My predilection for pop cultures sometimes weasels its way into my food writing. I do try (oh wait...no I don't) to keep the two reasonably separate, but I couldn't help but recollect a scene from Family Guy.
For a reason that will soon be apparent (in an oblique but not quite direct way...pay attention to what the Brit is saying while he does his duty), this scene wandered through my mind as I dined at L2 Grill in West Edmonton Mall.
L2 does its best to be fancy. Decor-wise, it succeeds with a bold palette of black and red. The soundtrack could be switched up a bit; easy-listening jazz only goes so far. We start with fries, escorted by a duet of tomato jam and Swiss cheese fondue. At first bite, the fondue is overly mild, but successive bites and dips prove it to be rather addicting. The tomato jam resembles a chunky, subtly sweet, homemade ketchup. It's difficult not to pick the plate clean and we bemoan our sated appetites.
A Kobe beef burger arrives with a cluster of average Caesar salad. Salad notwithstanding, the burger is a medley of textures that range from tender to delightfully charred. The bun, though fresh, is also woefully average. A melty square of old cheddar is a welcome hit of cheesy fun. Good burger, "meh" sidedish. (Note, though, that true Kobe beef is not found outside of Japan, so its name is a misnomer.)
Chicken tagine is similarly hit and miss. The wickedly tender chicken leg and thigh is supremely juicy but the Moroccan spices are tame. White person tame. On the menu, the dish is purported to come with amaranth, but on my plate sits quinoa. I hope the kitchen knows that these seeds are not interchangeable.
Dessert brings a very attractive chocolate torte adorned by a chocolate ribbon and juicy mandarin slices. It is rich, velvety, and very satisfying. Finally, a dish that hits all the right notes.
L2 strives to be upscale but I left feeling our meal tried but did not clear all the prescribed hurdles.