Recap: All is Bright on 124 Street

Mack and I took in the second annual All is Bright Festival on 124 Street last Saturday. With a gentle, glistening snowfall heralding winter, the event was christened with a beautifully ethereal quality.

All is Bright on 124 Street

High Street

Sure, it was a little chilly, but organizers were prepared, with warming fires clustered around the High Street shops. There were even a handful of outdoor vendors, sheltered by custom-built WinterCity huts (these could be the start of a more permanent winter market!).

All is Bright on 124 Street

Huts

There was also a covered tent that doubled as a stage, though some performers braved the elements on the chance of gathering an even larger crowd.

All is Bright on 124 Street

Ta-da!

Food trucks were on hand also, though their numbers were fewer than last year. Street Eats is fully winterized, so it’s possible you may see them again this season! We were a little disappointed that with all of the foot traffic, event organizers elected not to close any adjacent streets. With the 102 Avenue bridge construction, we thought it would have been natural to close the avenue to vehicles for a more family-friendly set-up as was the case last year.

All is Bright on 124 Street

Street Eats

Of course, one of the best things about this festival is its close proximity to great independent shops, so we definitely took advantage of the opportunity to not only warm our toes but also a head start on Christmas shopping.

Carbon on 124 Street

Carbon

The festival footprint extended north of 107 Avenue, with horse-drawn sleighs and ETS shuttles connecting the two ends of 124 Street. We opted to walk to Drift’s new storefront to have lunch, and were rewarded with a steaming plate of poutine and wonderfully spiced bowl of mulligatawny soup.

Drift on 124 Street

Drift’s new space

Drift on 124 Street

Poutine

Across the street, Duchess was handing out hot chocolate and freshly-fried beignets. It was also an opportunity to see their annual gingerbread cathedral still under construction (the intricate “stained glass” windows are a marvel).

Duchess Bake Shop

Giselle all bundled up!

Duchess Bake Shop

Beignets (seconds, please)

Duchess Bake Shop

Gingerbread cathedral in progress

We met up with Hannah and Stephanie in the new neighbourhood Credo, which was bustling with patrons needing a break from the cold.

Credo on 124 Street

Geoff behind the bar

By the time we were done catching up, we realized we had missed the official light-up and fireworks. But it didn’t really matter – one of the best things about All is Bright is an excuse to acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with all of the wonderful shops and galleries in the area.

All is Bright on 124 Street

Lights!

We did hustle back to the main site just in time to marvel at the lights and closing activities. Although crowds had dwindled down, it was still a wonderful scene of Edmontonians making the most of winter.

Steph, Hannah, Sharon

With Steph and Hannah

Mack and I thought better of slogging away in the kitchen that night, and left the cooking up to The Bothy. We snagged the last free table, and though we had to be patient with the kitchen, it was well worth the wait. Both our dishes were well prepared.

The Bothy on 124 Street

Roasted lamb sausage pasta

Kudos to the All is Bright organizers for putting together a fabulous event – I’m looking forward to what’s in store for next year!

Cozy Retreat: The Bothy

I met up with Annie last Thursday after work at Southgate for some light shopping. For dinner, we thought it would be a great opportunity to finally visit The Bothy nearby, a place I have meant to try since it opened back in December, and that Annie had heard about recently on CBC.

The Bothy occupies the end unit of a strip mall just off Calgary Trail. In spite of its vehicle environs, the décor inside does wonders to transport patrons to another world, one filled with share plates and fine spirits.

I loved the interior. From the kitschy signs (“wine is bottled poetry”) to the warm-coloured walls, painted in autumnal yellows and reds, to the lounge-inducing leather chairs, I felt instantly welcome and comfortable. The music that night skewed in the direction of jazz, the ideal backdrop to float the evening away in a swell of conversation and food. My only misgiving about the cozy space was the two mounted television screens. Last year, Todd Babiak wondered why many bars felt the need for streaming electronic entertainment, and particularly with The Bothy, and its feel as a gathering place, why the televisions are necessary at all.

Interior

The food menu wasn’t large (especially when juxtaposed with the liquor menu), two pages featuring plenty of nibbles, cheese and charcuterie options, and some hot fare. It took some willpower not to order two of everything from the cheese and charcuterie selections, but I figured some room should be saved for dessert.

Loved the detailed description of the wine offerings

I had chosen the chicken and leek pie, as the savoury pies were the sous chef’s specialty. I was not disappointed. The flaky, buttery pastry was perfection, a crust that simply melted into the velvety filling of tender chicken, softened leeks and white wine and cream gravy. I was saddened with every bite, as it meant I was that much closer to finishing an absolutely enjoyable dish. The accompanying tomato and cream soup hit the spot as well, tangy and satisfying, particularly because I had been craving tomato soup for a few days.

Chicken & leek pie

Annie took the plunge with The Bothy’s haggis, something neither of us had tried before. I think we were expecting a plate that resembled a B-rate horror movie, so found the dish that arrived relatively benign. She said that it tasted like a fattier, more sumptuous version of ground pork, with a texture that paired with the underlying mashed potatoes very well.

Haggis with tatties (mashed potatoes) and neeps (turnips)

Service was stellar, though I’m certain we didn’t take full advantage of the server’s expertise. When we arrived at the final course, the server had remembered Annie’s brief mention at the beginning of our meal that she was thinking of ordering a dessert wine. As such, the server recommended a pairing with the apple pie we had selecting. Annie said the Moscato d’Asti was a great suggestion.

As for the apple pie? It was a tiny dessert that packed a big punch. After my entrée, I was already familiar with the kitchen’s deftness with pastry, but the filling – wonderfully spiced, it’s a pie made for dwindling summer nights as the season rolls into fall, and for cold winter nights, when sustenance is best in the form of sweet remembrances from warmer days.

Mini apple pie with Hercule De Charlevoix

As darkness fell, the ambiance of The Bothy deepened and matured, with tabletop candles flickering light and shadow. Though we probably would have liked to stay on, weeknight obligations beckoned, and we reluctantly exited the freeway retreat.

The Bothy after dark

I’m so glad I was finally able to try The Bothy. It is a fantastic addition to Edmonton’s dining scene, and one I hope to frequent again soon.

The Bothy
5482 Calgary Trail
(780) 761-1761
Sunday & Tuesday 5pm – close, Wednesday-Saturday 11:30am – close, closed Mondays