Fort McMurray Food Fight
Battle: Date Night
There are two locally owned restaurants downtown within walking distance of the movie theatre and close to MacIsland and special events. Atmosfere, located on Biggs and the newly rebranded Live Bar on Main. In this edition of Fort McMurray Food Fight, my wife and I took a much needed date night to see which restaurant will win over our hearts.
Round 1 ~ Atmosphere:
The atmosphere at the Atmosfere Restaurant is beautiful, new, and well appointed. There are ample booths to allow couples to have private conversations and the digital wall art changes throughout the night which keeps things interesting and allows conversations to flow. Well decorated, this may be one of the most beautiful rooms in the region.
Live Bar is located on the lower floor of the Nomad Inn. The newly renovated restaurant has a nicely decorated and slightly industrial look with new furniture and tables throughout. There is a stage for live performances, as its name suggests, and an eclectic gathering of people from all walks. The location feels private and the clientele interesting.
Winner: Both restaurants are comfortable and stylish, but Atmosfere wins this round based on its intimate feel for a date night location.
Round 2: Service
We were warmly greeted by the Maître d’hôtel at Atmosfere and seated quickly. Our waitress was knowledgeable about the menu and attentive throughout the meal. The friendly staff kept us comfortable throughout the meal and we felt generally good about the service. The only flaw came later in the meal when there was a complication with the food.
Live Bar, while not as formal in service, did a fine job of taking care of us. We were quickly seated, the menu was explained to us. Shortly after we were served drinks, the Chef came out to introduce himself and discuss his menu with us. We were impressed from the start of service to the very end.
Winner: Live Bar wins on their simple but genuinely warm service.
Round 3: Appetizer and Mains:
At Atmosfere I ordered their three course selection consisting of a wild mushroom tart, followed by Beef Wellington, and a crème brulee. The wild mushroom tart was a humbly presented but interesting appetizer that was slightly sweet and perhaps overly rich. I was excited about the Beef Wellington as it is one of my favourite “treat” dishes. Unfortunately, Atmosfere served me over-cooked–nearly burned- Wellington. The puff pastry filling was a write-off so I only ate the inside filet mignon. After the meal the service staff noted the nearly burned dish and removed the charge for the meal from the bill, something that should have been caught before the dish left the kitchen.
At Live Bar I ordered bouillabaisse as my appetizer and duck three ways for my main course. The bouillabaisse was out of this world, divine, and transformative. Put simply, with each spoonful of this masterful dish of hearty seafood stew I was sent to a culinary happy place. A classic French stew, this dish is simply something you have to try, and try soon. The main course of duck three ways was beautifully executed and quite enjoyable. The temperature of the duck fillets could have been warmer, but the dish was otherwise without flaws.
Winner: Live Bar by a mile. After the meal I learned that the menu was designed by a noted chef who has worked for the likes of Paul McCartney. His skill shows on Live’s menu.
Round 5: Desserts and digestifs:
The Crème Brulee at Atmosfere was very well done and a very nice close to the meal. Nicer still was the after-meal sip of Port wine that made for a perfect close to a date night.
Live offered us a tasting of chocolate mousse and citrus sorbet that easily held up to the flavourful meal. A nice selection of single malt Scotch was available to round out the evening.
Result: Round five was a dead heat and both restaurants closed the evenings on a high note.
CONCLUSION Overall winner: Live Bar wins Battle Date Night. While Atmosfere is a beautiful space and lovely place to go for a date, Live Bar has food that will tantalize your taste buds and impress both you and your date, the new menu from a renowned chef has been kept secret for too long.