Artisan Eatery (AE) is a restaurant that has been open, as of this writing, for about two months. There’s been a lot of hype recently on social and “traditional” media about AE. Always looking for good places to eat, my dining companion and I decided to give it a try.
As you enter the restaurant, the first thing you will notice is a commodious dining space and an open air kitchen. I have said it before and will say it again. I think open air kitchens are really a plus as seeing the food prepared really helps diners better connect with their food. After all, the Japanese have used this theme successfully in their teppanyaki restaurants in addition to pizzerias with their tossed crust.
AE models themselves on a fast casual platform, where you order at the register and the food is brought out to you. This theme is further reinforced by their essentials station, which provides non alcoholic beverages, cutlery and condiments, all self-serve. I am OK with all of this, what interested me was the food that my dining companion (DC) and I ordered that night.
They had a special menu that I would assume changes frequently. The special lunch and dinner menus for that day are in pink.
I saw an item that looked interesting from this menu but we started from the regular Lunch and Dinner Menu.
One of the first things we ordered was the prosciutto flatbread. This sounded heavenly, with of course prosciutto, arugula, toasted pine nuts, shallot vinaigrette and shaved parmigiana. The flavors in this dish were very good, but the preparation not up to the ingredients. The flat bread was cooked like a cracker. With the way this dish was sliced and delivered to the table, the vehicle for these wonderful flavors could not be folded. Unfortunately, most of the flat bread topping upon eating fell onto the plate and could not be readily enjoyed. Perhaps this would be better plated as a salad, I don’t know. This dish could have been much better.
We then moved onto another menu item which was tuna tataki, served with a ginger soy emulsion, preserved lemon and crispy rice noodles. This was one of the best tuna tataki dishes “per se” I have had. The tuna in this dish cooked to perfection. The sauce did not work for me. I thought the preserved lemon gave way to more than desired bitter notes due to residual pieces of lemon rind. Perhaps I am just accustomed to the traditional Asian treatment and wanted more umami. Unfortunately, this take on tuna tataki disappointed.
I love pork/beef blends, and ordered the pork belly hamburger from their special menu. This was brought to us on a brioche bun, with provolone cheese, “LTO” as they say and pepper jelly. I am really into a good burger at home and find a 1/3 pork to 2/3 beef mixture fills the bill. I did not find this at AE and it just tasted like a regular hamburger for $14.00. I do not know what the beef/pork ratio was here but it did not work for me.
I am sorry to say this but the best thing we ordered that night were the sweet potato fries.This was a huge portion of fried sweet potatoes and was served with about two tablespoons of maple brown sugar aioli. The thought here was great but to be sure, 30 ml (2 tablespoons) of aioli was not enough for all of the best sweet potato fries I have ever eaten. As such, we could have requested more but after this dining experience just grabbed ketchup from the “essentials” station. Do not get me wrong, no matter the condiment, these will be the best sweet potato fries you will ever eat.
I found the fare at AE uneven, and on the whole, very disappointing. I know others have raved about this establishment but it really did not work for my dining companion and I. If you go, I hope you, as did others, have a much more positive dining experience.
That’s that for another post on Forks.