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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Johnson's Cafe - The Time Traveler's Knife (and Fork)

I'm quite convinced that my Edmonton citizenship would have been revoked had I not (finally) visited Fort Edmonton Park after five years of residence in this city. Shame on me. That's why my office is nick-named the "Procrastination Station"...but that is another story for another time. The stately Selkirk Hotel is a well-known edifice within this nostalgic and sometimes anachronistic (think computer cash registers in a 1920s-style photographer's boutique) attraction. Johnson's Cafe occupies a large, white, vaguely Victorian-themed room within this inn, offering park-goers a quiet spot to fuel up after a long day of time travel.

We arrive suitably hungry but decide to sample appetizers instead of dashing headlong into an entree. Our meal commences with an avocado caesar salad, which arrives in an edible bowl composed of parmigiano-reggiano. The avocado and lemon wedge are welcome touches that nudge this salad above the threshold of "ordinary."

We progress to jerk chicken spring rolls, which arrive reclining against a nest of deep-fried chow mein noodles. The rolls are decently spicy and mercifully lacking in grease, though the creamy dipping sauce adds little. A fruit-based chutney would be a more appropriate companion.

Balsamic baked brie is the evening's clear winner. Four triangles of flatbread sport four crescents of buttery brie, zig-zagged with balsamic vinegar. They are crunchy, creamy, tangy and decadently rich, and are served well by the accompanying greens and tomatoes.

Lobster cakes with risotto are a minor letdown. The cakes are woefully overdone and the risotto is gluey. The salad is the dish's saving grace, at least.

Dessert is delightful, if filling. We nosh on warm apple crumble with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. It's generously laced with cinnamon and the apples have substance (as opposed to the dubiously mushy 'apple pie filling' that some such dishes possess).

Johnson's menu boasts some winners, like the balsamic-brie triangles, but other dishes are a bit rough around the edges. Fine-tune them and Fort Edmonton Park will have a restaurant worthy of its wildly entertaining, historical-education-etc architectural wonders.

Hotel Selkirk / Johnson's Cafe on Urbanspoon


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