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Valentine’s Dinner Experience by Chef Mikael Charlton

A friend of a friend…

I have had the pleasure of being a Facebook friend with Chef Mikael for a while now. A mutual friend used to always post his creations on her feed. Everything looked and sounded delicious. Being the foodie that I am, I sent a friend request and have been able to watch such delightful creations being posted all the time.

There are many Chefs out there, and many people that like to cook. There are few that have that passion, that fire to create, the delight when someone enjoys their creation. I am delighted to report Chef Mikael has that passion and fire.

Being a Chef is hard work

The average person that sits down in a restaurant to enjoy a meal has no idea how much is going on in the background to make sure that the plate in front of you is perfect.  There is recipe research and development, gathering the perfect ingredients, practicing until you have it right and then making the plating a work of art.  Hours of prep time go into the menu.  Just like a musician or painter, Chefs are also artists.

Let them shine!

My best restaurant experiences have been at the invitation of the Chef for a “not on the menu” tasting.  I have been fortunate enough to experience some world-class food in my time.  When a Chef is given no limitations and just allowed to let their creativity shine, this is when you will see, feel and taste those masterpieces.  This is not just food.  This is an experience.

The delicate balancing of flavours and textures, making sure everything is cooked to perfection, served at the perfect temperature.  The artists do this.

Chef Mikael is currently working with Cask and Barrel located on 100 ave and 104 street in downtown Edmonton.  It is a smaller, cozy high-end cocktail lounge that has eats and sometimes live music.  I quickly glanced at the regular menu and there are some tasty looking things on there, but I was focused on the evening at hand.  Let your light shine Chef!

Valentine's Menu

Let’s start with the Drunken Prawn Bisque.

Drunken Prawn Bisque

Not only is it beautiful, but it was spicy and delicious.  The cream on top and the crunch of the (I think it was green onion, I forgot to ask) made this the perfect, warm cup of love on a very brutally cold winter night.  It was like a hug in a bowl.  This was perfect to wake up those tastebuds for the main.

The next beauty to grace our table was the Spinach and double creme brie stuffed chicken breast wrapped in puff pastry with a Sambuca cream reduction.  It was accompanied by seasonal veggies and brown butter sage gnocchi.

Spinach and Brie Stuffed Chicken Breast

This was perfection on a plate.  It was a large portion, and I just couldn’t stop eating it!  The chicken breast was tender and juicy with the delicately balanced tender/crispy textures and the slightly sweet taste of the Sambuca cream sauce with the spinach and brie.  The gnocchi was addictive, I could have eaten it all night.  Perfectly simple and delicious.  The seasonal vegetables were also cooked to perfection texture wise, and the eggplant that they were served on had a slightly smoky flavour to it.  We both ended up tapping out about half way through because we knew we needed to save room for dessert.

Red Velvet Rose

This was a rose made from red velvet cake topped with creme fraiche, drizzled with creme de cacao hot fudge and salted caramel sauce.  Not too sweet, moist, chocolatey goodness.  So many flavours to mix in different ways, and beautiful!  My only complaint from the entire experience was that the creme fraiche covered up the rose, it could have been that much prettier.

This was a wonderful way to celebrate love day with my husband.  The wait staff was friendly and attentive, the “Dark and Stormy” was tasty, it was just a perfect evening out.  Thank you Chef!  It was lovely to finally meet you and shake your hand.

Be prepared readers, I will be spamming you with Chef’s future creations.  Stay tuned for more awesomeness!

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