In January last year, I put together a wish list of things I wanted to see in Edmonton’s food scene. Though not many from that list have actually come to pass (yet), I thought it was time to note down some other culinary delights I would love to see more of in our city:
- Breakfast joints and diners: Perhaps this point comes from watching one too many episodes of Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, but regardless, I think Edmonton has an under-developed breakfast culture. Sure, we have a handful of diners (Route 99, Urban Diner, Blue Plate Diner, and most recently, Cora’s), but every time I visit Calgary, I’m left with diner envy. Calgarians love their Nellie’s (have you seen the line-ups?), and have a plethora of casual weekend brunch options to choose from (Avenue Diner, Dairy Lane, Galaxie Diner, Diner Deluxe, and one of the newest, Over Easy Breakfast, just to name a few). What will it take to inject a more frenzied love (and market) for brunch in Edmonton?
- Dessert bars: Though I do enjoy multi-course meals at a single restaurant, I’m also a huge fan of dining mobility, and being able to seamlessly relocate elsewhere for drinks, coffee, or dessert. Unfortunately, specialty dessert bars (such as Nectar in Calgary) have not yet landed in Edmonton.
- Food trucks: A downside of following the New York food scene is having no real local point of reference to understand their amazing culture of food carts (to the point where food trucks are being used to promote a website launch for NBC). Aside from Fat Franks and Filistix, Edmonton is bereft of outdoor food purveyors. Though I recognize our long winters may play a factor, as well as a lack of critical mass of potential customers in the core, isn’t it cool to see food trucks Tweeting their daily location?
- Rooftop patios and gardens: I realize Edmonton isn’t quite dense enough to have to resort to utilizing rooftop spaces yet, but there’s nothing like sipping a cool drink on a hot summer day on a rooftop patio. The Black Dog, Chili’s on Whyte Avenue, Latitude 53, and now, the Art Gallery of Alberta are all equipped with above-ground terraces, but I’m hoping for more. As for rooftop gardens – yes, it’s complicated to build, but when you see what’s possible (such as rooftop CSAs in the US), I want to dream.
- Farm to table dinners: What’s better than eating a meal made from seasonal produce sourced from local farmers, expertly prepared to best highlight their clean, fresh flavours? Madison’s Grill is leading the charge on this, but I think there is a market for more intimate, community-oriented dinners. If it’s all about relationships, such experiences do more than simply expose diners to the exquisite products available close to home – they also bring those interested in supporting local farmers together.
What’s on your Edmonton food scene wish list?