Optimistically Cautious

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Modern Simplicity: Holt's Cafe

On Saturday, May and I headed to Holt's Cafe , located on the second floor of Holt Renfrew (10180-101 Street), for brunch.

We had both been wanting to eat there for ages, but it had to be a Saturday, as both of us wouldn't have been able to get away for a lunch out of the office on weekdays, and Holt's Cafe was closed on Sundays. In a recent Edmonton Journal piece, the reviewer cautioned all diners to make reservations early to ensure space availability, so about a week earlier, I called for a 12pm table-for-two.

When I arrived, the hostess immediately led me to a table by the window. Definitely one with a view, the glass overlooked the main floor of Manulife Place, and was positioned so it took full advantage of the sunshine filtering in from Manulife's numerous skylights. Crisp white table linens contrasted nicely with the painted red walls, accented with the soft glow emanating from rectangular screen lamps. The minimalist decor scheme was chic, classy, and elegant, and an example of how a simple two-toned red and white color palette could be maximized to produce a warm but sophisticated design.

The cafe was moderately full, with patrons consisting mostly of mature couples and groups of ladies lunching. After getting settled, I nearly attacked the waitress for coffee, but she didn't flinch at all, and even brought me cream without being asked (and of course, kept the refills coming). Unfortunately, there was no separate brunch menu, but I noticed that most of my fellow diners were choosing lighter meal options like salad or soup. Though dismayed because they had run out of Vegetarian Quiche, I decided to try the shrimp alternative anyway. May opted for the Whole Wheat Spaghetti topped with a curious Indian-inspired Marsala Sauce.

My portion was appropriately sized, and I wasn't disappointed with the quiche. Light and fluffy, with a good flavor balance between the shrimp and the egg, it was the perfect brunch selection. Served with seasonal greens and a side of orange poppy seed dressing, the salad proved to be good companion to the quiche. My friend said her pasta was okay and not too spicy, but she would have preferred to have ordered my dish.

For dessert, we opted for the Lemon Tarts. They proved impossible to eat gracefully, as the filling was not viscous enough to adhere to the pastry shell. Though a tad too sweet for my taste (I prefer pastry cream), it wasn't bad.

It was a wonderful dining experience, and while it may be some time before I can fit Holt's Cafe into my lunch schedule again, I will be back to try their other entrees.

Dining room

View from the window

Menu and place setting

Daily Quiche with Seasonal Greens

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Marsala Sauce and Vegetables

Lemon Tarts

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