The Summer 2011 Menu at D’Lish

D’Lish launched its new summer menu yesterday, and it is fabulous. How do I know that? Well, I was among a dozen lucky guests who were invited to a tasting preview on Tuesday (Mack was invited too, but was held up at a meeting). We were not only given the opportunity to try each dish, but to also provide some feedback as well.

Chef Jason Durling, fresh from cooking in Niagara, has only been at d’Lish for a month (talk about getting thrown in the fire – he started just before the Indulgence crush!). But given what we were presented with, he already has an acute understanding of the restaurant’s philosophy of clean food and seasonal ingredients.

With good wine and great food, there was no doubt the conversation would be sparkling, but I have to say, the ladies at the corner of the table where I was seated were lovely dinner companions! It was great to eat and share with Ruth Kelly of Venture Publishing and Kim Hill of Thread Hill – I think we were all on the same page, palate-wise.

The eight courses started off with a bang – a roasted heirloom tomato soupa that elicited moans of enjoyment usually reserved for mains. It was a demonstration of simple but fresh ingredients made to sing – pureed tomatoes, sweet and glorious, enhanced with a touch of creamy basil crème fraiche. The plain house-made crostinis didn’t hold up to the soup, however, bland as they were. You can be sure the kitchen will be tweaking that.

d'Lish

Roasted heirloom tomato soupa

After trying the teenage greens, pickles and meat, I was certain that it was a salad that even Mack wouldn’t mind ordering. Deceivingly simple, but packed with layers of flavour, it was the ideal summer salad, with a light buttermilk vinaigrette that drew raves from around the table. The pickled red onions were a nice touch, but it was the slice of salty prosciutto that helped elevate each bite.

d'Lish

Teenage greens, pickles and meat

I will readily admit to being defeated by the wine pairings that night, but before raising the white flag, I was able to enjoy my favourite pairing – a Botani Dry Muscat with the roasted veg and goat cheese terrine. The Muscat was crisp and light, and given I waver on goat cheese most days, the wine softened its usual tang. The plate itself was beautiful in presentation, boldly accented with a vibrant red of so-called “beet squeeze” (which turned out to taste nothing like beets…we guessed that there was a fair amount of sweetener mixed in). And unlike the earlier crostini, the bread pudding cracker served alongside the terrine was delicious – it crumbled too easily, sure, but it made up for that with its rich, buttery texture. Paired with house-made spreads, the crackers could easily make a solid starter on its own.

d'Lish

Roasted veg and goat cheese terrine

The three mains were served up family-style, which, in this setting, suited the table well. My favourite of the dishes was easily the marinated Alberta striploin, cooked to a perfectly pink medium rare. Meltingly tender, eaten with the brown butter forked potatoes underneath, it was a version of steak and potatoes I will be dreaming about for days to come.

d'Lish

Marinated Alberta striploin

The rockin risotto, made with MoNa mushrooms and topped with microgreens, was creamy and well prepared. The only minor misstep was the mushrooms didn’t accompany every bite; this will be remedied for the menu’s launch.

Our corner was disappointed with the handpicked herb roasted chicken – the meat on our platter had dried out, an inconsistency that the kitchen will be looking at. The accompaniment, however, a warm potato salad that Chef Durling described as a “bowl full of love”, was excellent. Based on his grandmother’s recipe, mustard notes were prominent. Everyone around the table couldn’t get enough of it.

The meal’s finale featured not one, but three desserts. I was most excited for the trio of ice cream sandwiches, with flavours that will change based on the availability of seasonal ingredients (stone fruits, for example, will be coming in two weeks). I tasted the snickerdoodle, made with a rhubarb ice cream. The ice cream itself was great, bursting with rhubarb flavour, but I was expecting a yielding cookie shell instead of what I found. Kim and I agreed the cookie needed to be softer or at least thinner.

d'Lish

Trio of ice cream sandwiches

The chocolate cherry torte, a flourless chocolate cake, complete with a ganache, was intensely rich, and made with chocoholics in mind. The non-chocoholics at the table advised that the serving size be reduced, or the layer of ganache to be thinned out. We also recommended some liqueur be added to the sauce, though my preference would have been for the cherries to have been further macerated.

The third dessert was a bit of a bonus. Leah Kinsella, who had worked at d’Lish as a sous chef the year prior, recently left the restaurant to start her own company, The Art of Macarons (e-mail here). It’s currently a home-based business, but she hopes one day to have a storefront. Leah said she had to try innumerable recipes in order to obtain that perfect texture, but based on the samples we tried, I think it was worth the effort! They were perhaps a bit too large (given macarons usually deliver a concentrated saccharine burst), but I enjoyed the lemon and apple pie flavours. Best of luck to Leah!

d'Lish

Macarons and chocolate cherry torte

Thanks to Amanda for the invitation and to hosting a d’licious night! I’ll be returning soon with Mack in tow to make sure he gets a taste of what he missed!

D’Lish
10418 – 124 Street
Monday-Thursday 3pm-midnight, Friday-Saturday 11am-1am, closed Sundays

Nice Packaging, Small Portion: d’Lish

This guest post was written by Mack, an Edmonton-based geek who fancies himself a part-time foodie. You can find him online at his blog, and on Twitter.

A little over a month ago, Sharon and I were in need of a relatively quick dinner before heading out into the cold for the Winter Light 2009 opening ceremonies. Fortunately she’s a better planner than I am and had picked up a prepared meal from d’Lish, Edmonton’s newest meal assembly studio (Sharon wrote about them in Vue Weekly). We decided to give it a shot.

Our meal was called “Don’t You Wanna Enchilada” – enchiladas with Cumin Crème fraiche ($19). All of the items on the menu have clever names. My favorite this month is “Fantabulous Flatbread Pizza – BBQ Beef-tastic”. I thought the plastic bag and ribbon was a nice touch on the packaging.

After preheating the oven to 375 F, we stuck them in for the prescribed 20-25 minutes and waited. Though they came out nice and hot, I have to admit the enchiladas didn’t look incredibly appetizing.

The enchiladas, which contained potato, beans, and corn, tasted pretty good even without the cumin crème sauce (Sharon liked it more than I did). They weren’t as crisp as I’d have liked however, and that made them quite messy to eat.

I think my least favorite part about the meal was the portion size. I wasn’t really full after eating my half of the dinner. Perhaps it’s not a fair comparison, but I kept thinking about Mucho Burrito – much more food for about the same price. Buying local and organic (which d’Lish prides itself on) has its price, I guess (and probably the packaging too).

I’d be willing to give d’Lish another shot, but I think I’d go the meal assembly route instead of trying another prepared meal.

d’Lish
10418 124 Street NW
(780) 482-2242