I have been frequenting 104St a lot lately and it came to my surprise that I have never tried TZiN before. I recognize the name but for some reason, nothing (good or bad) stood out. I mentioned to Joe that one day we’ll have to try it. That one day came last week when he booked a reservation and surprised me by taking me out (confusing I know, we’re always eating anyways). I absolutely love tapas and the concept of sharing smaller but a variety of dishes with other people. I even had to remind myself to focus and remember to take pictures for the post!
Walking into the restaurant I was completely floored. The place was tiny! There was a nice feature wall for all their wines, a long heavily pillowed banquet which offered seating for a handful of eaters and respective chairs for whomever was your dining partner for the evening. We were promptly seated at our table (which had to be pulled out in order for me to squeeze into the banquet) and handed menus. It was very dimly lit but I’ll have to admit the atmosphere was cozy and a great place to get to know somebody over wine. To the right of the entrance was the teeny tiny kitchen, where you could actually see two chefs preparing your meal. Because the kitchen was directly connected to the dining area, it was no wonder the door was left open for ventilation. This wasn’t a problem now and the nice breeze was welcomed but I’ll have to come back to see how they handle Edmonton’s winter weather! The patio outside was still available, something most places have already shut down in preparation for the cold.
The menu looked simple and sounded delicious. Sourced from the local market, the menu does get tweaked depending on how creative the chef is. After going through the process of “you pick one, I pick one”, Joe and I finally narrowed down our choices and the dishes were served.
Three of four dishes came out simultaneously which isn’t such a bad idea since everything was going to be shared. I thought our choices of dishes provided us with a good sampling of the menu and was excited to try everything. Joe instantly dived into his choice of crab stuffed prawns with lemon chili aioli. I followed suit not knowing what to eat first. The prawns were nicely cooked and the crab stuffing was delicious! The lemon chili aioli gave it a bit of a kick and provided a very salty aftertaste. Probably not the best thing to start off with, and as I didn’t want to lose my palate, I quickly went to try my first pick.
I had chosen the baked brie with red wine reduction, pear and cherry compote served with baguette slices. Cutting into the brie was half the excitement – oozy gooey goodness spread onto crisp slices of baguette will be in my version of heaven. I absolutely loved this dish. I’m not sure how else to phrase it but anybody and everybody needs to try the baked brie. The pear and cherry compote was very nicely done, no hint of tartness at all, and the sweet, refreshing taste balanced out the brie.
Joe’s second choice was the warm mushroom and spinach tart, with Gruyere cheese and Merlot truffle vinaigrette. Out of all three dishes, you could smell this one right off the bat because of the truffle vinaigrette. I could tell that if I didn’t ask for a slice of the tart, I would never see it again. The crust was flaky and a good thickness and the mushroom and fresh spinach were great toppings. If I was vegetarian, I wouldn’t mind eating this three times a day.
Now our 4th dish did come out fairly soon after the other three… but I was in such a food-happy daze that I completely forgot to take a photo of it. The dish was my choice – duck breast with cherry and espresso balsamic tomaquet. If you could just imagine it and make it 10x better then you’re almost right with me. The medium rare duck breast was sliced and placed on top of crisp potato slices. The sweetest cherries I have ever tasted were dotted around and on top of the duck breast. Each bite was nicely balanced, although I had a hard time detecting the espresso flavor. Between the baked brie, the mushroom and spinach tart, and the duck breast, I couldn’t choose which one was my favorite. I loved them all equally. (Although maybe the baked brie stuck out a little bit.)
Knowing my style of eating (that of constant indulgence), Joe agreed to share dessert with me. There were two options of the night: a chocolate torte with ganache (raspberry? I don’t remember) and a lemon tart with raspberry coulis. I thought our meal leaned towards heavy flavors and textures and the sound of a refreshing, light lemon tart appealed to me the most. Our waitress agreed and suggested the tart. Once served, a second waiter informed us that the recipe was actually the chef’s grandmother’s secret recipe and guaranteed, we would not find it anywhere else. Agreed. The tart was very light and the custard was smooth. I enjoyed the fact that they torched the top like a creme brulee (my favorite dessert) and the raspberry coulis was delicious.
For such great dishes, I would happily return and it was very much worth every penny. Our meal ended with the bill and with a slip of paper. Of 30-some random quotes, we received:
If you do not know where you are going, any road will take you there. — Alice in Wonderland
I most definitely know where I’m going (back to) and I am thankful for the road that took me to TZiN Wine and Tapas in the first place. One of the best meals I’ve had in a while!