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Dinner with history part 2

 
The rest of the dinner proceeded in a lovely, ranching carnivorous fashion.  For my main I opted for the Mackay Place Flatiron Steak with beefy fries, shallot herb butter and artisan salad. It looked like this:

 

M - steak

 

And it was slightly inconsistent. The steak was tender and perfectly done, with great beef flavor, but it lacked an ingredient I consider crucial to well prepared meat: salt. There was none, not a hint of salt on the steak, nor in the herb butter. This is so odd, that I’m chalking it up to a mistake on the kitchen’s part, perhaps, rather than a deliberate omission. The potatoes however, were divine. Perfectly roasted, seasoned, creamy on the inside, they were an awesome dish.

My girlfriend ordered the winner of the bunch, the Alberta Bison Meatloaf wrapped in smoked bacon with mashed potatoes and mushroom pan jus. It was an awesome meatloaf, flavorful and moist, with the bacon a perfect foil. The mashed potatoes were about as good as they come, and it was a hearty comforting meal.

 

M - meatloaf

 

The restaurant ran out of smoked and barbecue glazed pork ribs with mini mac and cheese and coleslaw, so they subbed bison ribs in the dish, which was a mixed success. The bison ribs were simply too lean, and remained way too chewy despite the long smoking time. The reason pork ribs work so well is due to the high fat content which is slowly cooked out of the meat leaving it moist and succulent. The bison didn’t have that luxury. The flavor was outstanding though, with a decent pink smoke ring and a tasty glaze, and the portion was huge owing to the size of bison ribs. The mac and cheese was also awesome, with the crispy top that to me is the best part. The coleslaw was fresh and quite decent.

 

M - ribs

 

For dessert we managed to practice uncommon restraint, and only got one dish to share – the panna cotta. Soft and creamy it was not overly sweet, and the berry sauce added a great fresh touch. The oatmeal cookies were quite dense and crumbly, more like granola cookies, if you like that sort of thing.

M - dessert

 

The restaurant was slowly wrapping up for the night as we finished our coffees, so grabbing the camera we explored the house while we could.

Of the original structure the living room, kitchen, two bedrooms and a verandah remain, with the other few rooms being added on by subsequent owners. Wandering the house I was struck anew by how much more space we now think we require. Our modern oversized houses could easily fit two smallish ones of a century ago, and yet those small ones housed more people. Everything’s expanded in the process, the bedrooms are larger, the closets huge in comparison with the cupboards of years past, the common rooms the size of modern dens. The only exceptions I typically see are the kitchens, which were often large in comparison, with the amount of effort and materials it took to cook making it a necessity. Which makes sense given that much of the food was grown, produced, canned and saved right at home.

Here’s a photo tour of the house:

 

 

The living room

The living room

Wall shelf

Wall shelf

 

Little table

Little table

 

 

Kitchen

Kitchen

 

The original stove!

The original stove!

Old buffet in the kitchen

Old buffet in the kitchen

 

Buffet detail

Buffet detail

 

Scarred but solid door

Scarred but solid door

 

Doorknob

Doorknob

 

It was great fun wandering around the house, peeking into old narrow closets, imagining lighting that stove, and it definitely added to a lovely supper. All in all this was an awesome experience –  a bit of local history, mixed with a great drive and great food. This is definitely going on the repeat list.
 
 4/5
 
 
 

 

The MacKay Place Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

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