Tuesday, January 1st, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Epicureous in Edmonton: 2012 in Review

I wish we could say 2012 was the year City Council declared that having access to locally-grown food was important enough to protect, but alas, that was not the case. In November, Council voted to accept the toothless, vague Fresh, the Food and Agriculture Strategy that certainly did not live up to its name. By doing so, although some good was accomplished (including a directive to set up an Edmonton Food Council), Fresh did not make preserving the city’s peripheral agricultural land a priority.

Farming in the City

Farm stand at Riverbend Gardens

This was in spite of the fact that the appetite and interest in local food continues to grow. The 124 Street Grand Market was a huge hit, while the number of restaurants and vendors highlighting area producers, like Three Boars and Drift, are gaining huge followings.

Here are some other notable food happenings in 2012:

  • It was a big year for local establishments on the small screen, when Food Network rolled into town. You Gotta Eat Here profiled Tres Carnales, Highlands Kitchen and The Sugarbowl, while Eat St. shot features on Drift, Molly’s Eats and The Act Out & About.
  • It was great to be a chocoholic in Edmonton: this year saw Jacek and Cococo Chocolatiers open boutiques, we saw the rebirth of Kerstin’s Chocolates, and the debut of two small-batch lines of chocolate, The Violet Chocolate Company and The Jones Chocolate Company.
  • I have to wonder if 2012 saw the ramifications of Corso 32’s runaway success, with a seeming renaissance of Italian eateries. Cafe Amore may have opened in the fall of 2011, but it was one of the most talked about restaurants this year. Cibo Bistro gained a following of its own since it entered the scene in late 2011. Most recently, St. Albert-based Nello’s added a second location in Edmonton with Antonil’s, and the Italian Centre added Massimo’s Cucina Italiana to its holdings. The Century Hospitality Group also jumped in the fray with the announcement of its forthcoming Parlour Italian Kitchen & Bar.
  • 124 Street became a district of dining destinations with many notable openings this year, including a second location of The Bothy, The Makk on 124, Canteen, and the announcement of Rge Rd, coming in spring 2013.
  • Nineteen, Chef Andrew Fung’s upscale addition to the city’s outer ring, has perhaps ushered in an era where fine dining and suburbia are not mutually exclusive.
  • The success of Sloppy Hogs Roed Hus and Smokehouse BBQ (the tragedy of the fire at their Edmonton location notwithstanding) speaks to the local appetite for southern barbecue.
  • Frozen yogurt seemed poised to take over the city, with the touchdown of Pinkberry at last, and the expansion of Tutti Frutti to both WEM and Southgate. 
  • It wasn’t all positive though: we lost two local favourites this year – Highlands Kitchen shuttered in the fall, while The Blue Pear announced their last meal would be served in December.
  • With the transformation of The Bank to Public House and Iron Horse to MKT, it was a signal that pubs were deemed to be more versatile and lucrative than nightclubs. We’ve still yet to see a true gastropub land in Edmonton though.
  • Along the same lines, beer markets are on the rise, with the opening of MKT and The Underground Tap and Grill this year, and Craft Beer Market in 2013.

We can only guess what 2013 will bring – looking forward to it!

You can take a look at my previous year in review posts here.