I have a lot of respect for the Century Hospitality Group. They are one of the most successful local restaurant companies, reaching a total of eight properties this year, but they don’t rest on their laurels. They were the originators of the “alley cuisine” trend in Edmonton with their back alley Hundred burgers, created a pop-up dining room in a pedway, and this year, reached culinary heights with Corporate Chef Paul Shufelt’s win at the local Gold Medal Plates competition.
As Century Hospitality continues expanding their reach into neighbourhoods like Magrath and soon, Terwillegar, they have not forgotten about the core. Lux and Hundred have become stalwarts in the downtown restaurant scene, and now, a few blocks west, the Parlour Italian Kitchen & Bar offers an additional CHG dining option.
Situated on Capital Boulevard, Parlour was the only storefront on that cold Friday December evening that was drawing any foot traffic (yes, I am discounting Denny’s). In the future, once the Boulevard streetscaping is complete, in addition to the construction of more retail along this signature street, one can only hope this will change.
No doubt, Century Hospitality excels in creating trendy, upscale casual environments. Parlour is no different, with a bold, masculine space accented by a vintage-inspired “EAT” fixture (we saw a similar sign at Olympic Provisions in Portland). What sets this dining room apart from the others, however, is the grand mezzanine, which takes advantage of the building’s lofty ceiling, and the curved bar anchored by a tiled pizza oven.
The menu at Parlour is large, ranging from the requisite sandwiches, pastas, and larger entrees, but with the oven front and centre, it’s no secret that pizza is their focus. Comparisons can be drawn between their pie and the Neapolitan style made popular in Edmonton by Famoso, but Parlour stresses that the deviating tomatoes and cheese they chose were selected because of their superior flavour when compared with their standard Neapolitan counterparts.
We opened our meal with an order of arancini ($12). It was a generous serving, but for me, they were rolled a bit too large, decreasing the ever-important shell-to-rice ratio. That said, the spritz of lemon provided a welcome freshness to the dish.
I don’t normally build my own pizzas, typically trusting the tried and true formulas crafted by the kitchen, but on this occasion, I couldn’t get the idea of a meatball pizza out of my head. So on a base of fresh mozzarella, I requested the heritage angus meatballs ($16).
I probably should have left the creativity to the chefs, as the delicate base did not seem intended for the weight of such hefty toppings (the meatballs themselves were tasty, and I’m certain well suited to pair with spaghetti).
Heritage angus meatball pizza
The crust, thin but satisfyingly chewy was better served with a lightweight layer. Mack’s order of Gamberi ($17) showcased the dough best, with what should be their signature sauce going forward, a sriracha pesto, and fire roasted garlic prawns that made me rethink my opinion that seafood and pizza don’t mix.
As if we weren’t full enough, we opted for dessert. The tiramisu ($9) was beautifully plated, a modern take on an Italian classic. Cookie crumbs surrounded a bed of espresso-soaked lady fingers, with marscapone gingerly piped on top. The crumbs added a unique texture not normally associated with lush tiramisu – it’s a dish I’d definitely order again.
Service was friendly throughout the evening, and even as the restaurant filled up, we were never forgotten. Although our server didn’t expect to be busy on that bitterly cold night, we weren’t surprised – diners are interested in what’s next for CHG.
Our parting shot – by the door, a gumball machine had been repurposed to dispense cherry tomatoes. We couldn’t resist taking a photo.
Eat your veggies!
The Parlour Italian Kitchen & Bar
10334 Capital Boulevard
Monday-Saturday 11:30-late, Sunday 4-11pm