Although I was pretty shy from the food scene in the month of December, it didn’t fly past me that Solstice Seasonal Cuisine had opened quietly on 124 Street, across from Duchess Bakery. A sneak peak of their urban cultivator in their bar on Instagram was enough to get me intrigued when they were in the early renovation stages of the old Somerville Wine and Bistro location. With a promise of “utilizing fresh, seasonal ingredients”, I was excited to try it in the new year.
Brought to you by four partners and friends, executive head chef Jan Trittenbach and his sous Jamin Sharp man the kitchen, while Jon Elson was the first to greet us for the evening as front of house and Joshua Meachem mans the bar. The team all came from Old Strathcona’s Packrat Louie, a restaurant I have yet to try! I’m always impressed when a close-knit team transfers over to something new and exciting.
Joe and I had reservations for the Friday night. Open Table automatically requests for the best lighting for all of my reservations, just so I can take photos of everything I eat. Solstice Seasonal Cuisine was very accommodating, our table in the middle of the dining room. There was so much room around the center tables though, even Joe noted it felt a little awkward and exposed. Our orders were quickly taken, although I could feel the kitchen was already running behind at our 7pm seating. The restaurant was nearly fully seated and not a dish in sight. Uh oh! But Joe and I were in no rush. An amuse bouche made its way out before drinks could be served: smoked salmon with cream cheese and dill, on cucumber slices. Nothing noteworthy, although appreciated to tide us over for the longer-than-usual service ahead of us.
Drinks arrived nearly half an hour after seating. I had a glass of white wine (I’m boring!), while Joe had “The Albertan”, Solstice’s take on the classic Canadian Caesar. It even came with beef jerky! Yum! Worth the wait and I could see multiple tables ordering cocktails and only one person behind the bar. Perhaps three weeks into a new restaurant was too soon to try? I’m sure with their experience they will work out the kinks.
Tables that were seated around the same time as us had plates coming through, mostly appetizers. Perhaps that was our mistake for not ordering any but when menu prices are on the higher end of our usual dinner budget, ’tis life. When our dinner did come out though, I was happy as a clam. Joe’s beef short ribs, sourced from Spring Creek Ranch were moist, tender, and delicious (!) and paired nicely with leeks and an acorn squash puree. I had doubts about the baked potato perogies, as I hold RGE RD‘s perogies at the highest standard, but I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of flavour packed into them. Crisp exterior from a perfect pan-fry, I’d order these perogies again! Which means the whole dish was a win for both Joe and I.
I’ve made it a general rule that if duck is on a menu that I’ve never tried, I’m going to order it. My love for duck is a close second to my love for pork belly. Described as a lavender-glazed duck breast, I was slightly disappointed that I couldn’t taste the lavender. Perhaps grabbing a bite of Joe’s beef short ribs first was a mistake. But the breast was perfectly cooked and had a nice golden brown exterior. Carrots and radicchio and a plum wine gastrique completed the dish with bold flavours, and like the beef short ribs, the duck was sourced locally through Four Whistle Farm. Absolutely loved the plate and one of the better duck dishes in the city.
Solstice Seasonal Cuisine delivers on what it promises: great food utilizing fresh seasonal ingredients. January is always a month with a tight budget for me, so we didn’t order dessert although given what we had for dinner, I would have predicted it to be equally as delicious. I think if we had ordered appetizers, the wait for our entrees would have been less noticeable but otherwise, I would happily return for another dinner. Looking forward to future menu changes and for Solstice Seasonal Cuisine to settle into their home, a great addition to Edmonton’s growing list of restaurants.
Solstice Seasonal Cuisine
10723 124 St