December 17th, 2018

Food Notes for December 17, 2018

Formosa

Popcorn chicken from Formosa Bistro

  • I was fortunate to have two meals at King Noodle House in two weeks! You can never have too much Bun Bo Hue.

King Noodle

My standard at King Noodle House

December 16th, 2018

Cultivating Regulars: Partake

Having Emily has reduced the frequency of our experiences dining out. For that reason, when we do eat out, we often default to restaurants that are unfussy, where I can relax after spending the day caring for Emily. Partake fits this bill perfectly. I’ve been to the restaurant twice thus far; once in early November and a second time this week, and I enjoyed myself both times.

Opened by the folks behind Manor Café and Urban Diner, Partake has taken over the former La Favourite storefront on High Street. No trace of the bakery remains – in its place is a space with old world charm that feels worn in, and would not seem out of place on a Parisian side street. I love the interior – rounded door frames, pressed ceiling tiles, a comfortable central bar, and a mix of small tables and cozy booths. I felt comfortable immediately, at ease with the kind of establishment that seeks to cultivate regulars.

Partake

Interior

The one page food menu is French-inspired and unpretentious, with a focus on nibbles and comforting share plates. Those seeking something more experimental won’t find it here, but the familiarity is part of the attraction.

My first visit coincided with Partake’s happy hour, which runs from 4-6pm and 10pm-close from Monday-Thursday, and from 4-6pm on Friday. With the purchase of any drink, the kitchen treats customers to several complimentary snacks. It was a more generous spread than I was expecting, and included pesto-drizzled popcorn, cheese-stuffed dates, olives, and meatballs. It’s a great incentive to come in early (or late!).

Partake

Our happy hour spread

My favourite dish from that meal was the potato fondue ($10), a blend of gruyere and emmental cheeses, potato, and garlic. I loved the smooth texture with the addition of the starch; it’s an idea that I’ll steal for my own use in the future.

On my more recent visit, my friends and I shared the beef tartare ($16). Prepared tableside, the mixture was beautifully seasoned, dotted with capers, beet-barley relish, and chives. It was served with a delicious roasted garlic spread that elevated each bite.

Partake

Beef tartare

The croque mon’soubise’ ($14) will have me returning again. Featuring the amazing ham from Meuwly’s (which alone is work a trek to the meat shop) and gruyere, the toasted sandwich is served with a side of creamy soubise sauce. An onion-based butter sauce, it would probably make anything taste infinitely better, and in this case, it absolutely does.

Partake

Croque mon’soubise’

I don’t typically order dessert during meals out, but I did both times at Partake. This was primarily because they offer mini desserts that appeal to people like me who are looking for just a few bites of something sweet, as opposed to another course onto itself. Their tiny creme brulees ($3.50) were just perfect, the caramelized crust concealing a light and creamy custard underneath. Flavours change constantly, but the white chocolate mint was the favourite of the ones I’ve sampled.

Partake

Mini creme brulees

Service was a bit more attentive on my first visit, but that was a minor detail in an otherwise very pleasant duo of meals. In my opinion, Partake is a very welcome addition not only to High Street, but to the Edmonton dining scene as a whole.

Partake
12431 102 Avenue
(780) 760-8253
Monday-Thursday 4-11pm, Friday 4pm-1am, Saturday 5pm-1am, closed Sundays

December 10th, 2018

Food Notes for December 10, 2018

  • There’s a new spot for ramen that just opened on the south side called Menjiro Ramen, located at 109, 2920 Calgary Trail.
  • Via Cindy, I just learned about a new Northern Chinese restaurant called Luscious Kitchen, located at Unit 2, 9261 34 Avenue.
  • Graham reports that the family behind Parkallen Retaurant has sold the building but hopes to reopen the restaurant elsewhere.
  • Prairie Noodle is hosting a “throwback to 2015” pop-up party on December 15, 2018, where they will be offering their ramen bowls at 2015 prices.
  • The second Fox Burger pop-up is scheduled for December 17, 2018 at Salz. Reservations are required.
  • The Tourtiere Baking Contest returns to Deep Freeze on January 13, 2019. Prizes will be awarded to the top three tourtieres! The deadline to enter is January 10.
  • Famoso is currently participating in a campaign for Mealshare – with every jar of Campania Tomato Sauce sold until December 31, 2018, meals will be provided to youth in Edmonton.
  • I wasn’t aware that The Hallway Cafe (located in City Hall) also has a suspended coffee/pay-it-forward program similar to The Nook Cafe!
  • A fire at Zar Zor restaurant in the north side is under investigation.
  • Graham submitted a rave review for Kanu.
  • Leduc was hoping for more from Wilfred’s.
  • Sharman recapped the latest Swine and Dine dinner prepared by Drift at the Shamrock Curling Club (their home over the winter).
  • Phil is the host of a new CBC web series called Fast Food that focuses on what chefs like to cook at home. The first episode features Chef Steven Brochu of Chartier.
  • A new kitchen facility has opened at NorQuest College to accommodate a Foundations of Cooking program. The centre will also host one-day cooking classes that are open to the public.
  • We’ve seen restaurants in the #yegfood scene move away from policies that eliminated tips – Grub Street has a breakdown of why this has been the trend in the US.
  • Trusted Freshness is a growing Edmonton-based vegetable greenhouse that operates on a franchising model.
  • We aren’t able to pop into King Noodle House as often as we used to, but it means we appreciate the Bun Bo Hue even more when we do make it in!

King Noodle House

Start ‘em young…

December 6th, 2018

Vegetarian Vietnamese Cuisine: An Chay

After my coworker introduced me to Pho Tau Bay years ago, that was it. I had a hard time ordering pho at any other local restaurants, as I always found myself comparing it to my beloved Tau Bay (Pho Hoan Pasteur is the one exception; it was also recommended by my coworker to get us through the weeks when Tau Bay is closed). I made an exception to this rule at lunch with Linda (and Emily!) last week at An Chay.

An Chay is part of the recent wave of vegetarian/plant-based restaurants that have opened in Edmonton over the last two years. Within that niche, An Chay serves up meat-free Vietnamese cuisine; much of An Chay’s one page noodle and rice-based menu will look familiar to diners, minus the meat.

An Chay took over the space previously occupied by Pitaghetti on Jasper Avenue and 112 Street. I’m not certain if much has changed – the décor is pretty minimal – but the best feature of the room by far are the windows that line two sides of the restaurant. On that day, the natural light made it a very pleasant place to have lunch.

An Chay

Interior

Linda had already tried several dishes on the menu, and recommended we share the shredded tofu rolls ($9). These fresh rice rolls were expertly packed with shredded bean curd, lettuce, mint, bean sprouts, pickled daikon, and carrots. While I enjoyed the texture (and Emily liked munching on the tofu), they were a bit plain for my taste, even with the vinaigrette for dipping.

An Chay

Shredded tofu rolls

The pho ($15), on the other hand, had flavour to spare. The broth, laced with heady five spice, had a nice hint of sweetness. There was also a great variety of vegetables included, from baby bok choy, to enoki mushrooms, and lotus root. I would have preferred more tofu, however, especially since it was essentially replacing the typical meat protein found in pho. While I did really enjoy the soup, I still have a hard time recognizing it as “pho”; I likely would never crave it in the same way as a hearty bowl of noodles with beef.

An Chay

Pho

That said, service was efficient, and my experience overall was very positive (they had a couple of high chairs and a change table, making it a great baby-friendly option for parents). So although my go-to restaurants for pho have not changed, it’s likely I’ll be back to An Chay in the future to sample more of their Vietnamese fare.

An Chay
11203 Jasper Avenue
(780) 752-2203
Monday, Wednesday-Friday 11am-8pm, Saturday-Sunday 12-8pm, closed Tuesdays

December 3rd, 2018

Food Notes for December 3, 2018

  • More details have emerged for Al Centro, the Roman-style pizza bar from the folks behind Da Capo. Located at 9888 Jasper Avenue, they will be selling pizza by-the-slice and work to develop the aperetivo culture in Edmonton (think Italian happy hour). They’ve launched a crowd-funding campaign with the hopes that the community can help them across the finish line.
  • An H-Mart is finally set to open in Edmonton – there were rumours of one opening on Calgary Trail in the space that Whole Foods was to occupy, but that hasn’t come to pass yet. It seems one can now be expected in spring 2019 in the former Sobeys location in College Plaza.
  • Hurrah – Bloom Cookie’s brick and mortar location is now open! Find them at 10350 124 Street.
  • The Tea Girl will be closing its doors on December 29, 2018, but will continue to sell its teas online.
  • Characters has been sold and will close after December 31, 2018.
  • Cafe Bicyclette has one of the most picturesque winter patios in the city. They’re kicking off the season with a party and Christmas Bazaar on December 7, 2018.
  • The next Northern Bites experience is Italian inspired, which includes a lesson on how to make chicken Parmesan at Pasta Pantry. Tickets to the January 28, 2019 event are $70.
  • Vue featured a story about how Lui-Chi’s permanent location came to be after running as a mobile espresso cart for a year.
  • The Edmonton AM Snackchecker score tally has been updated. The brownie from Sugared and Spiced still reins supreme.
  • Twyla posted a rave review for Formosa Bistro’s Taiwanese cuisine.
  • Baijiu is the focus of Scott Lingley’s last review for Vue (the paper announced it was ceasing publication at the end of November).
  • Crystal sees some room for improvement at Town Square Brewing.
  • Lydia found the food at Loft Thai Eatery to be overly sweet.
  • The Journal reviewed the long-standing Ukrainian restaurant Uncle Ed’s in Beverly.
  • Linda’s launched her second year of Christmas food giveaways, with some amazing prizes for 24 days in December.
  • Perfect for the chocolate-lover in your life, Jacek is offering a chocolate subscription made up of 5 shipments throughout 2019. The $250 gift is only available until December 8, 2018.
  • Whimsical Cupcakes provided the set of a Christmas movie about a bakery filmed in Edmonton earlier this year.
  • There’s a new farmers’ market in town – the Ottewell Artisan Farmers’ Market started in early November. It operates year-round on Thursdays from 4-7pm.at 7211 96A Avenue.
  • The Alberta Government is amending the Occupational Health and Safety Code on January 1, 2019 to ensure servers and bartending staff won’t have to wear unsafe footwear (read: high heels).
  • Buffets never photograph well, but I enjoyed the dinner buffet at Namaste India’s Chinatown location. The price also can’t be beat – they’re currently offering a 15% discount on their lunch (regular $15) and dinner (regular $20) prices.

Untitled

My first helping at Namaste India

  • Since having Emily, Mack and I haven’t been to Route 99 as often. So in some ways having a baby has been good for our health.

Untitled

Our Route 99 usual

November 26th, 2018

Food Notes for November 26, 2018

  • The first ever Winter Whyte Light Up on December 1, 2018 from 4-6pm means that the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market will be open for extended hours.
  • Two Sergeants, a brewery that relocated from Fort Saskatchewan to Edmonton, opened over the weekend at 11817 105 Avenue.
  • A new Indian restaurant, Coriander Cuisine, is now open in McKernan at 11214 76 Avenue.
  • Nut roaster Mezos Roastery has a brand new second location in Edmonton City Centre next to Mr. Pretzel on the second floor.
  • Solstice is now offering lunch through Skip the Dishes. With the continued rise of food delivery services, it will be interesting to see if more dinner-only restaurants opt for this.
  • A Delicious Pho is coming soon to Oxford Tower (10025 102A Avenue).
  • Cacao 70 Eatery’s location on Whyte is hosting a grand opening on December 1, 2018. They’ll be serving up $1 hot chocolates.
  • CBC interviewed Sabeeh Farooqui, the man behind YEGHalal, a great #yegfood resource.
  • The Dive Bar, an old-style tavern, had an increase in patrons during the Grey Cup Festival.
  • Remedy Cafe was in the news this week for posting a “zero tolerance for panhandling” sign on its Downtown location.
  • Cibo Bistro co-owner Lisa Caputo writes that Alberta should ban mandatory high heels for servers in restaurants.
  • Graham will be reviewing plant-based restaurants over the next three weeks. First up: a positive meal at Die Pie.
  • Crystal shared her recent experience at Prairie Noodle Shop.
  • Twyla espoused her love for Cibo Bistro.
  • Those hoping to stock their freezers with Fuge Meat sausages should head over to Otto on November 27, 2018 for a flash sale.
  • Vue covered a local company called Hope Innovations has launched a crowdfunding campaign for their indoor “plug and play” garden.

November 25th, 2018

Ready, Set, Brunch: OEB

I’ve often bemoaned the lack of brunch culture in Edmonton, making the joke that Mack and I would be more likely to drive to Calgary to enjoy this meal. While there are a handful of local restaurants that are known for their brunch service (Hathaway’s Diner and Hap’s come to mind) that number multiplies by several factors when we look to our southern neighbour. So in some ways, given this current vacuum, it’s no surprise that Calgary brunch staple OEB decided to expand to Edmonton.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

OEB in the Kelly Ramsey

OEB is on a mission. Now with a trio of locations in Calgary, they’re not only setting up shop in Edmonton (with a second branch opening next fall on 124 Street in the former North 53 space), but in Vancouver and Scottsdale, Arizona, too. Mack and I dined at OEB’s first restaurant in Calgary back in 2010 when it was still known as Over Easy Breakfast, and though the menu in its current iteration is still daunting, the aesthetics of OEB has changed to embrace a more modern and sleek design. At the end of October, Mack, Emily, and I were invited to preview the first Edmonton location of OEB in the Kelly Ramsey Building on Rice Howard Way.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Window seats

It’s really great to have such an eye-catching tenant on street level. Although OEB prides itself on unique interiors in each of its storefronts, it’s apparent their spaces make the most of natural light, bright accent colours, and egg-shaped decorations. The Kelly Ramsey shop features an open kitchen and pantry, so it feels even more welcoming. It’s fun without being too kitschy, and overall makes it a very pleasant place to dine. The only drawback, perhaps, is that there are few sound dampening measures, so the room can get a bit loud.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Interior

To say there is something for everyone on the OEB menu is a bit of an understatement, as there are over 50 items to choose from. To set them apart, OEB not only has an extensive breakfast poutine selection, but also includes some unusual brunch ingredients like rabbit, lamb, duck confit, black truffles, and caviar. On that initial visit and a follow-up trip, I couldn’t resist ordering breakfast poutines both times. They didn’t disappoint.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Ehhh Itza Meatball breakfast poutine

Most poutines are made up of a base of herbed potatoes (half of which could be substituted with spinach if so desired), poached eggs, and hollandaise, then dressed up with a variety of proteins – from the more traditional bacon and cheese curds to the more refined seared scallops and lox.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Chasing Chickens breakfast poutine

Mack and I shared the Ehhh Itza Meatball ($18) and Chasing Chickens ($17) at the preview. Of the two, the pulled chicken was the better cooked protein, easier to eat along with the potatoes and curds. The Spolumbo’s chorizo meatballs were on the dry side, so digging in to create a complete bite of all of the bowl’s components was a challenge. That said, the eggs were poached to yolky perfection (we were advised by the server to request a medium doneness; apparently at OEB, soft poached means a barely cooked egg with a transparent white), and the hollandaise was delicious.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Our spread

Emily was also treated to her very own kids meal (her first!). She enjoyed nibbling on the toast and scrambled eggs. Although OEB is equipped with a couple of high chairs, curiously, neither of the washrooms had a change table.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Emily, content

When I returned for lunch a few weeks later, I ordered their signature Soul in a Bowl ($17), topped with slow-cooked bacon lardons. Again, the medium poached eggs were consistent with my previous visit, and the potatoes were as crispy as I remembered (Emily enjoyed them, too!). And though I appreciated the generous hand that dealt the bacon, because of how salty they were, less may have been more in this case.

OEB

Soul in a Bowl breakfast poutine

At the preview, service (as expected) was superb. On my return visit however, it was equally outstanding. I was particularly impressed with the small details – a shift change had occurred, but the second server didn’t miss a beat, and had already been informed that I was drinking decaf coffee which she topped up without having to clarify.

OEB’s entry into the Edmonton brunch market has already made quite the splash; lineups are commonplace on the weekend. OEB does use a waitlist app to help diners manage their time, but the best advice may be to try and avoid peak times if possible – try for an early or late brunch on weekends, or better yet, check it out on a weekday if able. I know I’m already eyeing up OEB as a place to catch-up with visiting relatives over the holidays.

Thanks again to Bonafide Media for the invitation to the preview!

OEB
10174 100A Street (in the Kelly Ramsey Building/Enbridge Centre)
(587) 520-0936
Monday-Friday 7am-2:45pm, Saturday-Sunday 8am-2:45pm

November 19th, 2018

Food Notes for November 19, 2018

  • Inspired by the fruit and veggie sales hosted by Food4Good in the west end, the All Saints Cathedral located at 10035 103 Street has started its own discounted produce sale (an article about the market’s origins appear in The Messenger). The Manna Market takes place weekly on Wednesdays from 2-5pm – follow them on Twitter for updates.
  • Colleen Heidecker of Colleen’s Chocolates will be leading wine and chocolate pairing sessions via Inspire YEG on November 29 and December 12, 2018 at Rebel Food and Drink. Tickets are $100.
  • The next Swine & Dine event on November 29, 2018 will be hosted by Drift at their winter location, the Shamrock Curling Club. Tickets for the 4-course menu are $45.
  • Meat Street Pies is returning to the City Market at City Hall to lead several gingerbread house workshops before Christmas. Kits are priced at $27 and dates include December 1, 8, and 15, 2018.
  • Speaking of gingerbread houses, if building one isn’t up your alley, consider checking out the masterpieces created by the Hotel Macdonald and Duchess (in the shape of Hogwarts).
  • The second annual Northern Lands Prairie Collective Holiday Market runs December 2, 2018 at the Prairie Gardens & Adventure Farm. In addition to local food vendors (including RGE RD), guests can tour a greenhouse, taste spirits, and enjoy roasted chestnuts.
  • Lui-Chi’s Coffee has opened its storefront cafe on the main floor of the Phipps-Mckinnon Building at 10020 101A Avenue. They’re known for their whiskey barrel aged coffee; they also serve up Arno’s French Pastry.
  • A second location of nut purveyor Mezos Roastery will be opening at Edmonton City Centre.
  • Hopscotch, an Ontario-based chain of Freshii-type quick-serve restaurants, is opening several Edmonton locations, starting with an outlet at West Edmonton Mall.
  • Bloom Cookie Company had to delay the opening of their 124 Street bakery – follow them on Twitter for the latest updates.
  • The Hotel Macdonald has released their annual festive season brochure, with information about their popular teas and buffets.
  • Vue Weekly announced that it will cease operations at the end of November. Like many other local writers, I also previously contributed to Vue, and have fond memories of the Dish section. It’s unfortunate, but hopefully food blogs and other media outlets that cover food can continue in its wake.
  • The New York Bagel Cafe had to fend off some bad press this week after a customer posted a receipt that she had been charged $3.50 for lemon water.
  • The contestants on The Great Canadian Baking Show shared their favourite local bakeries – all three Edmonton-area bakers chose Duchess.
  • Sharon posted about her meal at a new fried chicken joint in the southside, Alberta Fried Chicken (1260 25 Avenue).
  • Graham raved about the food served at Blowers & Grafton.
  • The Journal reviewed the plant-based offerings of Kanu.
  • Crystal wrote a pair of posts about Wilfred’s and Red Star Pub.
  • Vue Weekly paid Nudoru a visit.
  • Like Love Pizza, Seoul Fried Chicken will be starting its own delivery service after exhausting all other options.
  • Linda shared this great piece in Thrillist about the unintended consequences of elevating some small restaurants to regional or national fame.
  • It’s a bit dangerous having Rostizado just down the street from us – and their delicious La Mision burritos just a few clicks away for take-out. Packed with meat, beans, and cheese, they’re a great deal at $12.50, via Foodora.

Rostizado

Chicken burritos from Rostizado

November 12th, 2018

Food Notes for November 12, 2018

  • The second annual Too Many Cooks collaboration dinner is scheduled for December 2, 2018. Proceeds will go towards the Bissell Centre’s community kitchen. Tickets for the 12-course drink paired dinner are $200, and features a dozen different chefs from some of the city’s best restaurants, including Baijiu, Biera, RGE RD, and XIX Nineteen.
  • Bloom, known for their vegan cookies sold at a number of farmers’ markets in the city, are finally ready to open their storefront bakery! Find them at 10350 124 Street. Although the official opening date is November 20, their soft opening is taking place on November 17, 2018 from 12-5pm. November 15, 2018 update: unfortunately, Bloom has had to delay their opening.
  • Liane has more information about the new north side location of Louisiana Purchase that opened up earlier this fall.
  • Vue shares the story behind OEB’s first location in Edmonton.
  • Twyla enjoyed the steaks at DOSC but expected better from the rest of the menu.
  • Graham was hoping for more from Buok Fresh Korean Kitchen.
  • Crystal wasn’t wowed by the vegan buns from Cinnaholic.
  • Also from Crystal, she recapped the most recent “gourmai dumpling pop-up” hosted by MasterChef Canada finalist Mai Nguyen.
  • Congratulations to Russell Bird (from Sherwood Park) who placed third in the ribs category at the World Food Championships!
  • Twyla has a list of all of the locations where you can purchase her biography of Gail Hall titled Maps, Markets, and Matzo Ball Soup.
  • If you’re looking for Christmas gift ideas, Linda has a great one – a do-it-yourself beer advent calendar.
  • Aarde, advertising its vegetable-forward cuisine with Dutch influences, opened last week at 10184 104 Street. Leduc previewed what to expect.

Untitled

Aarde interior

  • Mack and I were fortunate to spend part of last week in Kananaskis. On the way down, we stopped for lunch at one of our favourite places – the Simmons Building in Calgary. We grabbed some sandwiches from Sidewalk Citizen, where I am never disappointed.

Sidewalk Citizen

Roasted chicken salad sandwich from Sidewalk Citizen

November 5th, 2018

Food Notes for November 5, 2018

  • Table Top Cafe is hosting its first Boardgame Brunch, catered by Preserve Food Truck, on November 10, 2018. Tickets start at $40 and include brunch, mimosas, and game play costs.
  • The Cacao 70 Eatery is now open in Old Strathcona, at 10430 82 Avenue. It joins the Cacao 70 Sweet House that is already open in Ice District.
  • The re-opening of the relocated, expanded Downtown Diner in Fort Saskatchewan has hit a snag – they’ve moved the expected date to spring 2019.
  • Hillaby’s, the housewares store located in The Enjoy Centre, is closing by the end of 2018.
  • I suppose it was inevitable for cannabis-related food businesses to crop up – one of the first is Much Munch, offering late night sweet and savoury snack deliveries in Edmonton.
  • Avenue has a couple of hot dog recommendations just in time for the Grey Cup: from Arcadia, Delux Burger Bar, and Pub 1905.
  • The Journal reviewed the supper club Halley’s located in West Edmonton Mall.
  • Stephanie shared her two recent brunches at OEB.
  • Crystal found the tasting experience at Evoolution to be educational and of good value.
  • An Edmonton-area contestant, Megan Stasiewich, has reached the finale of The Great Canadian Baking Show.
  • Second Cup held an internal national latte art championship in October, and So Young Min of Edmonton won the top prize. She works at the Second Cup kiosk at the Terwillegar Rec Centre.
  • Gyu-Kaku is opening in one of the bays made up by the former Sobey’s on 104 Street and Jasper Avenue. Gyu-Kaku is a Japanese BBQ chain with locations across the U.S. and Canada (including Calgary).

Gyu-Kaku

Gyu-Kaku coming soon

  • I finally had the chance to visit Meuwly’s on 124 Street. As expected, they had a great selection of cured meats, but they also had a good variety of other artisan products. The most interesting was their house-made hand cream (the key ingredient being pork lard) – stocking stuffer, anyone?

Meuwly's

Meuwly’s

  • I met up with a friend at Partake. It is an utterly charming space that reminded us both of quaint European bars we’ve visited on our travels. The room was packed when we arrived – the server explained that the restaurant is known for their complimentary bar snacks served up during happy hour (4-6pm and 10pm-late). It was indeed a pretty generous spread: pesto-drizzled popcorn, cheese-stuffed dates, olives, and meatballs. We shared a few small plates, but I’ll definitely be back to try more.

Partake

Happy hour spread at Partake