Branching Out: The Workshop Eatery

December 21, 2015

It's always interesting to see what happens when a chef from a local restaurant chain branches off to start their own venture. A well-known Edmonton chef recently did just that, and you know who I'm talking about: Chef Paul Shufelt!

Workshop Eatery - 2003 91 Street SW - Edmonton AB

After ten years as Executive Chef for the Century Hospitality Group, Chef Paul Shufelt decided it was time to start up a restaurant of his own. The Workshop Eatery officially opened a couple weeks ago in The Mosaic Centre, Canada's largest net-zero commercial building. Choosing to open up in a sustainable building definitely poses its challenges, but supporting local producers, sustainability, and using seasonal produce are concepts important to Chef Paul.

So what does this all mean for The Workshop Eatery? For starters, the restaurant will grow a variety of herbs and vegetables in the outdoor planter boxes when the weather permits. The rooftop is also home to honeybees, and the honey is collected and utilized in the dishes on the menu. The idea is to use ingredients at their peak for best flavour, and they can also be preserved as pickles and jams for use throughout the year. In the seasons where ingredients cannot be grown or are unavailable, they will be sourced from producers in the local area. Having a home in an environmentally conscious building has definitely shaped the concept for this restaurant!

The Workshop Eatery is located in the far south neighborhood of Summerside, which can be a fair drive for many in Edmonton. But once you enter the building you're greeted by an open space and living wall, which shows how unique and beautiful the Mosaic Centre really is. As for the restaurant, you're greeted into a space that is warm, rustic and inviting. I love the open concept and the visibility of the kitchen - there's nothing to hide!

Throughout the different seasons, the menu will consist of roughly 20 staple dishes and a different feature each day. What makes the menu seasonal will be the different accompaniments and sides to a main dish. If you're ever wondering what's on the menu on a particular day, just check the website! It's amazing that they will be updating their online menu daily!

We started off our meal with a couple of appetizers, first up was the Arancini ($12). The arancini at Workshop changes daily, and the "New York Deli" arancini with deli meats, a balsamic tomato smear, and Nefiss Lazizz Olive Oil was the feature for the day. These fried risotto balls had a golden, crisp exterior, and broke open to reveal a creamy mix of risotto, green peas, and small morsels of meat. I personally prefer my arancini to be rich and cheesy, so these arancini didn't quite deliver for me.

Next up came the Chicken Liver Parfait ($11) served in a small mason jar with crostinis made from Bon Ton Bakery's Cranberry Raisin Nut Bread. The liver was whipped with a mousse-like texture and topped with a port and Saskatoon berry jam. It was a perfect balance between sweet and savoury, and I loved the different textures that the crostini added to the mixture.

Our last starter for the meal was the Duck Carpaccio ($17) featuring Moosewood Acres cured duck breast, pickled shiitakes, carrots, daikon, a soy reduction and blood orange vinaigrette. I really enjoyed the fragrant orange paired with the duck, and the tang of the vinaigrette, but found that the dish was much too salty. Typically a carpaccio dish features meat that is extremely thinly sliced or pounded thin, but the duck in this carpaccio was thickly sliced. The thick slice combined with the soy reduction was quite salty, so with some adjustments to the cut and seasoning, I would really enjoy this dish!

Just like the arancini, The Workshop Eatery has a feature dish each evening. On the night of our visit Tangle Ridge Lamb Chops were being served with a butternut squash, corn and bacon hash. The lamb chops were moist and tender, and looked beautiful against the brightly coloured hash. The hash itself was naturally sweet but lacking in smokiness which we expected from the bacon. As it turns out, we didn't find much bacon in the hash either, so that could have accounted for the discrepancy.

For myself I ordered the Duck Duck Couscous (how fun is that to say?!) ($32) which featured beautifully seared Moosewood Acres duck breast on a bed of warm couscous with raisins, almonds, pickled cherries and vanilla parsnip puree. The duck was cooked to a perfect medium, and the lightly sweet couscous was a great companion to the duck. The parsnip puree was also a delightful addition to the dish, and complemented both components on the plate. Although I love lamb, the duck was definitely the winner for me and I would happily order it again.

When it came down to the desserts, I was torn between two options. The panna cotta at The Workshop Eatery is made with the rooftop honey and would have been my first choice, but I couldn't resist the Croissant Bread Pudding ($9). The flaky croissant pieces are paired with white chocolate and cranberry, giving this dessert some tart notes to balance the sweet. Topped with a generous scoop of Pinocchio's cinnamon ice cream, this was a comforting dessert that I would eat again.

Taken as a whole, we had a great dinner at The Workshop Eatery: our dishes were good and the service was attentive. If there's one thing I love about The Workshop Eatery, it's their commitment to sustainability and supporting local producers. Their decision to move into the Mosaic Centre means that the drive to their restaurant is long and far for many patrons, but the principles of the building align with the values of the restaurant. It's great to see so many local farmers mentioned throughout the menu, and I think it will be interesting to see how things shift once the growing season in Edmonton comes around.

Given that The Workshop Eatery is an advocate for supporting local, the prices on the menu reflect the higher cost of the ingredients, as appetizers range from $9-$17 and main dishes run $24-34. It's not going to be the neighborhood restaurant you visit for dinner everyday, but it is a nice option for celebrations and get-togethers for those living in the immediate area. With lunch options and brunch on the weekend, I'm sure The Workshop Eatery is a welcome addition to Summerside.

The Workshop Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

*Disclosure: I was invited to try The Workshop Eatery as media to sample the new menu. 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.

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