Dec. 02, 2009 - Issue #737: Climate Crossroads
VONS STEAKHOUSE & OYSTER BAR: A little extra
Not a typical luncheon, Vons offers something special for midday
The décor is rich and warm, the service is very polished and from now until Christmas it is open at lunch to meet seasonal demands for individual and group festive enjoyment.
So my friend and CKUA broadcast journalist, Larry Donovan, and I went to see what's new. Although I had reviewed it a number of years ago, it hadn't made a big impression on me one way or the other. So our 2009 Christmas season visit was quite a pleasant surprise.
It wasn't busy, so we were seated right next to an impressive fireplace. Larry and I both thought this would be an ideal place to bring our respective special ladies for a special occasion.
To start, we decided to split an appetizer. We were torn between the mussels in a white wine Dijon mustard sauce and the coconut shrimp. My buddy was leaning toward the coconut shrimp, so that's what we chose.
The bottom line is simply these were the best coconut shrimp I have ever had, in any restaurant, in any country and at any time. Our server joked that some people order them for desert. Then again, maybe she wasn't joking.
Four large jumbo shrimp, in a tempura-style batter made with sweet coconut and Japanese breadcrumbs were served on little wooden sticks. The wonderfully sweet batter enhanced the natural taste of the shrimp, it did not overpower. The shrimp itself had a nice, soft texture, indicative of being well prepared.
The $12 cost for a luncheon appetizer seemed a bit steep; but other than for the soup offerings, all appetizers cost between $12 and $16, with the crab cakes and Ahi Tuna Salad being the most expensive.
For the entrée, Larry chose the maple glazed wild salmon ($17), while I selected the 8 oz slow roasted prime rib ($23).
The salmon came with a medley of vegetables and wild rice. The hint of maple and dill was definitely there and made for a subtle and pleasurable mélange of flavours that is very compatible with the robust flavour of salmon.
A couple of things, however, need to be mentioned. The amount of salmon was clearly on the chintzy side. Although highly enjoyable, it didn't strike either of us as a particularly great value.
The second point is my pet peeve, and something I mention in every restaurant review: the preparation of vegetables. The medley of vegetables was aesthetically appealing, but slightly overcooked.
Now, in all fairness, preparing vegetables to my standards is not easy, even for professional chefs. I happen to think they are among the most important offerings of a meal.
Aside from the health factor—which should never be ignored—vegetables give the widest possible range of unique and fresh tastes to those who appreciate. Creatively- and well-prepared vegetable dishes should be considered one of life's greatest pleasures.
So again, being fair to Vons, the vegetables were for the most part fine, and being "slightly" overcooked isn't a mortal sin.
My prime rib was super. It was prepared exactly to order and exactly the way I like. All the positive adjectives certainly hold true: juicy, tender, flavourful, satisfying.
My choice came with the same assortment of veggies, as well as garlic mashed potatoes. The potatoes had a nice texture, were served good and hot, and had just the right touch of garlic.
The desert tray had both traditional and unique sweets. Larry went for the New York cheesecake with a mixed berry topping. No doubt, it was very creamy, smooth and delicious.
But the biggest surprise, next to the incredible coconut shrimp was what our server referred to as their Grand Marnier, espresso, mascarpone chocolate cake—wow! I can't imagine anything going better with a cup of coffee.
Yes, it was that good.
Our total bill with the tip was over $110—not your normal luncheon bill for two. However they do have hamburgers, rib sandwiches, melts and the like that are slightly less expensive.
Larry and I wanted to get a feel for the overall quality of the restaurant since, after Christmas, Vons will only be open in the evenings, so our selections were based more typically for dinner.
There's no other way to say it. The quality is most certainly there and Vons deserves to be counted among Edmonton's finest restaurants. V
Mon – Fri (11:30 am – 2 pm & 4:30 pm – 10 pm); Sat & Sun (4:30 pm – 10 pm)
Vons Steak House & Oyster Bar
10309 - 81 Ave, 780.439.0041
More info about Vons Steakhouse & Oyster Bar →
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