Food Notes for March 14, 2022

Hayloft Reimagines the Steakhouse in Southwest Edmonton

Chef Paul Shufelt has opened Hayloft Steak and Fish and a third location of Woodshed Burgers in the southwest Edmonton neighbourhood of Cameron Heights, adding to the Robert Spencer Hospitality stable alongside Workshop Eatery and The Greenhouse.

In Shufelt’s words, the new development came about through “dumb luck and persistence.” Last fall, a customer who resides in Cameron Heights was insistent that Shufelt take a look at a vacant building in his area. Eventually, Shufelt agreed to meet the landlord for a walk-through.

“I immediately saw the potential,” he said. “I would compare it to how a chef would respond when you give him a black box of ingredients and his mind starts racing on how to put everything together.”

Although some suggested that Shufelt should simply replicate Workshop Eatery in a new spot, he didn’t want to take away from the original. “We wanted to complement Workshop Eatery and maintain true to what we do and the relationships with our farmers,” said Shufelt. “This is how Hayloft Steak and Fish came to be.”

Still, Shufelt recognized the restaurant would have to be tailored to meet the needs of the neighbourhood. “It’s one thing to do the thing you want, but will the community take to that?” he said. Factoring in the design of the space, which features a lounge on one side, pairing a higher-end restaurant with a more affordable offering made sense.

“I like to go out for a nice steak dinner, but I can’t afford to do that every day,” said Shufelt. “Maybe you’re celebrating a special occasion, and you go to the steakhouse side one day, but a week later, you’re stopping in with the kids and grabbing a burger after a hockey game or when you don’t feel like cooking.”

Combining Hayloft and Woodshed Burgers in one place also has the benefit of upholding company’s philosophy. “It allows us to hold true to ‘use the whole animal’,” said Shufelt. “Traditional steakhouses leave much of the animal behind with the farmer. This would help us move the lesser known cuts of beef.”

At its core, Hayloft seeks to offer something different from a traditional steakhouse. “We’re trying to redefine what a steakhouse is, and get away from the conventional expectation that you’re going to have the same cuts of beef every night,” said Shufelt.

Exclusively serving Nonay beef from Lakeside Dairy, the steak selections will change on a daily basis. “We will try to be mindful of selecting cuts based on night of the week,” said Shufelt. “On Sunday nights, we might do a cross-rib roast for a traditional Sunday dinner feel. On Monday or Tuesday, we will have value cuts, versus Friday or Saturday nights, when we might offer the 90-day aged rib-eye, or wagyu tenderloin.” Similarly, the fish program is based entirely on seasonal catch brought in by fishmonger Effing Seafoods.

Shufelt acknowledges that opening up a more formal restaurant right now is a risk, especially given the pandemic-related growth over the past two years of more casual eateries with take-out ready options. But he believes the community is finally ready to embrace dining out in greater numbers.

“People miss gathering socially,” said Shufelt. “How many special occasions have we missed over the last couple of years? People are ready to get out of the house and dine again. It’s always darkest before the dawn, and I feel that the dawn is around the corner.”

My partner and I were among those hosted by Hayloft Steak + Fish at the media launch last week.

COVID-19-related News

Closures

  • Forest Heights’ Pho & Bun has announced their closure: “After being opened for 14+ years, today we are sorry to announce the retirement of our family business. I know this may come as a shock to many as we were looking for a new building to move our restaurant to, but unfortunately we were not able to find a place that worked for us.” They don’t have a set closing date yet, but have listed their business for sale.

Upcoming Events

  • On March 19, 2022, some of the Black Owned Market YEG vendors will be popping up at the Token Bitters storefront at 10047 108 Street.
  • Pei Pei Chei Ow will be hosting a pop-up at Whiskeyjack Art House. Tickets are $200 and include a multi-course dinner, drumming performance, talk, and an art piece by Indigenous artist Mackenzie Brown (Kamamak).
  • Awn Kitchen is launching a Dinner Club on March 26, 2022, with proceeds to benefit the Ukrainian Humanitarian Crisis. Tickets are $125 per person.
  • On March 28, 2022, three Get Cooking chefs will be taking over Dalla Tavola Zenari. Tickets are $20 and includes a welcome drink, flight of canapes and the opportunity to order a la carte small plates from Addie Raghavan, Mai Nguyen, and Kathryn Joel.

Local News

What I Ate

  • Mack and I were very fortunate to be hosted at Hayloft on Thursday. The skirt steak and tenderloin we tried were perfectly prepared, and the sides were decadent for such a grand night out (our first as a couple in two years!). Thanks again to Paul and his team for a great evening.
  • Hayloft Steak and Fish

Our spread from Hayloft

  • I tried take-out from Thien An for the first time last week. While the grilled chicken wasn’t quite as good as T & D Noodle House (RIP), it was a serviceable vermicelli bowl. The spring roll was especially crispy and satisfying.
  • Thien An

Grilled chicken vermicelli from Thien An

  • It’s been too long since my last visit to Mama Asha but I can report that it was as tasty as I remembered! Their chicken suqaar wrap is such a huge serving, and the sabayad bread is worth seeking out alone. I’m also happy their coconut cake was available, and was big enough to share with five people! Such a gem in the Alberta Avenue neighbourhood.
  • Mama Asha

The chicken suqaar wrap and coconut cake from Mama Asha

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