DOSC's room is beautiful, its steaks are great but it can do better. A lot better
Promises of food transparency fall short, along with other parts of the meal
In the video to promote the opening of his restaurant, co-owner Jake Lee stands with farmers looking at a herd of cattle. Lee is discussing the importance of food transparency and knowing where your food comes from.
"I just don't like it when I go to a restaurant and the server or the chef are not able to talk about the food," he laments, stroking his chin. A lack of pride and passion are issues, he adds.
It's difficult to look past Lee's large, mirrored sunglasses and hoodie-covered head and take him seriously while he talks with farmers about food transparency. But he's right.
Dining experiences where servers either have no information — or spew false information — happen all the time. I'm glad to hear Lee vow to do better at his new downtown Edmonton restaurant, DOSC.
Lee has fallen short of his promises to do better.
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I forgave DOSC the first two times I went — opening jitters and all that.
Dishes like the sweetbreads and tendon stew were so horrendous as to be inedible; the bread so dull a communion wafer would have been a better substitute. Another visit for cocktails was so marred by bartender behaviour that I've blanked much of it out. Visit Four for breakfast left me hangry, even after I was fed.
Visit Five involved a burger — or what was described as one.
When the Filet O'Fish-style object was placed before me, I had to ask if it was indeed a burger. The server divulged a wave of questionable rhetoric, and when another server exuding the confidence of management stopped by to inquire about my meal, I asked her to explain the "wagyu katsu burger."
"DOSC no longer has managers," she explained. "We now have an innovative circle system."
I didn't know what that meant. Something to do with Silicon Valley, I remember her saying before she gave her explanation of the burger's name.
"Katsu is an area in Japan and is also the name for the sauce that the meat is marinated in."
I didn't have the heart to tell her that katsu isn't a place but is actually a term for a meat cutlet that's been flattened, coated with bread crumbs and fried. It did explain the thick armour of bread crumbs desecrating what used to be ground Alberta wagyu before it was submerged in a hot oil bath. Add that one to the inedible list.
Finally, on Visit Six our table was attended by a server who knew her stuff — and what she didn't know, she found out before saying something untrue.
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What I do know is this: DOSC is a craft steak restaurant, cocktail bar and café where the team's respect for quality food is displayed by focusing on the tip-to-tail philosophy using all parts of the animal. At least, that's what the website says.
They also promote their in-house butchery and dry-aging chamber for the high-end beef they bring in from Alberta, Idaho and Japan.
But sometimes you have to look beyond the buzzwords.
Kudos to DOSC for giving tip-to-tail a go, but truly abiding by this ideology takes more than ordering in boxes of meat and cutting the pieces into smaller pieces.
DOSC does excel at cooking steak, and Edmonton could really use a decent steakhouse.
The 45-day, dry-aged Canadian T-bone is a very good deal at $36. Unlike many of the dishes elsewhere on the menu that have been fiddled with to infinity and beyond with seasonings and sauces, this steak is cooked as it should be: pan-roasted and seasoned with salt and pepper.
The accompanying sides also scored very well. Roasted Brussels sprouts, topped with crispy pancetta, egg white foam and cured egg yolk, were hearty and umami-packed; the butternut gnocchi was tender and flavourful.
If you've never had legitimate wagyu (a word that translates to Japanese cow) from Japan, then go to DOSC and order it.
You will pay dearly. Currently, a nine-ounce strip loin from the Iwate prefecture runs $95, but it is a beautiful, ultra-marbled, flavourful, melt-in-your mouth, piece of meat. It is graded A4 on the Japanese grading system — only A5 is higher.
The people behind DOSC invested about $1 million to renovate the historic Metals building space at 10190 104th St. About 125 seats are scattered throughout one of the city's most stunning restaurant spaces. Attention to detail and quality finishings are evident — the velvet, wood, brick, and brass make it a place to see and be seen.
But no restaurant has ever survived on just its looks, and diners need to stop accepting blanket statements and rhetoric as truth.
If a restaurateur promotes food transparency and seeks to publicly acknowledge the pride and passion in honest food sourcing, then he or she better be prepared to live it.
The truth shall always prevail; we need to hang on to that adage more now than ever.
Be better, DOSC.