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Pop-up restaurant at The Mac promises sensory experience of springtime and whimsy

The Mac promises a rare experience with Ephemeral dining event--get it before it's gone.

Edmonton's Fairmont Hotel Macdonald has managed a few firsts during the pandemic, including creating special occasion dinners for curbside pickup and now a first pop-up restaurant experience, called Ephemeral. This month, Executive chef Jiju Paul and Edmonton artist Giselle Denis (plus FaBLOOMosity's floral installations and decor stylings by Special Event Rentals) collaborate to transform the hotel's elegant Wedgwood Room into a whimsical garden, with food, flowers, art and decor creating a full sensory experience.

"We realize how much we've missed having a dining experience this past year," said Danielle Lundy, director of sales and marketing for the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald. "Stepping into the Wedgwood Room, we felt how art could influence the space--it's octagonal-shape, grand chandelier and tall ceilings worked with the idea of an ethereal forest, something ephemeral that would bloom only for a short time. This beautiful creation will be here for only two weeks--six seatings in April--an experience not to be missed."

Lundy said artist Denis, who for some seven years has painted complete landscapes from start to finish on a Thursday evening in the hotel's Confederation Lounge, was a natural choice to be part of Ephemeral.

"I love the idea of once and gone," said Denis, who has created over a dozen large pieces, and some smaller ones for the event, in eye-popping colours; playful, spring-like florals and forest scenes to set the mood for diners. "The room is somewhat circular, so there's the symbolism of beginning and end, coming around again. Because of COVID-19 protocols, I have to be in a different space for this event, but I hope those attending feel my process, and the underlying theme of hope."

With floral installations and intimate vignettes surrounding each of the 10 or 12 two-person tables in the large banquet space, Fairmont executive chef Jiju Paul is creating a menu to enhance and complement the experience. The $159 per person four-course meal comes with two signature cocktails and is inspired by nature.

"I come from a farm background, so the menu will incorporate nature via root vegetables and mushrooms--earthy foods that are also full of colour. It'll be a creation on a plate," said Paul, describing the combination and types of beet roots and mushrooms that will intoxicate diners in appetizers and entrees. The dessert is a surprise, he says, promising a floral-inspired showstopper using raspberry and chocolate. "It's a feast for all the senses."

Picture a signature dish made of three types of beet root; candy cane, red and yellow roasted ones, even pickled beets and gel beet powder. Add goat cheese, candied pistachios and it's already a colour explosion.  There's a mushroom and poached egg dish with asparagus and hollandaise, and a root vegetable celebration: a seven herb and ricotta agnolotti with wild mushrooms, baby carrots and roasted cauliflower in piccata sauce. Can't you just see it?

Floral inspired signature cocktail "A Mountain of Contentment" includes tequila and aperol, while "A Colourful Life" has rum, matcha and honey on board.

"We're living in tumultuous times, so we want diners to walk into a calm, relaxed space and just breathe," said Lundy. "We've already had great interest from the public, so we know this is going to be something special."

Ephemeral seatings (a couple of Saturdays are already sold out) are at 7:30PM on April 15, 16, 17, 22, 23 and 24.

Call for reservations 780-777-9818.