January 16th, 2017

Food Notes for January 16, 2017

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Poutine!

  • On our walk home from Deep Freeze, we stopped by Hyatt Place. The restaurant/lounge was a lovely open space, but it was unfortunately dead quiet. It was nice to see a couple of local products on the shelves though – Caramia Caramels and Fudgalicious.

Hyatt Place Edmonton

Second floor lounge at Hyatt Place

  • Mack and I have been meaning to revisit Three Boars for some time – the weather finally cleared up enough so we could walk over to the restaurant this weekend. Mushrooms and toast was as tasty as I remembered, and though I don’t regret the first few bites of dessert, it was definitely meant to be shared by a party larger than two!

Three Boars Eatery

Mushrooms and toast

Three Boars Eatery

Dark chocolate brownie, fernet ice cream, house-made marshmallow, salted caramel

January 12th, 2017

Culinary Highlights: 2016 Edition

I looked back on my year of blogging only to remember how an unexpected project at work derailed the first four months of 2016, severely limiting my free time to write. Although things calmed down in the spring, I’m not sure my work/life balance ever fully recovered.

At any rate – I never managed to put together a 2015 edition of my culinary highlights, so it’s a small victory that I am returning to some old habits.

Here are some of my favourite food-related memories from the past year:

Did someone say pizza? Love Pizza ended up being our go-to downtown addition this year. Great product, and a restaurant we can walk to!

I can’t say no to the Meatatarian

A Streetcar Named Dessert was a unique experience that married Sugared and Spiced cakes with an amazing musician in an unforgettable venue.

How do you choose?

This year’s Grand Taste Tour took us to Tangle Ridge Ranch where we enjoyed one of the best dishes I had all year.

Gnocchi with peas and pecorino

I attended my first Gold Medal Plates in 2016, and appreciated firsthand the skills and talent of all competing chefs. But I would be kidding if I didn’t say that the highlight of the event was a selfie with the gracious Olympic gold medalist Erica Wiebe.

#graniestphotoever

It was also the first year that I attended What the Truck?! as a “layperson”. The festival is a lot of work to produce, so I am grateful to the team for carrying the torch forward!

What the Truck?! at Northlands

A brief stop in Niagara this spring resulted in some wine education for both Mack and myself.

Green Lane Winery

We continued that education in the Okanagan that fall, and at Covert Organics, met a special strawberry patch.

Ain’t nothing like a fresh strawberry

In Chicago, I finally got to taste some of Rick Bayless’s food, and it lived up to my expectations.

Frontera Grill

Smoked pork queso fundido from Frontera Grill

Closer to home, we enjoyed some food with a view in Rocky Mountain House.

Prairie Creek Inn

I also found my new favourite restaurant in Calgary: Ten Foot Henry.

Salt roasted potatoes

In most cases, it’s not what we eat that we remember, but who was around us at the time to make it special. For example, while there were things I would have changed about the Culinaire Treasure Hunt, Mack and I had an absolute blast with our teammates Su and Allison.

Team High Viz!

In that same vein, one of the reasons I’ve grown to love Toronto as much as I have is because of my sister.

Toronto 2016

Cheering on the Raps at Jurassic Park

Thanks for joining me on another year of adventures. Here’s to 2017!

January 9th, 2017

Food Notes for January 9, 2017

  • Nipsis Cafe, located outside of Edmonton in Maskwacis, hosts a monthly supper club. Their first dinner in 2017 is this Friday, January 13, from 5-9pm. The 3-course meal costs $30.
  • The potluck celebration of life for Gail Hall is scheduled for January 14, from 5-9pm; guests should RSVP through Eventbrite. Related, a lovely illustration of Gail graces the January/February issue of The Tomato, and inside, her husband Jon Hall remembers her through the Proust questionnaire.
  • The City Market is launching seasonal cooking demos in partnership with Kids in the Hall Bistro. The first event will take place on January 14, 2016 at 12:30pm with Chef Daniel Letourneau. The $30 ticket will include $5 in City Market bucks to spend after the demo.
  • The Italian Centre has started the Chef’s Inspiration Dinner Series, a monthly event from February to June 2017 that will showcase local talent and the shop’s ingredients. Tickets for the dinner (including wine pairings) will be $65-75, and sold three weeks before each dinner.
  • The Tomato is again compiling their top 100 best things to eat in Edmonton – nominate your favourites until January 27, 2017.
  • Where Edmonton named Uccellino Edmonton’s best new restaurant for 2016.
  • Three Boars announced they are finally opening up a branch north of the river, taking over the former MRKT space at Jasper Avenue and 105 Street (they faked us out back in 2015).
  • It was only a matter of time before the poke trend landed in Edmonton: Splash Poke is set to open at 10079 109 Street some time this spring.
  • We’ll also be welcoming another local brewery to town – Town Square Brewing (2919 Ellwood Drive). After all, Alberta’s in the midst of a craft beer boom.
  • Casa Doce’s brick and mortar restaurant La Patrona opened on January 4 in Sherwood Park (Unit 8, 2 Athabascan Avenue).
  • The Don Wheaton YMCA Downtown (10211 102 Avenue) has a new cafe called Maka Eatery, and Liane enjoyed the food.
  • Open less than a month, Otto already has its first review from Twyla.
  • Cindy tells you why you should check out the pan-fried dumplings at Golden Dumpling.
  • Sharman visited Dogwood Cafe (located inside the Riverside Golf Course) for Sunday brunch.
  • The Journal enjoyed their visits to Northern Chicken.
  • It’s going to be a great year for bakeries in Edmonton. Liane profiles two of the newest: Old Strathcona’s La Boule and Central McDougall’s Macarons and Goodies.
  • I neglected to link to Liane’s great roundup of Edmonton food in 2016.
  • Lillian reflected on whether she met her food goals in 2016, and shares what she’s looking forward to in 2017.
  • Here’s Julie van Rosendaal’s take on trends in 2017.
  • Vue Weekly featured Alexis Hillyard and her great video series Stump Kitchen last week.
  • Michael Kalmanovitch, owner of Earth’s General Store, posted an open letter indicating that the Downtown location is on its last legs unless something changes.
  • I’m not too heartbroken about Whole Foods not following through with plans to expand to Alberta, but others may be.
  • I prefer when grocery stores display local products alongside other similar products (as opposed to being segregated to a “locally sourced” shelf). So it was a nice surprise to see Confetti Sweets cookies available in the bakery at Save-On Foods.

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Confetti Sweets

Thanh Thanh Oriental Noodle House

Special vermicelli bowl from Thanh Thanh

  • Though I actually never need an excuse to indulge in soup, the weekend’s cold snap made bun bo hue from King Noodle House even more comforting.

King Noodle House

Bun bo hue from King Noodle House

January 4th, 2017

Epicureous in Edmonton: 2016 Year in Review

2016 was an interesting year for print-related food media. While several local publications celebrated milestones (The Tomato, Avenue Edmonton) or expanded their coverage (Culinaire), when the Edmonton Journal announced in January that they were laying off their full-time food reporter, it was clear that the food scene would be at a loss. Although the Journal reversed their decision a few weeks later (at least on a part-time basis), it was a sign that the end of an era is inevitable.

Edmonton Sun & Journal 

When that kind of high profile coverage for local chefs, restaurants, and producers end, will diners and consumers turn to other outlets for news? How will those changes impact small businesses that benefit from the exposure? Though we didn’t have to answer that question in full just yet, it’s likely that the time will come soon.

Here’s what else what notable to me in 2016:

  • I love when we can celebrate local success stories, and this year was full of them. Daniel Costa’s empire expanded to include Uccellino, Duchess added the Scandinavian-inspired Cafe Linnea to their businesses, Bodega looked to reverse the revolving door in Highlands, Have Mercy opened above sister restaurant El Cortez, and the Crudo family set-up Amore Pasta in the suburbs. As well, Sandwich and Sons, Careit, Iconoclast, Nomiya, Confetti Sweets and Jacek Chocolates added new locations.
  • As openings go, Old Strathcona had some of the buzziest additions this year, with scratch-ramen eatery Nudoru, southern-inspired Have Mercy, brew pub Situation Brewing, izakaya Dorinku, and Parisian-style bakery La Boule.
  • Brick and mortar iterations spawned from food trucks continued into this year, including Calle Mexico, Fat Franks, The Local Omnivore, and Two to Taco, a new sister for Filistix. Little Village and Casa Doce storefronts are coming in 2017.
  • Fried chicken frenzy finally hit Edmonton, with a second location for Coco Fried Chicken and the rise of both Seoul Fried Chicken and Northern Chicken. Chain restaurant Popeye’s also caused quite a stir in November with their first Edmonton branch, and it was announced that Ong (from the folks behind Jack’s Burger Shack), will be serving up Hanoi-style fried chicken.
  • Bubble tea chains had a banner year – Coco’s, Quickly, Cha Time and Gong Cha all expanded to Edmonton in 2016.
  • In spite of the growth, many notable businesses shut their doors. We bid adieu to Call the Kettle Black, Dovetail Deli, Sabzy, Rosebowl Pizza (at least in its Oliver location), Dauphine, and Culina.
  • The limited success of no tipping restaurants in larger municipalities like New York should be a cautionary tale for us, but Edmonton saw its first two such establishments open in 2016: the aforementioned Cafe Linnea and Asian upstart Grain of Rice.
  • The upswing of local food tour businesses such as Epicurean Adventure Tours and the expansion of Alberta Food Tours to include Edmonton point to the growth of walkable restaurant districts and an increased appetite to explore them.
  • Similarly, Edmonton Cooks helped share some of the stories behind the city’s favourite restaurants, bringing us in line with the six other cities already profiled.
  • We lost Dolce & Banana operator Ernesto Rizzi suddenly in July, and Gail Hall’s passing in November is still ripping through the food community.

You can check out previous year in reviews here.

January 2nd, 2017

Food Notes for January 2, 2017

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a restful holiday and a great start to 2017. On to the first food notes for the year:

  • This year’s Deep Freeze runs January 14-15, 2017. A new aspect of the festival is a tourtiere baking contest. Entries will be accepted until January 12.
  • Ice on Whyte is partnering with the Edmonton Beer Geeks on February 3, 2017 to present the first ever Freeze Your Cask Off event, featuring 10 Alberta craft beers. The festival is also hosting its third annual Stew Off on February 5, 2017, with 5 local restaurants competing for the title of best stew.
  • A food system forum is taking place on February 3-5, 2017 called Cultivating Connections 2017. The goal is to “identify tangible opportunities to collaborate and inspire initiatives for vibrant regional food systems with improved access for all.” Registration is now open.
  • Carla Alexander has been such a constant part of downtown, from Soul Soup to MRKT, so it’s sad to hear she’s decided to sell MRKT. Best of luck with your future ventures!
  • Glow Juicery’s new location at 10216 124 Street is now open!
  • Downtown’s Local Public Eatery will be opening later this month at 11228 Jasper Avenue (formerly Joey’s).
  • The folks behind The Common will be opening up a new restaurant called Grandin Fish ‘N’ Chips.
  • Expect Vivo’s downtown location to open up some time in the next month.
  • Congratulations to Knosh Catering who will be moving into new digs at the Crestwood Curling Rink this year.
  • Love Pizza’s St. Albert location is coming along nicely!
  • Carolyn shared her thoughts about her new neighbourhood bakery, La Boule.
  • Jonny has continued his spotlight on small, often-forgotten ethnic gems with a review of South Indian eatery Masalaz.
  • Great to hear that Edmonton has not one, but two new distilleries: Strathcona Spirits and Hansen Distillery.
  • If you missed someone on your gift list this Christmas, consider a subscription to the Secret Meat Club, which offers monthly deliveries of artisan food products, including house-made charcuterie and condiments.
  • ‘Tis the season for lists: check out Twyla’s roundup of notable 2016 Edmonton food happenings on Eat North.
  • Speaking of Twyla, she, along with Phil, helped CBC put together a list of Edmonton’s best restaurants for 2016.
  • Cindy shared her own list of memorable 2016 eats.
  • Graham also pulled together a summary of the 2016 Edmonton food scene, along with his favourite dishes from 2016, and included a tidbit to expect a formal announcement about a Jamie Oliver restaurant in the new Kelly-Ramsey Enbridge Centre tower.
  • Vue Weekly reflected on Edmonton’s year in food.
  • How does one go about making food trend predictions? The NYT helps answer that question.
  • Some of the grievances in Eater New York’s round-up are specific to that city, but others are somewhat appropriate to our context, too.
  • The signage for the Crudo family’s 104 Street restaurant expansion, Bottega, is now up!

Bottega on 104 Street

Bottega

  • We had some good eats over the holidays, including brunch at Hap’s to celebrate Mack’s birthday.

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Brunch at Hap’s

  • Back to work last week, I chose to drown my sorrows in a bowl of pho at Tau Bay.

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My usual

  • For Christmas, Mack and I were also given a gift card for Blue Plate Diner that we put into use straightaway – it’s always nice when a favourite restaurant is just steps away from home.

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Indulging at Blue Plate Diner

December 19th, 2016

Food Notes for December 19, 2016

This will be my last roundup post for 2016! And as we’re less than a week to Christmas, I would like to wish you a warm and wonderful holiday full of family and good food.

  • Food4Good is hosting a Fruit & Veggie Market on December 21, 2016 from 3:30-7:30pm at the Glenwood Community League (16430 97 Avenue). There will be nothing priced over $3.
  • If you’re in need of stocking stuffers or hostess gifts, Kitchen by Brad Smoliak is hosting their annual holiday sale on December 23, 2016.
  • I’m looking forward to using a pair of screening passes I received for a movie called Theatre of Life, showing at Metro Cinema December 23, 26, 27 and 28, 2016. It’s a film about high end chefs transforming food that would have otherwise gone to waste into meals to nourish the vulnerable in Milan.
  • Pho lovers in the south side rejoice – there’s another option in Pho Boy, located at 10037B 82 Avenue.
  • There’s a new coffee shop downtown: Cafe Lavi is now open at 9947 104 Street. Thanks to Amelia for the heads up!
  • Chic-Hog-O’s Social House, relocated to 10111 117 Street, is now open.
  • Urban Tavern (which replaced The Druid) is now open at 11606 Jasper Avenue.
  • Those who Love Pizza are in luck – a second location is in the works for St. Albert!
  • Andrea is one of the first to review La Boule, Edmonton’s newest patisserie.
  • Twyla checked out Grain of Rice, a new family-run Asian restaurant on the west end.
  • The Journal reviewed Three10, one of the restaurants located inside The Rec Room in South Edmonton Common.
  • Cindy tried the rotating brunch menu at Cafe Linnea a few times to find her favourite dishes.
  • Vue Weekly sampled the cuisine at Maye Restaurant (9411 118 Avenue), calling it “the best Somali food [he’s had]” in Edmonton.
  • Not sure where to eat over the holidays? Phil and Liv have some recommendations, including where to get your turkey dinner fix.
  • Fuge Fine Meats has just launched a crowdfunding campaign to establish a permanent production facility. They hope to raise $20,000 by January 29, 2017.
  • Just in time for the holidays, Cindy is giving away a copy of Edmonton Cooks!
  • Another cookbook to consider is Meals in the Field, first published in 1928 by the United Farm Women of Alberta. This edition combines classic dishes with more modern takes on family suppers.
  • 58% of 1,200 Albertans surveyed indicated that they would support a sugar tax on pop and energy drinks.
  • In light of the two no-tipping establishments that are now open in Edmonton, the NYT reflects on a year of “hospitality included” programs in New York.
  • I was happy that the stars finally aligned so I could check out a La Mision pop-up last week at the Chvrch of John. Although I enjoyed the chicken burrito, the pork carnitas won my heart in the end.

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Chicken and pork burritos from La Mision

  • Su and I met up at the newly-opened Otto in Norwood (11405 95 Street) on Friday night. Featuring a simple menu of sausages and sides, it’s a low-key neighbourhood restaurant great for unwinding after a long day. We shared the chorizo and lamb merguez sausages (crafted by Fuge), and enjoyed both varieties. The potato salad needed some work (potatoes were undercooked) and the mac and cheese wasn’t as creamy as I would have liked, but it’s early days yet. I’ll be back!

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Our meal at Otto

  • Mack and I took Grandma Male to try the high tea at Cafe Linnea. It’s been so popular they are booked until mid-February! We enjoyed the variety of sweet and savoury bites (my favourite was the duck prosciutto), though it’s fair to say the level of service wasn’t comparable to our high tea experience last year at the Hotel Macdonald.
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    With Grandma Male at Cafe Linnea

  • ‘Tis the season for eating – I had a work lunch today at Sorrentino’s in Little Italy. I indulged in the creamy bison cannelloni and didn’t regret my decision. It was notable that though the restaurant was packed, the service remained consistent.

Sorrentino's

Bison cannelloni

December 18th, 2016

Explore BC: Osoyoos and Similkameen Valley

This is the fourth and final post about our trip to BC back in October. You can read about our Kelowna, Penticton and Oliver highlights as well.

We ended our BC trip in Osoyoos, another town that neither Mack or I had visited before. Although there were some points of interest in Osoyoos, the attractions we were most drawn to were actually beyond its borders.

Watermark Beach Resort

We were told by multiple people that the Watermark Beach Resort was the place to stay in Osoyoos. Because we were hoping for a relaxed vacation with a lot of down time, it made sense to for our longest leg to take place here.

Watermark Osoyoos

Watermark Beach Resort

However, I didn’t realize until we arrived just how small the community is – under 5,000 – so amenities were fewer than expected. That said, while reviews indicated that the Watermark may not be the most serene place during high season, just before Thanksgiving, we felt like we had the place to ourselves. We were upgraded to a two-bedroom, two bathroom suite (the extra bathroom felt like a luxury given Mack and I share one between us at home), and the hot tub and pool area rarely hosted more than a handful of guests at any given time. The weather, unfortunately, prevented us from making use of the beachfront area outside of brisk walks, but it added to the low-key feel of the property. I will say that because we just departed the very personalized service at the bed and breakfast in Penticton, the Watermark felt much more corporate, but I’m not sure how such a large facility would be able to operate otherwise.

Lake Village Bakery

Osoyoos was the home of my favourite bakery of the trip, Lake Village Bakery, which had deliciously flaky sourdough croissants. Located a stone’s throw from Osoyoos Lake, we greedily consumed our treats overlooking the water, trying not to make too much of a mess.

Lake Village Bakery

Sourdough croissants from Lake Village Bakery

NK’MIP Cellars

Although most of the area’s wineries are located north of Osoyoos, NK’MIP Cellars has the distinction of being the first (and only) Aboriginal-owned and operated winery in Canada. With a desire to learn about their history, we signed up for a guided tour. NK’MIP was born from an enterprising chief, who wanted to make the most of the land.

NK'MIP Winery

NK’MIP (pronounced Inkameep) vines

Although the transformation of reserve land started with an RV park, it eventually grew to include the winery, a hotel and conference centre, and a desert museum. We were surprised to learn Osoyoos Indian Band is actually quite small, made up of only 500 members.

NK'MIP Winery

Tasting by the cellar

The winery was perhaps even more visually striking than Covert Farms in Oliver – with the surrounding barren  landscape, it’s a small wonder a viable, agricultural-based business can thrive in the area.

The Grist Mill

Initially, I skipped the section in Jennifer’s book about the Similkameen Valley, because I wasn’t sure we’d have the time for a detour. But after looking at the map and realizing the valley’s proximity to Osoyoos, we hived off a day to take our time in the area.

The Grist Mill

The Grist Mill

The highlight was a visit to The Grist Mill in Keremeos, a museum built around a historic 1877 waterwheel-run flour mill. We spent some time wandering the grounds before spending a full hour with Cuyler Page.

The Grist Mill

Cuyler Page

He was in the process of rebuilding the leavers and pulleys inside the mill, and spoke at length about the history of wheat and milling (including his involvement, humbly stated, in bringing red fife wheat back to prominence in Canada). As Mack commented that day, it’s likely we only scratched the surface of his knowledge.

The Grist Mill

Sifted flour

The Grist Mill also features a cafe with a small menu of soups, sandwiches and baked goods. The food was nothing fancy, but tasted homemade and wholesome. It definitely helped to round out our stop.

Twisted Hills Craft Cider

During our trip, we learned that cider houses are up and coming in the Okanagan, with several having opened up in the last few years. Twisted Hills in Cawston is among them, and we stopped in to have a taste of some of their ciders and sparkling juices.

Twisted Hills

Twisted Hills cider tasting

It’s a small operation that isn’t quite salient yet (the owners planted on family-owned land), but given they were sold out of many of their offerings, it’s a good sign. Though we found the Calville’s Winter a tad on the sweet side, we enjoyed our visit to the farm.

Benja Thai

Apparently Benja Thai is known as "Thai worth the drive" in Keremeos. The fact that a Thai restaurant exists in a town of 1,200 is a feat in itself, but the family who runs it demonstrate their wonderful hospitality during our visit, and we could see how they’ve built up a loyal following. Mack especially enjoyed the green curry, and the pad Thai hit the spot for me.

Benja Thai

Green curry

It was a whirlwind week in BC, but I think we made the most of it, and discovered some hidden gems along the way.

December 16th, 2016

A New Frontier for the Telus World of Science: The Purple Pear

Last week, I was among those invited to attend the media showcase of The Purple Pear, the rebranded cafeteria-style restaurant inside the Telus World of Science. Open since September 30, 2016, the eatery has had a complete makeover, from the dining room to the menus.

The entire space has been transformed – from the herb garden lining the newly-installed windows and the much cleaner purple and white colour palette, to the subtle aurora borealis accent lights.

The Purple Pear

The Purple Pear

If you’re wondering about the name – it was generated through an internal contest. Staff were invited to submit entries and the most popular one was selected. “The Purple Pear” was chosen because it echoed TWOSE’s colour branding, and relating a theme of science, is something not found in nature. You can find the name of the staff who submitted the entry on the menu – as the winner of the contest, Mikhaiel had a pizza named after her.

The Purple Pear

Wine-poached “purple pear” appetizers

As expected, the menu features a lot of kid friendly options, but also some more interesting dishes to appeal to more adult tastes, including a prosciutto and pear salad and a tuna tataki sandwich. We had the opportunity to sample a slider version of the TWOSE stacked burger, a solid choice layered with crispy onions, cheddar, applewood smoked bacon and their house sauce.

The Purple Pear

TWOSE sliders

Without a doubt, the star of the new menu are their pizzas. Baked in the same high temperature ovens found at Urbano Pizza, they are ready in just minutes. My sister and I had the chance to sample two types: the Godfather ($11.95) and the Mikhaiel ($14.95).

The Purple Pear

The Godfather

While the Godfather, with tomato sauce, capicola ham, genoa salami, chorizo sausage, red onion and mozzarella was a fairly standard pizza, the Mikhaeil featured more unique ingredients. We really liked the combination of alfredo sauce, chicken, bacon, caramelized onion, artichokes, goat cheese, arugula and mozzarella.

The Purple Pear

The Mikhaeil

The Purple Pear is also trying to offer dishes themed for their current exhibitions. In conjunction with Angry Birds Universe, they have a “Bird Egg Pig” burger on special (unfortunately, trademark laws restrict the kitchen’s ability to name the burger). It’s a fun way for the restaurant to continue the fun to be had in the rest of the facility.

Most interesting to me, The Purple Pear hopes to appeal to area businesses and residents who are seeking different meal options. In warmer climes, they want to attract people looking for picnic lunches to take over to the underutilized Coronation Park, and perhaps in a few years when the Queen Elizabeth II Planetarium reopens, there will be even more foot traffic around TWOSE. It will take much effort on their part to increase awareness about their new offerings, as the facility has never been known as a food destination, but with some creativity and innovation, it may be possible.

Thanks to the staff for hosting the showcase, and I look forward to visiting again some time in the future!

December 13th, 2016

Tipping the Scales: Grain of Rice

Edmonton’s second no tipping restaurant just opened quietly in the west end with much less fanfare than the first. When Café Linnea launched this summer, there was much buzz about the imported concept of building gratuity into their prices, with an end goal of providing servers with more predictable wages. In some ways, the adoption of this philosophy is even more revolutionary with Grain of Rice, given Asian restaurants are stereotypically known for extremely competitive pricing, sometimes to their detriment. Mack and I stopped by this past weekend while running errands in the area.

Located on the far west end (in the same complex as the Save On Foods on 215 Street; GPS failed us by several blocks), Grain of Rice is operated by the Phung family. Son Tony Phung decided to help his parents rebuild years after their restaurant was destroyed by fire, but instead of recreating exactly what was lost, introduced some ideas to help make their business distinct.

The menu was trimmed from hundreds of items to a much more manageable size of a dozen or so dishes, with rotating specials to keep things interesting for regulars. Grain of Rice also sources meat from local producers, which, coupled with their no tipping policy, accounts for their higher prices. While some diners will undoubtedly balk at the idea of paying more for similar style dishes in other parts of the city, I think it’s reasonable if higher quality plates and good service are delivered in return.

Grain of Rice occupies the end bay of the strip, the interior benefiting from access to lots of natural light. The dining room is clean and minimalist, with the vibe of a fast casual restaurant. I liked being able to see into the kitchen as well, which seems to continue the restaurant’s theme of transparency.

Grain of Rice

Interior

The menu features many popular Vietnamese and Chinese dishes, including vermicelli bowls, peaches and shrimp, and wor wonton soup. Mack decided on the classic beef and rice noodles ($17), while I had to try their pho ($15).

Food arrived in good time, steaming hot. Mack was impressed by the portion size of his plate, and noted that they did not skimp on the beef. I would have liked to taste more smokiness in the noodles, but overall Mack enjoyed the dish.

Grain of Rice

Beef and rice noodles

The pho, on the other hand, could have used more meat (and personal preference, cilantro!). The rare beef was pretty tender, and the meatballs were tasty, but I very quickly ended up with a bowl with broth alone. And though Pho Tau Bay will also reign supreme in the broth department for me, the aromatics in the soup was notable.

Grain of Rice

Pho

Grain of Rice is still in their "soft opening" phase, so I imagine tweaks will continue to be made in these next few weeks. But I really support the philosophy behind the restaurant, so I wish them all the best.

Grain of Rice
1312 Webber Greens Drive
(780) 306-3338
Monday-Thursday 11am-3pm, 4:30-10pm, Friday-Saturday 11am-11pm, Sunday 11am-9pm

December 12th, 2016

Food Notes for December 12, 2016

I love this time of year – beautiful lights, festivities with friends and family, and lots of food to go around. Hope you’re making the most of the holiday season, too! On to this week’s food notes:

  • La Mision is hosting their fourth burrito pop-up at The Church of John on December 13, 2016 starting at 5pm. See you there!
  • Looking for Prairie Pigeon eclairs? Genia will be at Vacancy Hall on December 17, 2016 for the Local Love Pop-up from 10am-3pm.
  • Second Line and Northern Chicken are combining forces for a Holiday Perogy Jam on January 18, 2017. Tickets are $55 for 5 courses.
  • This past weekend, Dogwood Cafe, run by the folks behind Culina, resumed their Nordic Brunches (and have introduced Nordic Suppers) at Victoria and Riverside Golf Courses.
  • New restaurant alert: South Silk Road at 5552 Calgary Trail is currently in their soft opening phase.
  • Similarly under the soft opening category, XO Bistro Bar in the Ultima Tower (10236 103 Street) is now open.
  • Congrats to the boys behind Filistix on their new venture at MacEwan, called It Takes Two to Taco. It opened up back in November in the Robbins Health Learning Centre. Thanks Linda for the heads up!
  • Kings Noodle & Hot Pot is no more, and has been replaced by Golden Dumpling Restaurant (10939 101 Street).
  • Amidst all of the restaurant openings, the Dish and the Runaway Spoon announced their closure due to a change in building ownership. They will be opening again for catering owners in the near future.
  • Linda is among the first to review Me 2 Japanese Sizzling Restaurant.
  • Also from Linda, she enjoyed her recent experiences at The Rec Room.
  • Latino’s Restaurant (10708 98 Street) has found another fan in Graham Hicks.
  • Jonny found another hidden gem in Island Grill on the west end.
  • Great profile on Steve Furgiuele, the man behind Fuge Fine Meat and the products that will soon be served at the new European-inspired restaurant Otto.
  • How can you accommodate those with vegan diets during the holiday season? Vue Weekly chatted with some vegan business proprietors to find out.
  • The latest Community Table Project features Tamara Vineberg’s latkes. Years ago, I had the chance to cook latkes with Tamara at her house!
  • If you want to treat yourself to some local products this season, be sure to enter the giveaway at Earth’s General Store before December 21, 2016.
  • Edmonton Food Tours has expanded its repertoire to include a tour of the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market and a Downtown food tour. Tours cost $115 per person.
  • Another local company also offers food tours at a lower price. Called Epicurean Adventure Tours (EAT), they offer dessert and brunch tours.
  • We headed to D’Arcys Meat Market in St. Albert last week for a taste of a newly-available breed of Wagyu-Holstein beef. What we sampled was beautifully marbled and didn’t need much more than a sprinkling of salt to bring out the flavour of the meat. I didn’t know there was such a market for such premium meat ($250+ per kilogram), but if money is no object, it might be something to try.

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Chefs Blair Lebsack and Paul Shufelt prepared the beef

  • We didn’t want to waste the trip out to St. Albert, so took advantage of the opportunity to stop by Jack’s Burger Shack. I’m a sucker for grilled cheese buns, so an order of the Hangover was a must for me, while Mack chose the Quebecois (with poutine and ranch sauce).

Jack's Burger Shack

Jack’s Burger Shack