Food Notes for September 26, 2022

Openings

Upcoming Events

  • The Telus World of Science “becomes Edmonton’s largest food and drink laboratory” for their fundraising even Where Science Meets Cocktails. Tickets are $109 and include cocktail-inspired science activities and food from restaurants including RGE RD, Filistix, and Guru.

Local News

What I Ate

  • It had been too long since my last Kasey Ramen order (and the first where I could actually eat the egg!). The tonkotsu broth was so creamy and supremely satisfying.
  • Kasey Ramen

Kasey Ramen tonkotsu

Food Notes for September 19, 2022

Lindsay Porter First to Represent Edmonton on Top Chef Canada

Local chef Lindsay Porter will be Edmonton’s first-ever representative on Top Chef Canada, which launches its 10th season on Food Network Canada on Sept. 26.

She’ll compete against 10 other chefs from across Canada for the show’s largest ever cash prize of $100,000.

On previous seasons of Top Chef Canada, other major cities have been well-represented, including 11 contestants from Calgary since the show’s inception in 2011. Chef Alexei Boldireff, formerly with Baijiu, competed for a spot in Season 7, but failed to join the main cast.

Porter has participated in several other Food Network programs in previous years, including Beat Bobby Flay, Guy’s Grocery Games, and Fire Masters. But as to why it took 10 seasons for Top Chef Canada to embrace its first contestant from Edmonton, Porter can only speculate.

“Maybe it was Edmonton’s reputation for not having many independent restaurants years and years ago,” said Porter. “In the past, Edmonton had kind of a muted culinary scene and wasn’t really known for adventurous foods. I think now our culinary scene has exploded, and it’s the perfect time for Edmonton to shine.”

Porter is the executive chef at The Common, and she is very happy that she will have the platform to showcase the restaurant on the show. Porter joined The Common after the pandemic forced her to close her restaurant, London Local, in 2020.

“It’s one of the best companies I’ve worked for,” said Porter. “The people here are great. They’ve been very understanding in that they let me leave to do the competition. I’m super happy to promote them.”

In fact, The Common’s sister restaurant, Fu’s Repair Shop, contributed to the items Porter brought with her to potentially use on the show.

“I brought different ingredients that I was exposed to when we were developing the menu at Fu’s,” said Porter. “I brought lotus leaf and a homemade XO sauce that we make there.”

As expected, Porter cannot reveal much about her time on the show before it airs, but she did share that she was surprised at how quickly she was able to form friendships with the other chefs.

“The chefs are really great,” said Porter. “Not that I was expecting to have feuds or anything, but it was a nice surprise that people were quite humble and good to work with. The most relaxing part of the competition was being able to have nice conversations with people.”

At the moment, The Common hasn’t yet planned to host viewing parties, but Porter indicated that is something they may consider. She was also open to the idea of serving food inspired by her time on TV.

“I could take dishes from various competitions I’ve done — win or lose — and incorporate them into a menu,” said Porter. “It would be fun to put together.”

In the meantime, Porter is excited about the new fall menu items she’s worked on for The Common, including Bengal curry with beef and shrimp, roasted potato fromage blanc cannelloni, and, in the coming weeks, chicken and waffles served with bourbon peach jam.

Porter welcomes any diners who want to ask her about her time on the show and is thrilled that the city is finally getting its due.

“I’m excited to see Edmonton represented,” said Porter. “I’m very proud to be part of the culinary scene here.”

Openings

  • Pip is re-opening in their new location across the street at 10335 83 Avenue on September 22, 2022.
  • DasBrezelHaus is now open at Manchester Square, offering “authentic German hand twisted pretzels”.
  • Brunch Glory opened on September 17, 2022 at 15985 97 Street.
  • Flirty Bird’s second Edmonton location opened this week at 10350 124 Street.
  • OEB’s third Edmonton location will be “hatching” at 5133 Mullen Road.
  • Bodega will be opening another location in Windermere later this year.
  • Brits ‘n’ Bobs is a forthcoming British import shop to open at 10706 82 Avenue.

Upcoming Events

  • The Public is hosting a charcuterie experience with Meuwly’s on October 1, 2022. Attendees will enjoy drinks and snacks, and learn about ingredient pairings and presentation tips.
  • Chicken wing lovers will be happy to hear that Lord of the Wings returns to RE/MAX field on October 1, 2022. Tickets are $38.15 with a portion of profits going towards Wings of Providence.

Local News

Beyond Edmonton

What I Ate

  • We walked over to Tee Pee Treats on on the weekend and tried their cheddar bannock burger special. It was massive, and very satisfying. We enjoyed our lunch on their sunny patio.
  • Tee Pee Treats

Cheddar bannock burger from Tee Pee Treats

  • We also had the chance to try Pal’s, and experienced first hand what the hype is all about! We loved the beef dip and cubano sandwiches we ordered, and the service was spot on. Looking forward to our next visit!
  • Pal’s

Beef dip from Pal’s

  • Trying to make the most of these last summer days, we ended our time in Old Strathcona with some treats from Made by Marcus.
  • Made by Marcus

Cone from Made by Marcus

Food Notes for September 12, 2022

I’m playing catch up after a month away from the blog – Mack and I welcomed our second daughter Elizabeth Male on August 10!

Openings

  • Pals, the sandwich concept from the folks behind The Next Act, Meat, and Pip, is now open at 10335 83 Avenue.
  • If you were missing the flavours from Langano Skies, you will be happy to hear they will be offering their food three nights a week for take-out and delivery out of Barb & Ernie’s Old Country Inn. No opening date has been announced yet.
  • Malina Bakery has opened a second location in Sherwood Park, 150, 3001 Buckingham Drive.
  • The West Block continues to add some interesting local options; the latest will be Zula Kitchen and Wine Bar, from the folks behind Sofra. It will open this fall.
  • At the end of August, the 5th Street Food Hall added a new concept called Meat Shack Barbecue, which serves up Texas BBQ.
  • Yukata is a new Japanese restaurant offering ramen, cheese, and pickle-focused dishes. It is located in the former Nudoru space (10532 82 Avenue).
  • So great to see that Sorellina Brew Bar is now open in Old Strathcona (10546 82 Avenue).
  • BC-based dive bar chain El Furniture’s first Edmonton location is now open at 10765 Jasper Avenue.
  • Komune’s three other concepts join Taco Nova and are now open: Strada (offering Roman-style pizza), Carnivore Subs (selling sandwiches), and Umai Rice (offering sushi).
  • Banh Mi Day is now open at 11765 jasper Avenue.
  • The ice cream businesses just keep on coming – Pure Love is the newest serving up plant-based ice cream from a food truck.
  • A new soft serve stand is now open in West Edmonton Mall called Swirley’s Creamery.
  • Market Street is a shop that stocks many local brands (including Zwick’s, Transcend Coffee, and Caramunchies) that opened up back in June.
  • Swirl Cafe is a Pokemon cafe that is now open at 6825 177 Street.
  • It’s so great that Darling has found a permanent location, and will be opening later this fall at 9612 82 Avenue.
  • Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in St. Albert (the second of the chain locations in the Edmonton area) opened earlier in August. It is located at 935 St. Albert Trail.
  • Folks can look forward to the return of the Funky Pickle Pizza Co. brand to Alberta in the near future.

Closures

  • Kitchen by Brad permanently closed as of July 1, 2022. Brad Smoliak shared in a message on the website: “As many of you know, I was born with a congenital heart issue and have been living with an artificial heart for 3 years. While the LVAD, and the amazing team at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute (Hotel MAZ to me) have done a remarkable job, the simple fact is, the LVAD was not designed for the life of a chef. It was designed for most people, to be a one-year bridge to a heart transplant. For me a transplant is not an option, so I need to take extra care of it, and myself.” Brad and his wife Leanne will be writing a regular column in The Tomato about their post-Kitchen adventures.
  • It was announced in the spring that several businesses in Strathearn would be uprooted by some planned development moving ahead. Juniper was one of those, and has since decided to permanently close as of September 18, 2022.
  • Bottega on 104 Street closed on September 3, 2022.
  • Rigoletto’s is also now closed.
  • Home-based business Bonne Vie Bakery will no longer be baking on a regular basis: “The last few months have been challenging with a significant drop in sales, coupled with challenges getting permits from City to develop a commercial kitchen and with increased prices for ingredients.”

Upcoming Events

  • Le Burger Week runs September 1-14, 2022 and 7 restaurants in Edmonton are participating.
  • Sorrentino’s 27th annual Mushroom Harvest, which offers a combination of special dishes, cooking classes, and wine dinners all month long, runs in September.
  • You Need a BBQ is hosting the second annual BBQ, Butchers, Bangers & Beer on October 2, 2022. Tickets are $25 and include a sample of 10 sausages, one beer, and one vote for the best sausage.

Local News

Urban Agriculture and Farming

  • Prairie Gardens Adventure Farm located in Bon Accord was reminded of an order issued by Sturgeon County to cease certain operations – namely, not having more than 100 visitors per day. The owner says this will force them to shut down.
  • Sundog Organic farmers James Vriend and Jenny Berkenbosch had to change the way they farmed to adapt to the changing conditions on their property.

What I Ate

    • We’ve mostly been sticking close to home over the last month, and have been enjoying our share of comfort food, like our go-to order from Jack’s Burger Shack.

Jack’s Burger Shack

The Hangover from Jack’s

    • We’ve still had a chance to try some new-to-us places though, including Basil Pasta Bar. They had huge portions, and were very efficient!

Basil Pasta Bar

Our order from Basil Pasta Bar

    • I’ve also been indulging in foods I was staying away from while pregnant, such as the Grick Middle from Farrow, and cold cut subs from Nhon Hoa.

Nhon Hoa

Combo sub FTW

Food Notes for August 8, 2022

Openings

Closures

  • Canteen announced that they will be closing on September 18, 2022. Owners Frank and Andrea Olson announced however that they will be opening their “last and final restaurant” in Crestwood in early 2023.
  • Old Strathcona restaurant Nudoru Ramen announced that they will be closing on August 21, 2022 after six years in business. Their sister restaurant Menjiro Ramen will continue to operate.

Upcoming Events

  • It’s the tenth anniversary of Open Farm Days, running August 13-14, 2022. It’s a great opportunity to check out a local farm and meet the folks behind the food!
  • 10 Edmonton-area restaurants are participating in the Alberta On The Plate’s Dine Around Festival, which runs August 12-21, 2022. Each restaurant will offer fixed-priced menus highlighting local producers, growers, distillers, and brewers.
  • Sustainable Food Edmonton is hosting a Community Garden Bike Tour in Millwoods on August 20, 2022. Tickets are $10 plus feees.
  • The second Dinner Club at Awn Kitchen will take place on August 27, 2022. Tickets for the 5-course meal are $75 and will highlight late summer produce.
  • Chefs Cyrilles Koppert and Addie Raghavan are teaming up for a night of “Indian-influenced French food” on August 28 and 29, 2022. Tickets are $20 and include a sip and a snack.
  • Save the date for the return of Pizza Pigout on October 7, 2022, a fundraiser for KidSport. Tickets are $125 per vehicle.

Local News

What I Ate

  • Mack and I had a lovely morning at Da Capo and Black Pearl’s pop-up Buongiorno at Vignettes last week. The breakfast pinsa was delicious – a light and airy crust topped with pesto, caramelized onions, scrambled eggs, Montreal smoked meat, and cheese. The pop-up is open Monday to Friday 9am-3pm until August 26, 2022 (menu here), but it was encouraging to hear the pinsas will be available at Bar Oro when it opens later this year.
  • Buongiorno

Breakfast pinsa and coffee from Buongiorno

  • Sabor’s popular Fish ‘n’ Chips Fridays has returned on Fridays from 11am-2pm in August. Benefiting the Ronald McDonald House Charities and Santa’s Anonymous, $15 will get you two pieces of fish, fries, and a drink. I headed over early last Friday to beat the line up and did not regret it!
  • Sabor

Fish ‘n’ chips from Sabor

Food Notes for August 1, 2022

Openings

  • Buongiorno, the breakfast pop-up at Vignettes, officially opened last week, and is open Monday to Friday from 9am-3pm until August 27, 2022. The menu features breakfast pizzas and coffee from the folks behind Cafe Amore, Black Pearl, and Da Capo Caffe.
  • Windermere definitely seems to be the neighbourhood with the most openings this year, chains and locals alike. The latest is the city’s second Black Pearl location, opening August 2 at 1285 Windermere Way.
  • The ghost kitchen that houses Taco Nova has rebranded as Komune, and now has several additional brands under its umbrella, including Carnivore Subs, serving up sandwiches, Umai Rice, serving up sushi, and Strada, serving up Roman street food.
  • American chain Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is opening up a second location in the Edmonton area in St. Albert (935 St. Albert Trail, #425). Their opening date is slated for August 12, 2022.
  • Canadian chain Wing’N It Express is now open at 1317 Windermere Way.

Closures

  • Taproot had more about Blue Plate Diner’s closure, including how its relocation to 124 Street may have impacted its longevity. Sadly, although the restaurant had hoped to remain open until the end of August, they confirmed that July 31, 2022 was their final day of operation.

Upcoming Events

  • JustCook Kitchens is hosting the 5th Street Luau on August 5 and 6, 2022, with a pig roast and Hawaiian-inspired cocktails and mocktails.
  • The Public is hosting a cheese tasting with Aditya Raghavan of Fleur Jaune on August 8, 2022 at Fleisch. Tickets are $65.
  • The next Prairie on the Plate event will take place at Glass House Kitchen & Bar at The Enjoy Centre. Tickets for the 3-course meal are $65.
  • Capital Care Foundation’s Feast on the Field fundraiser returns on August 17, 2022. Tickets for the event are $229.
  • Get Cooking is hosting a Whole Hog Pig Pickin’ BBQ Party with Pitt Country BBQ. The class includes a demonstration of how to barbecue a pig, Northern Carolina style, plus the preparation of some sides to eat alongside the meat. Tickets are $138 per person.

Local News

Urban Agriculture and Farming

  • Edmonton Public Library is hosting a free series of workshops called Life Skills: Plant Support with gardener extraordinaire Suzanne Cook. The series runs every other Sunday until the end of September, and monthly thereafter.
  • The City of Edmonton released the details of their Residential Boulevard Gardening Program last week. The program allows locals to apply for permits to plant on strips of land between the sidewalk and the road.

What I Ate

  • You’d be hard pressed to find a better way to start the morning than with an asiago scallion biscuit from Rosewood Foods.
  • Rosewood Foods

Biscuit and coffee from Rosewood

  • We finally tried the doughnuts from the Fawkes Coffee & Doughnuts pop-up on 104 Street. They’ve been selling out, and it’s not hard to see why – we especially loved the lemon berry crumble and chocolate chocolate chip flavours from this week.
  • Fawkes Doughnuts

Doughnuts from Fawkes

  • Emily hammed up our meal at Otto on Friday night. Their Otto dog has been our go-to from the beginning, and Emily polished off the fries. Service is always great, too.
  • Otto

Emily with our spread at Otto

Food Notes for July 25, 2022

Pal’s to be Next Piece of Old Strathcona Restaurant Empire

Slated to open in August, Pal’s Sandwich Bar is the latest restaurant from the team behind The Next Act, Meat, and Pip. The classic sandwich shop will be the group’s fourth venture within a one-block radius.

Co-owner Saylish Haas said monopolizing the intersection of 104 Street and 83 Avenue was never a grand plan; it just gradually happened that way. “There were never long-term plans to take over the block, but it has come through opportunities that arose,” said Haas.

Last year, the owners’ realtor sent a listing for the building east of their other properties, which formerly housed Packrat Louie, among other restaurants. “We looked at it more as a joke with the partners, but then we said, ‘Why not?’,” said Haas. “Pip doesn’t have enough seats, and with the space we would conquer that issue.”

Shifting Pip across the street will more than double its size from 28 seats at its current location to about 80 seats in the new one. Expect its doors to open in September, with minor tweaks. “We will stick with our current menu when we launch,” said Haas. “It will be Pip as you know it.”

During the design phase, they soon realized the new space could house an additional concept, made up of 40 seats and a large patio. After identifying a gap in quality sandwiches available in the area, Pal’s was born. “Our whole concept is comfort food,” said Haas. “Pal’s will be an intimate sandwich shop, with great food, desserts, cocktails, and wine.”

Pip chef Brad Tebble has moved over to lead Pal’s, which is how the name came to be. “Brad calls everyone ‘pal’ and signs off e-mails that way,” said Haas. “So it is an ode to our head chef — this is where you can hang out with your pal, and it is a nice way to capture that you’re going to a place that is casual and easygoing.”

Haas was quick to emphasize that while Pal’s will have some takeaway options, the focus will be on dine-in service, with daily hours tentatively spanning from 11am to 10pm. “We will have a night business and hope that people will come for dinner, and the patio will be a part of that,” she said.

The menu will be made up of hot and cold sandwich options, including meatball, egg salad, chicken club, and muffaletta, an Italian meat and cheese standard. Sides will include items such as pickled cauliflower or mortadella served with house-made focaccia, and desserts will focus on pies and cakes.

In addition to making baguettes, rye, and focaccia in-house, Pal’s will also bring in some bread from local bakery Bread + Butter. The Italian Centre Shop will be the main source of meat and cheese.

The target opening date for Pal’s is August, hopefully midway through the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival.

As for the vacancy that Pip will leave, Haas said the ownership group will be keeping the space, but doesn’t yet have a solid plan. “We honestly can’t think about that space until this one is done,” said Haas. “But it will be a different concept altogether.”

Although they were able to come through the last two years with all three restaurants intact, Haas acknowledges that it was hard, requiring constant modifications, customer support, and government funding. She hopes things are moving towards more pre-pandemic-like conditions.

“We’re trying to be optimistic,” said Haas. “We like to serve people and entertain them and host an experience inside our restaurants.”

Openings

  • The Colombian’s third brick and mortar café in Parkallen opened this past weekend, located at 6529 111 Street.
  • Fawkes Coffee & Doughnuts opened their pop-up at 10137 104 Street last week. Check them out for bottled cold coffee drinks (for now), and vegan donuts.
  • Powerage Wine & Spirits bills itself as an “independently owned rock ‘n’ roll bar”, located at 10643 124 Street.
  • Hirondelle Bakery, which has been vending at the Al Fresco Market on 104 Street on Saturdays, will be opening up a pick-up location in the same building as Taco Nova, at 10505 106 Street (on a related note, Taco Nova also announced that they will be offering indoor seating, soon).
  • California Pizza Kitchen’s first Canadian location will open in Edmonton on August 1, 2022 at 5260 Windermere Boulevard (is it strange that the reason I want to try it is because of Succession’s Cousin Greg?).

Closures

Upcoming Events

  • Eats on 118 guided tours are back, running August 10, 24, and September 7 and 21. Tickets are $45 and will include food samples at three stops.
  • MilkCrate’s Feast in the Field returns this year on August 20, 2022. Tickets are $95 for a family-style meal. Mack and I had the privilege of attending last year and enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Local News

What I Ate

  • It was a beautiful night for Taste of Edmonton on Friday! I definitely missed the Hotel Mac, but we were happy Pikante was back this year, and Emily can never pass up Little Bear Gelato.
  • Taste of Edmonton

Family outing to Taste of Edmonton

  • My friend Su invited me to Get Cooking’s bun cha patio pop-up over the weekend. It was the perfect afternoon to enjoy Mai Nguyen’s food outdoors. The herbs and greens were especially refreshing in the dish.
  • Get Cooking

Bun cha from Get Cooking

Food Notes for July 18, 2022

Leopard Brings Pizza and Soft Serve to Glenora

Leopard, a new restaurant in Glenora’s West Block tower that aims to provide quality pizza and soft serve to the neighbourhood, is the result of conversations that began before the pandemic and a menu perfected during the lockdown.

Cantiro, the developer of West Block, approached Andrew Borley of Woodwork and Bar Clementine about developing something in one of the commercial spots at the base of the high-rise condo, which was built on the corner of 142 Street and Stony Plain Road in 2019.

“It was the builder who wooed us here,” said Rachael Borley, Andrew’s wife and operations manager across all three restaurants. “They loved what we were doing at Woodwork and Clementine, and they were looking for a bar like Clementine to duplicate over in Glenora.”

Andrew was not interested in replicating an existing property, but he was interested in the idea of developing something new at West Block. By the time they officially signed on to the project in May 2021, the concept of pizza and ice cream had crystallized, which opened things up for them to cater to a new population.

“We are fully aware that this is the first time we have a change table in the bathroom,” Rachael said. “It is a different demographic, it’s pizza and ice cream, it’s meant for everybody. A place where the adults can have a cocktail and enjoy themselves and the kids can have a good time.”

Given their experience at Woodwork and Bar Clementine over the past couple of years, the pandemic also forced the Borleys to consider the longer-term viability of any new endeavour.

“We are so lucky and blessed to be on the other side with two restaurants still functioning,” she said. “I had no idea how hard it was to do takeout. It was hard to translate our experience into a little box. So it felt safer to go down a pizza avenue with food that is more sustainable and common for takeout.”

Rachael ate her share of pizza as Andrew worked on his recipes.

“Like everybody else, we had extra time during the pandemic, and he fell down a rabbit hole to tackle sourdough pizza for the first time,” she laughed. “He strives for excellence in everything, so he worked a long time tweaking it. Some weeks he made pizza three or four times a week to perfect the dough.”

The pizza style lent its name to the restaurant. “It is cooked in a 900-degree oven for a minute, and ‘leoparding’ is when it puffs up on the crust and gets the black dots,” she said. “That’s the goal.”

However, because the dough requires three to five days to ferment, whipping up extra dough just isn’t possible, so they will need more time to determine how much product is necessary to meet diners’ demands inside the 40-seat restaurant before Leopard offers takeout. She said the restaurant sold out of pizza two out of its first three nights.

Ice cream felt like a natural pairing with pizza. “It hearkens back to childhood and nostalgia, seeing ice cream coming out of a soft serve machine. Everybody loves it, from kids to adults.”

Similar to the process he used to develop the sourdough, Andrew also took a deep dive into ice cream before coming up with Leopard’s signature tonka bean flavour. “It’s a custard, it’s got eggs and cream and is really rich and velvety. With olive oil and sea salt, it’s like nothing you’ve ever tried,” Rachael said.

In time, Leopard will be working towards opening a patio, in addition to installing a takeout window for pizza and soft serve. But even in the first week, the team already feels embraced by the neighbourhood.

“People are really supportive of the businesses here,” she said of the area, which is also home to El Corazon and Square One Coffee. “We already feel like a part of the community.”

Openings

  • For a Winter City, Edmonton has sure had a increase in the number of ice cream shops this year. The latest to open is Annie Rue in Parkallen, at 6531 111 Street.
  • Calgary-based restaurant Blanco Cantina is now open in South Edmonton Common (1708 99 Street).
  • The owner of Monsoon Bistro and Bar opened up Goldie’s in Telford Mews, a building for independent senior living, in Leduc, with a menu created by long-time executive chef at Sorrentino’s, Sonny Sung, who is now consulting. Goldie’s will open to the public later in the summer.
  • British Pantry, with a location in Calgary and offering imported British food goods, is now open at West Edmonton Mall in Suite 2001, Phase 1.

Upcoming Events

Local News

What I Ate

  • We found a shady spot on Violet King Henry Plaza to enjoy some takeout from Envie on Friday. The southern flatbread was particularly tasty (the chili mayo had a mild kick) and we also liked the seasoning on the fries. The meal was also value-oriented, coming in at under $40 for two. We will be back!
  • Envie

Southern flatbread and poboy from Envie

  • We grabbed some butter chicken wraps from Remedy over the weekend. I had forgotten how large the serving was; it was more than enough for two lunches!
  • Remedy

Butter chicken wrap from Remedy

  • When I start my maternity leave in a few weeks, I will miss my office’s proximity to El Fogon. I love their shredded beef and Gouda arepas.
  • El Fogon

Beef and Gouda arepa from El Fogon

  • The hot weather over the weekend was also a good enough excuse to stop by Leopard to try their soft serve. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the olive oil and sea salt complemented the ice cream – well worth it.
  • Leopard

Tonka bean soft serve from Leopard

Food Notes for July 11, 2022

Sorellina Coffee to Open Brew Bar in Old Strathcona

Coffee roaster Sorellina Coffee will be opening a café called Sorellina Brew Bar in late July. Italian for “little sister”, Sorellina is an apt name given the company grew from owner Lynsey Hayes’s start at her brother’s business.

“I had been working for my brother Andrew at Roasti Coffee in Sherwood Park as his green coffee buyer for a few years,” said Hayes. “In late 2020 I decided it was time to build a coffee company of my own. My goal was and is still to highlight the work of coffee producers with small farms and unique varietals.”

Hayes set up shop at Roasti and began by selling coffee at a local makers’ market. She soon added an online shop with free local delivery, selling beans with retail partners such as Meuwly’s and Cafe Rista, as well as supplying café clients in the city and beyond.

“You can drink Sorellina Coffee at Awn Kitchen, RGE RD, and The Art of Cake, and on rotation at Farrow Sandwich shops in Edmonton,” said Hayes. “Some of the best multi-roaster cafés in the country also serve Sorellina Coffee on a rotating basis, from Small Victory in Vancouver, to Cortado Tasting Room in Nova Scotia.”

Hayes said she had always envisioned a brick-and-mortar café where she could share her coffees with people. A space in the 124 Street area fell through last year, so she put her plans on hold until her brother approached her with an alternative.

“This spring, he made the decision to really focus on his wholesale clients and his home base roastery in Sherwood Park, so he offered me his Whyte Avenue café,” said Hayes. “I was excited! It’s a great location with so much potential. Secretly, though, I think he just wanted his office back at the roastery.”

With bean roasts cheekily named “90’s Keanu” and “There’s Something About Blanca Maria,” café guests can expect a retro vibe and pop culture throwbacks in the space, Hayes said. But she also aims for the shop to enhance customers’ knowledge about beans and brewing techniques.

“We will not be a typical coffee shop,” said Hayes. “With Sorellina Brew Bar my goal isn’t just to sell cups of coffee and beans. I want to create a fun and interactive experience where anyone can come to learn about our coffees. We will be offering flights of a feature coffee every month where you can taste it prepared three different ways, and your barista will take you through what makes each expression of the coffee unique.”

Hayes said Sorellina will also offer private tasting events, brewing classes, and cocktail takeovers. While coffee will be the focus, the Brew Bar will also serve pastries and baked goods from a few local companies.

Hayes is aiming to open the Brew Bar on July 29, which will allow two of her baristas — Alora Van Diepen and Frederica Danziger — to participate in the Canadian National Brewer’s Cup in Regina on July 20. “We are putting all of our energy and support into them right now,” said Hayes.

When it does open, Hayes invites coffee lovers to come on down. “Whyte Ave. has historically been a place people flock to for fun and excitement, and that definitely will be the case with Sorellina Brew Bar. We are here for a good time!”

Openings

  • Tee Pee Treats is celebrating their grand opening at the CO*LAB on July 12, 2022 (9641 102A Avenue).
  • Lucky Kitchen is a new restaurant offering all day dim sum, located at 10346 University Avenue.
  • Wilhauk Beef Jerky added a third location in the Edmonton area with an outpost at West Edmonton Mall. They also operate in Spruce Grove and Leduc.
  • PF Chang’s first Edmonton location is now open in Windermere at 6303 Currents Drive.

Closures

Upcoming Events

  • The Downtown Business Association is hosting four free plant workshops this summer, focusing on local plants and how they are used for healing and wellness in Indigenous culture. The sessions will end with participants making their own tea blend. The workshops will run July 12 and 13 and August 9 and 10.
  • The City of Edmonton is hosting a new series of events called Plant & Pulls “where volunteers can participate in both tree planting and weed pulling”. Participants will learn about the urban forest and removal of invasive plants. The events will take place on July 13 and 23, 2022.
  • Filistix is hosting a Filipino Street Food event on July 22, 2022 from 11am until sold out at their Downtown location.

Local News

Urban Agriculture and Farming

  • The Edmonton Food Council is recruiting new members. The deadline for applications is August 5, 2022.
  • The Little Potato Company broke ground in Leduc on a packaging facility and new Canadian head office last week.

What I Ate

  • I had a beautiful belated birthday dinner on Friday at Tzin. Kelsey and her team always knocks it out of the park with such warm service and exceptional food. If you haven’t tried their bacon yet, you’re missing out.
  • Tzin

The bacon from Tzin

  • We hit up some classic Beverly spots on Saturday, including a stop at Take 5. It’s difficult not to over-order when staring down their doughnut shelves.
  • Take 5

One of many treats from Take 5

  • We also picked up some sandwiches from Swiss 2 Go. It had been some time since my last visit, but their food is always consistent – made with such care from good ingredients. And their pretzel buns are the best in the city.
  • Swiss 2 Go

Perfect picnic fare from Swiss 2 Go

  • We ended our Saturday morning with a tour of the Edmonton Urban Farm, open every Saturday to visitors from 10am-4pm until October 8. The plots were all coming up nicely, and the greenhouses were a neat addition. Emily was thrilled to eat her way through the strawberry patch!
  • Edmonton Urban Farm

Emily loves strawberries

Food Notes for July 4, 2022

Northern Chicken Expands to 104 Street Downtown

After two tough years of operation exacerbated by the pandemic, Northern Chicken announced in June that it would be opening up a second location in downtown Edmonton.

Back in March, co-owner Matt Phillips shared that “the next few weeks are critical to the continued existence of our business.” The social media post attracted the attention of a local investor who wishes to remain unnamed. That turned the tide for the business, said co-owner Andrew Cowan.

“[The investor] had seen us talking about our struggles online and really believed in the restaurant and who we are and what we stand for and wanted to help us keep going,” said Cowan. “In all honesty without people stepping up to help us do that, we were done.”

Cowan said that although this was the only restaurant the investor has been involved in, they respected Northern Chicken’s outspoken support of the LGBTQ community and the mental health of hospitality workers. The investment included a directive to expand. Cowan said moving into the soon-to-be-vacant Say Uncle space at 10184 104 Street — leased by business partner Jimmy Shewchuk — was a natural fit.

“The location made sense,” said Cowan. “And the décor is along the lines of what we do and it wouldn’t be hard for us to change it over.”

Cowan hopes to have the second location open before August, and diners can initially expect the same menu as Northern Chicken’s flagship location. Changes may eventually be made to cater more to the neighbourhood, Cowan said.

“I think the Northern Chicken brand is strong, and there is a good patio,” said Cowan. “We’ll have delivery and take-out available and will probably be more heavy on individual meals versus 20 piece meals, but we will make sure we get our bearings and are ready to rock.”

As for the new location’s neighbour across the street — Seoul Fried Chicken, which opened its second location on 104 Street earlier in the summer — Cowan believes there is enough business for both establishments.

“When we first opened, everyone wanted to compare us,” said Cowan. “They’re doing a different style of fried chicken than we are. They have a good following, and we have a good following. It’s like pasta and ramen; they’re both noodles but they’re different.”

Cowan is most excited about the possibilities of the second shop after a lengthy period of stasis. “It’s been two years of doing the same thing over and over again. This is a new space, with new clients, and opportunities to do some new things.”

Openings

  • Leopard is a new pizzeria located in West Block in the Glenora neighbourhood (Unit 170, 14053 West Block Drive).
  • EVEL Drinks + Eats is now open at 8716 109 Street, serving up bao, bubble tea, and drinks.
  • Token Bitters has opened their first storefront as a part of the long-delayed Vignettes Brick & Mortar Festival. Find them at 10035 108 Street until August 27, 2022.
  • El Mero Mero’s brick and mortar shop is now open. Learn more about El Mero Mero’s journey from food truck to restaurant.
  • Twice Cream’s official opening date is July 8, 2022, at 10983 127 Street. If you wanted to stop by earlier, they are currently in their soft opening phase.
  • It looks like The Little Spot, at 11907 Jasper Avenue, which stocks products from other purveyors, including Battista’s Calzones, along with their house-made gelato, has re-opened.
  • Second Cup’s long-awaited location in the Stanley Milner Library is now open.

Closures

  • The Nook has closed its Downtown shop, having been “asked to vacate this location by the landlord.” They have moved their equipment and furnishings into storage while they look for a new home.

Upcoming Events

  • Get Cooking is hosting their first patio pop-up of the summer, featuring Kathryn Joel and Mai Nguyen’s bun cha. Tickets are $35 per person, and include a main, drink and dessert.
  • BaconFest is returning to K-Days on July 28, 2022. Tickets are $49.99 each, and includes eight bacon-based dishes, drink samples, and entertainment.

Local News

What I Ate

When I had Emily back in 2018, I only missed posting Food Notes the week she was born. As we expect our second child in August, I’m going to give myself much more grace than that if needed! While I intend to continue with these posts as I am able, I will be taking a break from the feature stories when the time comes. It’s still my great privilege to highlight those working tirelessly in Edmonton’s food and hospitality scene, and I do hope to continue, but it might take me some time to get there. The Food Roundup published by Mack’s startup Taproot Edmonton (on which my stories are also published) will continue, and you will also find food-related stories on the site. Thanks for reading, and I will share an update about the newest little one in the future!

  • A couple of colleagues and I had a lovely lunch at May last week. The Vietnamese pork burger was very tasty, and the service was stellar. Chef Doreen Prei shared that she is leaving May – best wishes on her next chapter!
  • Restaurant May

Vietnamese pork burger and fries from May

  • It’s dangerous now that I know Cupcake Mama is selling single cupcakes out of their storefront in the Don Wheaton YMCA.
  • Cupcake Mama

Cookies and cream cupcake from Cupcake Mama

  • I may have found my new favourite pasta at Dalla – the di mamma! I loved the creamy pesto-infused sauce. Their patio is also such a lovely place to linger, and with Little Bear Gelato on offer, it might just be Emily’s new favourite Downtown spot, too.
  • Dalla

Di Mamma pasta from Dalla

  • We picked up our first Fuzion Donuts to try at Al Fresco on SAturday. They were better than I expected – the Rolo cake donut I tried had great texture, and Mack thought they captured the root beer essence pretty well in his yeasted donut.
  • Fuzion Donuts

Donut from Fusion Donuts

Food Notes for June 27, 2022

El Mero Mero Expands from Food Trucks to Restaurant

Mexican food truck El Mero Mero is readying for its expansion to a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Opening on June 30 at 12223 156 St., the storefront is the culmination of two years of continuous growth for a business that opened near the beginning of the pandemic.

Owner Arturo Ramirez said it was fortuitous for El Mero Mero (which in Spanish means “the best of the best”) to have started in April 2020.

“Looking back now, we discovered that it was a great time to open a food truck because it was a takeout business,” said Ramirez. “It was the only thing open during that time, and it was something to offer people to get out of their houses because restaurants were closed at that time. We were lucky people really enjoyed our food and supported us.”

The food truck did so well that in May 2021, El Mero Mero added a second mobile operation to its roster. During that time, Ramirez began searching for a commissary space that would enable his team to prepare the food to be served through two trucks.

“We found this space, and it was really big, so we thought, why not open a restaurant since we have the square footage for it,” said Ramirez. “We created a really big kitchen where we can produce food for both trucks and the restaurant.”

Ramirez, who is originally from Mexico City, hopes El Mero Mero Taquería will provide diners with an authentic Mexican dining experience.

“We want people to take a little trip to Mexico,” said Ramirez. “The handmade and hand-painted tile on the bar was brought in from Mexico, and the glassware is handmade in Mexico. A lot of the restaurant is from Mexico.”

Although the space offers sit-down tables, Ramirez is also excited about the shelves along the wall that will allow diners to eat standing up, something typically found at taquerías in Mexico.

The menu at the Taquería will serve the food trucks’ most popular items, including the top-selling birria, slow-cooked beef accompanied by a dipping broth. But the restaurant will also showcase other types of dishes that would not have the space or time to be prepared on a food truck.

“Canastas, or basket tacos, are a typical breakfast in Mexico,” said Ramirez. “We put the tacos in these little baskets and cover it with parchment paper and put really hot oil on them. All the heat evaporates and sweats the tacos.”

While diners can expect El Mero Mero’s signature made-to-order churros at the Taquería, several new desserts, such as a caramel flan, will debut as well. “We will also have platanos fritos where we deep-fry the plantain and cover it with sweet sauce and sour cream. It sounds simple but combines flavours that are really good,” said Ramirez.

Ramirez is aware that his restaurant is joining a host of Mexican establishments that have opened in Edmonton over the past decade, but he believes the focus on authenticity and scratch cooking sets El Mero Mero apart. For instance, its flour tortillas are handmade, while its corn tortillas are all homemade.

“One of the things that we have that other restaurants don’t is a vertical broiler. It is like a rotisserie and cooks meat in a real way like in Mexico City,” said Ramirez. “We also cook our carnitas in a copper pot. The reason is that it gives more sweetness to the meat, and provides the actual flavour you should be expecting.”

Lastly, Ramirez believes that his charitable philosophy has been a key factor in customer loyalty. El Mero Mero chooses a different charity every month and donates a portion of sales in order to give back. In May, for instance, the company donated $1,200 to the Paralympic Sports Association. “People want to support us because we support the community,” said Ramirez.

Although the past two years have been a whirlwind, Ramirez said that the time leading up to the restaurant opening has been the most taxing. “I have grown so many white hairs in the last two months,” laughed Ramirez. “But it will pay off.”

Openings

  • The first of two anticipated Fuwa Fuwa locations in Edmonton is now open at 8103 104 Street. Fuwa Fuwa is a soufflé pancake franchise with other locations in Canada. The second location is set to open on July 16, 2022 at 1217 Windermere Way SW.

Closures

Upcoming Events

  • Save the date for the Alberta on the Plate festival, from August 12-21, 2022. So far, four Edmonton area establishments have signed on to be a part of the event.

Local News

What I Ate

  • I had a great birthday brunch at Rosewood Foods on Saturday. Their lemony buttermilk pancakes are like a dream, and even at that hour, we had a great people watching vantage point on the patio. It’s so great to have them in our ‘hood.
  • Rosewood Foods

Patio brunch at Rosewood