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"Passports are Tickets to Alberta Dining"
Savour Regional Flavor:

The 90 restaurants around the province that are currently participating in this year's version of Dine Alberta got a boost last Wednesday, when the honourable Doug Horner, minister of agriculture, food and rural development, went to lunch at Normand's and took a covey of mayors from around the province with him.
"The food was terrific," said one of the attendees, having nibbled on pickerel, wild boar, saskatoons and several other indiginous ingredients during the lunch. Like other chefs in this program, Normand's chefs are using as many homegrown ingredients as they can, and the creative juices are flowing.
Judy Schultz
~Edmonton Journal

Q & A with chef Cui Kouch (Wed. Nov. 23,2005)
"grillin' the chef"
Sally Johnston
~Edmonton Journal

BEGINNINGS:
I was born in Cambodia in 1973 near the end of the Vietnam War. From the age of 8 I was cooking for my family because my parents worked. When I was 17 I left my parents to come to Canada with my aunt. I spent 2 1/2 years in a refugee camp in Vietnam while waiting for my papers. I came to Edmonton because I had family here and my Uncle helped me get a job as a dishwasher at Normand's. One night we were short staffed and my boss Normand Campbell, asked me to help in the kitchen, I watched and learned and worked my way up to executive chef eight years ago.

MENU:
We are known for our wild game menu which is offered in October and November as is customary in France. We have wild Arctic muskox, Rankin Inlet caribou, elk, wild boar and fish such as Artic char. My favorite dish is braised Alberta boar shanks with roasted red peppers, honey, whiskey and black peppercorn. People are sometimes surprised to see a Vietnamese chef cooking traditional French cuisine.

DISASTERS:
I don't think I have had any.

HIGHLIGHTS:
When I became a chef. At first I didn't want the job because of the responsibility. What I enjoy the most is when I get an idea to create something new.I have also trained cooks in my kitchen who have gone on to do well.

FAMILY:
Wife Tu and daughters Deana, seven, and Hailee, aged four months.

AT HOME:
Usually I do 80% of the cooking at home. I like to make traditional Vietnamese and Chinese foods. Deana really likes barbecue pork. We have a rice steamer, which is my favorite piece of equipment.

INGREDIENTS:
I love Chinese fruits such as lychees and longan which you can buy in Chinatown.

KNIVES:
Victorinox are good knives, easy to sharpen and to keep clean.

COOKBOOKS:
Once in a while I will read a cookbook for ideas but mostly I do everything from my head.

TV CHEFS:
I work 12 hours a day so I don't watch much TV.

TRENDS:
People really seem to be enjoying the wild game. It is very healthy. It's natural -not raised in a factory- and is very lean.


Kangaroo makes dinner debut
Normand's brings in meat for Australia Day

Ostrich, elk, musk ox, and caribou are regular features on the menu at Normand's bistro at 11639 - Jasper Avenue, but next week's serving of wild game is really going to have the place hopping.
For the first time in the province, kangaroo will be on bistro owner and chef Normand Campbell's menu for a special dinner on Tuesday for the Edmonton Austalian Wine Club.
He hasn't decided how he's going to prepare it.
"It's described as being close to venison," Campbell explained. "I'm going to play with it for a few days. I don't know the sauce yet. Something with berries, or a wild mushroom, something I know goes with venison, like saskatoon berries. Or lemon sorbet."
A staple of the Australian aboriginal's diet for thousands of years, kangaroo meat is high in protein, zinc and iron, but very low in fat.
It has a gamey-flavored taste, but is a delicate meat which must not be overcooked or it will dry up.
Noemi Lopinto
~Edmonton Journal


A Tasty Game To Delight All At Normand's

Normand


Normand Campbell tempts the palate with a game mixed grill of, from left, venison, wild boar, and caribou under a slice of double-smoked bacon.

 

I've never seen Normand Campbell with a tie. The demonstrative owner of the unassailable Normand's just isn't a tie guy.

You might expect the proprietor of a restaurant specializing in country French cuisine to fancy the odd cravate, but that's just not Normand's style. He's a roll-up-the-sleeves-and -get-elbow-deep-in-the-goose-liver-pate kind of guy.

That is to say he labours. He'll serve tables; run the kitchen; greet the guests. The end tails of his shirt are often on the verge of untucking. If I was a restauranteur, I'd want to be Normand.

If it's November (and of course it is), it's game month at Mr. Campbell's thriving Jasper Avenue venture. The kitchen moves a little less chicken and beef this time of year, as customers new and old drop by to sample the like of wild boar rack with a grainy mustard glaze, or braised rabbit with a dijon cream sauce, or musk ox shanks with a red wine sauce. The latter is braised with whiskey. It adds shall we say, a Jim Bowie element to the wild game experience.

It is apparently customary in France to populate the menu with game each November. The move by Normand to celebrate wild game this month is one of numerous wrinkles this creative businessman brings to the table throughout the year.

Mondays, for instance, is mussel night. All the mussel you can eat, served with four sauces, for something like $16.95 a head. Apparently one fellow more than got his money's worth when he managed to drain the pots of almost 200 of the little critters.

Normand has also hot the web in a big way. His internet site (www.normands.com) is loaded with menus, reviews and specials. He'll claim it's the only place in town for reserving a table online.

But mussel and webheads aside, this review is about game month. And a fine month it is.

These days, what he moves the most is caribou. Order it medium rare. It is an enormous filet that will land on your table covered in a sweet/tart saskatoon and raspberry sauce. A splashy medley of cooked-to-a-crunch vegetables on the side.

Not quite as spectacular, nor as popular, is the venison medalions marinated with sauteed wild mushrooms. The heavy game flavor here has almost a liver-like pungency. Still, quite unique and gamely priced at $19.75.

If the goose liver pate is not to your liking as a starter, consider the wild game goulash soup- thick as a stew and rich in a variety of meats.

Also on the menu to consider: pheasant breasts in a mango chutney glaze.

If you can't make up your mind and you plan only one visit this month, there is the mixed grill for $26.75. In it there is the tender mercies of caribou, venison, wild boar and double-smoked bacon in a red wine shallot demi glaze.

Normand's has been around almost forever. The place continues month after month to do big business. Service is always superb.

If you go, ties not required.

~Friday November 5, 1999~Edmonton Journal~Wayne Moriarty


"...Normand's is the best thing to happen to Jasper ave in years..." Sauces are taken seriously here, from the refreshing pureed honeydew with a dab of peppered raspberry puree... to a pleasant unassuming saffron cream sauce with tomato comtasse that covers the mussels on fusilli.
~"Taste"column-Edmonton Journal


"If you're game, visit Normand's"

Whether you're after regular favorites, or musk ox, it's cash well spent
A table of 12 stout and boisterous men are into their third round of "first wife" jokes at Normand's this evening.
    It is not a typical gathering for this charming French restaurant on Jasper Avenue. These are gentlemen who, as near as I can gather, work together and have come to celebrate a job well done, undoubtedly selling something that's tough enough for a man's man, but made for a man.
    They like their wine list long in Big Rock.
    It is 'wild game month' here. The curried vegetables are still on the menu. As is the pesto chicken breast and the baked four cheeses in filo pastry.
    But this particular table of growling tummies has come to savour the likes of wild boar chops, caribou, stuffed pheasant breast, venison, musk ox and, well, you get the attraction.
    It is apparently customary in France to populate the menu with game each November. The move by Normand's to scamper with this notion is brilliant. Here is an independant restaurant that continues to thrive in a part of town with more chains than a link fence.
    On this particular night, there is a not a chair in the house that does not have a warm bum attatched. "Wild Game Month" is just one of numerous wrinkles the creative Normand Campell brings to the table throughout the year.
    Normand himself seems at ease with this group of businessmen who have come this evening to nibble the meat off the bones of a braised rabbit. There is a ruggedness to his demeanor that is well suited to a plate of wild boar chops, yet he is never out of place discussing the delicacy of his grainy-mustard maple-syrup sauce that graces the roasted pork tenderloin all year long.
    The regular menu, while featuring the familiar likes of rack of lamb and roast duck, also offers the more exotic "northern bison Delmonico" and ostrich medallions.
    The latter is a single skewer of meat with its texture and taste more like beef than bird.
    It arrives with a sauce that is thick as lava and only slightly less potent. Normand smiles the smile of the wicked when he describes this creation - a Jack Daniel green peppercorn sauce that is as difficult to resist as it is to extinguish.
    From the game menu, the musk ox is remarkable.
    I first heard of this dish here from a friend who last week engaged me in a discussion of exotic meats. I ate horse once I think.
    He loves the musk ox at Normand's. It is marinated in soya, olive oil and garlic honey, then charbroiled with sauteed button mushrooms in garlic and black pepper.
    There is an Oriental quality to the experience, and not only because of the soya.
    As good, and a whole lot more gamey, is the venison, which is caramelized with a black bean oyster sauce then served with a demi-glaze sauce; or the caribou, which is covered gently in a blueberry-cranberry demi-glaze.
    To start the evening consider either the filling wild game goulash soup or the buffalo pate, which is served with an English Oxford sauce, a full flavored jelly creation ideally suited to game.
    Normand's is a comfortable and creative restaurant that continues to evolve. "Game month" is a tremendous idea executed flawlessly. If you go, bring money.
    The caribou, for example, is $21.75, while the musk ox is $19.25. These are fair market prices. It will be cash well spent. ~"Dining Out" with-Wayne Moriarty-Edmonton Journal


Normand's is Still Tops

  Normand's is a staple in the fine dining scene. Year after year, it satisfies a blend of well-heeled clientele while converting a new generation of diners to a menu that is well thought out, prepared and delivered to the table.

  Gushing aside, Mrs. Meal Ticket and I have always enjoyed the food at this centrally located eatery, although I have often remarked that the place could use a bit of a facelift.

The room is still warm and friendly, but decor in older buildings such as this one would benefit from a little tweaking.

  One of the redoubtable qualities of Normand's is that it has managed to maintaion consistancy.

Whether it be one of the city's finest home-made mushrrom soups or tender venison in a rich sauce or satisfying desserts, the kitchen crew at Normand's rarely get it wrong.

We have enjoyed birthday parties there for seniors, intimate dinners for two and the odd sumptuous lunch over the years. Always we've walked away impressed with what counts, the menu, the food, and the service.

  On our most recent visit I was glad to see that venison was again featured on the daily specials (Normand's was one of the first restaurants to do this in our town) and Mrs. meal Ticket was similarly pleased to spot a pork offering. In our view, pork is the most underrated quality dining meats in central Alberta.

  Done exquisitely, like it is here, it arrives at the table tender and juicy and enriched by a variety of sauce possibilities. In this case, the sauce was fortified with Calvados, a nice switch from Madeira and port. On this night I would say it actually out did my venison, which was none too shabby, especially considering my preference for wild flavor in my meat. This often leads me to lamb and venison just as a seasoned scotch drinker seeks out a quality single malt to challenge their experienced palate.

  We opened the meal with a wonderful seafood combo of scallops and prawns. And we followed that by sharing a refreshing salad that featured a superiour mesclun mix and a few tiny shrimp in a light creamy dressing.

  A pair of glasses of red wine and two decent desserts, including a creamy and not eggy creme caramel, and we were on our way.

*Four and a half spoons out of five.*
~Tom Elsworthy- Edmonton Sun
Best Maitre'di or Host in a Restaurant or Hotel Enviroment Award

Campbell, 45, began his career in the restaurant undustry by working as a bus boy in the former Pickwick Inn in Chancery Hall. "I was intrigued by the flambe-style of dining and went on to work in some of the better-known places back then, such as Tita's and The Embers, where you could hear Kenny Rogers play and enjoy a prime rib dinner for $10," he says.

He later worked at other well-known spots and was working in management for Tony Roma's when he met his wife Lezlie.

"I knew she would be a good wife because of her work-ethic," he says. "At the same time, shw was working at Barry T's, The Gas Pump and Albert's Deli."

"My dream came true when I opened my own restaurant 12 years ago. On the horizon I see a restaurant attached to a bed and breakfast, but my dream is to own a vineyard in the Okanagan. The business has been as enjoyable as I thought it would be. I just thought I'd be alot wealthier."


roastbeef
  • ...a modest 'feel good' cafe that has substance beneath its playful charm."
    ~Unknown review
    tomatoes


  • "It just gets better"Restaurants that get better every time one dines at them is a rarity. Normand's fits snugly into that exclusive catagory.
    ~Vicky George-Edmonton Sun Daily Paper
    winebottle

  • A relaxed atmosphere awaits you at this cozy little bistro. Everyday features a new soup, sandwich, and seafood for a lunch special. The dinner menu includes a seafood choice a chef's creation, and there is always at least one wild game dish. It is the elaborate preparation of the sauces that make each dish a savory treat. during the winter months a brunch is available and be sure to ask about the Jazz nights and the cigar dinners.
    Normand's...where the menu is country French with an Alberta accent.
    ~Billy's Guide to Restaurants
    tomatoes

  • "Fine dining, Cuba's best-a cigar smoker's dream come true"Normand's has an annual cigar dinner, "It's the last refuge...It's the one night of the year we can smoke cigars and not get lynched." -organizer and tobacconist Dana Wilson.
    ~Curtis Stock-Edmonton Journal

winebottle



roastbeef


 



 

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