Apr. 25, 2012 - Issue #862: The Real Deal
The art of sharing
Slow down and enjoy
Meat lovers and socializers have a new haven thanks to 109 Street's new kid on the block.
Three Boars Eatery opened on Friday, April 13, and no, the superstition-laden day didn't put a damper on the restaurant's success. Its first week in business was quite the contrary: the eatery has already gathered a faithful pack of regulars and overwhelming support throughout Edmonton's culinary industry.
What used to be Happy Joe's Pizza has been transformed into a rustic, friendly hangout featuring a bar downstairs and a more subdued, cozy dining room on the second level. The space encourages patrons to eat, drink and socialize to their heart's content with tapas-style menu offerings.
The kitchen isn't equipped to handle large table orders due to size, so the menu design encourages customers to order a couple of dishes at a time and enjoy them in a course-like fashion.
"It's similar to a tapas idea in Spain where people come and sit and order a few dishes and share, and then order another dish and then a couple more and extend the night rather than your typical fast-faced hour-and-a-half kind of meal," says Chuck Elves, who co-owns the Three Boars along with chef Brayden Kozak and Brian Welch, who, as Elves says, keeps them on their toes with the dollars and cents.
Welch used to live in Vancouver, where the tapas culture is alive and well. He says when people would come to visit, they'd love it, but there was nothing comparable back home.
"Our goal is to kind of bring that to Edmonton; bring the love of food and the love of drink back to Edmonton," he says. "We don't have any TVs or anything like that, so we want you to concentrate on what you're doing, on your food and on your conversation."
The guys plan to keep things interesting for customers by providing a menu that's constantly being reinvented, sometimes daily.
"We keep things changing pretty quickly to keep things interesting for everybody," Kozak notes. By the time Three Boars had been open a week, the restaurant had already gone through two menus.
The menu items are made from locally sourced ingredients concocted into unique dishes by Kozak and his kitchen team. The items utilize a variety of unique meat cuts, such as oxtail, lamb neck and wild boar shoulder to create dishes that have quickly become crowd-pleasers, like the lamb-neck poutine.
"This ain't your grandma's poutine," Kozak laughs. The restaurant has a small deep fryer that is only used for one dish, foie gras cromesquis, so the poutine is amped up a notch by using fresh, locally grown roasted baby potatoes rather than traditional French fries.
"The poutine is a good regular item, but what's exactly in there will change," Elves adds.
Three Boars' menu roster is fairly meat-heavy, with a few vegetarian "rabbit food" dishes added to the mix, and has already sparked buzz around town with offerings like oxtail and pig's head banh mi sandwiches, as well as duck breast, which has become one of the most popular dishes, for now. Much like the poutine, the banh mi will likely be a regular on the menu, but the variety will change.
"Because of using local products, there is an ebb and flow of availability," Kozak explains of the revolving door of menu items. "We just have to make sure we follow up with something just as good, if not better."
DIshes will be kept shareable, and within a consistent price point. Kozak credits the creativity of the menu to his culinary team. He gives them freedom to express themselves and contribute ideas to the menu.
"These guys are super talented and they were hired for a reason," he adds. "They're a dream team."
The drink menu will also be switched up frequently, with three beer varieties regularly on tap and three that rotate, as well as a plethora of classic cocktails. Just like the food, there's an emphasis on Albertan beer like Yellowhead and Full Moon from Alleycat, as well as a few other Canadian varieties.
Customers will have to wait until a little later in the day to dig in at Three Boars since it opens at 4 pm, but can then snack away until late on menu items that are much more enticing than the usual late-night fast-food options.
8424 - 109 St
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