Coming out of the Woodwork

Review

It’s late April, and things have finally started to warm up.

About a week and a half ago there was about 3 inches of snow on the ground. Almost overnight, the universe flipped a switch, and we’re now officially in summer.

This is made evident by the brave women (and some men) taking advantage of the “warm” weather to bring out the booty shorts and tank tops.

Can’t really blame them though, we have about 3 weeks of spring weather before the mosquitoes come out in force like a goddamned biblical plague.

Afterwards, the North Saskatchewan turns into blood.

Afterwards, the North Saskatchewan turns into blood.

To celebrate the change in seasons (not really), I went to:


WOODWORK

I’ve walked by this place hundreds of times without going in. Recently, some co-workers have been saying positive things, and I just happen to work 5 minutes away, so why not?

Unlike most restaurants here, Woodwork seems to be fairly busy during the weekdays, and choice dining times are quite hard to obtain even 3-4 days beforehand. This would be partially due to its great location (intersection of downtown, city center, and the “arts district”), and partially due to the fact that they serve good, uncomplicated food.

Hell, take away the Mad-Max’esque bands of roaming street people and the restaurant wouldn’t look out of place in any major metropolis.

Can you spare some change eh?

Spare some change?

The interior of the restaurant was somewhat cramped, with the tables being fairly close to each other, but considering the number of customers, this was unavoidable.

Lamps and high ceilings, why not.

Lamps and high ceilings, why not.

One unavoidable fixture in the restaurant was the rather well stocked bar that covered about half the length of one of the walls.

The other unavoidable fixture was this guys bitchin’ beard beard and cornrow combo.

Holy shit just look at it.

Holy shit just look at it.

According to our waiter, Woodwork takes its alcohol seriously, and have quite a large variety of liquor and beer.

Most of them seem to be of some foreign make.

I had a beer.

It was dark-brown and tasted like beer.

Beer.

Beer.

We ordered the “Aquivit-Cured Yukon Char, confit tomato, creme fraiche, grilled country rye” to share, and the steak frites.

The fish/bread was delicious and exactly what was described on the menu. The rye was a great choice of bread, and the tomato was cooked in what I am assuming is sugar water, which toned down the acidity and balanced out the richness of the creme fraiche and fish.

Purdy

Pretty damn good.

My only gripe would be that I really couldn’t get any aquavit flavor from the fish.

That and the fact that it should be called Arctic Char because there’s no fucking fish called a Yukon Char. I mean you can catch Arctic Char in the Yukon, but that doesn’t magically change the species of the fish you’ve caught.

Note how it doesn't say

Note how it doesn’t say Yukon Char

I’m guessing this is probably to fool the ichthyologically challenged into thinking that they’re eating some stupid hipster fish. But I’m not complaining, it was delicious.

The wait between our starters and mains was pretty lengthy, but like most people, I tend to be more forgiving if the food is worth the wait.

For me, steak frites are the quintessential dish upon which the quality of western/french restaurants can be gauged.

It’s simple, timeless, requires some amount of technical skill, and is versatile enough to allow for some culinary creativity.

In this case, Woodwork delivered.

Delivered to my table! (I'm sorry.)

Delivered to my table! (I’m sorry.)

The fries were (I’m assuming) double-fried as they were very crispy and retained that for much of the meal. The garlic aioli was incredibly cloying so I asked ketchup.

I only got a little bit of shit for it from the waiter.

Whatever, fries go better with ketchup than they do with glorified mayonnaise and if you disagree with me I’m willing to bet that you’re fat.

Average aoili fan

Average aioli enthusiast

The tomato salad was well done, but that was due mainly to the quality of the tomatoes rather than any gastronomical magic. The onions were finely chopped unlike at some establishments.

The steak itself was quite good as well, and definitely involved some gastronomical magic. Flank steak is known for being hard to work with due to lack of marbling, but somehow the kitchen wizards at Woodwork tenderized the steak beyond recognition. The lack of noticeable sear marks lead me to believe that it was sous-vide’d but I’m not certain.

The steak was not heavily seasoned, and relied on the natural flavor of the meat and the herbs in the beurre maitre d’hotel.

What can I say. I was pleasantly surprised.


The Good:

  • The food.
  • Booze selection
  • Bright lighting and open spaces

The Bad:

  • Moderately pricey
  • Aioli on fries is disgusting
  • Motherfucker loudly sucking up to his interviewer at the table next to me
  • Little air circulation, very warm.

The Ugly:

  • Fruit flies

Unfortunately, an otherwise pleasant visit to a good restaurant was somewhat marred by the presence of 3-5 fruit flies that just wouldn’t take a hint.

Why hello there.

Why hello there.

While I don’t think fruit flies can carry human diseases, they were nonetheless annoying and sort of gross. You would honestly expect most restaurants to not have an insect infestation, regardless of how harmless the insects are.

So the verdict?

Go to Woodwork in the winter. It’ll be nice and toasty and I doubt the fruit fly eggs would survive a winter transit to Edmonton.

Woodwork on Urbanspoon

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