered to Your Door: Foodora

October 18, 2017

Getting dishes from your favourite restaurants delivered to your door is becoming easier and easier with food delivery companies emerging in major cities across the country.

Berlin-based company Foodora entered the Canadian market in 2015 with it's launch in Toronto and Montreal, followed by expansion into Vancouver last year. Earlier this month Foodora brought it's on-demand food delivery services to Edmonton, Calgary, and Quebec City.

Similar to other food delivery companies operating in Edmonton, orders are placed through to restaurants using Foodora's user-friendly mobile app. The company takes pride in partnering with restaurants to deliver food to your doorstep in 35 minutes or less via car or bicycle. It's great to see that their delivery service is environmentally conscious!

While there is the option to place and pick up your own orders, most customers opt for delivery. There is the option to have an order sent as soon as possible, or you can schedule for a delivery time convenient for you. Order placement and payment processing are very straightforward, and you can track the progress of your order through the app. Your delivery is updated in real time, so you get a true sense of when you'll be digging into your delicious meal.

I gave the app a try with an order from Ono Poke one evening and everything went smoothly. The food arrived fresh and within the estimated timeframe, and I would definitely use the service again. The only downside is that Foodora has a relatively narrow area that they will deliver to within Edmonton (North to 153 Ave, East to 75 Street, South to the Anthony Henday and West to 119 Street). I am hoping to see their delivery services expand, as I currently live outside of their delivery zone and instead get my orders delivered to my workplace.

In celebration of their launch in Edmonton, Foodora is offering free delivery on all orders placed through to December 31st this year. If you ask me, it's a win-win when you get food from your favourite restaurant delivered for free! For $10 off your first delivery of $20+, click through my referral link and sign up.

As an additional perk for my readers, Foodora has also offered for me to give away $50 to one reader to use for food delivery. Head on over to my Instagram for all the details. Happy ordering!

*Disclosure: I was contacted by Foodora to partner for a blog review. Views expressed in this post are solely mine. This post is 100% my opinion, and as always, my priority is to you, the reader, to present an unbiased, thorough review.


Canadian Ingredients From Coast to Coast: The Butternut Tree

October 08, 2017

Just beyond the Alberta Legislature Building behind the High Level Bridge is Ledgeview Centre, home to The Butternut Tree. Floor to ceiling windows offer unobstructed views of the Legislature grounds and the river valley, which provide the beautiful backdrop to Edmonton's newest restaurant.

The Butternut Tree - # 101 9707 110 Street - Edmonton AB

Chef and owner Scott Downey has returned to his hometown after ten years of discovering ingredients and flavours abroad. Chef Downey brings with him the experiences of cooking in the highly acclaimed kitchens of Michelin-starred Daniel (New York), NOMA (Denmark), and most recently, Wildebeest (Vancouver). Opening his first restaurant is allowing him to pay homage to his experiences by showcasing the bounty of Canadian ingredients from coast to coast.

Growing up in St. Albert, returning to the prairies has always been in the plans for Chef Downey. Having spent many summers in New Brunswick with his family, the restaurant is named after the butternut tree in his grandmother's back yard. For him, the rings of the tree symbolize the vast number of ingredients growing on Canadian soil, and the ingredients yet to be discovered.

Elderflower Tonic

The Butternut Tree could easily be named one of the most beautiful restaurants in the city. This open-concept 58 seat restaurant with high ceilings and rustic wooden accents offers panoramic views and the perfect setting for intimate dinners. The glass-enclosed kitchen offers transparency and allows diners to get a closer look on how the dishes are prepared. For larger groups, a private dining room complete with a fireplace and a private entrance seats up to 12.

I was lucky to find myself dining in the private room amongst friends and fellow bloggers on media night for The Butternut Tree. Our dinner started off with an amuse bouche of salt-cured halibut dressed lightly with juniper oil, chives, apple, and marigold. The one bite was fresh and pleasing to the palate, setting the bar high for the dishes to come.

The menu at The Butternut Tree is a great representation of seasonal, Canadian ingredients. The menu is thoughtful, concise, and brings together unique ingredients in combinations that you may have never seen before. I found it difficult to choose my dishes for the evening since everything sounded so interesting, but I was also happy to see many vegetable-forward dishes.

The Broccoli ($16) brings together roasted pork belly, pickled garlic scapes, cereal grains, and a leek ash dusted soft boiled duck egg. Cutting into the duck egg made it apparent that it was the star of the dish, with the oozing, rich yolk bringing all the components together. The pickled scapes brought the perfect contrast against the richness of the yolk, and I quite enjoyed the texture of the cereal grains lining the plate. This dish was a unanimous table favourite.

The Grilled Bannock ($14) is a fantastic sharing appetizer, served as four individual portions. With a crispy exterior and tender centre, the bannock merries it's smokiness with the umami of wild mushrooms, winged kelp, berries, and pumpkin seeds. It's a dish I would easily order again and consider having all to myself.

The Crab Tart ($14) was arguably the most beautiful dish of the night, almost too pretty to eat with the garnishing of herbs and edible flowers. The crispy rye tart held a generous portion of flaked crab meat, herbs, smoked creme fraiche and thinly sliced unripe crab apples.

Moving onto the main courses I opted for seafood, as all the options at The Butternut Tree are Oceanwise certified. The Miss Tatum Rockfish ($36), caught off the BC Coast, is plated with Saskatchewan wild rice, herbs, and a mixture of dragons tongue, fava, and green beans. The dish is finished with a light kelp broth poured tableside, giving this dish an A+ for presentation. The herbs in this dish are quite prominent, giving each bite layers of flavour, but personally I did find one to have a bit of a bitter aftertaste that didn't quite suit my palate.

My fiance ordered the Bentley Bison Duo ($44) with a juniper butter brushed striploin cooked medium rare, and a fork tender braised bison short rib. The protein was accompanied by lentils, carrots, cauliflower and Saskatoon Berry jus, all which gave a nice contrast to the perfectly cooked bison.

Haida Gwaii Halibut

The Butternut Tree offers two desserts on their menu to end the evening on a sweet note. The Plum ($10) is lightly sweet with it's milk ice cream, honey meringue and oat crumble. Reminiscent of a fruit and granola parfait for breakfast, this dessert was right up my alley with the different textures and subtle sweetness.

The other option is the Ployes Cake ($12) where thin buckwheat pancakes are stacked and layered with black currant jam and finished with maple butter, whipped cream, Alberta rose petals and berries. Like the plum dessert, the ployes cake could also pass as a breakfast dish. Although dense, the cake was not overly rich and heavy like some desserts can be.

From the moment we ordered our drinks to the last bite of dessert, the we all had a wonderful evening of good food and hospitality. The Butternut Tree currently offers dinner service with a la carte plates or a tasting menu (5 course $90, $75 for vegetarian), with plans for weekend brunch in the works. Given the location and atmosphere, the restaurant does feel more upscale and is the perfect setting for an intimate meal. The use of local, seasonal ingredients also lends to a higher price point, making it a restaurant I would reserve for special occasions. With Winter around the corner, I'm looking forward to a return visit to see what Chef Downey puts on the next iteration of the menu.

*Disclosure: I was invited to a media night at The Butternut Tree. Views expressed in this post are solely mine. This post is 100% my opinion, and as always, my priority is to you, the reader, to present an unbiased, thorough review.

The Butternut Tree Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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