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Review: 12 Acres Restaurant (St. Albert)

May 24, 2015
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12 Acres - Edmonton - St Albert

Last week, Mike and I had the pleasure of getting a sneak peek into St. Albert’s newest restaurant 12 Acres. We were invited to try sample sizes of a variety of their dishes – from soups to salads, sandwiches to entrees, and to learn more about what they’re all about!

12 Acres - Edmonton - St Albert

Inside 12 Acres, located at 8 Mission Ave., in St. Albert

12 Acres is located at 8 Mission Avenue, in the same building where the old Riverhouse Restaurant used to be. For a lot of people, the Riverhouse was something of an institution in St. Albert. Always very good – and often the spot to go to for your occasions. That was the problem (12 Acres staff tell me). People only ever came for occasions. There was the notion that Riverhouse was too fancy, too special, too not-kid-friendly, all the other days of the year.

12 Acres - Edmonton - St Albert

They like to show off the cuts of meat they’ve broken down in-house at 12 Acres.

Courtney and Nathan Henry, owners of 12 Acres, want people to know their new restaurant is not fancy, it’s not stuffy, and certainly families/kids are welcome. It’s elevated comfort food, with a stress on the farm to table (pasture to plate) concept. But it’s going for approachable, affordable, and eventually – sustainable.

12 Acres - Edmonton - St Albert

Charcuterie at 12 Acres shows off their cured meats (done in house), bread (done in house), pickled veg (done in-house) and cheeses (some done in house!)

You hear a lot about farm to table concepts and restaurants lately. More people (thankfully) are caring about where their food comes from, and so the surge in eating local (shopping local, anything local) has been a welcome trend. At the very core of it, all restaurants employ the farm to table idea – at some point in the process, the food/ingredients they’re serving came from some farm (we hope). The better type of farm to table of course is when those farms are local and when the restaurant owners/chefs have relationships with the farmers. Many do a good job of sourcing from local farms and suppliers and letting their customers know they do that, so it’s not as unique anymore to have a restaurant tout itself as “farm to table.”

That’s the impression one of my friends had when I told him 12 Acres had opened in St. Albert and it was towing the farm to table line. “Isn’t that all new restaurants now?” he said, with a smirk.

But 12 Acres is different! They’re really taking the whole concept to the next level. The relationship they have with the farm they’ve partnered with – City Life Farms – is very symbiotic. The farm will only ever have as many cows (for example) as the restaurant needs to serve, and vice versa. If they run out of a cut, that’s it. Try a different cut. They’ll use all parts of the animal in everything they make. Some greens come from the farm, eventually they hope all greens will. The goal is that in a few years the farm will completely sustain the restaurant. They want the farm to exist for the restaurant and the restaurant to exist for the farm.

It’s ambitious, but so very exciting!

12 Acres - Edmonton - St Albert

12 Acres Chef Nathan Henry says 12 Acres is a labour of love – and meant to change how we eat.

Chef Nathan Henry, whose been in the business for 20 years, said with 12 Acres, he wants to change how Edmontonians (and Albertans) eat and think about eating, and sustainability. Their menu will change frequently (depending on what ingredients/cuts they run out of) and that’s why they opted to go with iPad menus instead of printed menus. You can learn more about 12 Acres’ concept on their website.

12 Acres - Edmonton - St Albert

iPad menus at 12 Acres aren’t just there to be flashy/gimmicky – it’s there to reduce cost on printing, and also makes sense because their menu is always changing based on what the farm’s got going on.

Overall, Mike and I thoroughly enjoyed all the dishes we sampled at 12 Acres!

12 Acres - Edmonton - St Albert

Mike and his Cucumber Gin drink at 12 Acres Sneak Peek!

The Reuben sandwich, especially, was so damn good. Sandwiches generally don’t excite me (some stuff in between some bread? meh.. lol), but I am itching to get back to 12 Acres to try the full version of their Reuben. The spicy mustard, sauerkraut, pickles, and juicy brisket left us wanting more.

12 Acres - Edmonton - St Albert

A sample of the home-style Reuben Sandwich (fresh rye bread, brisket, pickles, sauerkraut, and spicy mustard). The standard size would cost $12.

12 Acres pickles everything in house, cure everything in house, butcher in-house, make all of their bread in house, their pasta is made in house, and they’re working on making all of their cheese in house. Totally awesome and despite all of that, their prices are relatively low.

12 Acres - Edmonton - St Albert

Steak and sausage with smoked mash, green beans and cippolinis at 12 Acres. Standard size would cost $32.

Their most expensive dishes are $30-$32, and there are only a few in that price range. Mostly everything else is between $15-$25, with a lot in the $15 and $18 range. For almost everything done in-house and sourced locally, that’s really good.

Here are a few more photos from the dishes we sampled!

12 Acres - Edmonton - St Albert

Pickled Salad – farmed greens, goat cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, shallots, radishes, with a dill dressing – at 12 Acres. Standard size would cost $10.

12 Acres - Edmonton - St Albert

Fresh pasta! There will be feature pasta daily at 12 Acres. Standard size would cost $12.

12 Acres - Edmonton - St Albert

Ling Cod in a ramen broth with roasted fingerling potatoes, tomatoes, and farm greens was the feature fish of the night. The standard size Feature Fish at 12 Acres will be $16.

12 Acres - Edmonton - St Albert

Delicious fresh Rhubarb Fritters for dessert at 12 Acres wrapped in a “secret donut recipe.” Would cost $8 normally.

At the end of the night, Chef brought out the rest of the kitchen team for a big round of applause.

12 Acres - Edmonton - St Albert

Overall a wonderful night – great service, pace, and food. We’ll be back to 12 Acres soon!

It was a very smooth sneak peek in terms of service and pace, and again, we really enjoyed the food. I am very excited for 12 Acres and wish them all the best in their ambitious and exciting endeavour. I love the concept, loved the food we tried, and I already have dates being planned there for lunch, brunch, and dinner!

Let me know what you think when you try it!

Linda

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