May. 02, 2012 - Issue #863: Cold Specks
Under the High Wheel
A taste of home cooking
Nestled in the newly opened one-stop-shop Roots on Whyte building is the chic, relaxed culinary delight known as Under the High Wheel.
The restaurant opened its doors on March 8, and while it's still undergoing some finishing touches in terms of construction, it offers a welcoming, bright dining space accented by rich aromas of fresh cooking escaping from its large open kitchen.
Jennifer Ogle, former chef and owner of Leva Cafe, and her friend and newfound business partner Ada Kalinowski have established a focus on featuring local ingredients and supporting Albertan producers.
"I think as a small business, it's imperative that we support other small businesses in our community," Ogle says. "I think it's also good for the city and for the province that we try to keep our money here as much as we can."
A variety of restaurants in the city are making the switch to preparing food with local ingredients, and Ogle notes this is due to the incredible quality of the ingredients, adding it makes them more enjoyable to cook with, not to mention establishing valuable relationships with the farmers.
Ogle, who did extensive travelling in Europe and went to school in France, was inspired by the continent's culinary culture and decided to bring a taste of that back to Alberta.
"When I was there, people still cooked for their families ... I mean, don't get me wrong, I love to go out and eat, but I really loved that about being there. It brought the family together and it felt very prolific," she recalls. "You go over unannounced to someone's house for a visit. That's how they do things; you pop in and there's food and vodka and wine if you're in France, and it's almost instantaneous. You've barely walked through the door and they're trying to feed you. I just think that's so beautiful."
Ogle and Kalinowski were particularly influenced by central Europe, specifically Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. The restaurant's name also reflects a European touch. As Kalinowski explains, it came from a place in Krakow, Poland, where many places are named "under the" in reference to landmarks they're situated under, such as statues.
"We thought we would create our own, so we bought a bicycle, something kind of unique," Kalinowski says of the custom, old-fashioned high wheel bicycle they had made. "We were going to hang it up out front, but our sign got hung first, so our name will make sense eventually."
The menu, which features a variety of mouth watering vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free offerings, such as the popular buckwheat crepes, available in sweet or savoury varieties. The menu will reflect what's in season in terms of local produce, with a rotating repertoire of homemade soups available year-round, including roasted tomato, Mediterranean red lentil, borscht and cream of mushroom.
Meat lovers can rest assured that there will be something on the menu to satisfy their tastes as well.
"There's tons of choice," Ogle says of the restaurant's lineup, which also includes feature dishes like bangers and mash, which will be back due to popularity. "We're using locally sourced meat, so we feel good about serving it and satisfying the carnivores in the crowd."
Ogle says there will likely always be a burger on the menu, such as The Burger, as it's simply known. The staggering creation features a juicy patty of free range, antibiotic and hormone free Alberta beef, served with roasted potatoes and choice of organic greens or homemade soup.
Under the High Wheel has things covered for satisfying a sweet tooth as well. Bread pudding, apple crisp and a flourless jelly roll are just a taste of the many indulgences available.
For now, Under the High Wheel is open for breakfast and lunch, with all-day brunch on weekends, but Ogle and Kalinowski have plans to open for dinner. They don't have an exact date set, but say it could be any day now. Once the restaurant receives its liquor license, which will also be in the very near future, Under the High Wheel will feature bring your own wine. With just a small corking fee, rather than the large mark up at most restaurants, patrons can enjoy their favourite wine for less.
"I think it's really in keeping with people wanting to be responsible when they're going out and drinking. You don't have to drink the whole bottle, you can take it home and finish it," Ogle adds.
As if that wasn't enough, Under the High Wheel is also available for custom catering, from simple soup and sandwich lunches to five course plated dinners. vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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