Lunch at Taste of Edmonton 2009

I was reluctant to go to Taste of Edmonton this year because not only is the value for dollar not there, but I’ve been shown the light for tasting events (in the forms of Taste of Summer and Indulgence). That said, it’s undeniable that the festival is ingrained in the city’s culture (it celebrates it’s 25th anniversary this year), and sampling small plates outdoors on Churchill Square can be the cure for the common lunch. So when a few coworkers asked if I wanted to join them, I gave in.

I decided to buy just 10 tickets ($1 per ticket), and planned my meal accordingly. While I admit it isn’t the best way to go about the event, I was looking for a full stomach as opposed to the full experience.

I decided on the sweet potato fries from Zen and the cheese empanada from Roma Bistro, both only 3 tickets each. The sweet potato fries were good, particularly with the accompanying dip. I couldn’t complain about the portion size either.

Sweet Potato Fries from Zen

I actually remembered to pull out my reusable container for my second course, and was pleasantly surprised when the attendant at the Roma Bistro booth took the time to cut the empanada so it would fit into my container. The deep-fried pastry didn’t lack cheese, but it wasn’t anything special either.

Cheese Empanada from Roma Bistro

With 4 tickets left, I could have gone for something slightly more substantial (the dry spicy chicken from The Lingnan was tempting), but I ended up with a dessert. On the Rocks’ apple crumble with Jack Daniels caramel sauce won my vote because of the ice cream. It melted much too fast for me to enjoy it, but some fruit was a nice way to end an otherwise deep fryer-heavy meal.

Apple Crumble from On the Rocks

Have you made it to Taste of Edmonton? What were your favourites?

Taste of Edmonton runs until July 25.

7 thoughts on “Lunch at Taste of Edmonton 2009

  1. Agreed, sweet potato fries from Zen was good; and my fave was the Deep Fried Mars Bar from The Hat! So bad for you, but it was delicious!!!

  2. The sweet potato fries were excellent, as was the teriyaki salmon rice bowl from Zen – two pieces of salmon with lots of rice and sprouts, and the sauce was sweet (I like sweet teriyaki). I had a lot of fun with some of the desserts. Here are my photos documenting what I ate:

    Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
  3. While some of the food is good, a majority is an expensive waste of time. I have been going (off and on) since the first one. To me it has become a money grab for the few restaurants that are involved, some of which have a booth there all summer. The selection is getting smaller every year and it is a lot of the old same old stuff. This is supposed to be a venue to show your stuff, not just a way to make a quick buck. I know I ‘m not the only one that feels this way. Come on Edmonton, speak up lets get it better.

    Suffice it to say if it does not improve I will not return.

  4. I can agree that it does get quite expensive! I easily spend $30, and while some of the items were truely interesting – the sweet potato fries, spicy dried chicken – many of the items I tried were simply ok, others quite dissapointing. This year is only the third time I have gone to the Taste of Edmonton, and I have always treated it as an event that might introduce me to a restaurant I might never have otherwise been interested in, and might prompt me to visit the restaurants featured.
    Unless the menu changes significantly, I am unsure if I would go back next year. The atmosphere is great, the food is not too bad, but it’s really just too expensive for what you end up getting.

  5. This was our first Taste of Edmonton. My husband and I have just moved here and my sister, who’s lived here for years, told us we should experience it. Not having been before, we had nothing to compare it with, so we enjoyed ourselves immensely! The Pad Thai from Krua Wilai and the Chicken Ticka w/ Garlic Naan from New Asian Village were the standouts for us, and we had fun watching the organized entertainment (the cover band) and the unorganized entertainment (the people). And we thought $35 – parking, food, beer, entertainment – was a reasonable price to pay for a couple’s night out. That said, I’d like to see more diversity within the restaurant selection (there were a lot of Asian restaurants) and/or more unusual dishes. And there definitely needs to be a stronger emphasis placed on local food grown sustainably. We’ll be going back next year though!

  6. The desserts are usually my fav. I am also skipping it this year though, not enough new selections. When I worked downtown though I used to go a ton because it was nice lunch variety (although as mentioned by many, not good value for the dollar).

  7. I’m not sure Taste of Edmonton really is the best way for a restaurant to show what they can do – I can imagine it would be challenging for certain places to recreate their signature dishes in the cramped conditions with limited equipment and potential for varying weather. It also seems that some restaurants succeed with food that would never fly in an actual restaurant (deep-fried dishes are always a hit, for example). Moreover, if publicity was the point, I’d think the organizers would make more of an effort to include addresses and phone numbers of participating establishments right on the tasting guide – otherwise, it’s simply a medium for sampling a variety of dishes.

    I’ve come to view the festival as a fun way to have a meal. I’m not optimistic that “sustainable food” will be found at the event, at least not for the next few years. For tastings that feature locally-sourced food, I’d suggest heading to Taste of Summer (which we missed this year, but the upcoming Tomato Fare is still selling tickets: http://www.edmontonscountryside.com/country-cuisine/), or one of the annual Slow Food Edmonton events, such as Indulgence or the Wild Boar and Beer BBQ (www.slowfoodedmonton.ca).

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