New restaurant alert! Boxer – Albertan Kitchen & Bar has recently opened their doors, taking over Holy Roller’s old space. From the same team who brought us The Alamanac and Solstice, Boxer’s menu features craft cocktails and seasonal fare made with local ingredients. I went here for a catch up date with a friend and I feel that I really stumbled upon a hidden gem….mostly because I had no idea that Boxer even existed prior to my visit. The entrance is in the back alley and there isn’t really any signage from the main road – it’s easy to drive past thinking the space is unoccupied.. but definitely consider visiting Boxer because the food was fantastic and I had a really enjoyable experience. Other perks to consider? They have a roof top patio and are also open late (12AM on weekdays, 2AM on weekends) so it’s a great addition to Edmonton’s late night scene.
Boxer has an extensive cocktail menu. On first impression, the prices seem a little steep but if you’re willing to pay, I’d say their cocktails are worth a try. I personally do not order cocktails often but my friend got the Jalapeno Margarita ($14) and the Solstice Gin Fizz ($13) and let me try a few sips. While the margarita was advertised as being a “spicy hot” drink that was decorated with spicy garnishes as well, it actually wasn’t too spicy at all. There’s a bit of a kick on your first sip but it would be a very good choice if you are a tequila fan. The gin fizz was also a great option, especially if you love lemon. The drink was fizzy, citrusy and extremely refreshing – a perfect contender to being this summer’s go-to cocktail.
For food, we started off with House Fries ($6) and Carne Cruda ($18).
If I’m being honest, the Carne Cruda is not typically a dish that I would normally order as I don’t usually prefer bison. However, I’m so glad that I tried this dish because it was such a tasty plate. Similar to a beef tartar – but with bison – the meat here was tender and well marinated. There were several components to the plate including a roasted garlic and green onion soubise, pear and berry mostarda, and buttermilk crisps. While some of the elements on their own weren’t particularly my cup of tea – all of them combined together as one bite was stellar! I really liked how each part of the dish complemented each other.
If you know me, I can never say no to fries. The house fries from Boxer were especially enticing for me because they were seasoned with truffle salt and I love trying anything with truffle. Topped with plenty of Parmigiano cheese, the fries were thick cut and extra crispy. The truffle salt was more subtle than I was expecting but all in all, I’d say the fries are a good side to snack on… though they wouldn’t be the stand out dish of my meal.
My stand out dish would have to be the Tagliatelle Bolognese ($18). For main dishes, we tried the smaller portions of the tagliatelle and the Ricotta Gnocchi ($14). The tagliatelle was my favourite order of the night and possibly one of the best tagliatelle pastas I’ve tried! The pasta noodles held their structure and were cooked perfectly while the bolognese sauce was very rich and savoury. I would most definitely order this dish again and would come back to Boxer just for it.
The gnocchi, on the other hand, didn’t quite hit the spot for me. This isn’t to say that it wasn’t good, it just didn’t suit my palette since I prefer creamier gnocchi dishes (i.e. my go to is normally a gnocchi with mushroom sauce). The gnocchi itself was well cooked but the whole dish had a strong smokey, bacon flavour that I didn’t quite enjoy and it felt a little too oily for me. And while it was named “Ricotta” Gnocchi, I didn’t really find any ricotta in the dish. I did, however, like the kale and crispy onions that topped the pasta. Don’t let my experience stop you from trying out Boxer’s gnocchi though. Their gnocchi is house made so it could be the dish for you if you don’t mind a meat filled gnocchi dish that is less saucy.
Our meal was finished with dessert and we chose to try the Dulcey Mousse and Local Berries ($12). This dish was plated so beautifully, almost like a deconstructed tart! If you are a fan of anything citrus, this is definitely the dessert for you. Like the carne cruda, this dish also had different elements on the plate and when you paired everything together, it was a much more memorable bite. Overall, a really unique dessert that was very tart and fruity, to say the least. After a pretty savoury meal, this was a nice way to refresh our palettes. In the future, I would love to come back to try their decadent desserts too.
With Boxer serving up seasonal fare, their menu is likely to change over time so the dishes shown in this post may not always be available. Despite this, I have high hopes for whatever they curate and serve to patrons. All the dishes and cocktails here were so unique and each one was presented beautifully. I can confidently say that there are some very tasty menu choices that I’d love to come back for. Service was also very friendly and attentive, which is always appreciated. Oh and by the way – on warm days, they roll up the garage doors so you can enjoy some cocktails and food with the fresh air breezing through. It’s definitely a very inviting atmosphere and I can’t wait to visit again. Find Boxer located across the street from the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market, next door to El Cortez and don’t forget that their main entrance is in the back!
Boxer Albertan Kitchen & Bar
10315 83 Ave, Edmonton