The Riverhouse, a St. Albert restaurant along the Sturgeon River, looks so much like an early 20th century mansion that we feel like we should be arriving via horse and buggy rather than in a Honda Civic. But the building is only about 16 years old, and while it’s housed The Riverhouse for the past 12 years, it’s hosted two other restaurants before the current tenant.
No matter how stunning the curb appeal, it’s the menu that draws us in. We go for the crab cakes to start – three hearty cakes come with arugula and a sauce that has the zing of black pepper paired with the lemony kick of ginger.
The elk and potato three ways is easily the most unique item on chef Steve Brochu’s menu. Bright pink and green rock potatoes look like they’re candied on the outside, but it’s actually an edible clay crust that gives them their bursts of colour. Meanwhile, potato and squash chips are perfect for dipping in the parsnip puree that’s creamy with a hint of vanilla. The third option on the plate is also the most traditional – a heap of mashed potatoes.
The elk meat is cooked using the sous-vide technique, where it’s sealed in a bag, and immersed in a water bath at a precise temperature. While it looks like sausage, it tastes stronger than most elk I’ve tried. The wild meat flavour is more intense, as each piece is compressed with transglutaminase, which helps bind the meat molecules together.
The meat on the lamb is so tender it’s already off the bone when it arrives to the table. It comes with a side of deep fried fennel root that has a celery consistency and a subtle licorice flavour. There’s a carrot foam that bubbles next to the meat and adds a little sweetness to the palate. It’s not as sweet as dessert, but we’re full and satisfied. (8 Mission Ave., St. Albert, 780-458-2232, Riverbank Bistro)
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