Nov 17


by Jill Roberts · 0 comments

MurrietasNamed after Joaquim Murietta, legendary bandit and “Robin Hood of El Dorado,” Murietta’s bar and grill delivers a stimulating combination of charm and substance. The restaurant is perched on the second story of Stephen Avenue Mall, hewn from the bones of the historic Alberta Hotel.

We arrived late, cold, hungry, in uncomfortable shoes and without reservations. Lucky to get a table, we were soon pouring over the alluring menu, and seated graciously next to the fireplace.

Offering “something tailored to every taste,” Murrieta’s ample menu had us drooling over nearly everything.

Wine was easy. Our slightly harried waiter perfectly paired a glass with the steak I was considering. The Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet he suggested proved warm, velvety and robust.

Hankering for seafood, my dining partner chose a Chilean white – the Carmen Reserve Chardonnay – which she described as crisp, clear, and with just the perfect amount of sweetness.

Our tempura prawns in caramelized-sake glaze and masago aioli arrived quickly, but seemed a little lonely with only a lemon wedge for company. Albeit a little more heavily battered than our waiter led us to believe, still they were tasty, fresh and cooked to perfection.

Our entrees took some time to appear. The band started up as we waited, playing some driving blues that frankly seemed more suited to the late great King Eddie than the elegant lounge of Murrieta’s.

My 6oz tenderloin arrived perfectly medium-rare, dripping with the black truffle butter and wine reduction I’d chosen over the other two versions of the steak. It dripped rich juicy goodness onto its smashed potato throne, accompanied by roasted beets, asparagus, and maple-glazed parsnips.

As the tenderloin literally melted in my mouth, I reflected on whether its animal of origin had ever walked a day in its life. I have honestly never had a more delicious steak in my life.

The tuna my companion ordered was seared on one side, its pear-hazelnut salsa a fresh and fruity complement to the fish. Its other side was sushi rare however, and my friend’s one complaint was not being asked how well done she’d wanted her dinner.

The portions were generous, and neither of us could comfortably finish our plates. We opted to save the smallest amount of room for the featured desert of the evening.

Savouring our sweet, creamy crème brulée over coffee, we hardly minded receiving the check, which was just on the wrong side of a C-note. Murrieta’s had lightened our wallets as easily as its charismatic namesake might have. The frugal diner, however, would be well advised to avoid dining with bandits.

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