This location has closed since the writing of this post.
The Phork is one of Edmonton’s newest restaurants, yet it didn’t seem to be receiving the same press as some of the other hotspots have. Replacing the Italian restaurant Antonio’s, a short-lived restaurant who had previously taken The Copper Pot’s location, The Phork has no doubt one of the best views of Edmonton’s river valley. So why have I heard neither stellar or terrible things about it? I decided to find out for myself last week, a rare weekday lunch date with Joe!
Located in the Capital Place Building, on the corner right as you’re about to cross the High Level Bridge, the restaurant entrance is tucked away on the 110 St side. Metered parking alongside the street is available, as is apparently an underground parkade under the building. On this particular day, there was construction going on near the outdoor entrance and the elevator was being maintained, so not a lot of foot traffic around the area.
The day also happened to be Teacher’s Convention, and for fear of overbooked restaurants and plan B restaurants, I tried to reserve on their online email system that same morning, seeing that they were not taking calls until their 11am opening time. I don’t know why this restaurant just doesn’t use Open Table, the online reservation system, rather than an old fashioned email form which requires them to contact you to confirm. Apparently it takes 24 hours notice to book online. As their website states, if you require assistance immediately, best to phone. So I did at 11:10am. Nobody picked up. My worse fears accumulating, I asked Joe if we should just take a risk and show up to our 12:30pm “reservation” and hope to get in. We decided to try. I did manage to get through to somebody at 12:05pm after a couple more calls, to which the gentleman replied, “Plenty of room. Come on down!” Perfect.
This is what we came down to. An empty restaurant. Where… is everybody? Granted it was a bit colder than usual (it’s Edmonton though!) and yes, the restaurant is a little further down from Jasper Avenue. Why is it empty? What’s even more puzzling, there was a Groupon for The Phork, which I bought earlier that morning. What’s happening here?
Our server was nice and polite, offering us plenty of water refills throughout our meal. Pasta of the day was a house made fettucine with seared tenderloin, spinach, sun-dried tomato, and a whiskey cream sauce. Sounds good! Joe ordered the dish, and finished it, despite the fact that the beef was completely unseasoned. Absolutely zero salt on those pieces. The fettuccine, you could tell, was made in house, and must have been a little overworked as it had a slight chewy-gummy texture. What brought me coming back to grab a couple more bites though was the sauce. Well done, not overly rich, and enough to save the dish. Sub-par for a pasta dish though when downtown Edmonton has plenty of Italian options.
Lunch for me was a toss up between the hand formed Alberta bison burger or the trio cheese grilled sandwich. Protein, or no protein? I went with the bison burger and was glad I did. The patty was moist, although cooked to a near well done, topped with a caramelized red onion jam. Brioche bun served as a nice vehicle, perfectly toasted. Truffled aioli was nowhere to be tasted in the burger, although I didn’t dissect it as much as I should have in search for it. The dish comes with your choice of soup of the day, hand cut fries, house, or Caesar salad. Tempted to get house cut fries, but a Caesar salad ended up winning that battle. Glad I did, their Caesar is a charred romaine stalk, complete with shaved Parmesan, bacon bits, and a dressing with just the right amount of anchovy and garlic flavor. You know, in case I had to go back to work and didn’t want a Caesar salad breath! Definitely the winner of the two dishes and one that I would come back for.
By the end of the lunch, one additional table had been seated. With the Groupon of $15 for $30 worth, our bill came to $3.15 after the deduction. I tipped heavily, as service was superb and we had no issues with our server. I just don’t get it though! Where is everybody? I tried to take a step back and really think about it. If I worked downtown, much like most of my friends and Joe, would I make the effort to walk there? No, I guess I would not. Would I drive there? No, street parking will cost you and I probably wouldn’t even know about the underground parkade. Lunch for $30 for two when I could walk down Jasper Avenue and find an equivalent price point or even cheaper? Online reservations need to be made 24 hours in advance, three of four calls missed, all called during opening hours. Joe initially though The Phork would be like Three Boars Eatery, a more trendy, hipster place, seeing that the name is spelt with a “ph” and all. Totally the wrong impression and a little case of mistaken identity there. Hmm. Guess that explains a lot. What I sampled for lunch warranted another visit to try other dishes, although something’s got to promote people to come try. Either stellar dishes, or cheaper menu will get people to walk. Who knows, maybe warmer weather will bring better luck! Whatever happens to The Phork, I really do wish them all the best and am rooting for them to come out on top.
#101, 9707 110 St