Striving for Authenticity: Alberta Hotel Bar + KitchenDecember 08, 2015
When Tavern 1903 in the old Alberta Hotel suddenly shut down this year, Edmonton's food scene lost a great restaurant. As the space lay empty, everyone wondered what it would be converted into.
Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen - 9802 Jasper Avenue - Edmonton AB
The Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen had a three week soft opening prior to their grand opening on November 19th. I booked a group dinner with my friends for my birthday this year and we were all looking forward to trying out the entire menu. For our group of 15 people, I was surprised upon arrival to find that we had been split into four separate tables. Normally this wouldn't be an issue, but with one dedicated server to our group (she was lovely!) the service was very disjointed. As the first table was receiving their food, the fourth table hadn't even made their order yet, so instead of being served as a group, we were served as four separate tables that weren't dining together. Just something to take note of if you're planning on making a reservation for more than 6 people.
Strange Brew ($12.75)
Now onto the food. The Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen promises diners an authentic experience - honest, transparent, and uncomplicated. The menu features many local producers - likely due to the relationships that Chef Spencer has developed over the years with vendors at the farmers market. The offerings are fairly concise and include options for diners with vegetarian or gluten free diets. General Manager Brandon Baker (previously of Three Boars) is the mind behind the cocktail menu which has a handful of cocktails he crafted himself.
While there were some hits and misses throughout the evening, we noticed that there was a lack of consistency from one table to the next. A dish could be underseasoned at one table while the same dish was heavily seasoned at the next. Even more interesting was that two of the same dish being ordered at one table could taste completely different. It was evident on the night of our visit that the kitchen was lacking consistency, which was unfortunate given that the kitchen had been practicing for over three weeks. The Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen has huge potential in becoming a strong name in the Edmonton food scene. As a big supporter of local producers, I do hope to see them succeed and strive for consistency in their dishes. While I won't be rushing back for a visit, I'm eager to return for another bite of that duck breast in the future. A big thanks to all my food-loving friends that came out to celebrate my birthday - life would be less calorically dense without you!