Ernest is a GEM. Student run places are the best! This is one of those places that feels like a well kept secret that only “people in the know” know about. Who would guess that culinary gold can be found in NAIT’s Hokanson Centre for Culinary Arts? Not I, but we decided to rectify the situation.

Making a reservation is easy (do it online) and you can even get free parking if you reserve early enough (see here). I probably should have kept that on the DL, oops.

The lunch menu is small with three appetizer, six entrees and three desserts to choose from. The prices are really what sets them apart and is one of the reasons I wanted to check them out! Apparently, this was the first year that Ernest was open for May, hope that becomes an annual tradition.

Farmers market salad ($7.00)
This changes daily but when we went, it was an arugula and fennel salad with three salmon cakes hidden underneath. The salmon cakes were unreal. Perfectly deep fried and crispy on the outside, soft and luscious on the inside. The fact that they had three was icing on the cake. Perfect to share with our odd number!

Cold smoked scallops ($11.00)
Quinoa mint salad, confit tomatoes and lemon vinaigrette. Again, three scallops was perfect for us as we each were able to try one. The scallops were BOMB. For $11.00 freaking dollars, this is a steal. Especially when you compare it to the scallops I had recently at The Marc (those were just as delicious but way more $$$).

Crusted lamb loin ($16.00)
Israeli couscous, roasted carrots, green beans, pea shoots and Mediterranean spices. The lamb loin was exceptionally good. Wow, I was impressed with how gamey and flavourful the lamb was. It was cooked perfectly to a medium rare. The Israeli couscous was also really good. I need to start incorporating more of these healthy grains (couscous, quinoa, barley, etc.) into my diet. So good for you and full of flavour!

Beef striploin ($16.00)
Smoked fingerlings in a reduction sauce. The striploin was good but as DBones confessed to me afterwards, once he had a bite of my lamb, it was game over. His beef was tasty but bland in comparison to the lamb.

Bouillabaisse ($14.00)
This was their catch of the day. Filled with fish, mussels, and shrimp, there were also two pieces of grilled bread and the broth was some sort of saffron base. Bbop enjoyed the dish – at first, he wasn’t sure but the dish won him over by the end. I had a bite of the fish and it was a bit dry, almost had a rubbery texture to it. I’ve ate bouillabaisse several times before in Montreal but that’s probably an unfair comparison. It was a good effort, let’s go with that.

Fine dining at a fraction of the price. You won’t even notice that the servers and kitchen is run by students. Our waiter was excellent and our food (all three of our entrees) came out at the same time (a la Hell’s Kitchen style). Impressive, you don’t even see that at regular fine dining restaurants in Edmonton. I’ll have to try out their four course table d’hôte menu ($38.00/person) once they open back up in September. They also have Friday buffets ($30.00/person including tax and gratuity) if AYCE is more your jazz.

11762 – 106 Street
Edmonton, AB
(780) 471-8676

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