Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Prairie Bistro Review -St Albert AB

We had the occasion to have a meal at the Prairie Bistro as a part of a wedding. The groom assured us he had never had a bad meal there and we were very excited at the prospect. We had a 3 course meal to look forward to!

 We sat down at 6.30 and had our drink orders taken quite promptly. I don't drink but my 2 companions at our table did. They were brought out quite quickly. My one companion was surprised the tequila he ordered was of the bottom shelf kind, but since he didn't specify what he wanted perhaps that is their default. Our server came by to take our dinner choices soon after but when asked if anything had come into contact with nuts (one of us has a terrible nut allergy) or had nuts in it she was flummoxed and just read/looked at the menu and replied it "looked like nothing has nuts in it, but wasn't too sure". No offer to find out, or check with the kitchen to ascertain the nut free status so it looked like we were on own at this point. My friend, buoyed by lots of post wedding drinks and a brand new EPI pen in his pocket decided to throw caution to the wind. Fortunately, it didn't happen that he needed it, but seriously? In this day and age who doesn't know about allergies? Especially the kind that kill you? Hmm.

For our first course we had all chosen the Creamy Forest Mushroom soup. It came at about 7.15 by which time we were all pretty famished. The soup was good, not terribly creamy, more of an emulsion of mushrooms, but it tasted quite nice. Our plates were cleared quickly and we were asked if we wanted more drinks. Since our party was quite small (I think there were about 20 adults and a table of kids) the restaurant was open for regular dining at the same time. We had 4 dedicated servers for our party and were spaced out into tables of 3 or 4 with the exception of the head table. The rest of the space wasn't busy at all. I think there were maybe 5 or 6 other tables in the whole time we were there. I make these notes to indicate that this was in no way a slammed Saturday night where everyone is in the weeds. It was QUIET in there. 

Our entrees made their way to our table about 8.30. That time in between was spent being asked if we wanted more to drink from the bar, and not refilling my water. Two of us had ordered the Rose Ridge Beef Tenderloin with roasted garlic potatoes, asparagus & mushrooms with red wine jus, and one was having the Roasted Chicken Supreme with toasted barley risotto, grilled green apple and dark chicken jus. When we ordered the beef we were advised that it would be medium rare. My favourite! We all tore into our food, really excited (and HUNGRY) to eat what looked to be a great meal. The first thing I do is to take a bite of everything to plan my attack. The asparagus was excellent. Crisp and buttery. The potatoes were mashed not roasted, and were completely drenched in horseradish which wasn't indicated on the menu anywhere. I'm not a fan of horseradish so those were segregated to the side. The beef itself was blue rare, which while I'm not crazy about is ok, and since we had been waiting for this course for over an hour there was no way I was going to send it back. I need food NOW. I guess the blue rare meat would explain why it was cold, but so was the rest of my plate. And both of my friends too. The one who had the chicken said it was ok (it looked very pink to me) but he'd still rather have a good diner burger., I noticed he left all his risotto to the side. I tried to eat as much of the tenderloin as I could, but the center 2 inches were bloody and cold and I ended up leaving them on my plate too. Our plates were cleared and since no one had quality checked us during our meal I thought our waitress would have asked if everything had been ok seeing all the food left on the plates. I know I could have said something right then, but come on, this was a wedding, I didn't want to be "that guy". Besides we were having a good time with or with out the food. 

Our desserts came out at 9.30. The boys had chosen Lemon Meringue cheesecake when the Pumpkin one on our menu wasn't available. I chose the Rosemary and Lemon Creme Brulee. The waitress brought out the cheesecakes and a berry crumble. When I informed her I hadn't ordered that she dropped the dish down onto our table and proceeded to go through her bills to see what was ordered. When she found ours, she said she be right back with the right order. I did try the boy's cheesecake and while it was light and fluffy I found it overly sweet, with no real lemon flavour. We had better cheesecake earlier that day at the Second Cup in West Edmonton Mall. The boys agreed and one of them left most of it on his plate. The waitress came back about 10 minutes later to tell me my order would take a few more minutes. The boys were finished by this point but were happy to wait to get mine. At 9.50 she brought my brulee out. It had these awesome pear jelly cubes with it that were pretty and tasted just like a fresh Bartlett pear! The brulee itself was quite silky and creamy. The rosemary flavour did nothing for me at all, and I left most of it. It was an interesting idea, but I think something like lavender or rose would have been much nicer. Too much savoury in that sweet was just plain weird. These dishes were never cleared off our table. We were offered coffee or tea but declined.

We decided almost 4 hours in this place was enough and wanted to get our bill and leave. This was a prixe fixe menu for 55$/person. We had to physically chase a waitress down to get our bill, which is ridiculous. The service was absolutely atrocious throughout our meal unless it was coming to the table to see if wanted more from the bar. The food was mediocre at best and at worst was inedible. The place itself is really pretty, and quite modern. The chairs could have been comfier for the time we spent in them, but I hope that was an aberration. I would never recommend this place for it's food or service. The 16% gratuity was added on, and was a joke based on our lack of service, It was an unfortunate end to a lovely wedding.

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