Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tekarra Restaurant - A hidden gem

A destination restaurant, Tekarra Restaurant is nestled up in the mountains in the tranquil and and peaceful Tekarra Lodge. Unless you knew the restaurant was there, the generic sign at the side of the highway indicating that there’s food of some sort in that direction doesn’t exactly clue diners in on the fact that a wonderful dining experience lies at the end of that roadway. In case you’re trying to find it, it’s not very far from Jasper. We got lost trying to find it ourselves, expecting more signage than there actually was. It’s simply a short drive along Highway 93 towards the Columbia Icefields, and a quick left onto Highway 93A. Tekarra Restaurant is helmed by owner, chef and stand up comedian David George Husereau, who has been at Tekarra Restaurant for over 20 years and does stand up comedy when Tekarra Restaurant is closed in the off season.

Profiteroles with Goat Cheese
Scallops Benedict
Although it’s not much to look at from the outside or the inside, the star of the show at Tekarra Restaurant is the food. Although there was far more on the menu that I wanted to order than I could actually eat, I started with a few of the items on the “Small Starts” menu, literally one or two bite items. First up was the Persian dates soaked in port, stuffed with Manchego cheese, wrapped and baked in Serrano ham. The crispy and salty ham balanced out the sweetness from the port soaked date, while the savoury, gooey melted cheese made it an irresistible first bite. I could have had a few more of these, but knew there was more food coming. The profiteroles were filled with Fairwinds Farm goat cheese and pistachio. Although one profiterole had no filling, this was immediately rectified and the rich cheese within the crispy shell out of dough was was immensely satisfying.

Arctic Char
We opted for the scallops Benedict with parmesan beignets, crisp smoked pork belly, and crab butter as an appetizer. The moment they put the dish down, I could immediately smell the fragrant scallops, a rare experience in Alberta. The last time I had smelled the enticing and mouthwatering scent of scallops so strongly was at Gary Danko in San Francisco. The scallops Benedict was expertly and delicately constructed, allowing the buttery scallops to shine, topped with a light crab butter that complimented it. While the salty pork belly added depth to the dish, all placed atop a crunchy and airy parmesan beignet.

Cinnamon Ember
For our mains, we went with Arctic char, iron-seared with somen noodle pancake, and butter sauce, as well as sous vide venison, with cinnamon/rosemary smoke, parsnip puree, game sausage, and deconstructed cabbage roll risotto. The Arctic char was cooked to perfection, so soft and tender that it melted in my mouth. Although normally finished with a sweet crab butter, due to the male humans alcohol allergy, it was finished with a simple butter sauce instead, allowing the Arctic char to shine, unencumbered by other components. Meanwhile the sous vide venison was as tender as any high grade feeb steak, with a slight gamey taste, complimented by a slightly sweet sauce. The sausage was surprisingly moist, while a cinnamon ember wafted a slightly spicy and smoky cinnamon fragrance to my nose, creating an entire sensory experience.  

Venison Sausage
For dessert, I couldn’t resist trying their signature warm, Callebaut chocolate soufflé with vanilla ice cream. The soufflé was fluffy outside filled with warm, gooey chocolate outside, which acted as the perfect sundae topper for the accompanying vanilla ice cream. The soufflé the male human received was overcooked, resulting in a spongy cake instead, but was whisked away and replaced with a perfectly cooked soufflé once we let one of the servers know. 

Callbeaut Chocolate Souffle 
Tekarra Restaurant woud up being our favourite meal in Jasper, a wonderful dining experience with tantalizing food. Along with some of the most professional servers we’ve come across in Alberta, Tekarra Restaurant is a must visit if you’re going to be in Jasper and is easily as good as, if not better than many restaurants found in Edmonton and Calgary. So check out the culinary magic that Chef David George Husereau has created in the mountains.

Highway 93A South
Jasper, AB  T0E 1E)
Twitter: @TekarraChef

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