April 26th, 2016

Lunch Value in Old Strathcona: Nariyanni’s

While dining out for lunch on weekdays has been a rare occurrence for me as of late, meeting up with my sister Felicia during the work day has never happened. So it was a particularly nice occasion when we could do so to try the lunch buffet at Nariyanni’s for the first time. We were invited as guests of the restaurant.

Just off the busy Whyte Avenue strip, the family-run Nariyanni’s is located a beautifully converted heritage auto body garage. Specializing in South African Indian food, Nariyanni’s offers a lighter type of fare when compared with other mainstream Indian buffets. Their "clean eating" philosophy also extends to accommodating those who are gluten and dairy intolerant, making it an attractive option to those with certain food restrictions.

Last Tuesday, Felicia and I were welcomed into the restaurant. We settled into a comfortable booth, marveling at the warm décor and flow of the space. I liked that the circular buffet station was at the centre of the room, mimicking the place of a kitchen as the heart of a home. And with a sign pronouncing that all food is prepared by "Mama", it did feel like we were among family.

Nariyanni's

Interior

The $12 buffet (cash only, from Tuesdays to Fridays from 11:30am-1:30pm) is an unbeatable value – salad, soup, rice, three vegetarian selections, one meat option plus dessert, it’s hard to imagine how Nariyanni’s recoups the cost.

Nariyanni's

Felicia helps herself

Felicia and I happily sampled our way through most of the buffet, heartily enjoying the braised kale and cabbage, dhal and eggplant, sautéed butternut squash and chicken curry. Our favourite dish may have been the kale and cabbage – it was nice to have different textures available on our plates. Warm roti was also offered to us, a lovely, flaky accompaniment to soak up the sauces and soup. Through the course of our meal, the heat level snuck up on us, though diners with a higher tolerance for spice will be just fine.

Nariyanni's

Our modest spread

It was a leisurely lunch for us, but other parties with less time on their hands were in and out in a half hour. And though we were comfortably full, we didn’t feel as sluggish as we may have exiting a different type of buffet or quick-serve establishment.

Thanks Nariyanni’s for the introduction to a wonderful lunch option in Old Strathcona. I hope to be back with Mack in tow for the dinner buffet soon!

Nariyanni’s
10131 81 Avenue
(780) 756-7112

April 21st, 2016

In View of Rogers Place: Wheat Garden Noodle & Dumpling Bazaar

Central McDougall, the neighbourhood just north of Ice District (it still feels unnatural not to include a "the"), is at a crossroads. It will definitely endure more foot traffic once the arena opens this fall, but I do hope it will be seen as more than just a repository for vehicles.

Restaurants like the newly-opened Wheat Garden Noodle & Dumpling Bazaar have an opportunity to change that perception. Similar to Noodle Feast on the south side, they specialize in Northern Chinese cuisine and handmade noodles. Given Wheat Garden’s average entrée price hovers around $11 (for now), it’ll be interesting to see whether folks will discover these gems like this "on the other side", or if the uptick will only impact the more upscale or pedestrian restaurants south of 104 Avenue.

At any rate, Wheat Garden is already trying to make their presence known on social media, opening up channels on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook in a way most small, family-run businesses don’t have the capacity to do. Even better, to engage customers, they offer some immediate gratification in the form of a free drink or side to diners who mention the restaurant on their own social media channels.

When Su and I stopped by last week for dinner, it was obvious the space had been transformed from its previous tenant (the Old Szechuan Restaurant, which has since relocated to Old Strathcona). The new paint hue lightens the room and further highlights the expanse of windows. The only downside of the cozy and intimate dining area is that save for some quiet televisions in the corner, there is no background noise. Su and I felt like we had to deliberately keep our voices down to prevent from being heard across the space.

Wheat Garden

Interior

The menu offers rice-based plates in addition to their namesake dishes, but since this was my first visit, I stuck to the latter. Su recommended we share the assorted dumplings ($13.99/18 pieces), made up of six different flavours, and I ordered the ground beef spicy noodle ($10.99) for my entrée. It may be of interest to some that all meats served at Wheat Garden are certified halal (they claim to be the first Chinese halal restaurant in Edmonton).

Everything is made fresh to order, and it’s obvious that the staff take genuine pride in their food and service. The dumplings were a visual delight, though we didn’t inquire about the colour coding, which resulted in a fun round of dumpling roulette. The handmade skins offered a great springy texture, and the fillings were well-seasoned. My favourite flavour of the bunch I tried was the chicken, mushroom and fungus.

Wheat Garden

Assorted dumplings

My noodle bowl was probably meant to be devoured faster than I could keep up – the handmade noodles had sopped up much of the thick broth by the time I got to it. They did have a nice bite to them though, and I will be eager to try the flat noodles on another occasion. The dish also wasn’t as spicy as I was expecting either.

Wheat Garden

Spicy ground beef noodles

With good service, tasty food, and reasonable prices, I hope that folks flocking to Rogers Place will consider Wheat Garden or other Central McDougall alternatives. It’d be a shame if they remain under the radar and overshadowed by more mainstream eateries.

Wheat Garden Noodle & Dumpling Bazaar
10703 103 Street
(780) 757-8166
Monday, Wednesday-Thursday 11:30am-8:30pm, Saturday-Sunday 11:30am-9pm, closed Tuesdays

April 19th, 2016

Recap: Northern Chicken Pop-up @ Dovetail Deli

Restaurant pop-ups are still alive and well in Edmonton, showcasing everything from entrepreneurial concepts to collaborations with out-of-town chefs. Personally, my favourite pop-ups remain those that function as testing grounds for new ideas – they feel more raw and honest, with chefs putting out their heart and soul with the hope of being embraced by Edmontonians. Prairie Noodle is the most successful example of this, launching their brick and mortar shop after a series of sold-out pop-ups to test flavour profiles and their contemporary take on ramen.

Northern Chicken is the most recent pop-up of this nature, beget by the industrious chefs Andrew Cowan (of Packrat Louie and formerly of Century Hospitality Group) and Matt Phillips (most recently of Century Hospitality Group). The duo’s Northern Chicken celebrates comfort food done right, focusing on fried chicken and all the fixings.

Northern Chicken Pop-up

Chefs Matt Phillips and Andrew Cowan

Their first pop-up took place at Dovetail Deli on Sunday, and the weather couldn’t have been better. Mack and I took advantage of the sunshine and walk over to 124 Street, and upon arrival, was greeted by a (thankfully) fast-moving line.

Northern Chicken Pop-up

Hungry for fried chicken!

It was great to see many other chefs in attendance to support Northern Chicken, include Blair Lebsack from neighbouring RGE RD, Paul Shufelt (formerly of Century Hospitality and currently at Workshop Eatery), Levi Biddlecomb (of food truck Attila the Hungry, and fresh off his own pop-up at the nearby Prairie Noodle). Avenue Calgary Magazine recently conducted an interview with several Calgary chefs who spoke very highly of their collaborative, supportive food community, and I’m fairly certain something similar could be said of the scene in Edmonton.

At any rate, the menu was short and sweet – the choice between Matt’s fried or Andrew’s spicy chicken, a fried chicken sandwich, and sides of bacon truffled cream corn, Doritos mac and cheese, and coleslaw. Apple and buttermilk pies also tempted on the counter.

Mack and I both opted for the fried chicken sandwich ($9), and chose to share a side of mac and cheese ($8). We grabbed a couple of cold drinks and took our takeaway order outside to the picnic tables down the street.

We were most impressed by the size of the sandwich, with a hefty piece of breaded white meat, between a housemade sourdough bun, pickles, slaw and spicy mayo. We found the breading to be crispy, sealing in the juices of the meat. I also loved the thick slices of pickles for texture and taste. Our only critique was dense sourdough bun – we appreciated that it held up nicely, but our preference is for a more yielding type of bread.

Northern Chicken Pop-up

Fried chicken sandwich

The Doritos mac and cheese didn’t quite live up to its name – we were expecting a very obvious dusting of chips on top, or somehow visually integrated into the pasta. But besides the vibrant orange of the mac, we were left with an aftertaste we couldn’t quite place.

Northern Chicken Pop-up

Doritos mac and cheese

It’s great to see more concepts bubble up in Edmonton. I wish Chefs Andrew and Matt all the best as Northern Chicken comes closer to fruition. Follow them on Twitter to find out about their next event!

April 18th, 2016

Food Notes for April 18, 2016

I’ve been looking forward to some time off from work for a while, and it’s finally here! While it’s not a long break, it should be some good down time with my sister in Toronto. On to this week’s food notes:

  • A reminder that the annual Culinary Cook Off at Mount Royal School is taking place on April 23, 2016, from 11am-2pm. Tastes of the nine competing restaurant dishes are just a toonie, with all donations collected going towards arts programming at the school! I was fortunate enough to be a judge last year, and had a blast.
  • The next Honest Dumplings pop-up is taking place at Dovetail Deli on April 24, 2016 from 5-8pm.
  • It’s hard to believe the first outdoor farmers’ market is already upon us: Salisbury moves outside on April 21, 2016.
  • The Almanac is hosting a pig roast pop-up on May 1, 2016. Tickets are $30 and include pork, sides and dessert.
  • Mark your calendars: the first 124 Street Grand Market of 2016 debuts a new location at 124 Street and 102 Avenue on May 12 from 4-8pm. The location is just temporary to accommodate neighbourhood renewal construction this year.
  • It’s finally confirmed: Edmonton will be home to its first Chipotle, in South Edmonton Common.
  • The Fox Tower will be home to a third food-related business, called Bundok. It is a 40-seat eatery run by Chef Ryan Hotchkiss, formerly of Jack’s Grill, Bar Bricco and Red Star. They’re aiming for a July opening.
  • Avenue Magazine checked out the Stuffed Gourmet Sausage Company, the sister restaurant to Smokehouse BBQ on 124 Street.
  • The Journal reviewed Tofu House, one of the several Korean establishments that opened up in the city in the past year.
  • Learn more about Rob Tryon, the man behind supplier Effing Seafoods and his quest to educate Edmontonians about seafood.
  • Karlynn’s first cookbook, Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky, is now available for pre-order! It will be released on October 25, 2016.
  • Calgary-based Culinaire Magazine will be expanding its coverage to include the entire province. The first Alberta-based issue will be released on May 5.
  • Phil’s latest Off Menu podcast features an interview with Robert de Groot of Vegreville’s Red Cup Distillery.
  • Mack sent me this story on the “farm to fable” tale that some Tampa Bay area restaurants tell. The local food critic followed up with menu claims and found many of them to be false or stretching the truth.
  • I attended a lovely work lunch at Parkallen Restaurant’s west end location (10804 170 Street), a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it building. Inside, it’s very welcoming, and based on the beautiful family-style spread of food they had prepared, I’ll be hankering for a reason to head back on my own soon.

Parkallen Restaurant

Appetizers at Parkallen Restaurant

April 11th, 2016

Food Notes for April 11, 2016

  • Northern Chicken, a forthcoming restaurant from Chefs Matt Phillips and Andrew Cowan, is hosting a fried chicken pop-up at Dovetail Deli on April 17 from 3-7pm 4-8pm.
  • Trinity United Church will be screening Just Eat It, a film about food waste on April 22, 2016, followed by a tasting of smoothies made from rescued produce. Admission is free but donations are encouraged.
  • On May 5, 2016, Effing Seafood is hosting a pop-up evening of oysters and wine at The Cavern. Tickets are $80 per person.
  • Chutneys Indian Grill, a fast casual Indian restaurant, is opening up this summer at 4316 17 Street.
  • Cindy has the first review (as she usually does!) for Nudoru Japanese Noodles + Tapas (10532 82 Avenue). Nudoru is notable for being the only ramen restaurant in Edmonton who makes their own noodles.
  • The Journal reviewed Soy and Pepper, the modern Korean eatery Downtown, and made a note of the steep prices.
  • Cathy enjoyed the fried chicken at Dixie Lee (8943 82 Avenue), which replaced the Cheese Factory.
  • Jonny found a great hidden gem in Castle Bake, a northside Lebanese eatery.
  • Looking for a new brunch destination? Andrea checked out El Cortez’s new Sunday brunch menu.
  • Cindy recapped the recent Buddha Boys takeover of Prairie Noodle.
  • I love Edmonton, but our placement on this international list seems a bit suspicious: on a reader-voted Conde Nast Traveler list for Best Pizzas in the World, Edmonton landed a the #8 spot, ahead of Milan and Florence.
  • The Little Potato Company is a really great local success story. They’re now expanding into the US to feed the growing demand.
  • Information about the Urban Hens Pilot Project is now up, which will issue 50 licenses for urban hens, beginning on April 28, 2016.
  • The Alberta Farmers’ Market mobile app is now live. Its primary function seems to be for consumers to locate their nearest open market on any given day, but what I personally would have found more useful would have been a current, updated list of vendors at each market.
  • Welcome Careit Urban Deli to 104 Street (10226 104 Street)! It opened up last Friday, and already has some local products on its shelves, such as Jam Lady jams and Irvings Farm Fresh bacon. There are lots of grab and go items available in the cooler, in addition to their sandwich selection.

Careit Urban Deli

Careit Urban Deli Downtown

  • I attended the Lick Your Plate cookbook launch last week, and sampled some of the tasty desserts from the book. It was fun to run into some familiar faces, including Jacquie.

Lick Your Plate Cookbook Launch

Enjoying some tea-based cocktails at the cookbook launch

April 9th, 2016

New and Old for Downtown Dining Week: Alberta Hotel Bar & Kitchen and Hardware Grill

It’s really too bad Edmonton’s only prix fixe dining festival (RIP Fork Fest) isn’t city-wide like Calgary’s Big Taste, or twice a year, like Toronto’s Summer and Winterlicious. But Downtown Dining Week, now in its thirteenth year, has provided a consistent opportunity for Edmontonians to sample the cuisine of the core.

I’m not sure if it is the current state of the economy, or whether people were just taking advantage of the promotion, but this year’s Downtown Dining Week seemed busier than previous festivals. After perusing the menus, I made two reservations: one at a fairly new addition to the neighbourhood, and a second at a tried-and-true establishment.

I was one among many who mourned the loss of Tavern 1903 at the end of 2014. Mack and I found ourselves there often, swayed by their combination of fantastic cocktails and inventive small plates. Thankfully, the vacated space in the historic Alberta Hotel did not stay empty for long – Chef Spencer Thompson (formerly of Toast Fine Catering, based at the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market) moved in less than a year later, when Alberta Hotel Bar and Kitchen opened. I hadn’t yet had a chance to visit the restaurant, and there was no better opportunity than Downtown Dining Week to do so, all while catching up with some girlfriends.

The interior of Alberta Hotel Bar and Kitchen (an unfortunate mouthful of a name) hasn’t changed much from its predecessor, retaining the vintage bar and polished dining room, right down to the furnishings. The only difference that we could discern was a more cramped seating area – our table and the party next to us were wedged uncomfortably in the corner. And though it’s difficult to manage sound, given the open flow between the two rooms, the 80s pop music emanating from the bar seemed more suitable for a diner than a dining room laden with white table cloths.

No doubt, the $28 three course menu was a great deal. It seemed many others found it an equally big draw, as our server indicated that on the Monday of the same week, they served 300 patrons, tripling their usual covers that night. It was so successful that they decided to continue the fixed $28 three course offerings every Monday even after the close of Downtown Dining Week.

Even though we had the choice between two appetizers and two mains, all three of us ended up with identical meals. The bone marrow agnolotti was tasty, layered with brown butter and mushrooms, but I would have preferred the pasta to have been cooked a touch more.

Alberta Hotel Bar & Kitchen

Bone marrow agnolotti

The grilled swordfish main, served with a caper, red currant and pine nut beurre blanc was overdone, but the standout aspect of the dish was the creamy side of Gold Forest Grains farro.

Alberta Hotel Bar & Kitchen

Grilled swordfish with farro

The dessert, a chocolate fondant with warm caramel and graham cracker streusel was a bit inconsistent at the table. I found mine on the molten side, but the banana ice cream served alongside more than made up for it with its intense, concentrated flavour. When the pastry chef Kai Wong moves to her own bakery, I hope the ice cream will be on the menu in some form.

Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen

Chocolate fondant with banana ice cream

While our meal at Alberta Hotel was somewhat inconsistent, we did enjoy the overall experience. Our server was friendly and attentive, and the dishes were enticing enough to warrant future visits.

My second Downtown Dining Week reservation had to be at the Hardware Grill. Some of those dishes and drinks we loved at Tavern 1903 migrated to its established sibling, and it was about time for us to reacquaint ourselves with them.

One of my long lost loves was the Desert Shrub cocktail, a delicious combination of prosecco, grapefruit juice and tequila.

Hardware Grill

It’s been too long

Though the city’s love affair with cauliflower seems to have ended, the Korean fried cauliflower dish is classic, and perfectly made every time.

Hardware Grill

Korean fried cauliflower

Those drinks and dishes were in addition to the $48 three-course prix fixe menu, so the upsell worked on us. Hardware has had an ongoing $50 three-course promotion, called a "before sunset" menu for some time, but it has since expanded it from early seatings on Mondays to Thursdays to include all seatings on Mondays to Thursdays plus early seatings on Friday and Saturday. One has to assume the restaurant’s reputation as a special occasion restaurant has to hurt it more than others in an economy like this.

But like the consistency of the kitchen, Hardware Grill always delivers on service. We’re always impressed by the professional but easygoing nature of the servers – they always manage to ease the formality of the restaurant with humour and grace, and are easily the best team in the city.

We had far exceeded our 1.5 hour stay (as mentioned on the Downtown Dining Week menu), but we were never rushed. We felt bad, however, when leaving and realizing that there were a number of parties waiting for a table in the lobby.

While I will still hold out hope for a resurrection of Tavern 1903 in some form or another in the future, it’s nice to know that I can still satisfy my cravings at Hardware Grill.

April 6th, 2016

Get Your Bacon On: Bacon Feast at Pampa

Pampa just celebrated their fifth anniversary in Edmonton, so it’s safe to say rodizio-style dining is here to stay. While it was never a surprise that a meat-centric restaurant would be a success in the city, I know I did wonder how much repeat business they could garner, given the single-meal extravagance at its core. Even Mack and I, who are far from being vegetarian, have found ourselves adopting meatless meals in the wake of visits to Pampa.

Pampa Bacon Feast

The Grill at Pampa

At any rate, meat lovers will rejoice with the return of Pampa’s second annual Bacon Feast. An enhancement to their regular menu, $14.95 on top of the $49.95 per person cost grants diners access to an additional two types of bacon-wrapped meat as well as a bacon-infused dessert.

Pampa Bacon Feast

Bacon-infused vodka Caesar

To give it a try, Linda convened several members of the local food community for a complimentary tasting, and Mack and I were fortunate enough to be included. It confirmed again the fact that Pampa is more fun when enjoyed with a large party. The theatrical style of dining, involving servers who rotate through the room with spears of meat for table side carving extends to its drink menu as well. This was the first time we experienced the heightened pour of Licor 43, a spirit crafted with a combination of 43 herbs and spices. The server stood atop a step stool and successfully filled a shot glass on the table from above. You can bet this commanded the attention of surrounding groups.

Pampa Bacon Feast

Pampa’s signature shot

Part of the fun of Pampa is cycling through the ten (or in our case, twelve) different cuts of beef, chicken, lamb and pork to find your favourite . Our fellow diner Sharman had a great tip to minimize the gluttony of this process – Mack and I shared what was dubbed a "meat plate", so we could more easily share tastes of the meat offerings without filling up on them right away. She also pointed us to some of the dipping sauces available at the salad bar.

Speaking of the salad bar, there were a number of hot entrees to choose from that I didn’t recall from previous visits. My favourite was a deeply flavoured black bean stew that doubled as another sauce option.

After sampling all of the cuts, Mack returned to the medium rare rump steak a few times. I enjoyed the bacon-enhanced meat – including the bacon-wrapped chicken on the regular rotation, but also the bacon-wrapped boneless veal leg on the feature menu. The other Bacon Feast option of the marinated crispy pork belly, with its luscious layer of fat, was also a crowd favourite.

Pampa Bacon Feast

Crispy pork belly

The Bacon Feast dessert was a warm chocolate cake with bacon-infused caramel, vanilla bean ice cream and caramalized bacon bits. The cake was well-made, rich and dense, but the bacon seemed like an afterthought instead of a critical component.

Pampa Bacon Feast

Chocolate petite gateau

The $75 per person price tag is difficult to account for based on food alone, but then again, dining out is never exclusive to consumables. The service accounts for much of the value as well, and as in previous visits, was again commendable. Our server was game for the table’s shenanigans, and made the evening light and fun.

Pampa Bacon Feast

Linda in a meat coma

For those seeking more intimate knowledge of Pampa, they will be offering eight person 3 hour classes starting in April. They will share "trade secrets" of grilling with charcoal, and hands-on instruction of meat-stuffed bread, Feijoada (the aforementioned black bean stew) and guava cheesecake. The cost is $119 per person – call Pampa to book a spot.

Thanks to Linda for the invitation, and to Pampa for hosting us! Bacon Feast runs for the month of April. Check out Linda and Sharman’s recaps about our meal as well.

Pampa
9929 109 Street
(780) 756-7030
Lunch – Monday-Friday 11:30am-1:30pm; Dinner – Monday-Thursday 5-9pm, Friday 5-10pm, Saturday 3-10pm, Sunday 4-8pm; Brunch – 11am-2pm

April 4th, 2016

Food Notes for April 4, 2016

It’s hard to believe it’s already April, but perhaps even harder to believe is that spring came early this year! I hope you’re out and about enjoying the weather as much as possible! On to this week’s food notes:

  • The 25th annual Garlic Festival at Sorrentino’s kicked off today, and runs until April 30.
  • Mark your calendars: the 2016 season schedule of What the Truck?! is now up! The first event is now a two-day extravaganza, on Saturday May 28 and Sunday, May 29.
  • Jennifer Cockrall-King is launching her new book, Food Artisans of the Okanagan, on April 13 at Audreys. She’ll have sips and snacks on hand, too.
  • The next COMAL Mexican Dinner is taking place on April 17 & 18. Tickets for the 6-course meal (including drinks) are $120.
  • The second annual Edmonton Resilience Festival runs April 29 – May 1, 2016. I picked up my ticket for a workshop all about naturally leavened biscuits, waffles and muffins, led by Owen Petervine from Prairie Mill. It sounds like a great follow-up to his sourdough workshop last year.
  • This year’s Indulgence tickets go on sale May 1 at 9am. They go fast, so make sure you’re on it if you’re planning on attending!
  • Cindy tweeted that the space above El Cortez will soon be home to Have Mercy.
  • It’s interesting to hear that Karen Anderson of Calgary Food Tours is expanding north to include Edmonton and Canmore on her roster. She’s started a crowdfunding campaign to help them with this growth.
  • Nando’s scores a positive review from the Journal.
  • Crystal posted another lukewarm review of The Almanac.
  • Jonny didn’t get on the Love Pizza love train.
  • Cheryl checked out the gluten-sensitive offerings at Kazoku Ramen.
  • Just in time for food truck season, The Local Good spotlights the men behind S’wich.
  • I love the title of Phil’s most recent odyssey, called Game of Scones, a quest for the city’s best scone.
  • Speaking of Phil, his latest podcast features Chef Dale MacKay, of Top Chef Canada fame.
  • Food is a 24 hour business – learn more about some of Edmonton’s night owls in Addie’s Avenue Edmonton article.
  • Liv’s latest piece in the Globe highlights chefs who’ve returned home after stints abroad.
  • Lillian is one of the most inspiring local bloggers, sharing her food knowledge learned through her own personal experimentation. Her newest lesson is all about hand rolling noodles.
  • Have you already seeded your garden? Travis from Lactuca encourages you to start with lettuce.
  • I love innovative ideas to curb hunger. Here are two this week about fridges open to the public: one in a Montreal alley, where people can drop off and/or take what they need, and another in India, where patrons can leave their restaurant leftovers in a fridge outside for anyone to take.
  • I loved Bru’s tower of focaccia served alongside their feta dip! The dip was a bit salty, but I appreciated that it had been warmed through.

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Feta dip with focaccia

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One piece haddock and chips

March 28th, 2016

Food Notes for March 28, 2016

Mack and I took off to Calgary for the long weekend, and it was just what we needed. I hope you had a similarly relaxing time with family and friends! On to this week’s food notes:

  • Spring has come early – food trucks are starting to return from hibernation, with Bully first out for regular operation on March 29, and Attila the Hungry to follow on April 1.
  • A pop-up Farewell to Winter Party is taking place on April 2, 2016 from 11am-7pm on Rice Howard Way. There will be food, music and patios.
  • Vibe is a new event series at the Art Gallery of Alberta once a month on Friday, which will feature a live music showcase, the opportunity to view gallery exhibitions and a special menu and cocktail bar from Zinc. The first Vibe will take place April 15, 2016.
  • It’s great to see another local business grow – in this case, North 53 is opening up a sister bar called Baijiu – a “rustic chic joint serving boozy drinks and Asian-inspired plates in the Mercer Building”. Expect itre to open Fall 2016.
  • It just might be the year for bubble tea in Edmonton – Quickly, a bubble tea chain with presence in 19 countries, is opening up in late April at 5818 111 Street. They already have three locations in Calgary.
  • Cindy is among the first to write about Wheat Garden Noodle and Dumpling Bazaar on 107 Avenue.
  • Ms. Hangry Foodie stopped by Calle Mexico’s storefront location.
  • Cindy recapped a great pop-up at Canteen called Closed Mondays, allowing chefs in their kitchen to to showcase their food on a day the restaurant would otherwise be closed. I hope to be able to check it out at some point!
  • Cindy also checked out the second #kenyaraefoodproject pop-up at Dovetail, featuring chicken and waffles.
  • Linda has tried and fallen in love with Love Pizza.
  • If you still haven’t submitted your favourite restaurants for Vue Weekly’s annual Golden Fork Awards, you have until March 31, 2016 to do so.
  • Phil had the chance to interview Vikram Vij, one of the most well-known chefs in Canada.
  • Vue asks the question – when you see the word “local” on the menu, does it really mean the ingredients have been locally-sourced?
  • While in Calgary, we had to check out the branch of the Italian Centre that opened up on the city’s south side. It’s a beautiful store, with an amazing wall of cheese. Curiously, we did notice that some of the same products found in Edmonton are priced higher.

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Mack can’t believe all of the cheese

  • My Mum really wanted to try Seoul Fried Chicken, so Mack and I ordered up a few of their flavours to share (calling in an order is highly recommended – the line was 10 deep and I was able to bypass it to pick up my order). The SFC BBQ definitely suffered the most in transition, and depending on where you live, may not survive the journey, so I’d stick to the dry fried chicken in the future, unless you’re able to grab one of their limited seats in the storefront. Of the flavours we tried, the Golden Kari that snuck in and amongst our pieces of Original Gangster was the runaway favourite.

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Take-out from Seoul Fried Chicken

  • It’s been a while since Mack and I have gone for pho, so it seemed like the right way to end our long weekend.

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Pho for two from Pho Tau Bay

March 21st, 2016

Food Notes for March 21, 2016

  • Fruits of Sherbrooke will be hosting jam making classes on April 16, 2016.
  • It looks like Blitz Conditioning’s idea of a food crawl on bicycles was such an inspiration that it’s already sold out. Hopefully this means many more to come, especially as the weather warms up.
  • The second location of Sandwich and Sons had their soft opening this weekend, at 10184 104 Street.
  • Liane reports that Sugarbowl owner Abel Shiferaw is planning to open a new café and pop-up space in the three-floor building right beside the Sugarbowl. Plans call for the third floor to be a “continuous pop-up restaurant.”
  • Mark your calendar: the tentative opening date of the Downtown location of Careit Urban Deli is April 4, 2016.
  • Chefs Andrew Cowan and Matt Phillips demonstrated their chicken prowess at the Home and Garden Show this weekend, in anticipation of their new Northern Chicken project. Looking forward to hearing more!
  • I would love to see a Chipotle in Edmonton, but is this rumour true? It seems unconfirmed for now.
  • The Journal is the first to review Farm to Fork, the newest restaurant in Sherwood Park.
  • Linda has been won over by the changes at Kazoku, and now heartily recommends their ramen.
  • The Breakfast Club checked out Juniper Cafe.
  • Cindy reviewed Noodle Feast and decided it tugs on all the right strings for her.
  • The episode of You Gotta Eat Here, featuring Edmonton’s own Battista’s Calzones, aired over the weekend. You can see it in full on the Food Network website.
  • Has the economic downtown affected restaurant business? It doesn’t seem to ring true, at least not for some local mainstays.
  • Vesta Gardens is hoping to raise $10,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to purchase a tractor for their farm.
  • Alberta Agriculture is looking to study the demand for local food in the province.
  • Best of luck to the three University of Alberta students who will be competing in the upcoming food expo in Chicago this July. They’ll be showcasing BiotaGelata, a dairy-free gelato product chock full of fermented beans.
  • Izakaya Tomo is celebrating the flavours and music of Okinawa during Okinawa Nights this weekend.
  • Until Ketchupgate, I had no idea people would feel the need to express their patriotism through their ketchup.
  • Italy is following in France’s footsteps in passing a law to limit food waste. The difference? Their law is incentive-based vs. punitive, by offering grocery chains tax breaks for recovering food.
  • I joined Mack and some of his colleagues last week at Parlour. While everyone else ordered off the Downtown Dining Week menu, I couldn’t pass up my usual Gamberi pizza. While there was more shrimp than ever on the pizza, the crust was a little more lacking in structure than I’m used to.

Parlour

Gamberi Pizza at Parlour