Northeast Alberta’s Asian-inspired Aviary is always trying something new. National Hot Dog day. Bao Week. Lobster Roll Nights. You might call these gimmicks, except that everything chef Sarah Pliner reimagines ends up being really good. (You can read about her Wednesday night lobster rolls here.)
Her latest menu spinoff is tiki-themed—a godsend in these near-biblical rainy days. In January, Pliner did a one-off, full-on Tiki menu takeover with Spam fried rice, shrimp toast, and Chinese-style lamb ribs. It was such a success that she’s running a limited tiki menu every Saturday for the entire month of February.
From a quick sampling, here are some favorites:
- Strong, tropical cocktails from bar manager David Ticknor. A rendition of the classic Painkiller is sweet, creamy, and heady with nutmeg, hiding a serious kick of Appleton rum. The Mai Tai, tart, potent, and citrusy with pineapple and orange, beat out Hale Pale’s rendition, though it would really benefit from the ceramic tiki mug experience.
- Crab Rangoon. So much better than the Trader Vic’s rendition. Salty, crisp wonton boats hold a piping, gingery crab mix. Dunk it in the fish sauce-steeped, mint-packed nuoc cham for the full experience.
- Braised venison lettuce wraps. This two-person take-down operation centers around a massive venison shank—tender, gamey, and covered in a green olive tapenade. A second platter comes loaded with butter lettuce for wrapping, crispy fried rice brittle, fiery orange sambal, thin-sliced papaya, Thai basil, ginger, and peanuts. It’s the alt-bo saam of your dreams.