It feels a bit heretical and uncomfortable to have a beef, pardon the pun, with an establishment that makes an impressive effort to use local and organic ingredients in their food. Such is my conundrum with Under The High Wheel, which occupies a veritable commune of wellness-related businesses on Whyte Ave. The food, insofar as I've experienced it, does right by its origins, but atmosphere and attitude are rather in need of an adjustment.
High Wheel's patio is in a bit of a predicament. Condo construction across the street translates into multiple hulking vehicles idling mere feet from diners' faces, so close that one can feel the heat pulsating out of the exhaust manifolds. The smell of diesel exhaust does little to whet one's appetite and, though I realize the construction is beyond High Wheel's control, these circumstances are exacerbated by fairly negligent servers. Many long minutes elapse before orders are taken and what seems like eons pass before Fruit Salad with Yogurt and Hemp Seeds appears. The dish itself is lovely and plum-stuffed with raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and the like. Hemp seeds add nutty texture to the voluptuous yogurt.
At least 45 minutes pass between the disappearance of the yogurt and appearance of a Vegan Crepe and Cherry Wood Smoked Chicken Salad. The salad features a scatter of edible blossoms atop several pieces of impressively juicy chicken, refreshingly unsalty feta, a few hidden black olives, and agreeable fried potatoes. The dish is more like chicken with salad, rather than chicken salad, but no matter. It's scrumptious.
A Vegan Crepe is half hidden under a salad of greens, carrots, sprouts and pepitas. The buckwheat crepe itself is a bit tasteless, but the roasted zucchini and squash inside veritably pop with the evocative essences of late summer and early autumn. A vivid red pepper sauce brings the different components together.
Long after our meals are finished, though, there is no sign of our server. We wait a good 15 minutes before bringing our own plates inside. Under the High Wheel, in a nutshell, creates some very tasty vittles, but this culinary competency is not matched by the level of service. Organic food is wonderful but cannot carry the entire dining experience on its own.