Prepare for Takeoff: HALO Bistro & Bar

Travel anywhere by plane means at some point on that journey you will eat on a plane, or in an airport. Airplane food is hardly known for its high culinary standard and food in airports usually consists of yogurt parfaits, cold sandwiches and deep-fried everything.

Recently I had the opportunity to eat at HALO, the new restaurant at the Renaissance Hotel attached to the Edmonton International Airport. I wasn’t flying anywhere, I wasn’t picking up a friend arriving at the EIA, in fact, I made a deliberate trip to the airport to eat the food. Why? Because HALO is doing something differently in the world of airport food. Their menu, as stated on the website is  “inspired by farm-to-table dining through locally grown and raised ingredients…”

I took the bait.

I was happy to see several suppliers listed: Greens Eggs and Ham, Happy Camel Bakery, Sylvan Star Cheese, Sunworks Farm and others. The menu is creative and interesting and far from what you might expect to find at an airport.

Lunch Menu (partial)
Lunch Menu (partial)

Our server had a so-so grasp of knowledge when it came to ingredients, sources and and even proper names of the dishes. That was a big disappointment. When your menu waves the farm-to-table flag, the front of house needs to know the details of the product and the supplier as if they’ve made the cheese and milked the cows themselves.

The menu is impressive for airport food; the dishes sounded delicious. I have to give credit to HALO and the Renaissance Hotel for trying; for a corporation, they’re certainly taking a chance by using smaller companies to supply their product.

What we ate:

Nagy Momma's Cheese Perogies with Caramelized Onions, Boar Bacon, Chive Sour Cream $10
Nagy Momma’s Cheese Perogies with Caramelized Onions, Boar Bacon,
Chive Sour Cream $10
Treestone Bakery French Loaf with  Canadian Buffalo Mozzarella Gratin $6
Treestone Bakery French Loaf with
Canadian Buffalo Mozzarella Gratin $6

 

Five Onion Soup with Sylvan Star Gruyere Crouton $8
Five Onion Soup with Sylvan Star Gruyere Crouton $8
Shitake Tofu Wontons with  House Sesame Togarashi, Citrus Chili Sauce $11
Shitake Tofu Wontons with House Sesame Togarashi, Citrus Chili Sauce $11
Alberta Prime Rib Burger with  Red Onion Tomato Relish, Sylvan Star Gouda, Crisp Bacon, Sprouts, Tree stone bun $17
Alberta Prime Rib Burger with Red Onion Tomato Relish, Sylvan Star
Gouda, Crisp Bacon, Sprouts, Tree stone bun $17
Wild Game Meats Bison Donair in a  Happy Camel Bakery Pita, with Heirloom Tomatoes, Red Onions, Firecracker Honey Sauce $17
Wild Game Meats Bison Donair in a
Happy Camel Bakery Pita, with Heirloom Tomatoes, Red Onions, Firecracker Honey Sauce $17
Turkey Confit Sandwich with Avocado, Wild Boar Bacon, Vine Ripened Tomatoes, Butter Leaf Lettuce $16
Turkey Confit Sandwich with Avocado, Wild Boar Bacon, Vine
Ripened Tomatoes, Butter Leaf Lettuce $16

The setting:

Entrance from departures area in airport
Entrance from departures area in airport

Go beyond the droll, block exterior of the hotel to find a drop dead gorgeous interior of minimalist couture with a touch of ski chalet-mod. HALO is located between a Starbucks and the hotel’s spacious bar.

The restaurant features a variety of seating arrangements: grey banquettes, luxurious, silver fabric-covered chairs, high tables, low tables; curves and light and lines for days.

IMG_0281

HALO, by the way, stands for High Altitude Low Opening, a military acronym that has to do with parachutists jumping from great heights to deliver supplies and absolutely nothing to do with food, but it sounds good.

How to get to HALO: If you are a hotel guest, take the stairs or elevator to the 2nd floor of the hotel. If you’re a traveler waiting for a flight, take the pedway from the departures area on the north side of the airport. If you, like me, are just curious and/or hungry and in the area, you will want to park in the outdoor parking lot on the north side of the hotel. HALO will validate your parking which is a good thing because parking at the airport is not cheap.

The lounge takes up a big portion of the space and I suspect many a weary traveler will be finding respite in some very well-made cocktails and commendable wine list. Commendable because they feature a good number of Canadian wines and isn’t that what one should expect from a Canadian restaurant?

The O'Reginal Milley Cocktail
The O’Reginal Milley Cocktail

The space wowed me. Hands down one of the nicest dining properties I’ve seen in an airport. Find out if the food wowed me. Click here to listen to my review with Marc Connolly on CBC Edmonton Am.