Recap: Salz Sausage and Beer Pop-up

A few years ago, Mack and I were walking home from the Queen Mary Park neighbourhood and stumbled upon what looked like Elm Café’s commissary kitchen. We happened to see Executive Chef Allan Suddaby in the window, and he waved us in for a quick tour. Besides a more expansive kitchen to meet their catering and prep needs for their family of properties, the space also included a small front room that could be set up as a cozy restaurant. Allan mentioned that might be in the cards one day – it seems that finally, that day has come.

Salz has been announced as the forthcoming restaurant to join the ever-growing family of Elm Café properties, which also includes District Café and Little Brick (Burrow still remains temporarily shuttered). Intended to be a Bavarian sausage and beer hall, the menu will be simple, favouring brats and sides, and in some ways, won’t be too dissimilar from the formula embraced by Otto. However, because the space can only accommodate 8 seats, owner Nate Box said Salz will be a more modest establishment, open for lunch and some evenings to align with Oilers game nights at Rogers Place.

In anticipation of the opening in October, District Cafe hosted a Salz pop-up dinner in mid-September. The $15 tickets were very reasonably priced, and included a shared starter, an entree-sized plate, and dessert (drinks were extra). Tickets for the pop-up sold out within days of being released, speaking to both the value and interest in the new concept.

The menu that evening was comparable to an Austrian pop-up dinner Allan hosted several years back (he spent some time cooking in Austria). It’s fair to say that Allan is passionate about sausages; he’s led numerous sausage making classes at Eat Alberta and Metro Continuing Education, and without a doubt, his sausage enthusiasm is infectious.

That evening, we started our meal with a soft pretzel served with honey mustard. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by the oven-warmed pretzels at Zwick’s, but our only quibble was that it would have been improved had it been served warm.

Salz Pop-up at District

Pretzel and honey mustard

For the entree, we were to select from three sausage options, which would be complemented by house pickles and German salads. Mack added another sausage to his order so between the two of us, we could try all three: a classic bratwurst, Kasekrainer (with Sylvan Star gouda), and spicy Hungarian.

Salz Pop-up at District

Sausage plate

It was nice to be able to sample the trio, but the classic bratwurst, full of punchy garlic and black pepper, won out. We also appreciated the variety of accompanying sides, including a dill-forward potato salad, and for Mack, the creamy spaetzle and cheese.

Dessert was a tasty apple strudel with a dollop of whipped cream – straightforward but satisfying.

Salz Pop-up at District

Apple strudel

It’ll be great to have an establishment serving up quality sausages and beer within walking distance of the core! We’re looking forward to checking out Salz when it opens later this month.

Salz
10556 115 Street

Date Night: Mirepoix Trio and the Princess Theatre

Just as food trucks have been a means towards establishing a storefront or brick and mortar restaurant (see: Filistix and Woodwork), I think pop-up restaurants have the same potential. It seems like ages ago now, but before RGE RD moved into their permanent digs, Chef Blair Lebsack hosted pop-up meals in the city and out on the farm (and even now, continues with the latter).

The Mirepoix Trio (made up of Chefs Rylan Krause, Jade Wu and Adam Zarycki) has been organizing special one-off vegan dinners in Edmonton since last summer. The functions not only let them collaborate and cook outside the box, but the meals have also allowed them to build a name for themselves and some money to boot – with the hope of one day establishing their own restaurant.

Mirepoix Trio

The Mirepoix Trio

Based on their Easter weekend suppers, I think the Mirepoix Trio is gaining quite the following in this city. They had generously invited Mack and I to dine as their guests as an engagement present (so sweet). Held at Upper Crust on Good Friday, the five course meal would have only set us back a very reasonable $40.

We started off with some refreshing drinks – a Mirepoix soda (Limoncello, vodka, basil, mint agave and soda) and an Orange Blossom (sugar, orange biters, St. Germain and Prosecco).

Mirepoix Trio

Drinks

Kudos to the chefs for preceding each course with a personal explanation – it’s always great to see the people behind the food! It was also insightful to hear about their direction for the meal – to make sure each course would flow into the next, each dish would adopt an ingredient from the previous one, ensuring some continuity.

The first course was a straightforward but delicious mushrooms and toast, served with an underlay of fennel pesto. Those two bites packed a punch, and set the tone at the start for a meal all about simple comforts.

Mirepoix Trio

Mushrooms and toast

On that blustery, snowy day, nothing was more welcome than the tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons (the cheese in this instance was Daiya). I could have eaten more than a handful of those crispy croutons, but I did particularly appreciate the brightness that the roasted tomato drizzle lent the dish.

Mirepoix Trio

Tomato soup with grilled cheese

Mack found the palate-cleansing iced tomato granita a little strange, given the extreme temperature shift from the earlier dish, but being a fan of caprese salad, I enjoyed the combination of tomato, basil and creamy cashew cheese.

Mirepoix Trio

Granita

We were both looking forward to the potato gnocchi, to be served with a creamy cheese sauce. The gnocchi themselves lived up to expectation, plump, seasoned well and satisfying. However, the accompanying asparagus seemed out of place texturally; the spears didn’t hold up to roasting at all.

Mirepoix Trio

Gnocchi

To end the night was Mirepoix’s take on a classic – strawberry shortcake. Here, the addition of basil tied it into the main, but what really made it sing was the sweet dollop of coconut whipped cream. I didn’t miss the dairy at all!

Mirepoix Trio

Strawberry basil shortcake

The meal was a great introduction to what the Mirepoix Trio is trying to do – elevate expectations of vegan cuisine, all within a scope of familiarity for those less accustomed to the possibilities of vegan cooking. It was clear Rylan, Jade and Adam are passionate about what they do – and given the growing niche of vegan establishments in Edmonton, I have no doubt a Mirepoix restaurant would help meet this need. Best of luck to them as they continue to raise their profile with these pop-up dinners! Follow them on Twitter to find out when their next event will be taking place.

After dinner, Mack and I walked over to The Princess Theatre to continue our evening with food on film. I had earmarked The Lunchbox during last year’s Edmonton International Film Festival, but due to time conflicts, I wasn’t able to watch it. Lucky for me, The Princess brought the film back to Edmonton.

It’s been some time since we’ve caught a film at The Princess, but this visit reminded us why we should be back more often – clean, intimate and retro, it was a much different experience than a trip to the typical multiplex. So much so that we indulged in popcorn, something we never do!

The Princess Theatre

Salty snacks

As for The Lunchbox – I highly recommend it, and not just for the food (even though the styling inspired immediate Indian cuisine cravings). My interest in the movie was initially to see the dabbawala food delivery system in action, but it is so much more than that. It’s a lovely story about the connection between two lonely people in bustling Mumbai, subtle and beautifully acted. Though The Lunchbox is no longer playing at The Princess, it’s now moved to Landmark City Centre, so you still have a chance to see it in theatres. Go, now!

Filistix Pop-up @ The Common

I love that food trucks, who themselves are already on the forefront of one of Edmonton’s most exciting food trends, are also the ones actively pushing another movement – pop-up dinners.

Though I know others have also put together these fleeting events, Big City Sandwich and Nomad have been consistent in their off-seasons to make sure diners don’t forget their names. It’s the perfect fit too, in a winter city like ours, for these entrepreneurs to seek out revenue opportunities (on top of catering) to sustain their businesses year-round. Besides, these pop-up suppers add some welcome spice to a time of year when gathering around a table is a welcome respite from the cold.

Two weeks ago, Filistix joined this list of food-trucks-turned-restaurant captors, taking over the kitchen at The Common for one night only. For a value-laden $30, guests would be treated to a five-course Filipino meal, inspired by dishes chef Ariel del Rosario and Roel Canafranca grew up eating (they have both been recently named part of the 2012 class of Western Living’s Top 40 Foodies Under 40 – congrats, guys!).

Mack and I secured tickets to the first seating to the sold-out event (to ensure we’d still be able to make it to Latitude 53’s Parka Patio Party afterwards), and found ourselves nearly the last table to arrive.

The upscale lounge fixtures of The Common translated really well into an elegant dining room. The server explained to us that our entrees would be served family-style, which for parties larger than two would seem to make more sense. Still, I appreciated the sentiment behind inviting diners to interact through sharing with one another.

Filistix

Menu

The appetizer was right up Mack’s alley: Pembina pork spring rolls. They were crisp and light, just how they should have been. On the side was a mango and jicama salad dressed with a mirin vinaigrette, fresh and vibrant. I would have preferred a julienned slaw instead of the cubes, but Mack disagreed with me.

Filistix

Pembina pork spring rolls

Filistix’s mains really shone. The Kare-Kare, braised Spring Creek Ranch brisket, was served in a lovely peanut sauce (meaning more for me, as Mack is allergic to peanuts), and the most incredible shrimp paste that elevated each bite with deep umami notes.

Filistix

Kare-kare

Pancit Canton, a fried noodle dish with chicken and shrimp, was succulent with the addition of a second ingredient – pork skin, which added texture and a bit of deliciously glorious fat. I would have wanted some more vegetables, but I’m probably just used to my Mum’s version of noodles.

Filistix

Pancit canton

Our hands down favourite was the Adobung Liempo, a Pembina pork belly that had been marinated then slow roasted for four hours. Garnished with calamansi limes and chillies, the pork was sublime, melt-in-your-mouth tender (we were lucky enough to even score a care package of additional pork to take home!).

Filistix

Adobung liempo

Dessert was a leche flan, a honey-scented version of crème caramel. It was better than those usually found at restaurants.

Filistix

Leche flan

Ariel said that The Common (who will be relocating to the former Martini’s space on 109 Street and 99 Avenue in March) has expressed interest in having them return. I definitely think there’s an appetite for these suppers, and based on our experience, I do hope they continue!

Make sure to keep up with the adventures of Filistix on their website.