Friday, December 5th, 2008 at 10:25 pm
Worth the Splurge: Wildflower Grill
I had mentioned my exquisite meal at Wildflower Grill (10009 107 Street) so many times to Mack in the last year that he was eager to give it a whirl of his own at the next opportunity. We finally made time on Thursday to go and see if the standard of excellence outlived the new car smell.
The restaurant served just four other tables for the duration of our visit, so for that reason (and the basic principle of welcoming), we found it surprising that the hostess greeted us with an abrupt “Do you have a reservation?” as soon as we walked through the door. Granted, we could have simply surprised her, but a “How are you?” would have been an acceptable preface.
At any rate, we were shown to a table by the window, one of my favourite places to sit in any restaurant. Our server promptly came to take our drink order, and throughout the evening, was attentive without being overbearing – I was happy to see that their service had not declined in quality since my inaugural visit.
The menu appeared to be unchanged, which was fine with me, as I had intentions to sample a dish free of fruits de mer this time around. To start, Mack couldn’t resist the temptation of Coconut Buttered Tiger Prawns ($15), and decided to continue on the seafood theme with Pan-Roasted Sockeye Salmon Medallions ($31) as his entrée. I was decidedly in the land corner that day, and the Herb-Crusted Venison Medallions ($38) struck my fancy.
As expected, our server teased our palate with an amuse bouche, of stewed figs this time. I didn’t care much for the cream cheese finish, but I still adored the complimentary sample from the chef. Next was the included treat I was looking most forward to – brioche bread served with two kinds of butter. It was just as good as I remembered – warm from the oven, crisp on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside. Heavenly.
Brioche bread service
We weren’t halfway through our bread, however, when our appetizer appeared. Mack was immediately distracted by the sight of shrimp and scallops, and I was less than interested. The two accompanying sauces provided a color pop to the dish, but were also quite tasty – Mack preferred the lime green chili sauce, while I liked the bite of the red chili sauce. The potato crown which encased the seafood tower was a nice edible addition as well.
Coconut Buttered Tiger Prawns
Anticipating entrees that would arrive prior to completing our appetizer, we finished the plate in no time. To our relief, there was a lengthened pause from the kitchen, and we waited comfortably, sipping our drinks and enjoyed the relaxed ambiance of a quiet dining room.
Our entrees were a canvas to behold. A tiny ceramic pot (adhered to the square plate with the help of mashed potato) supplied a miniature dish within a dish, while the rest of the sides painted a lovely array of colors, accenting the bold, deep pink of the venison medallions which were drenched in a ruby sauce. Mack’s salmon medallions were also heightened visually with beautiful vegetables, though the fish and shrimp were already so vibrant in color that they didn’t need much in the way of accents.
This was my first experience with game, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Though the texture was different than beef or bison, I’m not sure I would be able to identify the meat as “game” in a blind taste test. The crust and the huckleberry compote were great accompaniments, so I have no complaints on preparation or presentation, but as the dish was served with an oxtail ragout, it was difficult not to prefer the softened shards of braised meat served in a lovely broth. Mack’s lobster and crab-stuffed salmon medallions were the closest he’d probably get to recreating Homer Simpson’s “lobster stuffed with tacos” request, and he enjoyed them thoroughly. He didn’t really think there was a need for the butternut squash gnocchi, however, which didn’t seem to relate to the other parts of the dish.
Herb-crusted Venison Medallions
Pan-Roasted Sockeye Salmon Medallions
We were both stuffed by the end of our mains, and opted not to order dessert. Between the amuse bouche, bread course, and complimentary chocolate they provided prior to handing us our bill, we felt that the diner’s experience was a top priority for staff. It was definitely not an inexpensive meal, but for a special occasion, the Wildflower Grill is worth the splurge.
10009 107 Street
Lunch: Monday – Friday 11am-2pm; Dinner: Sunday – Thursday 5-9pm, Friday – Saturday 5-10pm; Brunch: Sunday 11am-2pm
Appetizers $10-22, Entrees $26-49, Desserts $12