This article recently appeared supporting our friends Jeff and Lisa Lawrence and their great restaurant. We are pleased to share this! Check them out here: www.firstandvine.ca
He worked with chefs Michael Allemeier and Matthew Batey in Mission Hill’s kitchens, toiled with Michael Dekker and Paul Rogalski at Rouge and for the past six years cooked side-by-side with Michael Noble and Justin Labossiere and again with chef Batey at Notable and The Nash.
Not a bad crew to learn from. So Michael Frayne, the executive chef and managing partner of Airdrie’s First & Vine (130 1st Ave. N.E., 403-980-9463), has a hearty resume and some serious chops in the kitchen.
Frayne was a familiar sight during his tenure at both Notable and The Nash. As executive sous chef, he spent much of his time in front of the large wood-burning ovens in both places, hefting rotisserie chickens and roasts into place, braising lamb shanks and grilling striploins and pork chops. His new kitchen is smaller but no less dynamic with a menu of sharing plates, larger plates, lunch sandwiches and brunch items keeping it busy.
First & Vine is in the oldest remaining house in Airdrie. Built in 1905, it’s now a collection of rooms seating 45 with 35 more on a south-facing patio. It has the woody, historic charm of a creaky-floored tea house with mismatched wooden chairs but is much, much more. Frayne and partners Jeff Lawrence, Lisa Mundell and Paul Dabgotra worked together to buff up the historic building and add a contemporary taste to Airdrie’s growing restaurant scene.
At lunch, Frayne and his team crank out a list of crab-and-shrimp arancini ($14), mussels with sausage and tomato ($19), a smoked turkey BLT on fresh, custom-made sourdough ($18, great sandwich!), and a beef-and-pork burger ($18). At dinner time, the menu broadens to include sharing plates of Moroccan lamb ribs ($17), confit pheasant ravioli ($13) and coq au vin ($17). And a traditional brunch menu of pancakes, eggs Benedict and breakfast parfait takes over First & Vine on the weekends.
In his spare time, Frayne has been trolling the area’s farmers’ markets for local products, canning summer fruits and vegetables that show up in his warm rhubarb tart and breakfast preserves. The wine and beer list is short but craftily selected to include small organic producers and craft breweries.
First & Vine is a smart project, nothing less than what Frayne’s many mentors would have expected.