Rostizado by Tres Carnales – Winner Winner Pollo Dinner

It’s been three years since Chris Sills, Dani Braun and Edgar Gutierrez opened the doors of Tres Carnales and introduced authentic Mexican fare to Edmontonians. To say the city has embraced their “tacos for the people” would be an understatement.  Their success garnered them a spot in MacLean’s Magazine’s Top 50 Restaurants of 2012,  as well as some face time on the Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here, and the Customer Service award on Alberta Venture and ATB Business Small Business Superstars contest.

It made sense that if the people loved the tacos, then maybe they’d love more, and it wasn’t long before the carnales began thinking of expanding the business. When the space that was Roast coffee house in the Mercer Building became available, Sills, Braun and Gutierrez knew they’d found the perfect spot for their second restaurant, to be called, Rostizado.

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Rostizado (meaning roasted) is all about family-style, home-cooked eating with dishes centred around slow-roasted meat. Even part of the space feels like someone’s living room in Mexico in the 1960s. The tequila-centric cocktail menu and affordable wine list entices patrons to pull up a chair and stay a while. Good food, drink and seriously cool digs? Sounds like a recipe for success.

Photo Credit: Dong Kim
Photo Credit: Dong Kim

I popped in to Rostizado last week to speak with Chef Gutierrez about the menu. While he prepped ingredients for the day ahead, he also whipped up a couple of tamale dishes and a batch of salteados verdes (sautéed kale with garlic, poblano, and cider vinegar) for me to try. I sipped on a heady, uniquely spiced Mexican coffee and realized how fortunate we are to have this food in our city.

What I find admirable is how the trio makes no excuses and no exceptions. There will never be sour cream or cheddar cheese in their dishes and for that we should thank them. This is laid-back Nuevo-Latin cooking—old world fare made modern while still staying true to a culture close to the hearts of Sills, Braun and Gutierrez.

I returned a few days later to sample more.

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At 5:30 p.m., the restaurant was almost full but we scored a table facing the open kitchen where Gutierrez worked, completely focused on plating heaps of puerco and pollo on a wooden platter. The platter is the standout dish, by far: heaping mounds of succulent chicken (pollo – pronounced POY-oh) and luscious, flavourful pork (puerco) alongside a pile of potatoes flavoured by the drippings of meat that roast above them.

Pork and Chicken Platter  Photo Credit: Dong Kim
Puerco (pork) and pollo (chicken) platter
Photo Credit: Dong Kim

The menu consists of small plates as well as the platters, so if you’re in the mood for only a small snack, not to worry; you’ll find plenty of dishes to choose from.

Music played, the tequila flowed. The place was hopping.

And the food? Stellar.

You can listen to my review of Rostizado here on CBC Edmonton AM with Mark Connolly.