'Fantastique' dishes and drinks at French restaurant Partake

Once the word gets out about Partake, a new restaurant on 102 Ave., and how fantastic it is, I’ll probably never get a seat at the bar again.

Rich flavours and tasty cocktails on the menu

The French onion soup is a delicious elixir with a generous amount of Swiss cheese. (Twyla Campbell)

I am writing this against my better judgment. 

Once the word gets out about Partake, a new restaurant at 12431 102 Ave., and how fantastic it is, I'll probably never get a seat at the bar again. 

Pro-tip: the best seats are always at the bar. 

Mind you, the upholstered booths and window-side tables are also quite lovely, as is pretty much everything in this new venture between Cyrille Koppert and Lisa Dungale, longtime partners at the Urban Diner next door and The Manor Casual Bistro, a few steps to the south. 

As part of the renovation, the duo installed tin-panelling on the ceiling, rounded arched doorways and bar shelves to give the former bakery storefront a modern-meets-Old-World je ne sais quoi.  

Fortunately, the food and drink are just as pleasing as the setting. 

Koppert's French onion soup should be at the top of the list for any Edmonton winter survival kit. 

Koppert tops the robust, onion-rich elixir with a generous amount of Swiss cheese before putting it under the broiler. The result is a glorious union of umami and ooey-gooey richness made only better by the toasted cheese bits that cling to the rim of the bowl. 

In coq au vin, chicken legs (as opposed to rooster parts of days gone by) are braised in red wine until the meat falls from the bone. Slices of rustic bread are on standby to mop up the sauce enriched with smoky bacon and mushroom. 

Even the seasonal vegetables should appease the hungriest diners: beets, brussels sprouts and beans are roasted and topped with a silky butter and onion white sauce called soubise.

The croque monsieur is meant for sharing but you may want to keep it all for yourself. (Twyla Campbell)

That sauce also acts as a dip for the croque monsieur, a grilled sandwich whose name translates to "mister crunch" and speaks to the crispy coating of Gruyere that forms part of the exterior.

Between the bread lies more of the Gruyere cheese and a wad of thinly sliced ham from Meuwly's, a local meat purveyor on 124 St. 

Most dishes are meant to be shared, but you might want to keep the croque monsieur all to yourself. 

'Too pretty to drink'

Six cocktails plus a rotating selection of wine and beer are on offer and chosen by General Manager Lorraine Ellis. It's evident the care she gives to these lists.  
The Empyreal cocktail was almost too pretty to drink. (Twyla Campbell)

The Empyreal (Partake's version of an Aviation) is a real stopper. Here, the classic cocktail is made with Victoria Distillers's Empress gin, an indigo-hued spirit that turns pinkish-purple upon the introduction of an acidic component that alters the pH level. The end result is almost too pretty to drink. 

Currently, eight beers — from B.C. to Belgium— and a half dozen wines by the glass are on offer. I'd like to see the luscious Syrah from Argentina stay forever but I also have confidence in Ellis to choose another one just as lovely to take its place. 

The French have a saying: plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose (the more things change, the more they remain the same). In the case of Partake, no matter what should appear on either drink or food menu, the end result will be fantastique

This change is one that I will welcome. 

You can hear Campbell's reviews on Edmonton AM every second Friday. You can also see more of her reviews on her blog, Weird Wild and Wonderful, and can follow her on Twitter at @wanderwoman10.