Hey guys, it's Mr. Kitchen Magpie.
Before we begin, let me first set a few expectations if I may. I am not a food or restaurant reviewer but what I do enjoy writing about is fun experiences and I do know the difference between food that sucks and food that doesn't. So if you are expecting me to talk about “mouth feel” or “umami” you've come to the wrong place.
I am you. You are me. We like to eat good food, have fun experiences, sometimes pay attention to online reviews but usually rely on word of mouth from friends and family.
So your expectation bar is set low now? Cool. That means we're on the same page.
Recently, Karlynn, the kids and I decided to skip the usual Gasoline Alley exit near Red Deer and venture instead to the little town of Lacombe to check out what kind of eats might be hidden there. It was well worth the few minutes of driving and we found some fun and unique places to try if you want a change of pace.
What I can tell you is that Gasoline Alley in Red Deer is basically only good for going to the washroom or grabbing a Starbucks (which is still Super important), but there simply isn't anything “fun” about the experience. From the lines of cars in the Tim Horton's parking lot to the “meh” selections of fast food places, it's somewhere I'd rather avoid. The only exception to this is the Donut Mill and while I'd love to eat donuts for my main meal, that's not a great life decision. This is one of the reasons why Lacombe seemed like a decent option to try as it's just far enough away from Edmonton that we can call it a pit stop and a heck of a lot less busy than Gasoline Alley.
Our little adventure began on my daughter's birthday. We decided to check out a local eatery we'd read about called Cilantro and Chive, located at 5021 50 st in Lacombe so we pulled in for lunch.
Karlynn has had this place on her radar for months once she found out about their #CaesarsThatEatLikeAMeal. More on that, coming right up!
The first thing we ordered was this awesome drink you see below. The kids were both in seventh heaven over this drink. It basically comprises or pop rocks on the rim, cotton candy and gum on the top & candy straws. These drinks are aptly named the “Cotton Candy Crush” and basically made us parents of the year (Sure we're only 3 days into the year but it's still an achievement right?).
The best part about drinks like this coming to the table is that we have our kids “Instatrained”. It's a new phrase I just coined that basically means “touch it and lose it because mommy and daddy need to Instagram it first silly!”. Having passed their Instatraining after many years of hand slaps, our kids now understand how to proceed so they just wait things out while pressuring us to “hurry up.” It's my humble opinion that we are basically the best parents ever because we are training our kids to be patient. Sounds legit right? Yah I thought so too.
While the kids were occupied with their sugar infested drinks, we had a chance to scour the menu for something equally as over-the-top. I chose to order one of their “Caesars that Eat like a Meal” so I chose the Bacon Double Alberta Beef Burger on top of a Bacon Caesar (with fries on the side of course.. ). Here's how it came to the table:
I know right?
I'm sure by this point in the post you have stopped reading and are now trying to come up with excuses to go to Lacombe but for those who have continued reading on.. well done.. your self control is impressive.
So I know food reviewers often like to talk about all kinds of facets of their meals and since I'm not a food reviewer at all, I'm just going to do things a little different. If it's good, I'll tell you about it and you will have a chance to experience it through my posts, if it's not, you'll never know. I figure this way, I'm saving you from wasting your time while at the same time, avoiding writing negative posts. So here goes my first “Mr. Magpie Review”
The burger was good. The fries were good. The drink was good.
The only thing that would have been better is if I could have ordered it cooked to my preference (ie: Medium, rare, etc) but since we're in Canada and our motto is “Cook it 'till it's dry as the Sahara”, I'll take it as it is. My burger did have grease from the bacon and the cheese so that made up for the dryness making it a “good” in my books.
Convinced? Awesome. Now let's take a look at what Mrs. Magpie ordered.
There, there, you'll get your chance to go too. Just hang in there until I get through this post and Mr. Magpie promises that you can drive out there tomorrow and get one of your own. I will now call upon the Mrs. to tell you about this meal.
God, I love crazy Caesars with food on top. I'm sad that this isn't a trend at home in Edmonton, I mean, come on, can't you throw some chicken wings on top and call it a day? Fine enough whining. I totally enjoyed this for lunch. The Jalapenos were an awesome spicy addition. The pulled pork was delicious. Listen. A friend of mine texted me right away and asked how it was and I said “Look, you are never going to get gourmet food on top of a Caesar. This was something I think you absolutely need to try once.” This was stick-to-your-ribs, soul satisfying mac and cheese. I preferred the pulled pork to the hamburger (even though the burger looks better) because MAC AND CHEESE ON TOP OF A CAESAR.My one big take-away? More places need to have treats for the kids. The kid's crazy drinks were only $6.50 each. They weren't crazy milkshakes (which I appreciate but milkshakes are SO filling, right?). It takes SO little to have one or two thrilling mocktails for kids on your menu.Heck, I know a LOT of ADULT abstainers that would have loved those cotton candy laden drinks. I really appreciated how they thought out of the box with the mocktails.
So there you have it. It was also good.
That's a total of three good things and since we only ordered three items, I'd say Cilantro and Chive did well.
Oh wait a moment. I forgot I ordered a drink as well (shocking I know).
Here's the Mr. Fezziwig which is comprised of Jameson Irish Whiskey, Pimms, Fresh Orange Juice, Fresh Lemon Juice, Mandarin Clove Syrup & Angostura Bitters.
Here's where I feel more comfortable “reviewing” things. Cocktails are my jam. I luff them. I love making them, I love drinking them and I love talking about them. This was a solid drink. It didn't blow my mind but it also was good enough that I finished it before leaving as opposed to just rushing off. That makes it a solid “B” in my books. Karlynn gives it a B-. She didn't like the cloves in it that much. I'd have loved to have tried more of their cocktails but sadly, it was the afternoon and I still had to get home so that wasn't happening.
Being that Karlynn and I were Instagramming from our seats (check her out at @thekitchenmagpie and myself out at @mrkitchenmagpie) the restaurant figured out we were celebrating our daughters birthday and brought her some creme brulee with whipped cream as a birthday treat (a very sweet gesture that she appreciated very much).
Do you like fun food?
Do you get bored driving the Queen Elizabeth Highway ( aka the #2) between Edmonton and Calgary?
Do you like seeking out new things to eat and drink?
Then I can say without hesitation, I'd recommend checking out Cilantro and Chive. I think they did a good job of providing good food that is fun and enjoyable. The atmosphere is bright and great for pictures (obviously as you can see from above) and the staff were outgoing and friendly. When you are on your next road trip, be sure to check them out and let me know what you thought.
So now that our kids were now hyped up on sugar and Karlynn and I were slowly receding into “carb comas”, the next logical destination needed to be somewhere to get MORE SUGAR!
Thanks to a tip on Twitter, we decided to head on over to Sweet Capones, a new bakery in town that specialized in Italian baked goods and cannoli.
We picked up several cannoli and took some with us on the drive home to enjoy later.
Let me tell you something. These were fantastic. We brought them home and they sat on the counter for a couple of hours before we got into them. When we finally did I was completely blown away with how soft and delicate they were. The filling was unbelievably good. Karlynn exclaimed that she knew it was awesome the minute she realized it didn't leave a coating on her tongue. I know that sounds gross but her biggest complaints about icings or fillings is that when someone cuts it with shortening, it always leaves a coating on her tongue. Yes, it sounds weird but that girl knows her baking. Speaking of which, go buy her book, ok? You can do so here: Buy Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky.
All in all, it was a fun side trip to Lacombe. We tried out two places, were pleasantly surprised by both and got to enjoy some fun and delicious treats. If you have the opportunity, be sure to make the trip to Lacombe. It's not that far from Edmonton and it's well worth the visit. They also have a quaint little Antique Mall for those of you like us that can't stop shopping.
Happy Food Travels!
Mike aka Mr Magpie