Cheese is, indubitably, the most perfect of food groups. I could give up anything - even meat, even dessert - but not cheese. I caught word from Marlow Moo that the Gnocchi Fondue at Select was quite remarkable. That alone was reason to visit.
Select (formerly Cafe Select) is a slightly tight but cozy space downtown that features a Gallic-style room with ornate door frames and small tables. The room is packed, even at 9 pm on a week night. Edmontonians are catching on to European late-night dining, it would seem. We dive into Gnocchi Fondue; this dish features assertive Fontina fromage with semi-dry white wine. It is a gorgeous dairy-ridden lava that begs for a bite and then another bite. Pan-fried gnocchi are unexpectedly welcome in their mish-mash of shapes, while proscuitto-wrapped apples are a duality of sweet and salt. Whole asparagus spears are pleasing in their simplicity, and all components are nicely suited to the elfin cauldron of melted cheese.
The "cheese" theme continues with Duck Confit Macaroni. This update on a traditional mac and cheese features colourful tomatoes and unctuous shreds of duck. The pasta is tender, but the surrounding cheese sauce could be more generous. Many flavours compete for attention in this dish.
Porchetta is a tender riot of herbs and tender meat that revels in its interstitial juices. Mashed spuds are an agreeable companion, but I would have liked to have seen polenta, or something with a bit more texture. A small hillock of red cabbage is similarly understated and content to defer attention to the protein-heavy star of this show. I was beguiled, though not quite bewitched, by the use of cheese at Select. Though I wasn't fully convinced by our entrees, I would return for the fondue alone.