Since Ric’s Grill became 104 St Grill earlier this fall, Mack and I have been meaning to give this new incarnation a try. I had signed up for the electronic mailing list early on, which entitled me to a $60 gift certificate, really giving us no better excuse to have dinner there. We finally had the chance to do so on Saturday.
We arrived just after it opened, and were seated in a booth towards the back. What struck us most at first was how the interior remained remarkably unchanged. Sure, the bar area was a little more open, but the rest of the space retained its formality. I guess it was most surprising because we had heard that the location was originally in talks to become Soda Jerks, but when that didn’t pan out, I assumed the final plan for 104 St Grill would still based on a more casual upscale model, instead of nominal adjustments.
The menu, however, in both dish selection and price really communicated that not much had changed at all. Entrees, ranging from $17-29 were very traditional plates, and really didn’t excite or interest us. We instead chose to share several of the starters.
The best of the four appetizers was no doubt the poutine ($11), though not named as such on the menu. The potatoes was prepared well, flecked with crunchy bits of bacon.
The risotto ($12) was quite a generously sized appetizer, served with an (overdressed) side salad. Again, the bacon popped, and the risotto was creamy enough, but not exceptional.
The carrot and ginger daily soup ($6) had a great texture, smooth but with some body, though I was hoping for a little more zing. The order of Brussels sprouts ($10) was probably enough for four people, but could have probably used a bit more of the brown butter sauce.
Carrot and ginger soup
Although service was professional and attentive (we were familiar with the server from The Copper Pot, which used to be in the same family of restaurants), 104 St Grill just doesn’t offer a menu that would invite us to return on a regular basis. Only time will tell if the rebranding will result in success, but for us, it isn’t the type of restaurant we would frequent in the neighbourhood.
After dinner, Mack and I headed to the Jubilee Auditorium for Edmonton Opera’s annual Storm the Stage party. Though we’ve attended a few of Edmonton Opera’s productions in the past, I will admit that it is an art form that hasn’t appealed to us as strongly as others. That said, we have enjoyed Mercury Opera’s attempts to make opera more successful (with another, Fiamma, coming up on October 26, 2012), and was curious about Edmonton Opera’s attempts at trying to broaden their audience.
I’d read that Storm the Stage was literally that – an opportunity to have party on the set. It seemed like a great behind the scenes peek, though we weren’t really sure what to expect.
Treats from Duchess
Well, that’s not entirely true – I suppose we anticipated some opera-related content, especially given the audience may not often frequent opera productions. As a result, the highlight of the evening for me was the two short performances by two members of the Edmonton Opera chorus.
Edmonton Opera chorus members
Given we were on the gorgeous set of Aida, in the shadow of an imposing sphinx, it really would have been neat to have a tour of sorts, learning how the set designer came up with his ideas and executed them (I did want to run up and touch the “statues”). It seemed like a missed opportunity to connect the audience with the show in a more direct way.
F & M
That said, the evening was enjoyable enough, with performances by alternative folk trio F & M and the always energetic and engaging Mitchmatic. Thread Hill also put on a fashion show, utilizing the tiered stage as a visually interesting runway.
Thread Hill fashion show
Mack mentioned that the evening could have been improved with a host to unify the performances. It was a little strange that both F & M and Mitchmatic had to introduce themselves, while the fashion show and opera performance just seemed to spontaneously begin.
In all, it was an interesting experience, though one that could have used more opera.
104 St Grill
10190 104 Street