You can almost gauge the growth of Northeast Alberta on a daily basis. Each time you look, it seems like a new restaurant, coffee shop, or art gallery has opened its doors. But unlike some other parts of the city that have suffered from Borg-like gentrification, Alberta is a magnet for independent businesses that want to add to the texture of their neighborhood, instead of spackling over it. Tin Shed Garden Cafe is clearly in the former category.
"Creative energy is just ripping from the seams of Alberta, and it's an exciting time and place to be," says co-owner Janette Kaden. She and business partner Christie Griffin opened Tin Shed in 2002, and from those humble beginnings,--assembled a team of about 30 employees, some of which have had a hand in sculpting the inviting menu.
The creativity and perceptiveness of Kaden, a self-defined "food geek," doesn't end there. While not a professional chef, her instincts inform everything from the potato cakes to the buttermilk biscuits to the bacon gravy. The menu is loaded with inventive, delicious comfort food, AKA "goodness." Try the Buck is a Fungi (named after their long-time cook), a grilled sourdough sandwich filled with raspberry-marinated portabella mushrooms, goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, grilled red onions, and spinach. For a chilly night, you can do no wrong with a cup of tea and the Belly Pleaser, a creamy, sweet rice porridge flavored with cinnamon and vanilla and topped with fresh mango. Need a salad? Spinach, candied walnuts, dried figs, goat cheese, and raspberry vinaigrette make up the very tasty Sheeda. And for a sandwich truly worthy of the gods, there's the San Fran. A whole free-range chicken is stuffed and roasted with a squeezed orange, garlic, onion, and rosemary before it's placed on sourdough with gorgonzola, bacon, and green apples.
Tin Shed's patio is the place to enjoy their happy hour menu (Wednesday-Saturday, 3-6 pm and 10-11 pm; Sunday, 3-10 pm), whether accompanied by a canine pal or not. The jalapeño mac and cheese is tangy spicy ($3), and the Jammin' Quesadilla is packed with roasted peppers, black beans, Tillamook cheddar, and--topped with jalapeño-cilantro crème fraiche and cherry jam ($3)! Wash it down with a Hamms for a mere buck.
If you're an early bird, the Shed's breakfast menu is just as impressive, with offerings such as the Goat Boy scramble (raspberry-walnut-marinated mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and goat cheese), the Fetch (potato pancakes topped with smoked bacon, scrambled eggs, and Tillamook cheddar), or a humble order of cheese grits. Not a morning person? No worries. Breakfast is served all day.--
There's something gloriously obsessive about food at Tin Shed--in a good way. They use local, organic meats, and try to use as much organic produce as possible, especially in summer months. They even use produce grown right in the restaurant's garden. The potato cakes, rosemary gravy, applewood-smoked bacon gravy, apple crisp (highly recommended, by the way), and hollandaise sauce are all made from scratch.--Microwave use is minimal.
Portland is growing. Alberta is evolving. Summer is here. Tin Shed is dishing out sweet potato-cinnamon French toast, mango-black bean tortillas, and Peachy Chicken sandwiches. All is right with the world. Hey, how bad could life be with a plate of gravy-smothered buttermilk biscuits right in front of you?