There’s something about the KISS method of cooking that I love. Keep it simple, use quality ingredients, throw in the right dose of talent and you’ve got a recipe for success. Nathan Saurette, in his tiny little kitchen at Niche, is KISS-ing big time.

This dark and cozy, minimally swank restaurant has been open for a couple of months and in that time, Nathan, a NAIT culinary grad, has tweaked his menu to offer a salad, a soup, a small plate, a charcuterie offering, four entrees and two desserts. Nathan works alone to cook for the 8 or 9 tables that take up the dining space. A little patience is required when the restaurant is busy but the wait is worth it. Niche offers delicious food with big flavour, masterly mixed cocktails, and a wine list (thankfully) devoid of cutesy labels.

The Spiced Ginger Cherry cocktail ($10) was a brilliant mix of Sailor Jerry spiced rum, ginger ale, lime and fresh ginger: sure to knock the icicles off of this dreadfully long winter we’ve been suffering through.

To start, we shared a quinoa and fresh greens salad served with a simple dressing and shredded cheese. Healthy, tasty, and good for two to share.

I heard good things about the braised beef cheeks and egg noodles, and there was no swaying me from that decision, although the duck confit did entice me for a few seconds. The cheek chunks were plentiful and had almost a feathery texture (so delicate!) and were served in a creamy mushroom sauce with a hint of truffle in there somewhere. This is a dish I’m going back for.

My daughter, who recently toyed with becoming vegetarian, ordered the pork tenderloin. Her explanation was that she wanted the mashed potatoes that accompanied it.  As it turned out, she ate both portions of the pork, all of the mashed potatoes (of course) and the green beans that came with it. Had there been bread on the table, she would’ve used it to mop up the little bit of raspberry gastrique that remained. Teens: there’s just no figurin’ them out.

We were full but couldn’t pass up the brownie topped with lemon cream and nestled in a pool of sea-salted caramel. Next time I might keep this one all to myself.

So, credit where credit is due: first, to Nathan Saurette for working wonders in a small space by keeping things simple and offering flavourful creations made with quality ingredients. I can only imagine what he’d do with a bigger kitchen and someone to help him. Secondly, a nod to NAIT for turning out some extraordinary talent from their culinary program.

If you’re heading to Niche–and you should–call first for reservations.

My CBC Edmonton AM restaurant review of Niche can be heard here.
Niche on Urbanspoon