XIX Keeps Performing

Cuisine

January 2, 2024

Words by: Twyla Campbell

Photography by: Erin Walker

A decade of delicious offerings

A long list of regular customers has developed at XIX since the Terwillegar area restaurant opened in 2013. Firmly anchored in a strip mall amidst an expanse of residences and retail options, the establishment offers a refined yet approachable dining experience with a window to the action. 

From a decor perspective, the space has remained relatively unchanged over the past 10 years, something that speaks to the solid design of both the main room and the lounge. Recent updates to chairs and lighting are subtle and keep in line with the leather-and-wood, private club-like atmosphere it has exuded since day one. 

Wall-to-wall windows offer a view into the kitchen where head chef, Andrew Fung and his crew capably perform. “This is theatre,” he says. “It’s a show, in a sense, so we need to stay sharp.” 

Customers can also feast their eyes on pieces of original art, including an impressively large Tim Okamura painting that spans a wall in the lounge. The collection ranges from abstract to traditional and helps to soften the  masculinity of the rooms.  

“A restaurant is like a piece of art,“ says Fung. “You need to have people come out and appreciate it.”

A long-standing veteran of the industry who received his training in Europe, Fung changes the menu not only to keep the creative juices flowing but also to keep in line with product availability. Quality is paramount. 

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The menu’s backbone is classic—scallops, beef tenderloin, roasted chicken, and the like—but prepared with interesting twists. From the appetizer list, grilled octopus is topped with chorizo, Calabrian chili sauce and thinly sliced pepperoncini, and presented on crispy sourdough; baked escargots arrive in puff pastry with shallots, red onions, tomatoes, basil and dijon cream. A new take on arancini, this with a Japanese influence, sees albacore and ahi tuna ensconced in arborio rice, deep-fried, topped with tomato-bacon jam and presented in a puddle of sweet wasabi gel. 

Sablefish, duck confit, and beef tenderloin are popular choices, but it’s the pan-roasted chicken that impresses. It arrives perfectly cooked with juices running alongside portabello mushroom agnolotti dressed in a sage-infused brown butter sauce, and topped with a sprinkling of tender peas; it’s a winning combination. 

This is comfort food presented on white linens by competent staff. This is where people celebrate special occasions and date nights. Where friends gather for brunch and where evenings are reserved for intimate meals, winemaker dinners, and tradition. 

After the recent pandemic upheaval, and with 26 years of cooking under his belt, Fung knows that consistency and tradition make people feel grounded. “Hospitality makes people happy. People come to celebrate. Our job is to fulfill their wants and needs.”

If XIX on Mullen Way feels too far a drive, the St. Albert location, now in its eighth year of operation, could be a closer option. The menu is identical, the room is as inviting, but leading the performance is chef Landen Swick, a 2016 Culinary Olympics’ gold medal winner. At either venue, you’re in good hands. 

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