Last week, I was invited to try Halo Bar & Bistro Restaurant and tour the Renaissance Hotel at the Edmonton International Airport, with some of my closest friends Andrea (Little Miss Andrea) and Chris (Eating is the Hard Part) and our partners.
The experience was put together by FlyEIA as a way to highlight some of the airport’s many dining and shopping opportunities.
Most people who visit the airport (myself included) arrive at the very last moment they have to before their flight, and don’t really stick around once they land/come home. That’s really a missed opportunity and this evening with Halo/Renaissance really showed us that.
This evening was especially fun because we got to do it as a group – Andrea, Chris and I were all invited separately by the EIA to try their dining/shopping experiences but since we’re all really good friends and Andrea’s birthday was coming up, we asked if we could share this experience together and thankfully, the EIA obliged!
Our hosts for the night was GM David Keam and Director of Rooms, Sumit Bhatia. They were wonderful hosts – whose passion for the hotel really shone through. Our incredible meal at Halo was made by talented Chef Daniel Ducharme and team.
The Renaissance Hotel opened in 2014 and is the only Renaissance-airport hotel in the world. Sometimes you think ‘airport hotel’ and you’re not really expecting it to be much, but the Renaissance totally turns that notion on its head.
This is a beautiful, super sleek hotel designed by the same group who designed the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. There’s more than 200 rooms including 12 suites and a beautiful pent house room (where many celebrities and even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have stayed). When you enter a guest room, it sparkles – literally. It’s gorgeous. And bonus: we got to check out the pent house which features a ridiculously cool, futuristic toilet.
The hotel’s whole concept is around the notion of ‘discovery’ and they encourage guests to ‘live life to discover.’
That’s why they have staff “navigators” who are experts in local food, entertainment and culture and can help navigate you to the best local destinations.
The Renaissance also has fun hotel traditions – like a party at 5:15 p.m. in their bar each day. Staff play a siren, give out free drinks, and blast all Canadian music. It’s their ‘bar ritual.’
They also have an ‘R Life’ stage – where there are live shows throughout the month. Check out the event listing for December here.
Halo is a modern bistro – with higher price points for the main dishes (feels like finer dining) but comparable prices for their burger/sandwich/bar bite/appetizer options. It’s certainly well worth the drive out from the city.
That evening, our group tried their a bunch of items from the menu. For starters, we tried the Nagy Mama’s Cheese Perogies (caramelized onions, Boar bacon, chive sour cream – $13), Calamari (with togarashi spice and ponzu sriracha aioli – $14), crispy, handcut French Fries (with homemade Saskatoon Berry Ketchup – $6), and Cured Meat and Sausage charcuterie board (with local cured meats from Canmore, Canadian cheese, marinated olives, bread, assorted pickles and mustard – $22).
The fries (regular readers will know I’m all about the crispy potatoes) with homemade Saskatoon Berry ketchup was fantastic (did you know Saskatoon Berries are indigenous to Alberta?) And the charcuterie board was phenomenal.
For our mains, we had the Lobster and Forest Mushroom Risotto (with melted fontina cheese, toasted hazelnuts and pancetta – $39), the Sturgeon Filet (with fennel, potato latkes, lemon vinaigrette, and an arugula and fennel salad – $28), the Chicken Supreme (with bacon, onion bread pudding, creme fraiche, mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables – $28) and Braised Short Ribs (with grainy, dijon warm potato salad, local carrots, and a Saskatoon Berry jus – $33).
My main dish (as well as Andrea’s) was the risotto which was absolutely wonderful – rich, creamy, cheesy, with just the right bite/texture that I like for my risottos. The pancetta was also extra salty and super crispy – just the way I like it too.
Chris ordered the Sturgeon, and initially was supposed to share a few bites with his partner Jen, but it was so tasty he ate it all up before realizing he hadn’t saved anything to share! Oops. (A delicious, good oops).
We ended the evening with a series of dessert samplers including chocolate, creme brûlées and strawberry cheesecakes. Dessert was set up in a Chef’s Table room with a view of the Banquets kitchen of the hotel. You can book a Chef’s Table for 6-8 people at the hotel – and if it lands on a busy banquet night then you can see all the chefs/cooks in action right out the window.
Our group had a truly wonderful meal at Halo.
I’ve always wanted to do a food blog series on hotel restaurants because there are some pretty knockout hotel restaurants out there (Halo included). With the Anthony Henday (and Edmonton building farther and farther out) the airport really isn’t that far out anymore. For us (living on the west end), a trip out to Halo would take us the same amount of time as a trip downtown so it’s totally realistic to opt for a Halo/Renaissance Hotel dinner over your more typical restaurant options.
The Renaissance Hotel also offers a staycation rate which often includes a complimentary room upgrade. I’d call them to inquire if a close-to-home getaway is something you’re thinking of.
A very useful tip we learned that evening as well is if you grab a drink or food from Halo, you can park in the hotel’s lot and get your parking validated.
It’s a lot cheaper – and more delicious and relaxing – than some of the other parking options at the airport! There’s also a super convenient pedway from hotel to airport so you don’t even need to re-park elsewhere if you’re picking someone up.
As I mentioned, Halo/the Renaissance Hotel is really just one of a number of eating and shopping options at the Edmonton International Airport. Experiences like these make me reconsider how I treat a trip to the airport – it doesn’t need to be the pushing-it-to-the-very-last-minute departure and immediately-get-out-and-go-home arrival.
Bonus: consider signing up for the EIA’s free Rewards program. Each month they send out discounts for parking, shopping and dining. Members are also entered for monthly draws for flight prizes! I’ve gotten some pretty cheap parking rates with my membership!
Thank you to the Edmonton International Airport and the team at Halo/Renaissance for a memorable evening. Our group had a lovely meal and tour of the space, and I know I really enjoyed learning about the hotel and its different, unique features and brand/culture. It feels like a really great place to be.
Disclaimer: I will always provide my 100% honest opinion on this blog. The Edmonton International Airport set up this blogger dinner as part of their promotions of the dining and shopping experiences at the airport. The dinner was complimentary. This does not affect the opinions stated in this post. (I wouldn’t say I liked it if it didn’t!)