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June 26, 2011

Down in the Town: Niche

Tucked away along Jasper and 110 st., Niche (like Corso 32) shies away from the busier Jasper traffic (and the public eye!) amidst all the low-rise buildings and stores that litter Jasper's street level. I was ducking in to avoid the torrid Edmonton rain that’s been pelting us over the past week when I was surprised to see such a richly adorned interior: dimly lit and cozy to be sure! Despite being a rather small restaurant with only a handful of seats, Niche’s design is undeniably modern, with small wooden tables that can be coupled together for a larger flat top or broken off into separate 2 seaters (plus a new patio)!

One of the first things you'll notice about Niche is the simplicity of the menu which lends itself well to a small restaurant. Rather than overextending himself, what Chef Nathan Saurette has decided to do is limit the menu to 4 core entrees (beef, duck, pork, fish) for dinner and a similar style for sandwiches at lunch. I do use the word “limit” very loosely; however, what I mean is that he perfected 4 dishes!
Overall Score:
Niche on Urbanspoon
What’s IN (Lunch):
Cubano – some very interesting flavours that just come together!

Although I’ve been to Niche for dinner (I can attest to the quality of Chef Nathan’s dinner menu as well!), this time I stopped by for lunch, ordering the Cubano Panini (braised pork, wild boar prosciutto, edam cheese, pickles, rocky mustard aioli) for myself while my lovely female companion ordered the Alberta Whitefish (oven toasted, spinach salad, chopped tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette).

While the spinach salad accompanying the Whitefish was wonderful and the balsamic vinaigrette had both me and my friend licking our lips, the whitefish itself was rather average. It's not that it was overcooked though, just sparsely seasoned (almost tasteless?) and the absence of any notable sauce didn’t help in that regard. The salad was a great start but the fish, so-so.

The Cubano was another interesting dish – Chef Nathan has combined quite the variety of ingredients together into this sandwich: pork, prosciutto, edam cheese, pickles.. it almost sounds like a grocery list of ingredients thrown together but it does taste good (!): All the flavours just melt and mingle in your mouth and in the end, you’re not quite sure what you ate and how it worked but it does... And that’s good enough for me!

Everyone raves about the salted caramel brownie at Niche. I knew this going in and every time I’ve had it, it’s honestly been great. Served with a lemon cream on top, there’s just enough contrast in this plate to make it work. And it works. Spectacularly. Chocolate-y but salty at the same time – I know it sounds a little funny but give it a try and you won’t be disappointed - highly recommend!

Overall, while the lunch was good, I couldn’t help but feel that Niche’s dinner offerings (in particular, the bison meatballs, braised beef cheeks, and duck!) were a little more satisfying. With so many of the restaurants along Jasper Ave vying for your attention (and rightfully so! They’re all so tasty!), Niche puts up a pretty strong bid for your next noon hour lunch (or dinner) excursion. Honestly, the sheer creativity and simple elegance alone that the chef has put behind every one of his dishes is worth a visit and I highly encourage you try it out!

The Verdict!: 86/100


  1. Hey, why don't you also include photos of the interior of the restaurants in your reviews? Might be handy for those really interested in their dining environments.

  2. Good tip, thanks! I'll make sure to get that ready for the next review! =) I just don't want to overflow the post with pictures haha but I'll make sure to put one of the inside decor next time!

  3. I agree, definitely worth a dinner visit!