Optimistically Cautious

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Haweli Restaurant and Steeps

Last night, a few friends and I had supper at Haweli Restaurant (10220-103 Street), located on the Boardwalk in downtown Edmonton. Haweli actually just recently won the Edmonton Appetizer Challenge at the Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival.

Although the furniture looks like it could have been rescued from a repossessed Bonanza, there were some nice decorative touches of organza around the dining area. Though on second thought, Haweli could greatly benefit from a Restaurant Makeover-style interior renovation...

I would be the first person to admit that I haven't had much in the way of East Indian cuisine before, so much of what was on the menu was new to me. Thus, I was hoping the waitress would be able to provide some guidance, but this wasn't the case - she was either new, or simply ill-equipped to deal with questions from inquisitive patrons. In the end, we settled on sharing orders of vegetarian samosas, garlic naan, butter chicken, navratan korma (mixed vegetables cooked in a creamy sauce), and chicken biryani (basmati rice cooked with boneless chicken).

Save for the plates of samosas and naan, all other dishes were surprisingly small. However, the food itself was excellent. In particular, the navratan korma was creamy, flavorful, but not overpowered by spices.

Our cheque divided up into roughly $18 per person, so it was definitely a worthwhile sampling of East Indian cuisine. And while I'm not sure I will be back right away, it was a satisfying experience overall.

Interior of Haweli Restaurant

Chicken biryani and navratan korma

Following dinner, we headed to Steeps (12411 Stony Plan Road). I love coffee as much as the next person, but I do drink a fair amount of tea as well. Steeps is noted for their great selection of teas, which you can check out at their handy "tea tree": a stand with individual canisters of all of the teas they carry, available for your sniffing pleasure.

This was my first time at the "original teahouse," as it is denoted on the website, and the atmosphere is fantastic. You almost feel like an urbanite just stepping into the place, with its old hardwood flooring, mismatched 70s furniture (reminiscent of pieces sold at The Junque Cellar), and dim lighting. This location actually reminded me a lot of one of my favorite Edmonton haunts, the Blue Plate Diner.

I settled on a small pot of "spring wind jasmine" green tea. I am not enough of a tea aficionado to suss out the subtle hints and tones of the brew, but I can say that it produced a comforting drink to accompany fine conversation.

A great cup of tea!


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