XIX Nineteen has received a lot of acclaim over the years, and despite it being on my bucket list for some time, I've never had the opportunity to go. (Living in the complete opposite end of the city definitely has its challenges.) When news broke out that they were opening a second location north of the river, I was beyond happy. It still took me six months to try it out, but better late than never.
XIX's second shop is located in a new retail development in St. Albert, neighbouring a number of other cafes, restaurants, and boutiques. Headed by chef Rino Lam, XIX's cuisine is advertised as elevated Canadian but with a definite Asian influence.
To celebrate MH's birthday, we made plans to have brunch at XIX, which is served Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 2 pm. Until recently, brunch was only served at their St. Albert location, but now it's also available at their Terwillegar flagship, although on Sundays only.
Not knowing how busy it would be, we made a reservation for 11:00 and quickly saw that it probably wasn't necessary. There were maybe two other tables seated when we arrived, so it was nice and quiet throughout the entire duration of our meal. Perhaps not many people are aware that XIX serves brunch on the weekends, but I also hope that their reputation of being a higher-end, fine-dining type of establishment hasn't relegated them to be a restaurant considered only for special occasions.
The restaurant is seperated into a dining room and a lounge. We didn't see the lounge but the dining room can only be described as classy and elegant. MH summed it up best -- it's a bit "bougie." White table cloths, wood and leather accents, and a clear view of the open kitchen, kept in pristine and immaculate condition.
The brunch menu is small and concise, and it seems like they've slimmed down the number of options that were initially offered at their conception. It was slightly disappointing since the options that survived weren't entirely too exciting. The front page of the menu consisted of more brunch-related items: a pancake breakfast, an egg scramble dish, a big breakfast plate, eggs Benedict, and two different salads. There's even a couple of kid's options in the line-up. On the flip side of the menu, more lunch-inspired items are presented: salmon, flatbreads, and a soup/sandwich combo.
It's not on the menu, but freshly baked cinnamon buns ($5.00) are also on offer every weekend. We ordered one to share, based on the enthusiastic recommendations from both of our servers. The cinnamon buns are made with a whole wheat dough, which does nothing to lessen the guilt since you'd be hard-pressed to know it. Soft and fluffy, the bun is served warm and sticky with a butterscotch glaze. Although there was ample sweetness, it wasn't sickeningly so. I do think the cinnamon bun would be miles better with a classic cream cheese icing, since I was missing that tang to cut through the richness.
MH went healthy on me and ordered the California San Mateo salad as her main dish (half $13.00 / full $18.00). She opted for the full portion, and got a healthy mountain of organic greens, fresh BC berries, toasted cashews, and feta, all tossed in a honey mustard dressing. Between the choice of an herb aioli-crusted chicken breast or pepper-crusted ahi tuna, she chose the latter, which came with two portions layered around the perimeter. She finished every last bite, so it must have been good.
I wasn't quite sure on what to order, but in the end, opted for the XIX Big Breakfast ($16.00), with two Irving farm maple sausages, two strips of house cured bacon, two farm eggs, pan roasted potatoes, and grilled brioche bread. I asked for the eggs to be scrambled but they came out over-easy. I didn't really mind the mix-up since the eggs were perfectly cooked with runny yolks. The sausages and bacon were pretty standard, and the potatoes were nice and tender, with slightly crispy edges. I also liked the inclusion of the grilled brioche, which seemed like a classy upgrade from regular toast.
I didn't mention the mix-up with the egg preparation since I wasn't all that fussed, but our server came by to apologize and dropped off another plate of scrambled eggs. I didn't know how I'd be able to eat four eggs, so I just had a bite and gave the rest to MH. The eggs again were nicely cooked, silky and peppery.
I don't want to fall under the assumption that because it's expensive, it has to be good. You can tell that XIX pays attention to the details, and though their brunch was solid and good, I wasn't exactly blown away. In fact, it was a tad underwhelming. I'm sure their dinner offerings are a different matter, so I'll hold my judgement until I can get back again! Only a matter of when...