Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Cheese Factory Edmonton - sinfully indulgent cheesey goodness!

Rating 9/10
Galvaude - poutine with chicken and peas
With a craving for something indulgent, rich and comforting, we eagerly head to the Cheese Factory - can't miss it.. it has a loud bright yellow sign and a cartoon mouse logo just a few blocks east of whyte ave.  The best cheese curds this side of Canada and homemade sausages certainly fit the bill!  The cheese curds are made the traditional way - fresh and yields with a super squeeky tweak when you bite into them.. just like the awesome cheese curds in Quebec. After passing through a small retail/deli section that looks like it hasn't changed since it open decades ago (first run by a French Canadian family, then Ukrainian and now a Serbian family), you step into a large dimly lit dining area flanked by a large viewing windows on the left so if you're lucky, you can see the magic of cheese making while you eat.  Tantalizing scents of grilled sausage, poutine and other savory smells tease you as friendly staff tell everyone to make themselves at home.  Although it has a very casual feel - pick your own table! the service is exceptional and friendly from this family run restaurant, and most of the staff are fluent in french for those who miss Quebec. 

Deciding on what to eat is a bit of a challenge as they have traditional Quebec favs like poutine done various ways, tourtiere (meat pie), traditional Serbian items - Cevapi (my personal fav), Burek (a yummy phyllo spiral pastry filled with cheese, spinach or meat baked), Pljeskavica (seasoned hamburger with traditional flatbread), schnitzels, family style entrees (roast chicken, pork tenderloin) and cheese fondue with filet mignon (call ahead only).   Plenty of choices free of milk products for anyone with the evil scourge of lactose intolerance.  But my tummy grumbles and we go with...

the DRINKS
Small seection of beer, tea and juices available.  Three traditional drinks are available -
1) Cockta - a semi-sweet cherry cola like soda with an astringent aftertaste
2) Juji - a orange fanta like pop with much less sugar
3) Kefir - a fermented yogurt drink - healthy for you, but definitely an acquired taste

the FOOD
Forgoing the sanganki - fried cheese appetizer and the calamari some of my friends swear by, we order the Cevapi, chicken souvlaki, poutine with ground beef, and galvaude - poutine with chicken and peas!

Cevapi - grilled homemade fingerling sausages made with veal, beef and lamb on a freshly baked traditional flatbread that resembles more of a soft tender dinner bun with a hint of sweetness.  The sausages are juicy, well seasoned and have a bit of a spring when you bite into them.. followed by a wave of savory nomnomnom!!!  Spread some kajmat (the most amazing whipped buttery cream cheese like spread - also made in house) on the flatbread, add a bit of diced sweet onion to make a union that just sings - it puts other sausages to shame.  I'f you're feeling adventurous, ask for the complimentary shot of kefir it comes with - its okay to pass too.  It comes in a small portion (5 sausages) or a large portion (10 sausages).  Its a dish that not meant to be shared.. well, at least, I'm not sharing this one. nommynomnom!

Chicken Souvlaki - large seasoned chicken breast chunks grilled to perfection - my fellow foodies dug into the generous portions - 2 large skewers of juicy chicken on a bed of rice, a side of fries and salad - no picture sollies!



Poutine with ground beef Tender small morsels of ground beef, a generous handful of squeeky cheese curds float in the Cheese Factory's signature rich amber gravy atop of a tumble of crisp-soggy fries. Mmmmmm. The picture can speak for itself.. 'nuf said.


Galvaude What can possibly be better than fresh cheese curds smothered in a rich savory gravy and fries? Why, some chunks of chicken breast and sweet peas of course!  I think they forgot the chicken in my glavaude tonight as there was only 2 small diced pieces - usually they have 3-4 large chunks, but the abundance of sweet peas makes up for the lack of meat.  The peas are sadly the frozen variety - they use fresh peas in the summer, but they still had a nice sweetness to the overall indulgent dish.




the VERDICT
Overall, the best place in the city for poutine - even without having an inhouse cheese factory, having about 90% of all the French-Canadians in their dining room gives them pretty good cred in the poutine and cheese curds department.  Only quibble is you need to call head at least a day if you want to try the cheese fondue, not using fresh peas year round and well, this time, they forgot or super skimped on the chicken on my galvaude.  Had no room for dessert, though they do make good cheese cake and a few traditional syrup drenched desserts as well.  They're open daily for lunch only, with friday thru sunday open for dinner - if they were opened all the time, I'd have to be rolled out the door!  So go, indulge and don't waddle out without browsing through the variety of fresh cheese and fermented products you can take home on the retail/deli side.

The Cheese Factory
Address 8943 82 Avenue Northwest, Edmonton, AB
Phone (780) 450-2143
Hours Lunch only daily, open for dinner only Fri - Sun
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