edible adventures from the centre of the universe

30 May 2007

Alana's First Garden

While my mom was in town this weekend, she was nice enough to plant me a patio container garden! I now have three large planters growing yummy goodies such as strawberries, jalapenos, cherry peppers, corn, carrots, swiss chard, kale, spinach, fennel, tomatillos, and a wide variety of herbs. I can't wait to harvest and cook from my own garden! Here's a picture of the just-planted veggies:

I love how the light goes through the bright red swiss chard stalks. Here are my herbs:

That's purple basil in the middle -- I'm pumped to make some purple pesto! I'll be blogging more about my garden this summer as things sprout, flower, and/or ripen. Stay tuned!


18 May 2007

Review: Purple Onion Steakhouse

To a lot of Edmontonians, the name "Purple Onion" brings to mind mullets, dollar drinks (power hour), terrible music, and wicked hangovers. Maybe it was these associations that prevented me from visiting the Purple Onion Steakhouse at its previous location at Keele and St. Clair. However, when I peeked inside its brand new digs in my neighborhood a few weeks ago and saw a distinct lack of leather pants and plastic tumblers, I decided to give it a try.

Dave and I headed down to the Purple Onion (2998 Dundas Street W) for a Saturday brunch soon after the new location's grand opening. The place was packed -- it seemed as if the entire Junction wanted to check out the newest addition to the neighborhood. While the Onion serves up diner fare, its decor is decidedly not dinery. It's actually rather modern-looking, with framed art on the walls instead of retro signs, and an ornate light fixture. It was not at all what I expected -- I found it quite cold and in sharp contrast to the comfort food on the menu.

Speaking of the menu, it includes a number of breakfast/brunch options, several steaks and different types of sandwiches, as well as a few other entrees (including one fish dish). Everything is very reasonably priced. Since Dave and I were there for brunch, I settled on an omelette with feta, tomato, and onion. Dave ordered eggs and chopped steak. We settled in for what turned out to be a lengthy wait.

Luckily, it wasn't nearly as lengthy as that of the couple at the next table. They had already been seated when we arrived, and we ended up receiving our food before them. Eventually, they simply walked out. Another table nearby also got into an argument with their waitress, who would not let them switch to another free table. They also walked out. Granted, this was the first weekend that the new location had been open -- hopefully they have worked out some of the kinks by now. Regardless, my single greatest complaint about the Purple Onion would definitely be the service.

We dug in as soon as our food arrived, and I was thrilled to find that the tomatoes and onions in my omelette had been grilled -- this added a fantastic charred flavour to my eggs, and also made the tomatoes extra-juicy. The potatoes on the side were savoury and nicely crunchy on the edges, if a little greasy. My meal also came with some pretty standard toast. I was very impressed with my brunch, and despite its tastiness I couldn't finish the huge portion. Dave was similarly impressed with his steak and eggs, although he also found them a little greasy.

All-in-all, I'm ecstatic that the Junction now has a diner for hangover-curing weekend breakfasts, despite its less-than-welcoming atmosphere. We'll have to go back to try the dinner menu, but in the meantime I hope the service drastically improves. After all, I already have a Purple Onion to go to if I want to experience surly waitresses -- and the drinks there only cost a dollar.

6 sheriff stars out of 10