The Workshop Eatery, Edmonton. Highly touted, yet disappointing

Salmon 'Club', pricey ($18) and amazingly mediocre

Salmon ‘Club’, pricey ($18) and uninspired

For a special birthday celebration, we lunched at The Workshop Eatery, a new restaurant highly touted by local Avenue Magazine.

I was excited to our first visit.  Avenue Magazine rated The Workshop Eatery as one of the best new restaurants in Edmonton, placing it in the top 3.

The Workshop Eatery is located deep in Edmonton's south side, 2003-91st Street SW

The Workshop Eatery is located deep in Edmonton’s south side, 2003-91st Street SW

We made an online reservation for 12 noon, and by time we got settled, the restaurant was about two-thirds full, not bad for a Monday lunch.

Decor is bright and country-casual industrial, but noisy

Decor is bright and country-casual industrial, but noisy

The Eatery’s decor is bright, located on the corner unit of a commercial building.  Rustic tables and HVAC infrastructure visible at the ceiling give it a country-casual industrial feel, but we found all the hard surfaces reflected a lot of noise.  Even with the restaurant only two-thirds full, the room was noisy.

I ordered the Salmon Club sandwich which came with soup of the day.  The menu described it as Chicken Chowder, but our server astutely pointed out it contained no potatoes.  The chowder was tasty, with your basic mirpois (diced onions, carrots and celery) and nice pieces of white chicken meat.  The ‘chowder’ was thin style soup, not the hearty, thicker style I prefer.  And the chowder had a slightest hint of heat.

The Salmon Club sandwich was disappointing.  First, it was pricey, $18 (but included the Chicken Chowder soup), and when it arrived it was served on two thin slices of toast.  The menu describes it as ‘Bon Ton Bakery sesame egg bread’.  I was hoping for thicker, artisan-style bread.  Then there’s the issue of calling it a ‘Club’ sandwich, and it had only two slices of bread.  Both The Joy of Cooking and On Cooking – A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals (a reference book used at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s Culinary Arts program) describe a ‘Club’ (or ‘Clubhouse’) sandwich as having layers of bread.

The poached salmon itself was mashed and cold; I had been hoping for a hot sandwich.  The cold salmon had some strips of crisp bacon, tomato and arugula.  I wouldn’t order it again.

Ingrid ordered the Fried Chicken Sandwich ($17), served on a hearty Bon Ton Bakery bun topped with an assortment of seeds.

Buttermilk fried chicken sandwich on a beautiful Bon Ton Bakery bun

Buttermilk battered fried chicken sandwich on a beautiful Bon Ton Bakery bun and Chicken Chowder soup ($17)

Ingrid’s chicken sandwich was the much better dish.  The chicken was crispy on the outside and moist on the inside, and the bun had the structural integrity to hold the meat.  Ingrid’s complaint?  “How am I supposed to eat this thing?  It’s too big to bite.”  I suppose for the dainty, she has a point.  Most men would simply grin and dig in.

Apple Strudel with Jack Daniel's ice cream, bourbon caramel sauce ($10)

Apple Strudel with Jack Daniel’s ice cream, bourbon caramel sauce ($10)

Finally, we topped our lunch with Apple Strudel ($10) with bourbon caramel sauce, Jack Daniel’s ice cream, and Pinocchio’s honey.  As a non-drinker, the caramel sauce didn’t suit my palate.  But Ingrid quite liked it.

But we both agreed the strudel wasn’t up to par.  The pastry crust should be flaky, instead it was tough and very difficult to cut with our dessert forks. We didn’t finish the strudel, which is surprising, because Ingrid and I both love dessert.

I understand The Workshop Eatery is still a fairly new restaurant.  Our server was appropriately attentive, and she seemed very knowledgeable about the menu.  Perhaps we hit the restaurant on an ‘off’ day, but to get 2 dishes out of 3 not to our liking isn’t impressive, especially for a restaurant acclaimed to be one of the 3 best new restaurants in Edmonton.  That’s too bad.  I was hoping for better.  Much better.

The Workshop Eatery, Suite 2003-91st Street SW, Edmonton, Ab., Tel.: 780.705.2205

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