22137 Township Road 530
Strathcona County, AB
Seeking out the rare and unusual is something we strive to do here on foodosophy. The information on such spots can come from various researched sources or personal recommendations, but at times its also just pure circumstance and random finds that lead us to these discoveries. An impromptu drive out in rural Alberta just outside the city of Edmonton resulted in one such outing recently… Katie’s Crossing.
Part diner, part antique attraction and facility, along this long connection of train cars is where you can find the cramped order counter and kitchen emitting the smells of cooking food. Converted from an actual steam engine train, the novelty of opening the still operational heavy iron door to access the counter is a real treat. For those who grew up as fans of modes of transportation like this, it never gets old.
The car directly behind is the dining area. Clean, colorful and spacious, when the weather is less than cooperative, I can see this being another fun place to hang out in. Decorated with photographs and mementos of yesteryear when this train was actually in operation, its almost like a museum tour going along the rows and taking in the visuals of ghosts in the pictures and decades old prairie-themed relics. You can go further outside this car and take in the view of the open air structures that seemingly act as venues and gathering facilities for larger parties. It felt like being on the set of an old western movie or a section of Fort Edmonton Park.
As the weather was fantastic during our visit, we opted to sit outside under the beating sun and eat our food in the fresh outdoors. Picnic tables are lined up on the deck facing the parking area, with the nearby highway just a short distance away.
Aside from sandwiches and burgers, they top of the menu seemed to highlight the fact that Katie’s was big on deep fried fish. Halibut, cod, etc. were all on hand. We got a mix of them to share and compare. Frankly, I couldn’t get the difference between them. Batter was very thin and the exterior crust very crispy and golden brown in color. Not overcooked, but a touch towards the done side in terms of overall texture. Not oily-overlogged but even the side coleslaw and squeeze of lemon couldn’t cut through the richness of it all. I didn’t particularly enjoy it but I didn’t absolutely dislike it. It fell clearly into the range of average.
The fries that accompanied both pictured baskets were hand cut and by our judgment, soft and under-fried as they lacked that “snap”. Included in this combo was the bison burger. Half is removed from the picture to give a look at the cross section. It turned out to be a much thinner patty than I have had in the past when it comes to this meat in a burger. Again, if I were to summarize, the taste experience with this lean protein stuffed between some regular white burger buns was nothing to write home about and was as per the fish and chips, just there. No outstanding features to make it exceedingly excellent nor horrifically terrible.
The wonderful weather, out-of-the-way oddity and unique restoration of train cars made this visit a one-of-a-kind country Alberta experience, but the food was not up to the same level in terms of satisfaction. For me, it was more novelty than great eating experience. As a one-time visit, it will do. But there is nothing there that would make me want to do round two for the food, even if I were ever in the neighborhood again.