A growing appetite for ICE District

By Kelli Gustafson – RogersPlace.com

20161102_atlasAs you walk past the new Grand Villa Casino neighbouring Rogers Place, you might find yourself suddenly drooling at the scent of the savory, smoky grill-flavour that fills the air.

However, this is not the aroma of an ordinary restaurant grill. No, this smell can only be made by a highly specialized piece of equipment that combines both a grill and an oven to perfectly cook meat in a way that enhances its natural flavours.

Meet, or should we say ‘meat’, the Josper oven.

The only of its kind in Edmonton and one of two in Western Canada, this unique hardwood charcoal oven is one of the main attractions at ATLAS Steak + Fish — the new, upscale and fine-dining restaurant on the upper floor of the Grand Villa Casino. At the helm of it all, Food Network’s Chopped Canada season one winner, Shelley Robinson.

“I spent 18 years in Alberta, so I really feel it’s home for me,” said Robinson, Grand Villa Executive Chef.

Moving from Vancouver, Chef Robinson explains that it was the opportunity to help open this first-class restaurant and to be a part of the growing ICE District that first attracted her to Edmonton.

“One of the main features of our steak is the Josper oven.”

“I feel like the food scene here is really emerging. It’s just an opportunity I was not seeing anywhere else,” she said.

A co-author of four cookbooks, Robinson’s passion as an artist in the kitchen can easily be seen while watching her prepare one of the main features on the menu.

“We give them a little bit of olive oil to start out with, and season them with salt and pepper,” said the chef, as she effortlessly prepared a 16-ounce Cowboy Steak behind the ATLAS Steak + Fish kitchen, which opens onto a chic and expansive dining room.

“We prepare them in a way that will enable them to showcase the flavours”, she added.

“One of the main features of our steak is the Josper oven. We’re cooking our steaks on hardwood charcoal, so you get a really intense heat and with that — a smokiness that imparts on the meat,” Robinson said while placing the now-lightly-seasoned ribeye into the Josper oven”.

Using four main heat zones and reaching temperatures upwards of 500-600°C, the Josper oven is capable of cooking a steak in under seven minutes, giving it that extraordinary flavour with a perfectly caramelized, smoky finish.

Grand Villa Executive Chef, Shelley Robinson.

In addition to cooking the steak in the Josper oven, using only thick-cut, beautifully marbled and local Alberta beef is also accountable for making the steak selections at ATLAS Steak + Fish one of the up-and-coming, most talked about menu items in Edmonton.

In order to cater to those guests attending events at Rogers Place, Chef Robinson explains a special ‘events menu’ has been created to allow customers to dine comfortably before watching a hockey game or seeing a concert.

“To facilitate our guests who are in Rogers Place for the games and concerts, we have an event menu that features our Prime Rib — a smoked Prime Rib that’s done in the Josper oven — that will enable them to come in, have a great meal and get to their game or concert on-time,” said the Chef.

Staying true to the theme of the dazzling Casino atmosphere, the soft lighting and carefully detailed finishings throughout the space craft an exquisite and inviting ambiance for those dining at the restaurant. Perfect for a date-night, celebrating a momentous occasion or just an evening to simply enjoy a beautiful meal, paired with the perfect bottle of wine, ATLAS Steak + Fish is only the beginning of the fine-dining experiences that will soon be available throughout ICE District.

Located directly below the restaurant, Grand Villa also operates a number of quick-service options including Starbucks, Vera’s Burger Shack, Taco Shack, Sbarro’s and Pink Berry. These options are open to the public — not only when events are taking place at Rogers Place — and can be accessed using the 104 Ave Entrance (going up the stairs, towards the Downtown Community Arena), as well as through the North LRT Entrance (following signs for the Downtown Community Arena). MATCH Eatery & Public House also offers a sit-down restaurant experience like ATLAS, but in a more business-casual environment.

The elevated food experience doesn’t just exist next door to Rogers Place however. Be sure to also check out Curve Restaurant located inside the arena on the PCL Loge Level. Highlighting local flavours, Curve is open before Oilers and Oil Kings games as well as concerts. Curve is available by reservation only, so act fast to be a part of the inaugural season at Rogers Place.