Holiday Indulgence: Unheardof

It was a little amusing to me that I hadn’t heard much about Unheardof (9602 82 Avenue), an upscale restaurant on the southside. The menu stated that it has been around for nearly thirty years, but to me, save for passing it travelling on Whyte Avenue, it may as well have been an empty storefront. I knew, however, after digging around the website that a meal at Unheardof wouldn’t be an inexpensive one, so when Mack told me we would be going there for his company’s Christmas celebration, I was happy that I would be able to give it a try on someone else’s dime.

We snagged a parking spot on the street, and headed inside. The building must have once been a house, and as a converted restaurant, it reminded me a bit of Manor Cafe and Violino. We were greeted by someone immediately, who took us to the second floor dining area. I was a little sad that we wouldn’t be seated on the main floor, as the warmth of the incandescent lights, coupled with lovely wreaths and other decorations made it a festive and comfortable room. Upstairs, though we were offered a table in a more private space shared with just two other parties, lit by an overhead fluorescent light, the room had a cooler feel to it.

Our dining area

When everyone had arrived, we took our time with the menu. Entrees were all priced at a standard $45, while starters and desserts were left without a corresponding price. The menu detailed the restaurant’s new Table d’Hote approach, where additional courses could be added to the base entree price – 2 courses total cost $60, 3 courses $70 and 4 courses $80. Feeling fairly indulgent, we all opted for at least three courses each – an appetizer, main, and dessert.

Mack went straight for the Sea Scallops (seared giant sea scallops seasoned with cumin and coarse salt served on a green lentil ragout with paprika oil and ragout), while I couldn’t resist the sound of Wild Mushroom Risotto (mushroom stock arborio risotto with Lobster and chanterelle mushrooms, fresh thyme, gruyere and mascarpone cheeses, sea beans). For mains, we both selected the Muntok Beef Tenderloin.

Mack’s coworkers were extremely accommodating of our typical dining routine, and very generously let us photograph (and with Greg, even sample) all of their dishes. We have them to thank for the extensive gallery of dishes to follow.

Between the wine and the conversation, the evening flowed smoothly. Service wasn’t notable, but was seamless. The first food item we received were complimentary “tapas”, though I considered it more of an amuse bouche. The pumpkin seed and cheddar pork pate wasn’t to my liking or Mack’s, though Greg quite enjoyed the sample (and Alina’s as well). The grainy, salty paste just reinforced what we had first expressed at Characters after having their foie gras.

Pork pate

Our appetizers arrived in a reasonable amount of time, all portioned so the majority of diners would be able to finish three whole courses. I took a risk with the risotto, particularly because my last experience with the dish at Blink in Calgary left much to be desired, but I’m glad I did. Their version is probably the best I have ever had – cooked to creamy perfection, with a good mushroom-to-rice ratio. I’m sure I could have eaten more, but with that taster size, I would consider coming back again just for the risotto. Mack thought his scallops were all right, but said the ones he had at the Wildflower Grill were better.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Sea Scallops

After a lovely sorbet palate cleanser, our entrees arrived. The presentations weren’t particularly artful, bit the kitchen did their best to accent dull-colored meats with some vibrant produce. Our sides were hidden underneath the steak, a mix of roasted onions, sauteed mushrooms, and a crunchy potato pancake. The tenderloin had been crusted with peppercorns, adding a bit of spice to an otherwise fairly conventional dish. It is worth mentioning that both of our steaks were perfectly cooked – Mack’s was a touch more done as he had requested medium versus my medium rare.

Muntok Beef Tenderloin

Game Trio

Seafood Aqua Pazza

Duck and Quail

Herbed Loin and Lamb

Dessert for me was their Creme Brulee, which the server said was flavoured with cinnamon and rum that day. Mack opted for the Egg Nog Pie (what else?), while Mike ordered the lone White Chocolate Cranberry Cheesecake and Alina the only Turtle Tart. While I couldn’t taste the supposed flavour in my creme brulee, the fruit garnish and hidden inside the custard added some nice freshness to the dish. Mack actually didn’t enjoy the pie – the pecan crust was overpowering, and the filling didn’t live up to the name at all.

Creme Brulee

Egg Nog Pie

White Chocolate Cranberry Cheesecake

Turtle Tart

Thanks again to Questionmark for dinner! The only downside to being spoiled, however, is that any subsequent meals there will seem doubly expensive. So while Unheardof left a good first impression, I’m not sure it is worth the price of admission – I’d opt for the Red Ox Inn instead, which offers food of similar quality at a much lower rate.

9602 82 Avenue
(780) 432-0480
Dinner only, Tuesday to Sunday from 5:3opm