Off the Beaten Path: Bündok

February 09, 2017

With a new year comes the anticipation of new exciting restaurants. A handful of eateries have announced their intentions to open in and around the Ice District in early 2017, so there is plenty to look forward to this year. One of the latest to is Bundok - a trendy spot along 104 Street committed to celebrating the community and local ingredients.

Bundok - 10228 104 Street - Edmonton AB

Located in the Fox condo tower, Bundok (derived from the word Boondock - meaning rural place/off the beaten path) is a 40 seat restaurant with Chef Ryan Hotchkiss (Jack's Grill, Bar Bricco, Red Star Pub) at the helm. As you walk in you are greeted by a beautiful stocked bar followed by the open kitchen, both of which are surrounded by ample seating for post-work drinks or a casual dinner. Throughout the dining room, dim lighting and minimalist decor give the space an upscale feel perfect for a more intimate dining experience.

The menu at Bundok is separated into two sections - breads/tartines and larger plates. While the menu isn't extensive, there's enough variety between the plates that there will be something for everyone. Everything on the menu can be shared, so we started our evening with the four different tartines on the menu.

All the tartines are served on lightly crisped bread made in house. First up came the Grilled Apple Tartine ($9) featuring grilled Pink Lady Apples, Oka cheese, and clover honey. I've never bought into the appeal of combining cheese with apples, but the combination worked on this tartine. I loved the softened, grilled texture of the apples against the bread, and the sweetness of the honey paired great with the cheese.

The Lamb Merguez Tartine ($10) with mint salad and yogurt with baby kale arrived next. The tartines were topped with a generous amount of the sausage, which was well seasoned and not overly gamey. There were hints of the mint and yogurt, but I would have appreciated a bit more.

Next up came the Chicken Liver Tartine ($8) with onion jam and a sprinkling of coarse salt. The pate was very smooth and the sweetness from the onion jam helped bring out the flavour of the liver, while the bits of salt added a hint of savoury to balance out the sweet. The tartines themselves didn't look appetizing, but the flavours definitely made up for it.

Last but not least came the Beef Tartare ($11), which at first I didn't realize was served as a tartine. The tender cubes of beef had been mixed with egg yolk and pickled black mustard seeds before being garnished with a citrusy kale leaf. The beef was just lightly seasoned and I enjoyed the bits of acidity coming through from the mustard seeds.

Our last appetizer was the one that had the interest of the entire table the moment we first scanned the menu: Fried Chicken Skin ($8). Each order comes with two pieces of melt-in-your-mouth, crispy chicken skin. It's a salty, one-bite appetizer complemented well with a dab of honey mustard. You'll want to order enough for one piece per person because you would be a fool to share your piece with someone else.

For our dinner we opted to share three larger dishes off the menu amongst the four of us. Our first choice was the Pan Fried Trout ($25) served with carrots, great northern beans, and a rich beurre blanc. The trout was seared perfectly golden, giving it a nice crust before breaking away into the soft flesh of the fish. Unfortunately we found the dish to be underseasoned, and the beans could have been cooked a bit softer for my liking.

Our second protein dish was the Grilled Game Hen ($25), herb marinated and accompanied by charred cabbage, mushrooms, and wheat berries. I was happy to see wheat berries on the menu as they're a great Canadian grain and one that I feel are underappreciated. I love the chew and texture to them! Like the trout, our game hen was beautifully cooked, but again the other components of the dish could have used more seasoning.

As a side to our mains we ordered the Gnocchi Parisienne ($18) cooked in a brown butter sauce with roasted squash. The gnocchi looked amazing covered in a dusting of grated cheese. Each piece was a soft pillow of dough with a hint of nuttiness from the brown butter. Unfortunately, like our mains, a heavier hand could have been used in seasoning to make this dish truly stand out.

We ended our meal with one of each of the desserts available on the menu. The Chocolate Tart ($9) looked different from a typical tart, this one with a cookie-like tart base topped with a layer of dark chocolate and three little meringues. I found the base to be a little thick and dry for my liking, but appreciated that the tart wasn't overly sweet.

The Citrus Posset ($9) was my preference of the two. A posset is a cream-based pudding-like custard, similar to a panna cotta, but just a little heavier. Possets are also usually citrus-flavoured as they require acidity to thicken the cream. Bundok's version was silky smooth with a sharp, but not overpowering, hit of citrus. The posset was topped with chunks of apple, fennel, and earl grey syrup, all which added contrasting texture and contrasting sweetness. I would happily have a bowl of this dessert all to myself.

Fried Chicken Skin - salty, crispy goodness

I applaud Bundok's commitment to using and showcasing Canadian ingredients, so the menu will be changing seasonally to reflect availability of produce. I personally loved the feel of the space and it's a great spot for dinner before a concert or game at Rogers Place given that it's within walking distance to the arena. With so many restaurants coming into the Edmonton food scene, new restaurants will have to work hard to be noticed. Our dinner at Bundok had some hits and misses, but hopefully a bit of time will bring more consistency to the dishes coming out of the kitchen.

Bündok Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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