Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

Partake restaurant is pictured in Edmonton Alta., on Wednesday April 3, 2019.JASON FRANSON

Name: Partake

Location: 12431 102 Ave. NW, Edmonton

Phone: 780-760-8253


Cuisine: French

Prices: $8 to $21

Atmosphere: Cool, casual cocktail bar. Small, cozy space.

Drinks on offer: Cocktails and wine

Best bets: potato duchesse, french onion soup, salade niçoise, escargots

Vegetarian friendly? Yes.

Additional information: Only open for dinner and closed Sundays. Relatively limited menu.


3.5 out of 4 stars

Edmonton is a city that always seems to be full of delicious surprises when it comes to the locations of its restaurants.

While its two main streets – Whyte Avenue and Jasper Avenue – are relatively populated with dining options, it’s the unexpected streets that boast some of the most memorable places to stop in for a bite, with many of the city’s dynamic eateries, such as Biera on 76 Avenue NW or RGE RD on 123rd Street NW, peppered around town. The lack of density doesn’t make for a great dinner crawl, if you will, but it does leave you pleasantly surprised more often than not.

Located in a small strip mall in an alcove just off 102 Avenue, Partake is another one of these memorable concepts found in a slightly uncommon spot. Walking up to its door, it’s hard to know what you’ll discover upon entering. It is perhaps best described as a little French oasis in the Prairies.

Open this photo in gallery:

Chef and owner Cyrilles Koppert prepares a meal in his restaurant.JASON FRANSON/The Globe and Mail

With only a few booths, a handful of tables and about 12 seats wrapped around the bar, you may as well have ducked into a nondescript spot in Montreal’s Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood and I mean that in the most charming of ways. Its small size coupled with the rounded design of the bar shelves and bathroom doors are a tad reminiscent of a hobbit home a la Lord of the Rings, but once the sun sets Partake vibes like one of the coolest new cocktail spots in town.

That’s because it is.

Outside of the bar team being comfortable creating any classic drink from an admirably stocked bar, the signature cocktail list is equally as reliable. As its name would suggest, the “Grounds for Divorce” is a bold mix of bourbon, Lillet Blanc and Cynar and packs a stiff punch. One that is welcomed on spring nights that still dip below freezing.

My “baseline” cocktail (for critique purposes, naturally) is a dirty gin martini, light on the vermouth. It’s something you can order with the same specifications at any bar in the world, but it’s not always done right. Here, it was easy enough to polish off two on my first visit.

Paired with the well-conceived cocktail program is a short and concise menu of relatively traditional French dishes. When French food is done well, it’s fairly easy to become smitten by it and that’s exactly what happens here at Partake.

Open this photo in gallery:

Escargot in the shell with shallots, red wine and parsley butter at Partake restaurant.JASON FRANSON

Chef Cyrille Koppert doesn’t break any barriers with plates of shell-on escargot in shallot and red wine sauce with parsley butter, salade niçoise with caper and anchovy vinaigrette or an ooey-gooey-on-top French onion soup, but do I want to eat them again and again? I most certainly do.

True standouts on Mr. Koppert’s menu include a delicious, juicy house-made pork sausage with braised, spiced red cabbage, the aligot – a potato and gruyère fondue – which can only be described as the runniest, but beyond satisfying, mashed potatoes and his take on potato duchesse, in which creamy little rounds of piped potato purée are baked to golden perfection, finished with parmesan and served with aioli on the side.

A large portion of wild mushrooms sautéed in buttery glory and placed on top of a thick slice of sourdough was finished with featherlike shavings of grana padano, chives and truffle oil. Simplicity at its tastiest. If Partake ever chooses to offer brunch service, add a poached egg to this dish and I’ll meet you there first thing Saturday morning.

Open this photo in gallery:

Partake's french onion soup is pictured in Edmonton, Alta.JASON FRANSON

After leaving this cozy little spot for the second time, the singular lacklustre dish to be found was the anchoïade. Meant to be a tangy dip for vegetables and bread, the ratio of salty anchovy to mellow olive oil was painfully off here. With the addition of black olives, I think it’s fair to approximate that one small spoonful contained my sodium intake for the week.

The appeal of Partake is really two-part. First, it adds dynamically to the city’s already booming cocktail scene. Second, it fills the void of a thoughtful contemporary French restaurant.

From Frenchette in New York City to The Vermillion Room in Banff and now right here in Edmonton, it seems (relatively) classic French cooking is back in vogue in North America. I’m certainly not mad about it.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe