The Parlour - Eat Well, Live Well?

December 06, 2013

The Century Hospitality Group in Edmonton has added another restaurant under it's belt. This time it's an Italian establishment with wood-fired pizzas and freshly made pastas to boot. The Parlour is located just south of Grant MacEwan University on Capital Boulevard - an area that I'd love to see flourish with development in the next couple of years. Having been opened just over a week, I had to stop by to check the place out for myself, especially when Twyla gave them an outstanding review the morning of my visit.

The Parlour Italian Kitchen & Bar - 10334 Capital Boulevard (108 Street) - Edmonton AB

Walking into the restaurant got me really excited. Looking around and taking in the sights, the building had been beautifully renovated with brick and wooden accents. The high ceilings give it a sense of openness, while the dark decor and dimmer lighting still give it an intimate feel. We requested to be seated in the dining room and the hostess quickly brought us to our table. From where we were seated we had a birds-eye view of the restaurant, allowing us to see the bar and wood-burning oven.

The menu at The Parlour was designed by Chef Paul Shufelt and Chef Tony Le, and both are celebrated chefs within the Century Hospitality Group. Flipping open the provided menus at the table, my eyes were bigger than my stomach (as usual) as there were a variety of dishes that I wanted to order. Many of the options made my mouth water, so I chose a few with some help of recommendations from our server.

First up was the Arancini ($12), which is always a must-order for me when I see it on a menu. The Parlour's version is presented as five risotto balls with green peas, taleggio cheese, truffle oil, arugula & shaved parmesan cheese. The arancini were deep fried to golden perfection, and the flavours worked really well together with the addition of lemon juice. However, I felt that the risotto to cheese ratio was way too high, making each ball quite dense and not cheesy enough. I like my arancini lighter and easier to break into, whereas these ones were tough and too starchy with each bite.

The next appetizer to the table was the Carpaccio ($16): Snake River Farms Wagyu beef, shaved parmigiano, sriracha pesto, warm toasted crostini. The shaved beef was presented beautifully, each with its own dollop of sriracha pesto. Placed on top of a soft, warm crostini, it was a perfect two bite appetizer with a punch of basil and kick of heat. Yum.

For the evening we wanted to try out some of their signature pizzas, and first up was the Short Rib ($19): Braised Alberta Beef short rib, fire-roasted Serrano peppers, shaved pecorino, EVOO. Out of all the restaurants that feature a wood-fired oven, I have to say that The Parlour does the best job with their crust. It's thin and blistered when cooked, but holds its shape and doesn't fall apart when you lift it off the pan. There's nothing more frustrating for me than to grab a slice of pizza and have all my toppings slide right off. The short rib pizza was good - cheesy, with tender shaved short rib and a kick of heat. Given the price, I would have wanted a more substantial portion of meat on the pizza.

We also had The Wise Guy ($17) - Spicy Italian sausage, wood-roasted onion, fennel, provolone, fresh rosemary. The ingredients were much more abundant on this pizza, and like the other, the crust maintained its shape with each bite. Overall a pretty good pizza with nice earthy flavours.

Our first pasta for the night was the dish I had been looking forward to the most, the Lemon Prawn Capellini ($23): Angel hair pasta, seared tiger prawns, cherry tomato, bruschetta, crumbled goat cheese, lemon broth, EVOO, fresh basil. As a lover of all things citrus, the description of this dish was music to my ears. However, the first bite sent my tastebuds on a rollercoaster ride. The pasta was borderline too sour and was very difficult to eat. I can honestly equate the flavour to shoving a handful of sour Skittles into my mouth - that initial shock of tangy sourness that sends chills down your spine is what this dish gave me. I had brought up the issue with the server and was told that the dish was meant to have the dominant lemon flavour, but I can assure you that something had to have gone wrong in the execution of the dish. Aside from being too tangy, the pasta was cooked al dente, and the prawns were large and juicy. The addition of goat cheese and sweet cherry tomatoes helped to tone down the flavours, but it was still difficult to eat. If the flavours were toned down this would be an amazing pasta dish.

The other pasta we ordered was the Seafood Linguini ($26): Squid ink pasta, steamed mussels & clams, sautéed prawns, fresh herb oil, charred lemon, white wine. I had high hopes for this, as I love squid ink pasta, but this pasta dish also fell short. The seafood was fresh, but the pasta itself was overcooked, sticky, and falling apart. As a result, we were eating clumpy chunks of pasta with a hint of garlic flavour. The presentation of the dish was beautiful, but I wish the pasta tasted as good as it looked. According to the manager, all the pastas are freshly made in house, so this one needs a bit of work.

Finishing off the night, we ordered two different desserts. First up was the Chocolate Torta ($9): Candied hazelnuts, salted Nutella ganache, vanilla crema. To me, chocolate torta should be like a flourless cake with an almost pudding-like texture to it. The torta at The Parlour is more of a cake brownie, so it was a little dry and different from what I had expected. That being said, it was still a nice dessert, but far from my favourite chocolate torta at Corso 32 (which it resembles in presentation).

Last but not least, we had the Panna Cotta ($9): Vanilla bean, fireweed honey, fresh berries, homemade biscotti. The dessert had a lovely presentation, and we got three little portions of panna cotta on a plate. The panna cotta was creamy and the addition of honey gave the perfect hint of sweetness. It was stiffer than I am used to, but was a nice dessert to round off the meal.

Having known that The Parlour had received a favourable review, I was actually quite disappointed when leaving the restaurant that evening. It is obvious that there are inconsistencies in the kitchen, but I don't really think its excusable when the Century Hospitality Group has a well established empire of restaurants in the city. The price point of the dishes doesn't exactly make this your everyday go-to restaurant (our meal was $40/person pre-tip), and you expect to have a great meal when you choose to pay higher prices for fresh food of good quality. Talking to some other patrons at the restaurant on the same evening, they had similar experiences and opinions about the food. That being said, I had the chance to express my concerns to a manager at the end of the meal, giving details of the ups and downs of the evening. He was quite receptive and appreciative of the feedback, which is what I like to see. On the upside? Our server was quirky and personable, making it a really fun evening. So give The Parlour some time, and let them work out the kinks before you check them out. I will be giving them another shot, 'cause I want that capellini the way it's supposed to be!

Parlour Italian Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

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  1. The dessert looks delicious. I could eat just that at every meal and be content!

  2. Oh I'm sorry that it was a bit of a miss. The plating sure is beautiful!

  3. At least the pizza was good! HaHaHa They need to work on some things. Excellent review Andrea.

  4. mmm look delicious!

  5. I love the food photos, they're look yummy..

  6. Hi, just wanted to drop few lines and tell you that I follow your blog and your instagram account and I really like your posts, especially if they have food. I am really glad we found each other. :)

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words! I appreciate the support :)


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