Thursday, July 5

Fiddle River Seafood in Jasper

You wouldn't think of seafood as being the optimal choice when in the mountains, but Fiddle River is known for their seafood. After Ula, Ian and I were seated, a chalkboard easel containing about a dozen daily specials was placed by our table. We ordered drinks and set out to read the menu. Ok, who am I kidding? I set out to read the menu while Ula and Ian set out to choose something to eat.

I absorbed some of the 'chalkboard' specials - a beef dish, lobster, crab, trio of local fish. Even though much of the menu was dedicated to seafood, about the same amount was non-fishy - interesting bison, turkey, even elk dishes as well as lamb and beef. Plenty of choices for all. Didn't really look too close to see if their was much for my vegetarian friends... ah, sorry.

Our chosen meal follows, along with my interpretation of each dish. We shared the two appetizers.

Beggar's Purse. Maple syrup and sage roasted turkey purses with quinoa and tomato tarragon mint jus. Quinoa was very creamy, almost like a risotto. Jus was quite strange to our tastes but I think that's a result of my under-use of tarragon. Note to self - make something with tarragon (any suggestions?). I couldn't really taste the maple or sage and in fact, was quite surprised when looking back at my notes that this was an intended flavour. The 'spaghetti' beet garnish was a great touch, al dente and quite sweet.

Pan Fried Crab Cakes. Pan roasted sherry turmeric flavoured crab cakes with chipotle mayonnaise and lemon caper virgin olive oil. My favourite dish of the evening. Crab cakes weren't overpowered by the 'crabby' flavour and matched well with the turmeric. Chipotle mayo was smoky without too much spice and the huge briny capers cut through the creaminess of the crab and mayo. I have to say, I was much impressed with the turmeric, chipotle and caper combo - an unexpected match, but it worked!

Panko Fish and Chips. Trio of fishy choices served with moulade and marinated salad. This was my dish, chosen off the 'chalkboard' menu. I wish I had taken a pic from a different angle to catch the shape of the three small fillets. Oh well. Also, I asked to switch out the chips for rice, and I think they switched out the salad too. The three fish were cod, halibut and pickerel. Crust was a little too tough for my tastes, and the cod was too dry. Regular readers of this blog will already know that overcooked seafood makes me angry. I appreciated the bed of rice and petite lentils - it made me feel like I was eating something healthy next to the fried fish. Grilled veg was also surprising, with choices like grilled tomato and corn. Rémoulade was a fresh alternative to traditional tartar sauce.

Bison - New York Cut. Alberta bison char-broiled and topped with chimichurri. Ian's dish. From the piece I tasted, it was quite tender (nice and bloody!) and the parsley sauce paired well. Mashed potatoes weren't terribly inspired, although good home cookin'.

Oven Roasted Lamb Loin. Sprinkled with herbed bread crumbs and grainy mustard. Ula's dish. Also melt-in-your-mouth tender at medium-rare. The sprinkling of bread crumbs unsettled me a little since I wanted a more pure taste to the lamb, but Ula didn't say anything about it, so I don't think it bothered her. I wonder if they make the mustard themselves.

Overall, I'm glad we went. We were thinking of skipping it because I had recently blown that money in New Brunswick on the crappy seafood, but since this place was highly recommended, we figured we should try it out. After all, we saved on breakfast and lunches by packing picnics. Ah, yeah. That's how I'm going to justify it.

Don't be fooled by the informal dining room. The taste combinations and food presentation at Fiddle River Seafood are definitely worth making a reservation for.

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