Mixed Makeover: Lazia

In the past on this blog, I have mentioned  my disdain for Lazia (10200 102 Avenue). However, after being wowed earlier this year at their newest outpost, the Wildflower Grill, I was in the right frame of mind to give Lazia another try, especially after seeing that their downtown location had been completely remodelled, from the interior to the menu. I had trust that Chef Yoshi Chubachi could spread some of that Wildflower magic to the rest of Lazia’s holdings.

Prior to a show at the nearby Citadel Theatre, Mack and I headed to the restaurant with with expectations in check. We were greeted by a hostess, and immediately taken past the lounge, into the dining room, and offered a choice seat in a rounded banquet. Plush and large enough to easily accommodate a party of five, we enjoyed the semblance of privacy our table provided us.

The decor in the dining area hadn’t changed as much as in the lounge. I was happy to see that the blown-glass sculpture had been saved through the renovation, but besides some minor furniture adjustments, the core of the dining room seemed to have remained the same (granted, my image of the restaurant is several years old). The lounge, however, was now sleek and sophisticated, with the back wall a popping orange shade, a bar with ample seating situated in the centre, and a small glass area in the front lined with couches – perfect for a girls night out.

Dining area

I was most excited about the potential of the new menu. While it did look a lot better on the outset than what I remembered, it was a bit scattered (though to be fair, most mid-range restaurants Lazia is trying to compete with have the same problem). I did really like the fact that there were two streams of desserts to choose from – a range of $8 regular desserts and a set of $5 plates to satisfy those just looking for something small.

I ended up ordering the roasted butternut squash Ravioli ($23) in a white truffle rosé sauce, while Mack opted for the Colossal Prawns ($25), served with a laundry list of accompaniments, including a panko crusted crab cake, cooked shrimp ceviche, miso soya sugar snap peas, basmati rice, sweet
pineapple curry and tomato & corn confit.

Service was great throughout, much improving my outlook on Lazia. Our food was also delivered quite promptly, with a flare for plate presentation – our dishes were treated like pieces of art, the white plates an empty canvas for visual design. The portion sizes, however, left much to be desired – though Mack enjoyed his meal, he could have easily consumed two of the same. My pasta was too sweet all around, between the filling, the sauce, and the accent vegetables – I found no delicate interplay between flavours (as with Rob Feenie’s masterful interpretation at Cactus Club Bentall 5).

Colossal Prawns

Ravioli

Overall, we found the Lazia dining room to be a local, but pricier version of the upscale casual brand purported by the Earls and Joeys of the world. We’d be back to try the desserts, but probably after a cheaper meal elsewhere.

I was back at Lazia sooner than I had expected – a two days after my meal with Mack, a few girlfriends and met up for a bite to eat in the lounge. I now have a better appreciation for the reason why food reviewers at major newspapers visit restaurants multiple times to sample dishes off all parts of the menu – I was ready to give Lazia a thumbs up after our dinner, but following our lounge experience, I’d include a small asterisk on that recommendation.

While the lounge was busy, it wasn’t as packed as we thought it would be on a Friday evening. Though it was clear that our party was still waiting for one more, none of the waitresses thought to check on us to see if we wanted to order anyway – a clear twenty minutes passed before we were acknowledged by any of the staff members after sitting down.

Eventually, we were asked to order. The small plates ranged from $6-12, the dishes influenced by the same haphazard “world cuisine” philosophy that dominated the entree side of the menu. I ended up choosing the Ginger Beef ($9), Janice and May the Garlic Prawns ($12), and Annie the Patatas Bravas ($6), or Spanish home fries, because the kitchen had run out of sweet potato fries.

The kitchen was thankfully more together than their floor counterparts, and our dishes were delivered in good time. Based on our sampling, we weren’t too impressed with the appetizers – my ginger beef was barely above the standard served at Beijing Beijing, while Janice couldn’t taste any garlic in her prawns. Annie’s dish sounded great on the outset, but really, the home fries were really a fancy name for potato wedges.

Ginger Beef

Garlic Prawns (served with smoked tomato bruchetta)

Patatas Bravas (served with a really well-executed red onion watermelon salad)

Also worth mentioning was an out-of-place employee who, while well-intentioned, put us off. She came by our table twice, leaned her elbows on the table, and almost seemed like she was going to pull up a chair to join our group. She asked about the occasion of our get-together, and about how we felt about our food thus far. We didn’t hesitate to answer her questions, but the way in which she asked seemed awkward and forced – an attempt at connecting with customers that failed.

And so, the asterisk – the lounge, with a vibe for those to see and be seen (similar to Hundred), is chic for an after-work drink, but for food, choose the mains over the appetizers.

Lazia
10200 102 Avenue (one other location)
(780) 990-0188
Sunday, Monday and holidays 11am-10pm, Tuesday to Saturday 11am-midnight
Appetizers $6-12, Entrees $9-43, Desserts $5-8

6 thoughts on “Mixed Makeover: Lazia

  1. I haven’t been to the downtown location since the renovations, but I have sampled some of the new menu at the St. Albert Trail location and I have to say that, while I enjoyed my meal, I’m disappointed that the portion sizes have shrunk quite dramatically compared to the average size of an entree from the previous menu.

    I used to quite enjoy Lazia (by contrast, I found Wildflower was good, but not worth the prices they charge), but this new menu doesn’t really do it for me.

  2. I’m surprised at your dislike for the old Lazia. I’ve been to the downtown location too many times to count and the North end location a few times.

    For me it’s always been pretty good overall, especially compared to the soulless factory-style chain restaurants they compete with.

    It’s too bad that blown-glass sculpture is still there. It looks like something that belongs in a David Cronenberg movie. It gives me the willies.

    I hope they didn’t get rid of the Basa Whitefish.

  3. To be fair, I’ve only been to Wildflower once, while I’ve been to Lazia multiple times. I really did used to like them, but over the years (prior to this makeover), they deteriorated in both service and food quality. The change has been good, if not only for the restaurant side of things, based on that one visit.

    I love the blown glass structure actually, and I had the opposite reaction when seeing it – I was glad it remained!

  4. Lazia used to be good. I totally agree with Sharon. Their menu has changed, and so has their service.

    I always find the food decent here until last week when my husband and I went there for dinner. Not only was the waitress very rude, but the ravioli my husband and our friend ordered tasted spoiled or like it has gone bad. It has some tomato sauce in it. We did tell the waitress it tasted weird but she made a nasty remark saying it’s not like it’s some canned food.

    My husband went home and had stomach ache and mild diarrhea. We called back the restaurant to complain. The manager said he will go in the kitchen to check and call us back. He never did. We called back after three hours and he just said there’s nothing wrong and never even bothered to apologize. My husband has not eaten the whole day except for cereal in the morning. We were there at 3:30pm for early dinner/late lunch. Suffice to say, we’ll never go back there again.

    For the ambience, there are much better places in Edmonton, not to mention those other places have much better food and service and sometimes, less pricy.

  5. I’ve only ever scanned Waiter Rant, though I’ve read a lot about the author of that blog.

    The employee wasn’t our waitress, or the hostess. My guess is that she was a manager, trying to gauge how we were feeling about the service. It was unnecessary and uncomfortable.

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