We’ve long been anticipating the opening of The Nash and Off Cut Bar, Chef Michael Noble’s latest project, in Inglewood’s historic National Hotel – and it finally happened as last fall turned to winter. The National Hotel is over a century old, constructed in 1907 to serve the area as a hotel and tavern for workers at the nearby Canadian Pacific Railway, brewery and livery. Fast forward to our lifetime, and we’d go see bands at the seedy National pub in the eighties and nineties, not caring about the watered down beer when the bartender forgot to ask for our IDs.
Chef Matt Batey left a long stint at Mission Hill Winery to take over the kitchen at the Nash, and Matt Wilson came from the Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino to create their breads and pastries. They have a fantastic cocktail menu, and as it turns out, live bands during brunch – Jazz Brunch Sundays happen every third Sunday, when they bring in a variety of musical talent, and the Du-Rite Aces play in the Off Cut bar the first Thursday of each month.
The Off Cut Bar has become one of our favourite hangouts – partly for the sense of nostalgia that comes from being in such a historic building, and one we used to go see shows in – but as much for their interesting cocktail menu, house-made charcuterie and off-cut nibbles, and atmosphere of a prohibition-era speakeasy.
But back to brunch – the Nash is new on the busy Calgary brunch circuit, offering a balance of indulgent and good-for-you dishes, ranging from a Must-Have Cinnamon Roll to prairie-inspired Duck Confit Peroghies and Crispy Pork Belly “Prairie” Congee. We were drawn to the Smoked Arctic Char Frittata (the Nash serves Ocean Wise seafood) with tomato, preserved lemon and arugula – the kind of real-food brunch that doesn’t necessitate a nap afterwards.
And so when we were challenged to recreate one of our favourite real-food restaurant dishes, it was an easy choice. A frittata is elaborate enough for a restaurant menu, yet simple to make at home – the combination of smoked fish, preserved lemon and tomatoes was one we wouldn’t have thought of. We added new potatoes, and used the zest of regular lemons, rather than preserved, which are easier to find, yet still add a bright, citrusy kick that’s irresistible with the smoked arctic char or salmon. This is a great way to stretch a small filet to feed a larger group, and would be fitting for brunch, lunch or even a light dinner. While the Nash finishes theirs with a handful of peppery arugula, we happened to have some kale in the fridge, and so wilted a few torn leaves down with the rest of the veg. That’s the great thing about greens – so many of them can be interchangeable – and frittata is so versatile, it’s a great fridge cleaner. A frittata can save wilting produce from the compost bin. A slab is divine on a piece of buttered toast, and cold frittata can be cubed straight from the fridge and added to a salad like a far more interesting alternative to croutons.
This particular frittata is made all in one pan – the new potatoes crisped and softened, the grape tomatoes blistered, greens wilted, then the smoked fish and lemon tucked into the egg mixture as it sets – run it under the broiler to finish cooking it on top.
Smoked Arctic Char Frittata with Tomatoes and Lemon
olive oil, for cooking
butter, for cooking
1-2 cups small new potatoes, halved
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
a few leaves kale, leaves pulled off the stems and torn or chopped (optional)
5 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 wedge preserved lemon, finely chopped, or the grated zest of half a lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb smoked arctic char or salmon, cut into chunks
a handful of fresh arugula (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400F, or the broiler to low.
Set a medium ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, add a generous drizzle of oil and a dab of butter and add the potatoes. Cook for about 10 minutes, until turning golden. Add the tomatoes and cook for another few minutes, until they start to blister and the potatoes are getting soft. Add the kale and cook for a minute or two, until the leaves wilt.
Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, milk, lemon and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the potatoes and tomatoes in the pan, spreading them out evenly, and scatter with the chunks of smoked fish, spacing them evenly and pressing into the egg mixture. Cook for a few minutes, until set on the bottom, then transfer to the oven for 5-10 minutes, until set and golden on top.
Serve warm, in wedges, topped with a few leaves of arugula if you like. Serves 4-6.
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