January 24th, 2018

Have Fun with Your Food: Rebel Food and Drink

Every neighbourhood should have a go-to spot, a place for residents to gather. Piccolino was this focal point for many in Parkview and adjacent Crestwood, but when it was announced it would be replaced by a new Century Hospitality property, I’m sure some were wondering whether it could still be that place.

Rebel Food and Drink opened in mid-December just in time for the holiday rush. Mack and I had the chance to visit the restaurant last Thursday night. Walking in, we weren’t expecting quite the packed house that greeted us. All of the tables were full, with parties ranging from young families to older couples. We took up a pair of empty seats at the bar next to several solo diners, one of whom was a regular. Chef Tony Le indicated that the reception from residents has been very positive, even at this early stage.

I can’t speak to the interior changes as I had never set foot in Piccolino, but we were told the changes were drastic, with the installation of a bar and an expansion of the dining room. A second expansion will take place later this year when the travel agency next door relocates. The interior is cozy with dark accents, lined with a combination of booths and tables. I appreciated the open sightlines, which further inspires the feeling of community in the space.

The menu, as with all Century Hospitality locations, is broad and meant to appeal to a wide range of tastes. While those looking for more traditional dinner selections will be satisfied with classics like pot roast, grilled chicken, and steak and potatoes, I liked the playfulness with other choices like their Hangry Man TV Dinner (meatloaf, tater tots, roasted corn, buttered peas), a breakfast plate dubbed the “most important meal of the day” with eggs, toast, bacon, sausage, and tater tots, and a taco version of chicken and waffles. Mack is always up for having breakfast for dinner, so ordered the breakfast pizza ($22), while I chose the Rebel chz burger ($17).

Service was great during our visit; our bartender/server was a consistent and pleasant presence. Similarly, the kitchen was on top of everything that night, and despite the full house, the food kept flowing. We didn’t have to wait long for our plates.

Mack’s pizza (made with the same Italian "double zero" flour found in Parlour’s crusts) was appealing right from the start, studded with crispy prosciutto, crumbled sausage, tater tots, and of course, a sunny side up egg. It was a winner in his books, the thin but hearty crust holding up to the combination of toppings.

Rebel Food and Drink

Breakfast pizza

My house burger, featuring two beef patties, cheddar, caramelized onions, and "all the groceries" was a solid take on a classic. The beef was well seasoned, and I enjoyed the slight sweetness imparted by the brioche bun. The side of fries was also nicely cooked, crispy and lightly salted.

Rebel Food and Drink

Rebel chz burger

Tony generously treated us to dessert, knowing we were taken with the confetti cake. A few had passed by our seats throughout the night, drawing the attention of the room with an eye-catching sparkler. Continuing with the playful theme found in the mains, the cake is all about nostalgia – the four-layer cake is not only dressed in vanilla buttercream and sprinkles, but comes with a healthy dusting of Fruit Loops. It was sweet, indulgent, and everything your five year old self would want in a dessert.

Rebel Food and Drink

Confetti cake

The brunch menu looks equally appealing (the hangover club has Mack’s name all over it), and yes, you can have that same confetti cake for breakfast, served with a glass of milk. Rebel Food and Drink is a fun addition to the restaurant scene, and hopefully one the neighbours will continue to embrace as a place to meet.

Rebel Food and Drink
9112 142 Street
(780) 752-7325
Monday-Sunday 11am-late (no minors after 9pm)

January 22nd, 2018

Food Notes for January 22, 2018

Rooster Cafe

Everything bagel from Rooster Cafe & Kitchen

  • I finally picked up my Alberta BoostR reward from supporting a crowdfunding campaign initiated by Sugared & Spiced last year to open their storefront. It was a hard job eating all of those cookies, but someone had to do it (the Girls’ Night In cookie is still my favourite).

Sugared & Spiced

A dozen cookies from Sugared & Spiced

  • Mack and I have been meaning to try the sandwich side of the menu at Zwick’s Pretzels for some time, and finally had the chance to do so over the weekend. The bacon & egg sandwich (with house-cured back bacon and of course, a house-made pretzel bun) was everything I was hoping for and more.

Zwick's Pretzels

Bacon & egg sandwich at Zwick’s Pretzels

January 21st, 2018

Polarizing Experiences: Vintage Fork at the Rutherford House

Back in 2013, the Arbour Restaurant in the Rutherford House shut down due to staffing and financial issues. It was a loss to the local food scene to be sure – their afternoon tea (and legendary raspberry butter) was a favourite of many, but it was also unfortunate for the provincial historic site and the home of the first Premier of Alberta to be without a culinary anchor.

In October of last year, Vintage Fork took up the Arbour Restaurant’s mantle. Open during the day, they introduced a slightly different model – instead of the usual a la carte options, Vintage Fork offers up set multi-course menus for lunch. But it was learning that they would also be serving up afternoon tea that I was most excited about.

Two friends and I made a reservation for their first afternoon tea service in mid-November (offered on weekends between 3-5pm). At $34.99 per person, it’s one of the more reasonably priced afternoon teas available in the city (Cally’s Teas would be the most comparable). When we arrived, we found one other party of three seated in the sunroom. We were told word about their afternoon tea was still trickling out; we were just the third group to be served that day.

The furniture and arrangement of the room, as one would expect in a historically designated site, remained similar to its prior occupant. However, instead of the more traditional floral tablecloths, Vintage Fork has opted for butcher paper coverings, even offering guests pencil crayons to doodle during their meal if desired.

Vintage Fork

Sunroom interior

We were provided a selection of a dozen loose teas to choose from (jars are kept on the mantle in the adjacent room for those hoping to rely on their nose to help them narrow their pick). The servers may want to brush up on the tea options however; when asked about some of the different blends, they weren’t able to provide any information about the teas. On the positive end of the service front, when my friend had called to make the reservation, she had requested that any undercooked meats or seafood be left off our plates. Thankfully, they had this duly noted, and substituted beef for the smoked salmon normally provided.

No doubt, the presentation of the three-tier tray was a showstopper. Not only was the kitchen very generous with the serving portions, but everything we sampled was delicious. Among the items served were chicken skewers, braised beef, lemon meringue tarts, and croissants.

Vintage Fork

Vintage Fork tray, take one

My favourite of all the treats were the scones. Fans of the Arbour Room’s raspberry butter will be disappointed to know that Vintage Fork serves the more traditional cream and jam, but these were excellent companions to the flaky, buttery scones.

We all left that day with intentions of returning again because we were so impressed. For me, this meant a visit two weeks later with Mack and Grandma Male just before Christmas.

Vintage Fork

Lovely china

Understanding that they were still in the early stages of developing their tea service, I didn’t expect that everything from my first meal would be replicated, but I also didn’t anticipate an experience that took two steps back.

For starters, when I made the reservation, I had asked for a similar substitution regarding undercooked meats and seafood that my friend had requested. But this wasn’t noted anywhere, so smoked salmon ended up being among the savoury bites served. I simply gave my portion to Mack, but given their attention to detail on the previous occasion, I was disappointed they couldn’t follow through again.

It was also very obvious that the kitchen scaled back their portions, including (sadly for me) much smaller scones. The croissants, which the servers had highlighted on our first visit as scratch-made and had showcased the skill of the pastry chef, had also been dropped.

Vintage Fork

Vintage Fork tray, take two

Perhaps most frustrating was the poor service we received after being seated. We had to request cutlery after our tea tray was delivered, and even then, no forks were provided (only butter knives). Staff only intermittently checked on us, even though we were one of just two groups being served that afternoon. To pay the bill, we had to physically notify the staff in the next room that we wanted to settle the cheque, a task that seemed like a burden for our server.

Given my two experiences were so different, it’s hard to reconcile them to determine what a future visit would entail. In all honesty, I will say that based on my second trip, I am hesitant to return again. But I do hope that with time, Vintage Fork will find their footing and find a happy medium where food and service expectations can be met on a consistent basis.

Vintage Fork (in the Rutherford House)
11153 Saskatchewan Drive
(780) 427-4113
Tuesday –Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday-Sunday 9am-5pm, closed Mondays

January 18th, 2018

Northlands Food Lab: Lemon Cheese

Northlands’ Food Lab workshops at FarmFair International (an agricultural showcase which runs every November) are one of the best hands-on cooking class deals in Edmonton. They’re free with the price of FarmFair admission, which is just $5! I only signed up for one this year, but one could easily sign up for multiple workshops to stretch their dollar value even more. I participated in one of the first Food Labs organized back in 2015.

Su and I were curious about the idea of “lemon cheese”, so we registered for one of the workshops that took place on a Saturday afternoon. Although the class was full on paper, quite a few participants didn’t show, so each attendee ended up with their own station (and a product portion that was generous enough to feed a family of four).

Lemon Cheese Food Lab

Su at her station

The instructor was one that we were both very familiar with due to our prior involvement with Eat Alberta. Chef Allan Roote from NAIT was one of our faithful cheese instructors for several conferences. However, neither Su or I had experienced his instruction first hand.

Lemon Cheese Food Lab

Chef Roote addresses the group

The lemon cheese recipe we were directed to make was similar to a ricotta; it would serve well as an entertaining staple alongside crackers and crudités. As Su and I were both new to cheesemaking, we were particularly grateful this recipe was ideal for beginners – the instructions and techniques were straightforward and would be easy to replicate at home. Chef Roote was also a great teacher, patiently answering questions and offering guidance to participants as he checked in on each station.

Lemon Cheese Food Lab

Separating the milk and curds

One tip – it was recommended that a metal spoon be used to stir together the milk base; as wooden spoons are porous, any flavours absorbed into the wood would be imparted into the final product. We also sped up the process described below considerably – as the entire workshop was about an hour long, we did not have time to leave the mixture undisturbed for 3-4 hours, or to drain the curd for 12 hours before adding the seasonings. Although I did let the cheese rest overnight in the fridge before sampling it, the final product didn’t seem to be hampered by the shortcuts we took.

Lemon Cheese Food Lab

Draining the curd

The light, spreadable cheese we ended up with kept in the fridge for a week. We enjoyed it with crackers and a sprinkling of fleur de sel, though I also heard it was pretty tasty paired with cinnamon raisin toast, too.

Lemon Cheese

3L 3.25% milk
1L heavy cream
150-400mL lemon juice (freshly squeezed and strained) or 30g citric acid or acid of your choice
zested and finely chopped lemon rind (optional)
sea salt (to taste)

  1. Pour the milk and cream into a stainless steel pot and heat to 100F (no higher).
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and add the lemon juice. Stir the milk slowly until the milk and cream mixture starts to curdle and separate.
  3. Leave the milk mixture undisturbed at room temperature for 3-4 hours.
  4. Drain the curd into a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Let the curd drain in the cooler for 12 hours.
  5. Put the drained curds into a large stainless steel bowl and add the lemon zest. Season with salt to taste. Be careful not to touch the cheese with your hands as this will speed up the deterioration process of the cheese.
  6. Press the cheese into a mold. Top the cheese with a 2kg weight. Pres the cheese overnight under refrigeration to expel any excess whey.
  7. Unmold the cheese and use within the next 4-5 days.

While I haven’t yet had a chance to replicate lemon cheese again, it is a recipe I can see myself making for company or for gifts. Kudos to Northlands and NAIT for putting together such a great and value-oriented learning opportunity!

January 15th, 2018

Food Notes for January 15, 2018

  • A reminder that Chinatown Dining Week kicks off January 20 and runs until January 28, 2018. 5 restaurants are offering 2-course menus for just $15.
  • Prairie Noodle Shop is hosting a Taste Alberta dinner on January 21, 2018 featuring local ingredients. Tickets are $70 plus tax.
  • The first Dining with Friends event of the year, organized by the Friends of the Royal Alberta Museum Society, will be taking place at Wheat Garden Bazaar on January 25, 2018. Limited tickets are available for $37.
  • Those interested to learn about how to grow our own microgreens and sprouts may want to consider attending a workshop by Wild Green Garden Consulting on January 25, 2018. Tickets are $35.
  • Tickets are already available for Ice on Whyte’s 4th annual Whiskey Stew Off on February 4, 2018 – taste 4 versions and vote for your favourite at El Cortez. Tickets are $8.
  • Always great to see when farmers’ market vendors expand to brick and mortar locations – congratulations to Golomein on their grand opening at 2976 Ellwood Drive SW today.
  • Let’s Grill Sushi and Izakaya is now open downtown at 10709 Jasper Avenue.
  • Splash Poke is expanding to the south side, with a second location in the works on Calgary Trail near Whitemud Drive.
  • Graham enjoyed his savoury dishes at Pip, but was disappointed with dessert.
  • Vue Weekly had a positive experience at An Chay.
  • Linda puts the spotlight on a delightful family-run eatery called El Fogon (I also love their arepas!).
  • Twyla was happy with her visit to London Local.
  • The Journal was hoping the food would match the excellent decor of Holy Roller.
  • Jonny checked out Hanjan for dessert.
  • Linda partnered with The Rec Room to promote their Make My Donut contest – contribute your doughnut creation for your treat’s chance to be featured at one of their two locations.
  • It’s a little early to plan for summer, but I couldn’t resist linking to these too-cute t-shirts available at Tix on the Square featuring Edmonton’s unofficial culinary mascot – green onion cakes.
  • NAIT has announced that Chef Rod Butters of Kelowna will be the 10th Hokanson Chef in Residence, and will be sharing his expertise with culinary program students in March.
  • This week’s Monacle’s Menu podcast mentions Edmonton’s online edible food map.
  • Culinare Magazine offers up 8 food and drink trends for 2018.
  • It looks like a new restaurant will be trying their hand at turning over a space that has proven difficult – look for Drunken Ox/Sober Cat to open some time at the corner of 104 Street and 102 Avenue.

Drunken Ox / Sober Cat Coming Soon

Drunken Ox/Sober Cat

  • District Cafe debuted a new dinner menu in December featuring sourdough-based pizzas. I met up with Su last week to try one, and can report back that it was delicious! The sausage pizza wasn’t my first choice (they were out of pepperoni and mushroom), but after tasting it, it might just become my favourite – I loved the crumbled Salz bratwurst on top of the chewy, tangy crust.

District Cafe

Sausage pizza at District

  • It’s been some time since I’ve been to Cafe Amore, so I couldn’t think of a better place to have my last work lunch of the year.

Cafe Amore

My usual order of truffle chicken pasta at Cafe Amore

  • The Vatican City burger from Burger’s Priest is our go-to when we’re looking for something gluttonous (they use two grilled cheese sandwiches in place of a usual burger bun). It always hits the spot.

Burger's Priest

Vatican City from Burger’s Priest

    January 12th, 2018

    Introducing Chinatown Dining Week: January 20-28, 2018

    Back in the summer, I was a part of a group of volunteers who piloted a series of free walking tours in Edmonton’s Chinatown. The tours covered the history of why the city has two Chinatowns, and included visits inside cultural institutions and retail businesses.

    Edmonton Chinatown Tour

    At the Harbin Gate

    We didn’t expect the overwhelming response we received, averaging about 40 participants each tour. It was interesting to see so many Edmontonians join us who shared that they frequently passed through Chinatown, but wanted to learn more so they would have a reason to stay and explore the neighbourhood.

    Edmonton Chinatown Tour

    Overlooking Chinatown South

    For some of the attendees, the highlights were the culinary stops: we had a peek behind the scenes of Ying Fat, which specializes in soy products; a taste of sweet treats at Ruby Bakery; and an introduction to grocer Kim Fat. Food can be such a great gateway into new cultures or places, and this was definitely the case with our tours. Many people asked us for restaurant recommendations afterwards so they could make the most of their time in Chinatown.

    Edmonton Chinatown Tour

    Inside Kim Fat with owner Phong Luu

    While we chose to put the tours on hiatus over the fall and winter months, we did want to continue the momentum somehow, and provide people with the opportunity to satisfy their curiosity about Chinatown. And so, Chinatown Dining Week was born.

    Downtown Dining Week has been a staple in Edmonton for more than a decade, offering set price deals to entice diners to try new restaurants. We thought a similar model could be replicated in another central neighbourhood with even more diverse culinary gems to discover.

    Viphalay

    Green curry at Viphalay – one of the featured Chinatown Dining Week dishes

    We’ve partnered with 5 Chinatown restaurants who will be offering $15 two-course dinner menus from January 20-28, 2018: Asian Express Hot Pot, Cua Hua Gui Lin Noodle House, King Noodle House Pho Hoang, Taipan Cafe Restaurant, and Viphalay Laos and Thai Restaurant. Take a look at the menus and consider trying a new restaurant, or revisiting an old favourite.

    King Noodle House

    Pho at King Noodle House – another of the featured dishes

    There’s a lot to discover in Chinatown, and we hope that this event will encourage more Edmontonians to learn more about an often underappreciated area of the city.

    January 8th, 2018

    Food Notes for January 8, 2018

    I can’t believe it’s already a week into the New Year! I was able to have a nice (albeit short) break over the holidays – I hope you were able to have the same rejuvenating time away! Lots to catch up on though:

    Love Pizza

    Mac & cheeza from Love Pizza

    • Over the weekend, we finally had the chance to check out some new places in Old Strathcona, including Pip, the third restaurant from the folks behind The Next Act and Meat. It’s a cute spot, with a simple but well-executed menu. Mack enjoyed their traditional eggs benedict, while their classic grilled cheese and tomato soup hit the spot for me.

    Pip

    Traditional eggs benedict from Pip

    Pip

    Grilled cheese and tomato soup from Pip

    • We also headed to Ohana Donuterie, which opened in December. Although there are now several bakeries specializing in doughnuts, Ohana stands out with their made-to-order treats. We can attest that the cinnamon sugar and vanilla custard was delicious!

    Ohana Donuterie

    Ohana Donuts!

    January 7th, 2018

    Exploring Our Backyard: 29th Annual Great White North Pumpkin Weigh-Off and Fair

    Back in October (apologies for the tardiness of this post!), Mack and I checked off another item off of our local bucket list – to take in the Great White North Pumpkin Weigh-Off & Fair in Smoky Lake, Alberta.

    The 29th iteration took place the first weekend in October, meaning the event will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2018. We learned that this event is part of the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, linking it to standards and regulations observed by squash-growing enthusiasts worldwide.

    Located about 1.5 hours northeast of Edmonton, it was clear this festival is a major tourist attraction for the community, with most businesses using it as an opportunity to showcase their products.

    The event was spread out over a large enough area that it was serviced by a free yellow bus shuttle that ran between several buildings near Main Street. In addition to arts and craft vendors, it was nice to see some familiar faces at the farmers’ market set up, such as Winding Road Cheese, Birds and Bees Winery, and Serben Farms. We limited our purchases that day to pumpkin-related items, including pumpkin pie and pumpkin cinnamon buns from Mundare Bakery.

    Smoky Lake Weigh-Off

    Farmers’ Market

    Outside, it was also nice to see lots of families taking in the amusement rides and games – I love how charming smaller-scale midways can be!

    Smoky Lake

    Midway

    The main attraction, of course, is the weigh-off of the pumpkins. It takes place in the main hall of the agricultural complex, with all the pomp and circumstance you’d imagine – the competitors are forklifted onto the stage one by one, and hoisted onto a massive scale for their moment of truth. Hosted by a boisterous and engaging MC, it was definitely an entertaining show.

    Great White North Pumpkin Fair

    Pumpkin weigh-off

    We watched as the 2016 champion from Lloydminster, Don Crews, was again crowned the victor with a festival record-busting pumpkin weighing 1652 pounds.

    Great White North Pumpkin Fair

    Victory for Don Crews!

    Afterwards, festival attendees were invited to get up close and personal with the different contest entrants including the longest gourd – we couldn’t resist taking a pumpkin selfie!

    Great White North Pumpkin Fair

    One of the smaller competitors

    Smoky Lake Weigh-Off

    Pumpkin selfie!

    We also enjoyed some of the food available at the festival – the Ukrainian concession was served up some very satisfying perogies, kubasa, and cabbage rolls.

    Smoky Lake Weigh-Off

    Ukrainian lunch

    In town, we also stopped for a meal at Betsy’s Burger Shack. There was nothing special about the meal, but it was nice to say we’ve now eaten at a local institution.

    On our way home, we detoured through Andrew so we could add the “world’s largest mallard” to the list of Alberta oddities that we’ve visited this year.

    Visiting the Mallard in Andrew

    With the world’s largest mallard

    If you’re hoping to take in the pumpkin weigh-off next year, mark your calendar for October 6, 2018!

    January 6th, 2018

    Culinary Highlights: 2017 Edition

    At the very least, compiling a list of some of my favourite food moments over the past year reminds me of how grateful I am to live where we do! It’s also a good opportunity to reflect on our travels, and how fortunate we were to be able to explore a bit more of our country.

    Here are some of my favourite food-related memories from 2017:

    Our favourite new restaurant was Otto. Mack and I love their approachable menu, simple but well-made food, friendly service, and accessible location (just one bus from work or home).

    Otto

    I love the Otto dog and fries

    Zwick’s Pretzels was another new favourite – there’s nothing better than a fresh, savoury pretzel warm out of the oven.

    Zwick's Pretzels

    Trio of pretzels

    We also had a fabulous meal at the chef’s table at Baijiu with Amanda and Jason in the fall.

    Baijiu

    Braised pork bao from Baijiu

    My office moved to Alberta Avenue in the spring, so it was great timing that Eats on 118 continued this year. I had a blast at each of the food tours, but I had a soft spot for the bowling edition, where I was introduced to the wonderful Plaza Bowl.

    Eats on 118

    Plaza Bowl

    Mack and I had a great time exploring more of our backyard last year as well, with trips to Lake Louise, Lacombe, East of Edmonton, Calgary, and Smoky Lake.

    Eagle Creek Farms

    Selfie at the Bowden Sun Maze

    Continuing with the theme of visiting farms, a highlight was a tour of the Sunworks Farm, one of the producers we purchase from regularly.

    Sunworks Farm Tour

    Chickens at Sunworks Farm

    Similarly, it was an special experience to be able to visit Doef’s Greenhouses as a part of this year’s Grand Taste Tour.

    Doef's Greenhouses

    Doef’s Greenhouses

    Alongside a small team of volunteers, I enjoyed introducing many Edmontonians to Chinatown (and some of its culinary gems) through a series of walking tours. I’m happy this will continue into 2018 with Chinatown Dining Week.

    Edmonton Chinatown Tour

    Edmonton Chinatown walking tours

    We did some travelling as well, with visits to Montreal, Toronto, Seattle, and Vancouver Island.

    Schwartz's

    Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwich was the best thing we ate in Montreal

    Maison Christian Faure

    Although I wish I had gone back for a second croissant from Maison Christian Faure

    Wild Mountain

    We did not expect to find a restaurant like Wild Mountain in Sooke on Vancouver Island

    Red Fish, Blue Fish

    The tacones at Red Fish, Blue Fish in Victoria lived up to my expectations

    There is a lot to look forward to in 2018, so we’ll see what makes the cut next year!

    January 4th, 2018

    Epicureous in Edmonton: 2017 Year in Review

    It was without a doubt a banner year for bakeries in the Edmonton area, with no less than ten shops opening up in the last twelve months. It’s been particularly great to see the range of businesses, including French-style patisseries (Macarons & Goodies, Chocorrant, Fan Fan Patisserie, Arno’s Fine French Pastry), fancy cakes and treats (Sugared and Spiced, Art of Cake expansion), and gourmet doughnuts (Doughnut Party, Destination Doughnuts, Frickin’ Delights Donuts in Devon, Ohana Donuterie). Speaking as someone who currently has quite the sweet tooth, it’s been wonderful sampling my way through different desserts and finding any excuse to pick up something new to try.

    Sugared & Spiced

    Here are a few other items that were notable to me in 2017:

    • It was a bit of a Jekyll-Hyde year for Ice District. After Rogers Place opened in the fall of 2016, it was assumed that it would be a boon for businesses within walking distance of the arena. While that proved to be the case for certain enterprises (Baijiu, Bundok, and Bottega 104 to name a few), it didn’t prevent some fairly high-profile closures in 2017, including Alta, Vivo’s Downtown location, and Transcend’s Mercer Warehouse branch.
    • Edmontonians seem to have a growing taste for charcuterie and well-made sausage, with Fuge Fine Meats blossoming alongside the opening of two fine meat boutiques in Meuwly’s and Porc Sale.
    • Korean cuisine (including the very popular Korean Fried Chicken) continued to stake its claim in the city, with restaurants including Miga, Yummy Chicken, Hanjan, Pelicana, Hansik, and Dookbaeki opening.
    • Similarly, when it rains, it poured for bingsu, also known as Korean shaved ice. Edmonton went from zero bingsu purveyors to at least four in Snowy Dessert, Snowy Village, Let Eat Snow, and Snow Bear, in addition to other cafes who’ve since added it to their menus.
    • On a smaller scale, the city was also introduced to the world of poke, with Splash Poke and Ono Poke opening up within two weeks of each other Downtown.
    • Those seeking vegan and vegetarian options were able to broaden their choices to include vegan pizzeria Die Pie, Vietnamese restaurant An Chay, quick-serve cafe Good Stock, and The Moth, sister restaurant to Old Strathcona mainstay Cafe Mosaics.
    • Many local restaurants were able to grow their presence with additional locations or concepts, offering diners more unique alternatives. Among them: Monument (Block 1912), Pip (Next Act, Meat), Holy Roller (El Cortez, Have Mercy), Grandin Fish & Chips (The Common), Ong Hanoi Style Fried Chicken (Jack’s Burger Shack, Cerdo Tacos), Salz (Elm Cafe, District, Little Brick), Amore Pasta and Bottega 104 (Cafe Amore, Black Pearl), Wishbone (Three Boars), Mercato Foods (Italian Bakery), Pampa, Farrow, Credo, and Remedy Cafe.
    • I’m always heartened when food truck operators or market stalls are able to transition into brick and mortar storefronts, and this trend continued over the last year. The list included some of the bakeries mentioned above, but also Casa 12 Doce’s La Patrona, Little Village’s take-out spot, and Calle Mexico’s restaurant on 107 Avenue.
    • Food tourism initiatives were another highlight this year: Edmonton Food Tours introduced tours focused on the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market and Downtown eateries, Urban Pedal Tours offered a unique spin on social drinking, and Edmonton Brewery Tours shed light on the history of brewing in our city.
    • It was interesting that despite the splash made by Cafe Linnea’s foray into no-tipping in 2016 (and their subsequent end to that concept in 2017) there haven’t really been many more examples of gratuity-included restaurants in Edmonton (Grain of Rice and Alder Room notwithstanding).
    • The Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission made a few welcome shifts, including their changes to licensed patios, and allowance of beer and spirits to be sampled and sold at farmers’ markets.

    You can check out previous year in reviews here.