Mother’s Market has closed since the writing of this post.
Within mere minutes of completing the first underground dinner at The Salt Room, I was already on my phone and emailing Chef Antony Krause for spots at the next dinner. Yeah, it was that good. The five course meal was stellar, memorable, and made me want more. I’m happy to say that the second dinner went just as well, if not set the bar even higher for the small Mother’s Market vendor.
Although advertised as a five course menu, it seems to be The Salt Room-style of sending out an amuse-bouche to start. I’m always a big fan of amuse-bouche because I love the feeling of getting excited for what’s to come. To start the night off: a chicken heart mousse, between two baked potato crisps topped with a sea-buckthorn jelly and fresh reindeer lichen. Outstanding. The mousse was well seasoned and combined with the crisps was texturally amazing. The sea-buckthorn jelly finished the bite with a bit of brightness and surprisingly, the moss added some acidity!
I don’t know if you know this, but I’ve got a love affair going on with The Salt Room’s brown butter. I don’t think it’s even that hard to replicate but my God, it’s the best butter in the world. Slabbed on bites of the bacon onion bun and the cardamom and juniper branch focaccia and like the last dinner, I could not stop. You will dream of this bread plate every night if you get the opportunity to try it! Tonight’s dinner got an extra quenelle of onion butter too, equally complex and delicious! Compared to the previous dinner’s trio of breads, I appreciated this night’s duo – portion control is important to me!
Seeing that the dinner was hosted on April Fool’s Day, there were plenty of tricks at the dinner. Our second course was interesting – a dehydrated scallop, fresh turnips poached and thinly sliced, and turnip juice, fermented for one week. Fresh micro coriander gave the dish a peppery bite and the crisp turnips were a nice touch. Although I can appreciate the techniques used to create a scallop jerky and how it brought out the intense brine-y flavours, given the choice between this and a dish featuring a freshly seared scallop, I would choose a seared one!
Third course featured veal sweet bread, black barley, wilted kale, charred shiitake mushrooms and finished with sherry vinegar and a bay whey buerre blanc. So. Many. Components. I think Chef Tony’s ability to create dishes that meld together so many components, techniques, and flavours is insane! The sweet bread for the night was thyroid, done beautifully and tender. The barley was cooked with a bit of a bite left in it and the whey buerre blanc added acidity to cut through. Edible oxalis flowers brightened the dish. I think The Salt Room is giving RGE RD a run for it’s money here, using offal and edible flowers!
The Salt Room dinners usually finish off its main courses with pasta, opposite to what you’d see in an Italian meal where a dish featuring a protein will follow the primo pasta course. The housemade tubular pasta (smaller than a manicotti, but larger than a ziti) was infused with french onion soup, was well cooked and served as a great base for the other featured flavours of onion, charred wild onions and wild onion blossoms. The wild onion blossoms were intense! Big hit of onion flavour. Topped with Sylvan Star Old Grizzly Gouda, I was happy to see a strong finish to the savory dishes.
Addie stole my camera for parts of the meal and grabbed some awesome shots of Chef Tony plating our desserts!
Dessert was a highlight for me, a banana cake and pecan shortbread crumble with a banana gelato made by chef and partner, Chelsea Tipping. Chocolate crema splatters and a brown butter string provided additional richness to the dish. What pushed the dessert into the realm of oh-my-goodness was definitely the small kalamansi fluid gels, the kalamansi being preserved in salt from last year’s harvest. Salty sweet is one of my favourite pairings, especially for dessert! Like the other plates, the amount of components and techniques used on the dish is amazing. It’s a hard choice when asked if I’d take this dessert or the last underground dinner’s bavarois though! I think the freshness and stronger citrus notes of the blood orange bavarois wins for me, but it’s a tough call.
Petit fours sent us off into a tizzy. It’s dishes like these that impresses me, thoughtful bites and concepts showcasing the chef’s attention to detail. The plate was introduced to us in the following order: a mojito macaron, smoked paprika and wild berry pavlova, a frozen chocolate parfait, and a sour cherry gummy. In hindsight, that’s probably the order it should have been tasted in, there’s probably sound logic as to why Chef Tony introduced it in that order! Most of my tablemates started with the frozen chocolate parfait, it’s melting! I got too excited and started with the sour (!) cherry gummy. By the time I rounded out to the pavlova, I couldn’t even taste the paprika although hints of smokiness did come through. Perhaps next time I should follow the order. A great way to end the night!
I was with great company (nobody judges when we all have cameras) and I think everybody thoroughly enjoyed the meal. Three wine pairings were also offered for the night for an additional $30 (meal itself was $70) but having my fair share of wine last weekend at the Northern Lands event, I opted to sit out. I really missed the non-alcoholic beverages featured at the last underground dinner! Loved the dinner and the fact that The Salt Room can deliver outstanding food consistently. The amount of work done by the team is well appreciated! A waiting list of 50+ diners is currently in my way of attending the next dinner, already in the works for April. I suppose other people need to try the food too! You can follow The Salt Room on Twitter and Instagram for more details, and the wait list and reservations can be made via email to antonykrause [at] gmail [.] com.
The Salt Room (Underground Dinner)
Contact: Tony Krause, antonykrause (@) gmail (.) com
@thesaltroom_yeg The Salt Room (Mother’s Market)
10251 109 Street
Friday, Saturday, Sunday
10AM – 5PM