10257 105 St NW, Edmonton
A couple weeks ago, I went to Characters with my brother. He was in town for business, and as I’ve mentioned, he likes to try a new place to eat when he’s here since there are limited options in Red Deer. We at first wanted to try Sofra, but they were all full, and opted to go to Characters instead since it was nearby.
I’ve heard mixed things about Characters so I wanted to give it a try for myself. It’s located right down town, and there’s a fair bit of parking nearby. On event nights, like hockey games, parking downtown can be difficult, and the meters extend their hours so make sure you look out for that!
The interior is nice and simple, and quite spacious. You’re able to book private events here, and the area is large enough so that there is a lot of space between guests. Their dinner menu has a number of different appetizers, mains, and also a tasting menu that offers a number of courses. It also comes with a wine pairing option, but we opted to just go for the food, which was $95 per person.
The first thing that came out was the Navajo Spice calamari, which was the amuse-bouche. The calamari was nicely cooked and tender, but the cucumber was really over powering and you couldn’t really taste the other flavours come through. Overall, a bit disappointing and not a great way to start off the night.
Next we had the iberico ham. This was a nice piece of cured ham, served with artichoke and a cornichon. Not bad, but again, this dish didn’t really “wow” me. That really is the theme for the night. So far, for $95 dollars a person, I expected a little bit more.
The smoked cod cheek was our second course. This came out to us served with a dome of smoke, which they unveiled to us. Entertaining and would have made for a good boomerang. The cod cheek was well cooked and tender, but it was a bit bland. Nothing really jumped out at me with this dish. Felt a bit gimmick-ey to me with the smoke, given the lack of smokey flavour.
Our next course was the Giant prawn cocktail. This is where the meal switched gears a little bit and took for a better turn. The prawn was well cooked, well seasoned, and went well with the sauce. The presentation was nice and overall it was a good course.
The beef tartar was the next course and served with a nice balsamic reduction and bread. This was also relatively good, and had nice flavours. The reduction was nice and gave a good tanginess to the dish.
The next dish was probably me and my brother’s favourite dish. Maple glazed pork belly, served with a nice croquette. Really rich and crunchy. The purée was excellent and helped cut the richness of the pork belly, and overall it was really balanced.
The bison tenderloin was our last course before dessert. Nice presentation. I like how everything on the plate was edible, and even the sauce was served in a red onion skin. Nicely seared and cooked to a medium. Overall, decent, but again, not mind blowing.
Lastly was the chocolate tipsy cake. This came with a caramel sauce, and raspberries and requires some assembly. Very sweet, but overall a good way to end the set menu.
Overall, the food at Characters was just Okay. Not mindblowing, but not terrible either. To be honest, I expected a little bit more given the cost. I would have much rather spend that kind of money at a different fine dining restaurant in Edmonton. This kind of seems in line with some of the more recent reviews that I’ve read, where the presentation, and atmosphere of the restaurant was good but the quality of food was just okay. Don’t get me wrong, some of the courses we had were good, but the majority were just mediocre. This will probably be my first and only experience at Characters, because there are so many other options downtown, and I’d much rather spend 100 dollars at Tzin, or The Marc, or another fine dining restaurant.