TravelZoo had a great deal for The Rimrock at the Fairmont Palliser on 9th Ave SW – for $69 we shared an appetizer, had 2 entrees, 2 sides and shared a dessert. The coupon indicated this was a $104 value – whatever it was ‘worth’, we got a lot of really great food for $69.
I had to drop Jay off in front of the hotel so he could grab our table while I parked the vehicle. There was something happening with cops involved in front of the hotel so I couldn’t park in the parkade – probably a blessing since we were so full after… the 3 block walk was refreshing!
The Fairmont Palliser is totally old-school. Busy carpets adorn the floors in every room and the furniture is big and heavy. I will admit that it was a nice change from the loud, modern joints I’ve been checking out lately; it made me feel like we were somewhere expensive and old. We were seated in a very quiet location, away from other tables (our table looked out into the main lobby of the hotel) so I didn’t feel bad taking flash photos – there was no one seated right beside us to upset. Our table was large – there was lots of room for the bread, our multiple dishes, the wine and water, and everything else. It was nice that we weren’t squished into a tiny table and we could speak to each other at a normal volume.
The hostess and our server were friendly but we found service was rather slow. After a long wait we ordered a bottle of $60 Malbec ($60 was the cheapest bottle of red on the menu). Our server came back with a different bottle of wine, noting they were out of the Malbec. I think it was a blessing in disguise because the wine that we were upgraded to at no charge (it was $20 more) was delicious. Full-bodied and fruit-forward, the 2009 Deerfield Red Rex Blend was a treat. It’s going on my list of wines to buy for special occasions.
We were served 4 white buns – each one looked slightly different on the outside but they were all the same on the inside. They were dense and chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Served with pretty looking balls of butter, we considered the buns nothing special.
The restaurant provided a separate menu for the TravelZoo voucher. It was the same items as on the regular menu, but it was set up so that it was easy to choose from the appies, entrees, sides and desserts. There were even options to upgrade some menu items (e.g. you could add more meat for an additional fee) and there was a Tomahawk chop for two for an additional $25.
For an appetizer we were torn between the crab cakes and the beef tartar. We went with the Spring Bank Beef Tartar because all too often we’re disappointed in crab cakes. The beef tartar was a coarser texture that those I’ve had in the past, and with a fried quail egg on top, rather than raw egg throughout. The little capers added a little texture and salt throughout the beef. It was pleasantly seasoned, but simple, keeping primary focus on the beef. With only three pieces of bread we had to pile the beef tartar high. With a touch of mustard the beef tartar was a rich treat.
I chose the trout and Jay chose the brisket. The Idaho Rainbow Trout was a full rainbow trout wrapped in Valbella bacon and stuffed with prairie grain ragout, served with smoked tomato jam and beurre blanc. I was pleased that they covered the one fish eye so it was less disturbing… I’m honestly not a fan of whole fish, but they did this well. It had crispy skin (although I didn’t eat it), and it was perfectly deboned (I didn’t find a single bone in the whole fish). The grains were lightly seasoned and nice and moist. The fish was served with beurre blanc, but honestly, it didn’t need it. Everything was moist, tender and seasoned well. The bacon had a sweetness to it and was crisp, but not overdone. I liked the flavour of the smoked tomato jam but there were some chewy tomato bits I wasn’t a fan of. All in all, I was impressed with the dish. Had I known it was going to be a full fish I likely wouldn’t have ordered it… but in the end, I’m really glad I did – the flavours were really wonderful.
Jay upgraded the 7oz brisket to 12oz for an extra $7. The brisket was honey and bourbon glazed and smoked. He wasn’t so sure how it had been smoked, as it didn’t have the crust like most rubbed and smoked meats get. It also didn’t have much of a smoked flavour… that being said, it was the most tender and flavourful brisket I’ve ever tasted. It was melt in your mouth good – I’m typically not a fan of brisket, but this was delicious. Considering all that was on his plate was meat, the presentation was colorful and surprising – it was like there was a little party on his plate!
For our sides we chose the fingerling potatoes served with sour cream and scallions and the sautéed kale with sundried tomato and pancetta. I was actually a little shocked that Jay suggested the kale… it turned out to be a great decision (we figured that anything cooked with pancetta can’t be bad!). Although the pancetta was hard to find amongst the kale, the kale was cooked well – it was lightly sautéed and salted – cooked just enough to keep its shape and chewy texture. The potatoes were also perfectly cooked, salted and served with a good gob of thick, full-fat sour cream.
We were actually quite full by the time we had to share our dessert. Jay let me pick, so I chose the Sticky Toffee Pudding with rum caramel sauce, salted peanut butter brittle, and vanilla gelato. OMG. It was to die for… the serving was very large – great for sharing. The peanut brittle was light and crisp, and it didn’t stick to my teeth like the stuff I remember as a child. The dense toffee pudding soaked up the rum caramel sauce, and with the cool vanilla gelato it was heaven. This needs to go on my list of favourite desserts!