Cultivating Regulars: Partake

Having Emily has reduced the frequency of our experiences dining out. For that reason, when we do eat out, we often default to restaurants that are unfussy, where I can relax after spending the day caring for Emily. Partake fits this bill perfectly. I’ve been to the restaurant twice thus far; once in early November and a second time this week, and I enjoyed myself both times.

Opened by the folks behind Manor Café and Urban Diner, Partake has taken over the former La Favourite storefront on High Street. No trace of the bakery remains – in its place is a space with old world charm that feels worn in, and would not seem out of place on a Parisian side street. I love the interior – rounded door frames, pressed ceiling tiles, a comfortable central bar, and a mix of small tables and cozy booths. I felt comfortable immediately, at ease with the kind of establishment that seeks to cultivate regulars.

Partake

Interior

The one page food menu is French-inspired and unpretentious, with a focus on nibbles and comforting share plates. Those seeking something more experimental won’t find it here, but the familiarity is part of the attraction.

My first visit coincided with Partake’s happy hour, which runs from 4-6pm and 10pm-close from Monday-Thursday, and from 4-6pm on Friday. With the purchase of any drink, the kitchen treats customers to several complimentary snacks. It was a more generous spread than I was expecting, and included pesto-drizzled popcorn, cheese-stuffed dates, olives, and meatballs. It’s a great incentive to come in early (or late!).

Partake

Our happy hour spread

My favourite dish from that meal was the potato fondue ($10), a blend of gruyere and emmental cheeses, potato, and garlic. I loved the smooth texture with the addition of the starch; it’s an idea that I’ll steal for my own use in the future.

On my more recent visit, my friends and I shared the beef tartare ($16). Prepared tableside, the mixture was beautifully seasoned, dotted with capers, beet-barley relish, and chives. It was served with a delicious roasted garlic spread that elevated each bite.

Partake

Beef tartare

The croque mon’soubise’ ($14) will have me returning again. Featuring the amazing ham from Meuwly’s (which alone is work a trek to the meat shop) and gruyere, the toasted sandwich is served with a side of creamy soubise sauce. An onion-based butter sauce, it would probably make anything taste infinitely better, and in this case, it absolutely does.

Partake

Croque mon’soubise’

I don’t typically order dessert during meals out, but I did both times at Partake. This was primarily because they offer mini desserts that appeal to people like me who are looking for just a few bites of something sweet, as opposed to another course onto itself. Their tiny creme brulees ($3.50) were just perfect, the caramelized crust concealing a light and creamy custard underneath. Flavours change constantly, but the white chocolate mint was the favourite of the ones I’ve sampled.

Partake

Mini creme brulees

Service was a bit more attentive on my first visit, but that was a minor detail in an otherwise very pleasant duo of meals. In my opinion, Partake is a very welcome addition not only to High Street, but to the Edmonton dining scene as a whole.

Partake
12431 102 Avenue
(780) 760-8253
Monday-Thursday 4-11pm, Friday 4pm-1am, Saturday 5pm-1am, closed Sundays

Vegetarian Vietnamese Cuisine: An Chay

After my coworker introduced me to Pho Tau Bay years ago, that was it. I had a hard time ordering pho at any other local restaurants, as I always found myself comparing it to my beloved Tau Bay (Pho Hoan Pasteur is the one exception; it was also recommended by my coworker to get us through the weeks when Tau Bay is closed). I made an exception to this rule at lunch with Linda (and Emily!) last week at An Chay.

An Chay is part of the recent wave of vegetarian/plant-based restaurants that have opened in Edmonton over the last two years. Within that niche, An Chay serves up meat-free Vietnamese cuisine; much of An Chay’s one page noodle and rice-based menu will look familiar to diners, minus the meat.

An Chay took over the space previously occupied by Pitaghetti on Jasper Avenue and 112 Street. I’m not certain if much has changed – the décor is pretty minimal – but the best feature of the room by far are the windows that line two sides of the restaurant. On that day, the natural light made it a very pleasant place to have lunch.

An Chay

Interior

Linda had already tried several dishes on the menu, and recommended we share the shredded tofu rolls ($9). These fresh rice rolls were expertly packed with shredded bean curd, lettuce, mint, bean sprouts, pickled daikon, and carrots. While I enjoyed the texture (and Emily liked munching on the tofu), they were a bit plain for my taste, even with the vinaigrette for dipping.

An Chay

Shredded tofu rolls

The pho ($15), on the other hand, had flavour to spare. The broth, laced with heady five spice, had a nice hint of sweetness. There was also a great variety of vegetables included, from baby bok choy, to enoki mushrooms, and lotus root. I would have preferred more tofu, however, especially since it was essentially replacing the typical meat protein found in pho. While I did really enjoy the soup, I still have a hard time recognizing it as “pho”; I likely would never crave it in the same way as a hearty bowl of noodles with beef.

An Chay

Pho

That said, service was efficient, and my experience overall was very positive (they had a couple of high chairs and a change table, making it a great baby-friendly option for parents). So although my go-to restaurants for pho have not changed, it’s likely I’ll be back to An Chay in the future to sample more of their Vietnamese fare.

An Chay
11203 Jasper Avenue
(780) 752-2203
Monday, Wednesday-Friday 11am-8pm, Saturday-Sunday 12-8pm, closed Tuesdays

Ready, Set, Brunch: OEB

I’ve often bemoaned the lack of brunch culture in Edmonton, making the joke that Mack and I would be more likely to drive to Calgary to enjoy this meal. While there are a handful of local restaurants that are known for their brunch service (Hathaway’s Diner and Hap’s come to mind) that number multiplies by several factors when we look to our southern neighbour. So in some ways, given this current vacuum, it’s no surprise that Calgary brunch staple OEB decided to expand to Edmonton.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

OEB in the Kelly Ramsey

OEB is on a mission. Now with a trio of locations in Calgary, they’re not only setting up shop in Edmonton (with a second branch opening next fall on 124 Street in the former North 53 space), but in Vancouver and Scottsdale, Arizona, too. Mack and I dined at OEB’s first restaurant in Calgary back in 2010 when it was still known as Over Easy Breakfast, and though the menu in its current iteration is still daunting, the aesthetics of OEB has changed to embrace a more modern and sleek design. At the end of October, Mack, Emily, and I were invited to preview the first Edmonton location of OEB in the Kelly Ramsey Building on Rice Howard Way.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Window seats

It’s really great to have such an eye-catching tenant on street level. Although OEB prides itself on unique interiors in each of its storefronts, it’s apparent their spaces make the most of natural light, bright accent colours, and egg-shaped decorations. The Kelly Ramsey shop features an open kitchen and pantry, so it feels even more welcoming. It’s fun without being too kitschy, and overall makes it a very pleasant place to dine. The only drawback, perhaps, is that there are few sound dampening measures, so the room can get a bit loud.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Interior

To say there is something for everyone on the OEB menu is a bit of an understatement, as there are over 50 items to choose from. To set them apart, OEB not only has an extensive breakfast poutine selection, but also includes some unusual brunch ingredients like rabbit, lamb, duck confit, black truffles, and caviar. On that initial visit and a follow-up trip, I couldn’t resist ordering breakfast poutines both times. They didn’t disappoint.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Ehhh Itza Meatball breakfast poutine

Most poutines are made up of a base of herbed potatoes (half of which could be substituted with spinach if so desired), poached eggs, and hollandaise, then dressed up with a variety of proteins – from the more traditional bacon and cheese curds to the more refined seared scallops and lox.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Chasing Chickens breakfast poutine

Mack and I shared the Ehhh Itza Meatball ($18) and Chasing Chickens ($17) at the preview. Of the two, the pulled chicken was the better cooked protein, easier to eat along with the potatoes and curds. The Spolumbo’s chorizo meatballs were on the dry side, so digging in to create a complete bite of all of the bowl’s components was a challenge. That said, the eggs were poached to yolky perfection (we were advised by the server to request a medium doneness; apparently at OEB, soft poached means a barely cooked egg with a transparent white), and the hollandaise was delicious.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Our spread

Emily was also treated to her very own kids meal (her first!). She enjoyed nibbling on the toast and scrambled eggs. Although OEB is equipped with a couple of high chairs, curiously, neither of the washrooms had a change table.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Emily, content

When I returned for lunch a few weeks later, I ordered their signature Soul in a Bowl ($17), topped with slow-cooked bacon lardons. Again, the medium poached eggs were consistent with my previous visit, and the potatoes were as crispy as I remembered (Emily enjoyed them, too!). And though I appreciated the generous hand that dealt the bacon, because of how salty they were, less may have been more in this case.

OEB

Soul in a Bowl breakfast poutine

At the preview, service (as expected) was superb. On my return visit however, it was equally outstanding. I was particularly impressed with the small details – a shift change had occurred, but the second server didn’t miss a beat, and had already been informed that I was drinking decaf coffee which she topped up without having to clarify.

OEB’s entry into the Edmonton brunch market has already made quite the splash; lineups are commonplace on the weekend. OEB does use a waitlist app to help diners manage their time, but the best advice may be to try and avoid peak times if possible – try for an early or late brunch on weekends, or better yet, check it out on a weekday if able. I know I’m already eyeing up OEB as a place to catch-up with visiting relatives over the holidays.

Thanks again to Bonafide Media for the invitation to the preview!

OEB
10174 100A Street (in the Kelly Ramsey Building/Enbridge Centre)
(587) 520-0936
Monday-Friday 7am-2:45pm, Saturday-Sunday 8am-2:45pm

Preview: Jang

It’s always great to see locally owned restaurants grow and expand. In Edmonton, the trend over the past few years has been for restaurants to parlay their reputation into new concepts instead of replicating their initial successes – Tres Carnales/Rostizado, The Next Act/Meat/Pip, Elm Cafe/District/Little Brick, and of course, Corso 32/Bar Bricco/Uccellino are just some examples.

There’s another restaurant to add to this list – Jang is the brainchild from the folks behind Nudoru, the popular ramen joint in Old Strathcona (they had the distinction of being the first in Edmonton to make their own noodles). Although there are numerous establishments that serve Korean cuisine in the city, owner Eric Hui saw a gap in restaurants offering higher end Korean food. Chef Jamie Jang shared the same opinion, so when an ideal space became available on Jasper Avenue and 112 Street (formerly Soy and Pepper), Jang was born. It opened its doors in mid-October, and Mack, Emily and I were fortunate enough to attend a media preview of Jang last weekend.

Jang

Chef Jamie Jang and Eric Hui

“Jang” means sauce in Korean, and their hope is to create a fusion of flavours through a combination of Korean, Japanese and Western sauces. We tried a variety of their small plates and mains meant to be shared.

We started with a refreshing apple kimchi, an inspired take on a Korean staple. I appreciated that the heat level was cut by the crisp fruit; it made for a nice accompaniment as we sipped our drinks.

Jang

Apple kimchi

The salmon carpaccio, served with fennel, avocado, tomato, a Korean chili vinaigrette and cilantro mayo was very fresh. The fish was beautifully presented, and it was easy to see this dish as a representative of the type of polished plate Jang wants to be known for.

Jang

Salmon carpaccio

The kimchi croquette was one of our favourites that night – sweet potato mash, kimchi, and grana padano deep fried and served with a shichimi aioli. They nailed the textural contrast, with a crisp exterior and a smooth centre, punched up with the slightly spicy aioli on the side.

Jang

Kimchi croquette

The sizzling hot ika featured calamari tossed in a Korean chili pesto, with a poached egg, mashed potatoes, and a black olive emulsion. It didn’t come together as a sum of its parts, although the squid was itself well cooked.

Jang

Sizzling hot ika

Onto the mains, the baked kimchi dome was a bit of a puzzle. It was presented with some fanfare, with the server cutting into the naan crust at the table to reveal pork loin and tofu in a kimchi tomato sauce. While the meat was quite tender, the flavours of the stew could have been further developed, and the group agreed that the naan bread was unnecessary.

Jang

Kimchi dome

On the other hand, the beer-battered Korean fried chicken was definitely a crowd pleaser. Gojuchang and ganjang (soy sauce) dips were served alongside, but I preferred to enjoy the crispy, well-seasoned coating unadorned. The meat underneath was juicy and satisfying. The side of taro fries were an interesting choice, but they weren’t as crispy as I would have liked. For Jang’s grand opening from November 5-10, the KFC is on special for just $10 (regular $19).

Jang

Beer-battered Korean fried chicken

Jang’s gogi platter reminded our tablemate Cindy of the meat boards central to Rostizado, resplendent with different cuts and sauces. Here, teriyaki ribeye, galbi (Korean short ribs), pork belly and spicy pork shoulder is served with kimchi butter, ssamjeng dip and Asian chimichurri, alongside roasted potatoes, grilled vegetables, and some lettuce to create wraps. The ribeye was prepared well, with a good ratio of meat to fat. I also enjoyed the short ribs and their expected sweetness. If dining in a group, this would be a good way to sample a variety as we did.

Jang

Gogi platter

For the most part, Jang does meet its goal of serving more composed dishes with fusion flavours. As Edmonton’s food scene continues to develop, it’s encouraging to see restauranteurs take risks to bring their vision to life. Thanks to the team at Jang for their hospitality, and I wish them well in the weeks and months to come!

Jang
11212 Jasper Avenue
(780) 421-8281
Monday-Saturday 5-10pm, closed Sundays

For more early perspectives on Jang, check out Eat with Sharon and YEG Cravings.

Preview: Olde Towne Beverly Dining Week, October 5-13, 2018

There are so many parts of Edmonton that I have yet to fully appreciate, and I am grateful when opportunities arise to encourage further exploration. When it involves food, I’m even more likely to participate – so the first ever Olde Towne Beverly Dining Week is right up my alley.

Eight restaurants in Beverly are showcasing their fare from October 5-13, 2018, ranging from long-standing establishments to several newcomers to the neighbourhood. I had the chance to visit some of these restaurants with my friend Freya on Wednesday during a media preview event, and was pleasantly surprised by the diversity and the sense of community evident that night.

Wild Heart Collective (the folks behind Eats on 118 and the 124 Grand Market) worked with the Beverly Business Improvement Area on developing the event. Wes Robson, the Executive Director of the BIA, said Beverly is an often forgotten part of Edmonton. That’s definitely been the case for me – I haven’t been back to the area since I visited the farmers’ market a few years ago (with a pit stop for doughnuts from Take 5). After the tour, I could easily see myself returning to spend an afternoon in Beverly, having lunch and picking up groceries and dessert to go.

Beverly Dining Week

Olde Towne Beverly

Two of our stops highlighted the Ukrainian heritage of some of the original settlers in Beverly. Uncle Ed’s is a city institution, and one restaurant that has been on my to-visit list for ages. Collette Hennig, whose grandfather opened Mundare’s famous Stawnichy’s in 1959, is now the third generation to run the family business. Her daughter has recently been dipping her toe in operations as well, something that is great to hear.

Although the first Edmonton location opened in 1986, the current iteration of Uncle Ed’s has been in Beverly for twelve years. The shop is split between a grocery store offering Stawnichy’s meat products and frozen goods, and a family-friendly restaurant serving up Ukrainian comfort food at very reasonable prices. Their Dining Week special is a sampler plate, featuring perogies, sausage, cabbage rolls, baked cheese bun, cheese crepe, and homemade pie for dessert. Based on our tastes of these items, I’ll be back for a full serving very soon.

Beverly Dining Week

The spread at Uncle Ed’s

I hadn’t heard of Widynowski’s Sausage House prior to the tour, but it turns out they also have deep roots in Beverly, having been in operation there for 34 years. Tyler Hawryluk, whose father and uncle started Widynowski’s in 1984, has since taken over the business, and shared that everything in the shop is still hand made. They have a selection of sausages and jerky, in addition to frozen perogies, cabbage rolls, and other Ukrainian delicacies. The ham and garlic sausage we tried was delicious, and is included in the take-home bundle Widynowski’s has put together for their Dining Week deal.

Beverly Dining Week

Sausage at Widynowski’s

We also sampled the fare from two more recent establishments. The first was Old Beverly Cafe, opened by Rachel and Michael Benti in January. Although the interior has been designed to resemble the mine shafts that recall the coal mining history of Beverly, the menu is much more eclectic. That night, we sampled poutine, paninis, and their Dining Week specials, bruschetta and a Mediterranean burger, with tzatziki atop a lamb patty.

Beverly Dining Week

Old Beverly Cafe

It’s a cozy little spot that I wouldn’t have thought to encounter in Beverly, charming and quaint. Their breakfast menu looks particularly intriguing, with a breakfast poutine that I wouldn’t be able to pass up.

Beverly Dining Week

A sampling at Old Beverly Cafe

Nalaz Kitchen is another newcomer to the neighbourhood, having opened in January. The couple behind the restaurant is originally from India, but the chef has extensive experience in international hotels and cruise ships, inspiring a menu they describe to feature “Indian flavours and Canadian tastes”.

We sampled several of their savoury dishes, including a curry poutine, chicken tikka burger and fish and crisps. The spice level was tuned for more moderate palates, but everyone around our table enjoyed the plates. The highlight of the meal, however, was dessert – a red velvet waffle with cream cheese frosting that silenced the room. If one were to plan a food crawl in this area, Nalaz would be the ideal choice to end the evening.

Beverly Dining Week

Red velvet waffle at Nalaz Kitchen

Swiss 2 Go is well-known to many in Edmonton for their scratch-made sandwiches. Originally from Switzerland, Drita Keller and her family moved to Edmonton in 2012, and opened up a small cafe in Beverly. Although they moved to a location across from West Edmonton Mall for a few years, Drita said they didn’t find the community they were hoping for and so, returned to Beverly again about three years ago.

Drita is a consummate host, and warmly hugged each patron before we departed. It’s amazing she has the energy she does, given she starts working at 3:30am to ensure the shop is stocked with freshly baked pretzel buns each day. Given the foundation of a great sandwich is the bread, it’s no wonder why Swiss 2 Go has the reputation it does. The ingredients are fresh (the sandwich I tried featured prosciutto, salami, bocconcini, and sundried tomato), but it really is the pretzel bun, studded with rock salt, that sets is apart. During Dining Week, a select variety of their regular and large sandwiches are 20% off.

Beverly Dining Week

Sandwiches at Swiss 2 Go

Their desserts, also handcrafted, were made for Instagram, served in a molded chocolate teacup.

Beverly Dining Week

Freya enjoys her “tea”

While it probably helped that board members of the Beverly Business Improvement Area were among the group that night, we felt very welcome at each of the establishments we visited. Nearly all of the business owners mentioned that they felt a kinship with the community, and indicated that they felt well supported by the residents. Well, it’s about time that this well kept secret is shared with the rest of Edmonton!

Thanks to Wild Heart and the Beverly BIA for a wonderful evening!

Check the Beverly BIA website for more information about Olde Towne Beverly Dining Week.

Recap: FEASTival of Fine Chefs 2018

In Edmonton, we are fortunate to have a diversity of culinary events to attend. While it sometimes seems like there are new tastings or markets popping up every weekend, other events can claim a long history, and have endured the whims of an ever-changing food community. The FEASTival of Fine Chefs, put on by the Alberta Food Processors Association, is one such example, celebrating its thirtieth year in 2018. Mack and I were fortunate to attend the event as guests last week alongside our friends Linda and Sharman.

FEASTival of Fine Chefs

FEASTival of Fine Chefs

A showcase for Alberta products and a fundraiser for apprentice chefs, FEASTival pioneered the idea of the “black box” challenge. 24 hours before the event, participating chefs receive a hamper containing a variety of locally sourced produce, grains, pulses, and proteins which they have to transform into 4 different courses. Diners are given four vouchers that correspond with each course and a restaurant station number. The distinct aspect of this event, however, is that the station numbers change after each course, so guests end up with dishes from four different places. Linda captured her experience of this really well, but I will say this Russian roulette-style dinner was unique. It’s ideal for those with adventurous palates, and created a easy going atmosphere in the Shaw Conference Centre hall.

FEASTival of Fine Chefs

Our meal tickets

There were a total of 17 participating restaurants this year. Because of the time and labour-intensive nature of the function, organizers shared that it is difficult for smaller establishments to participate. As a result, all of the restaurants were representing hotels, institutions, or chains. Still, event chair Chris Short maintains that FEASTival is a great opportunity for young chefs to challenge themselves, in addition to exposing them to the range of products available from home grown producers.

FEASTival of Fine Chefs

Chefs hard at work

Before dinner, we whet our appetites by exploring the menus the restaurants had put together. Although I could extrapolate from the dishes what ingredients were provided in their black box, it would have been visually interesting to see what a sample hamper contained.

FEASTival of Fine Chefs

Plating perfection

I was particularly impressed by the few who had an overall theme to their dishes (the Renaissance Hotel was inspired by Korean cuisine), or a fun display (the Royal Glenora had set up a big top tent complete with popcorn decorations and a spin-the-wheel game).

FEASTival of Fine Chefs

The Royal Glenora carnival

Overall, I was pretty impressed by the food, and by circumstance, ended up with a fairly cohesive meal. My appetizer was prepared by the Highlands Golf Club; a birch-glazed bison short rib with a sweet potato purée and charred rutabaga. The meat was nicely tender, and I appreciated the pair of vegetables served together, as they complemented the other well.

FEASTival of Fine Chefs

Birch-glazed bison short rib

I was delighted to see a soup course on the menu (Mack jokes that I could eat soup all day every day, and it’s true). Of the two I sampled, I preferred the roasted chicken mushroom consommé from Stages Kitchen & Bar. While it was on the salty side, I thought there was a lot of depth to the broth.

FEASTival of Fine Chefs

Roasted chicken mushroom consommé from Stages Kitchen & Bar

My main course was prepared by the Royal Glenora Club. I very much enjoyed the spiced rack of boar, served with a curried cauliflower purée, cabbage, and northern bean cassoulet. At an event this size, I often find the meat to be overcooked, so I was pleasantly surprised that the boar was a perfect medium rare. In addition, the highlight of the plate for me was the flavourful bean cassoulet.

FEASTival of Fine Chefs

Spiced rack of boar from the Royal Glenora Club

Most of the desserts around the table were chocolate-based. Considering the event’s local philosophy, I was expecting more dairy, egg, or fruit concoctions, but I recognize that chocolate is a crowd-pleaser. My dessert was a flourless chocolate cake from the Highlands Golf Club; it was a very rich way to end my meal.

FEASTival of Fine Chefs

Flourless chocolate cake from the Highlands Golf Club

The event finished with a rousing bagpipe-led parade of chefs, providing diners with the opportunity to show their gratitude to those that had their hand in preparing the evening’s food.

FEASTival of Fine Chefs

Chefs’ parade

Thanks again to the event organizers for a fun evening, and to Linda for inviting us to join her! Tickets for the 31st FEASTival of Fine Chefs next September will go on sale April 1, 2019.

Recap: Urban Beekeeping Tour at MacEwan University

Did you know that Downtown Edmonton is abuzz with urban beekeeping? While I was aware of the hives at the Shaw Conference Centre and Hotel Macdonald, I didn’t know that MacEwan University started a similar program in 2016. At the end of August, I attended a free tour of their hives to learn more.

Kerstyn Lane of MacEwan’s Office of Sustainability led the tour. We started outside, and learned about solitary pollinators, a vital but less often discussed group of pollinators. While most people are familiar with social bees that live in colonies, of the 300 species of bees that reside in Alberta, most are actually solitary bees. To help these bees, many organizations in Edmonton, including MacEwan University, are erecting bee hotels, which provide tunnels for the insects to lay their eggs in. The Edmonton & Area Land Trust has been promoting this as a way to help urban pollinators thrive, and has tips on how to build your own bee hotel, and a map of more than two dozen existing hotels in the city.

MacEwan Urban Beekeeping Tour

MacEwan’s bee hotel

From there, the group moved onto the third floor of MacEwan’s Building 5. From the windows of a classroom, we were able to observe the resident beekeeper Troy Donovan and his assistant Liam as they tended to the rooftop hives. It was certainly a sight to see, with the hives in the shadow of Rogers Place and the new Ice District skyscrapers.

MacEwan Urban Beekeeping Tour

MacEwan’s rooftop hives

The first of MacEwan’s four hives were installed in May 2016, and they have since grown to six hives. Troy (whose full time gig is actually in the University’s eLearning office) is able to monitor the temperature and the humidity of the hives through a bluetooth sensor. This is helpful particularly at this time of year as they are readying the hives for winter.

MacEwan Urban Beekeeping Tour

Resident beekeeper Troy Donovan

He also showed us the plastic flow frames they use, which allow them to collect honey directly from individual frames as opposed to the more traditional method involving a centrifuge. They’re able to fill a 2L jar in just 20 minutes!

MacEwan continues to harvest more and more honey each year – from 80 pounds that first year to 300 pounds in 2017. This year, they’re expecting to bring in 600 pounds. The honey is currently used by Food Services, and we were invited to purchase honey at the end of the tour. MacEwan Honey isn’t yet consistently available at the on-campus store, but will be at some point in the future. The next opportunity to pick up this local treat will be at the upcoming Harvest Fair on November 6, 2018.

MacEwan Urban Beekeeping Tour

MacEwan Honey

Because of the cooler temperatures, Kerstyn wasn’t certain that any more free beekeeping tours would be scheduled for this year. However, for those keen to check out all three Downtown hives before the snow flies, MacEwan is organizing an urban beekeeping tour by bike on September 26, 2018 (tickets are $20 for the general public).

Thanks again to MacEwan for offering this opportunity!

Preview: 5th Annual Sabor Seafood Festival

Sabor is known as one of Edmonton’s best seafood restaurants, and every August, they choose to highlight the freshest products and flavours with their annual Sabor Seafood Festival. In its fifth year, 2018’s iteration welcomes the collaborative touch from Hawaii. Chef Lyndon Honda (of Sheraton Maui) and Chef Tom Muromoto (of Ka’anapali Beach Hotel) worked with Sabor Chef Lino Oliveira to design a menu inspired by a wide range of tastes, reflective of the Korean, Japanese, Filipino, Puerto Rican, and Portuguese roots of Hawaiian cuisine.

Earlier this week, I attended a media preview of the festival, which runs from August 7-31, 2018.

Among my favourite dishes that night was the ahi tartare, served on a taro chip. Prepared poke style, this appetizer couldn’t be trendier in the city, and the taro chip itself was crunchy and addictive.

Sabor Seafood Festival 2018

Ahi tartare

I loved the grilled prawns, dressed in a coconut taro leaf curry. The smoke was apparent in the plump prawn, and I enjoyed the subtle sweetness in the curry. Of all of the plates I tried, I’m pulling for this one to appear on the final festival menu!

Sabor Seafood Festival 2018

Grilled prawns

I’d say Spam is under appreciated in mainstream North American culture, and Chef Lino deftly incorporated it as a chorizo substitute in his Portuguese sausage Spam ‘n clams dish. I doubt any other restaurant in Edmonton would be daring enough to serve this.

Sabor Seafood Festival 2018

Spam ‘n clams

The Ko’ala lamb chops was another highlight. Prepared to a perfect medium rare, I adored the mango mint chutney underneath. The chefs weren’t wrong when they said this dish could sway anyone uncertain about lamb.

Sabor Seafood Festival 2018

Ko’ala lamb chops

Doughnuts seem to be all the rage in the city at the moment, so it wasn’t a surprise that one made its way to us as dessert. But it wasn’t your typical doughnut – here, the malasada (Portuguese fried dough) was stuffed with Pinocchio’s coconut ice cream, and topped with a decadent mango cream. I may have been full, but I found room to polish off the plate.

Sabor Seafood Festival 2018

Coconut ice cream stuffed Malasada

The full Seafood Festival menu is still being finalized, so check the Sabor website for details! Thanks again to Bonafide Media for the invitation, and for organizing a wonderful evening.

Ramen in #yegdt: Let’s Grill Sushi and Izakaya

Although options abound for pho in the core (including Chinatown, of course), my other favourite noodle soup, ramen, is a bit more elusive in this area. Nomiya in Oliver Square, Kiwado near the Royal Alex and Prairie Noodle on 124 Street are the closest, but I’ve been hoping for something within closer walking distance. As such, I was happy to hear that Let’s Grill Sushi and Izakaya serves ramen before 5pm on weekdays, and was keen to try it out. A few weeks ago, I met up with Linda there for lunch.

Although the restaurant wasn’t full, there was a steady flow of customers, including some ducking in for take-out. I liked the openness of the dining room, with a variety of seating options to choose from, including a nice sized bar for those inclined to watch the action behind the counter. I also appreciated the wide space between the tables (although I didn’t have Emily with me, I could have easily parked the stroller next to our two-top).

Let’s Grill Sushi

Interior

A sign outside the restaurant touts that the broth cooked for 10 hours, which seemed like a good start. At lunch, diners can choose from four types of ramen. And similar to Kiwado, which offers the option to add a side, Let’s Grill sells a $5 combo upgrade that includes a choice of three sides (3 piece chicken karaage, 4 piece tako yaki, 3 piece yellowtail sashimi) and a tea or pop. Both Linda and I opted for the combos – she added sashimi to her black garlic ramen ($14 +$5), while I ordered the tonkotsu miso ramen and chicken karaage ($13.50 +$5).

Let’s Grill Sushi

Black garlic ramen

Our food arrived fairly quickly. The broth was pretty good, with a nice creaminess that I enjoyed, and the noodles were cooked well. The egg yolk wasn’t as soft boiled as I would have preferred, but I did like that the chashu pork wasn’t as fatty as others I’ve encountered.

Let’s Grill Sushi

Tonkotsu miso ramen

As for the sides, the karaage was a decent sized portion, though it could have been crispier. Linda enjoyed her sashimi well enough.

Let’s Grill Sushi

Chicken karaage and yellowtail sashimi

Service was friendly, perhaps so much so that it was only after we left the restaurant that Linda and I realized that we were never served our combo beverages!

Overall, I had a positive enough experience that I wouldn’t hesitate to return to Let’s Grill for ramen again. Hurrah for more noodle options in the core!

Let’s Grill Sushi and Izakaya
10709 Jasper Avenue
(780) 244-1880

Preview: DOSC opens on 104 Street

Late last year, the Journal published an article about seemingly “cursed” spaces in Edmonton, where restaurants can never seem to stick. One of the storefronts included in this inventory was the historic Metals Building on 104 Street, which has seen four failed attempts in the last five years. On July 22, 2018, DOSC (the abbreviated name for Drunken Ox Sober Cat), hopes to finally reverse the trend.

DOSC

DOSC

I was among a small group of people invited to a media preview on Friday, to not only sample some of their food but to also be among the first to see the product of their extensive renovations. The pedigree of the folks behind DOSC is strong. The team is led by Isaac Choi of Japonais Bistro and Dorinku, and Jake Lee of Seoul Fried Chicken. Their restaurants have been lauded for their quality and consistency, and in the case of SFC, for its economical pricing. Although these previous successes have focused on Japanese and Korean cuisines, Jake indicated that the inspiration behind the food at DOSC is pan-Canadian, with representation on the large 50+ item menu ranging from British (think liver and onions) to French Canadian (tourtiere). In the mix as well is Mexican influence from Executive Chef Israel Alvarez (of COMAL Taco Therapy fame), with items such as tostadas and barbacoa-style brisket also making appearances on the menu.

DOSC

Brisket, wrapped in banana leaves and cooked sous vide for 15 hours

DOSC bills itself as a steakhouse, but in that labelling much about their ambitious concept is lost. Not unlike Holy Roller, they plan to be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, an attempt to gain some of the market share in a neighbourhood already known as a coffee district, while also appealing to those venturing on to Rogers Place in the evening (the central bar is decked out in copper and blue). Notably, the restaurant has received a permit to build a new entrance facing 104 Street, which they will undertake next year.

DOSC

DOSC bar

Walking in, diners are greeted with the “Sober Cat” concept, a beautifully rendered coffee bar surrounded by plush seating. During the day, the area will be flooded with natural light , making it an attractive space for work and meetings alike. Their coffee program was headed by Rogue Wave, who supplies the beans and led the training of their baristas. I’m perhaps most excited about their breakfast menu, with house-made breads featured alongside tableside scrambled eggs and bacon sliced and cooked to the diner’s preference (thick or thin, tender or crispy). These hot items will be supplemented by house-made pastries, yogurt, and granola.

DOSC

Sober Cat

The “Drunken Ox” concept is comprised of a whisky lounge and the aforementioned steakhouse. The standard meat and potatoes have been given an upgrade at DOSC. While steaks can be ordered in 3, 6, and 9 oz. portions, and a variety of sides are available, it’s the type of meats available that really sets them apart.

Diners can expect cuts not found at other steakhouses, primarily because the restaurant is committed to a nose-to-tail philosophy. Case in point was the beef tongue, cooked sous vide until tender and charred, complemented well with a salsa verde and tomatillo.

DOSC

Beef tongue, with charred salsa verde, tomatillo, smoked tongue oil

On the higher end, DOSC is importing Miyazaki wagyu from Japan. For our taste of this luxury we were each given a slice to sear ourselves on a hot stone, dressed simply with a house made horseradish and volcanic salt. The marbling was unparalleled, and the meat melted away on the tongue.

DOSC

Miyazaki chuck wagyu, with “horse with a rash”, volcanic salt

The sides are also elevated, with their fries, for instance, first coated with whole wheat, flash frozen, then fried to a crisp. The marrow mash that we sampled was one of the highlights of the night, rich, dense and whipped to silky smooth perfection.

DOSC

Marrow mash, with yukon gold potato, bone marrow, and wheatgrass, parsley, and arugula oil

I happen to live in the condo next to the Metals Building, and have been impatiently waiting for a more permanent fixture to open. Only time will tell if DOSC is it, but I wish them the best of luck, and a warm welcome to 104 Street!

Thanks again to DOSC for a wonderful evening! Check out Crystal’s blog for another perspective of the event.

DOSC (opening July 22, 2018)
10190 104 Street
(780) 540-0606