March 15, 2013

The Cheese Factory


The Cheese Factory
8943 82 Avenue NW
Edmonton, AB T6C 0Z2
(780) 450-2143

It took me a couple of tries to make it to the Cheese Factory restaurant when it was actually open. On more than one occasion, I've cursed the world as I futiley pull at their locked door, desperate for poutine. Check the hours before you go; they're only open for dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings. The Friday evening I made it in, I walked through their cheese store to find a busy restaurant with chatter in French buzzing from all directions. A good sign for their poutine, but it was interesting to find that, rather than being French, the owners are actually from the former-Yugoslavia, and the menu offers an ecclectic mix of Quebecois and Balkan favorites.

Fried cheese
Unlike the pan-fried, flambeed, ouzo-drenched Saganaki I've had in the past, this fried cheese was coated with a crispy breading and deep-fried. The cheese inside was clearly extremely hot, gooey, and clearly fresh, I preferred them without the accompanying lemon dip.

Poutine
Discussions of the best poutines often lead to heated debates, and that night was no exception. While all of us at my table agreed the cheese curds were terrific, some preferred the fries with more potato skin, and others preferred a darker gravy. All of us did feel the gravy could stand to be a touch warmer in temperature. Best cheese curds in the city? Probably. Best poutine? Depends how much weight you give the other ingredients.

Cevapcici

I recently spent some time in Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro where cevapcici is a popular fast food. Ground meat is formed into sausage-sized portions and grilled. The cevapcici at The Cheese Factory was served on a soft bun with smooth & creamy kajmak, and each bite unleashed a pop of juicy flavour. I ordered a side of ajvar (a tradition red pepper relish) to complete the experience, but, for the hefty price of $2.50 for a small portion, I'd pass at future visits.

Burek
Burek was almost a dietary staple on my trip, where they're found with many different fillings. The spinach and cheese, however, was always my favorite, and was one of three options available at The Cheese Factory (along with cheese-only, and ground beef). It's freshly baked, so it took a few extra minutes to emerge from the kitchen, but this salty cheese and spinach blend, enveloped by rings of flaky phyllo, was worth the wait.

Tufahija
Tufahija is a Balkan dessert of an apple poached in sugar and stuffed with walnuts. It's another dish I first tried in Bosnia, and has been etched in my memory ever since. It came out looking magnificent, but I was so stuffed that I had to push some of the whipped cream aside to get the apple itself. It was marvellous  and did not fall short of my high expectations.

Though my party wasn't able to unanimously award the poutine as the best in the city, we agreed that the fresh, squeaky cheese curds left it at least among the top contenders. It's definitely worth a visit to see if it's to your liking, but don't ignore the rest of the menu when you're there! The Balkan menu items are a hearty, authentic and truly delicious experience.

Restaurant website
The Cheese Factory on Urbanspoon

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