Apr. 06, 2011 - Issue #807: Spring Style
Same cafe, different ville
Cafe de Ville's second location shines
My first impression was that this is not the warm, inviting Café de Ville I know and love. It's in a plain, uninviting strip mall instead of a character-filled heritage building. And then there's the door: a single strip mall door that's quite adept at letting in all the blustery weather of the night instead of two heavy, you-are-about-to-enter-somewhere-special doors. There's no sheltering enclave, no grand welcoming sensation on the other side of that door.
There is a tastefully decorated room, though, and a simple but sleek interior. Warmth radiates from the earthy rust and green walls, the ornate curtains and the welcoming booths lining the perimeter of the room. A blazing gas fireplace ups the comfort factor, but doesn't quite push the room into intimate territory.
Because dining at Café de Ville is an event, a friend and I started off by ordering a bottle of wine from the well-rounded wine list, a Chook Shed Shiraz ($40). Full-bodied with a lovely long finish, I found it to be eminently drinkable without broaching on overpowering.
While we sipped, we contemplated the menu. Although it's smaller at this location, less choice didn't seem to make our dinner decisions any easier. I finally settled on a petit spinach salad ($10) and the Arctic char ($29), while my dining companion had crab cakes ($15) and pollo l'Italienne ($23).
Lucky for us, the addictive and buttery croissants that the café serves before the meal made the trip down the Whitemud. The basket landed on our table and within minutes, only a few scant crumbs remained.
As at the original location, presentation was simple but stunning. We simply wanted to dive in. The four crab cakes, with their light panko coating and a faint whiff of dill, disappeared in between mumbles of "light, crispy" and "so tender." My spinach salad, with its ample chunks of salty feta and sweet figs, was elevated further by lovely spheres of buttery macadamia nuts.
Our entrées were equally impressive. The Arctic char was divinely moist and impeccably cooked, unquestionably the best fish I've indulged in in a very long time. The maple and whisky butter glaze could have had a bit more depth to it—I could only discern the sweet tones of maple—but overall, decidedly delicious. I passed on a varied assortment of pasta, potatoes and quinoa in favour of extra veggies and wasn't disappointed. Café de Ville has always treated this oft-neglected side with the utmost respect, and this case was no different.
And yes, the pollo l'Italienne was equally memorable—or so I'm told. Al dente pasta, meltingly tender chicken and spicy Italian sausage in a tomato cream sauce that was worthy of bowl-licking, had we not been in public place, that is.
Dessert options were presented on a tray with such stellar temptations as peanut butter cookie cheesecake and Bailey's crème brulée. I like the idea of being tempted visually rather than just reading about dessert off a menu, but often the desserts that are presented look, well, weary, and not that indicative of what the final product actually looks like when it does make its grand appearance. Still, I almost gave in.
This is not the original Café de Ville that wormed its way into my heart. It is a restaurant with its own identity, and that identity includes dishing up some of the most tantalizing food Sherwood Park has to offer. Sometimes more is better. V
Mon (11 am – 2 pm); Tue – Fri (11 am – 2 pm & 5 pm – 10 pm); Sat (5 pm – 10 pm)
Café de Ville in the Park
25 Sioux Road, Sherwood Park; 780.449.4765
More info about Cafe de Ville →
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