On Saturday night, Mack and I joined a dozen others at the Queen of Tarts who had snagged a reservation to their first ever dinner. A $45 prix fixe meal, this special event was a way for the cafe to ease into evening service. Although proprietor Linda Kearney has said that she would like to be open for supper more, they are still trying to stabilize the bakery side of things, and are in need of a sous chef (e-mail Linda if you’re interested!).
At any rate, these dinners will feature guest chefs in the kitchen for the time being, which will provide up-and-coming talent the opportunity to showcase their philosophy and skills. The chef on Saturday was Vikram Redganokar, who works with Shane Chartrand at L2. His meal highlighted several local suppliers (nearly all of whom were clearly identified on the menu, something we were happy to see).
It’s worth noting that the Queen of Tarts after dark is much different than the same venue during the day. Unlike its bright, bustling self, with the dimmed lights and jazz streaming through the sound system, the dining area transformed into an intimate bistro. Plus, because we were among such a small number of parties, it almost felt like we were part of an underground supper club, the best kept secret in the city.
Mack, all dressed up!
The meal started with arguably the best bread basket available in Edmonton – how many restaurants can boast house-made bread? Although the crust of the epi didn’t fare well with reheating, it was more than made up by the warm gougères. These little cheese puffs tasted like buttery pockets of air. Thankfully, these pastries are available for purchase in the bakery on Fridays and Saturdays as well – so I know we’ll be coming by soon for another taste.
The soup precluded the amuse that night, and couldn’t have set the bar higher. The roasted organic butternut squash soup had the luxuriously silky texture of a finely sieved mixture, with an underlying hint of sage and a drizzle of Mighty Trio hemp oil. The only downside was that we wished for a larger serving!
Roasted butternut squash soup
An amuse of organic golden beets, and Icelandic rye (featuring Gold Forest Grains rye) followed. Instead of the tiny bowl and fork supplied, this would have worked better served in a Chinese soup spoon (porcelain, of course, to match all of the other dinnerware). Mack, ever the beet fan, loved it, right down to the crisp rocket finish.
Golden beet amuse bouche
Neither of us expected such a generous entree portion. Between the braised Medicine Man Bison short ribs bourguignon, the Sundog Organics root vegetable pavé and the caramelized fennel, I had trouble finishing my plate! The ribs shredded easily with a fork and knife, but I was looking for a sauce that would tie the entire plate together (perhaps incorporating fennel somehow?).
Short ribs bourguignon
Dessert was the only course that Linda herself took care of, a BC apple tart tatin. The pastry, no surprise, was exquisite, baked to a flaky, golden perfection. Topped with a fig jam, hazlenuts and crème fraiche made with Johnson Family Farm cream, it was a sweet end to an even sweeter meal.
BC apple tart tatin
Expect the next Queen of Tarts dinner some time in November. Linda isn’t sure who the guest chef will be yet, but she knows she will be stepping into the kitchen some time in the future to create a menu herself. I’m sure it will be worth checking out!
Queen of Tarts Bakery & Bistro
10129 104 Street