Restaurant: Rostizado by Tres Carnales
Address: #102 10359 104th St.
Reservations: accepted for parties of six or more
Dinner for two without liquor: varies widely, from around $50
EDMONTON – I won’t pretentiously bore you — well, maybe a little — with my obsession with Mexican regional cooking. Except, that is, to say that this flat-out love affair has taken your scribbler and those afflicted with me to 20-odd Mexican states and gringolandia hotbeds of the glorious realm such as New York, Chicago, L.A. and beyond.
The experience can stretch from the most humble rural roadside stands purveying delicacies once enjoyed by the ancients to posh, contemporary urban bistros where classically trained (or not!) chefs re-invent or elevate the form nightly, employing alchemy and dedication and sweat.
In the past month, my partner in crime and I have been fortunate enough to have dined in a few of the aforementioned latter category hot spots — namely Azul Condesa and la Capital in Mexico City and la Biznaga, Sabina Sabe and Zandunga in Oaxaca City. The taste, then, is fresh in memory. And while each resto offers different perspectives on The Real Thing, I’m here to tell you that right here in river city, Rostizado — the new venture by the Tres Carnales gentes — can be mentioned in the same breathless breath.
Un milagro? That is, a miracle? So be it. Let’s savour it, Edmonton.
The place, with its exposed brick walls, dramatic lighting, nifty graphics, clever references, musical selections and sense of humour defines easy, unforced contemporary urban sophistication. Turntables turn and period telenovelas flash across retro TV screens. Check out the loos.
Situated in the former Mercer Warehouse Roast premises, the long, skinny-ish room is perfect — and perfectly interpreted in a brilliant design.
Packed on a Tuesday night — the word is out — we were guided to the comfy centre sofas, accented with playful factory serape cloth, where we were handed shots of smoky artisanal mescal and three scrumptious, complex sopes (topped disks of masa) to tide us over. The room was buzzing with conviviality, the mood welcoming from first blush. Service is kind, smart, proud.
Eventually perched at the surprisingly private end of a long, family-style table, we grazed through our shared choices — roasted cauliflower ($13), ceviche de robalo ($16), rotisserie pollo y puerco platter for two ($55) and grilled romaine hearts ($15). It was the single best Mexican meal we’ve ever enjoyed at a restaurant in the hometown — by some margin. It’s all deceptively simple.
The cauliflower was delicious and roasted nicely al dente in a dressing of chile de árbol, sea salt, cilantro, lime juice, cumin and garlic, a wonderful light starter by any stretch. Ditto for the robalo ceviche, usually something to avoid at all costs in these parts but expertly “cooked” in a lovely citrus marinade and served on a flat plate in this winning iteration. “Robalo” is generally a fish called snook in Mexico and the American gulf states, though advertised here as sea bass. Whatever. It was lovely buttery perfection, reminding us of a certain night in Veracruz.
If not associated with Mexico outside la republica, the signature Four Whistle Farms rotisserie chicken that gave the restaurant its name is as red/ white/green as enchiladas, posole or tequila down south.