Food Notes for March 23, 2020

Pandemic Spurs Innovation from Local Food and Restaurant Businesses

It’s only been one week since the restaurant and hospitality scene really started to change after social distancing measures were put into effect, but the speed at which some businesses have adapted to embrace this new reality is astonishing.

Last week, many restaurants shuttered their dining rooms to focus only on take-out and delivery. This number has continued to grow (this handy spreadsheet by Vinson Luong is being updated with over 200 local food and drink-related businesses offering pick-up or delivery). It is worth remembering that while many local restaurants are available through apps like Skip the Dishes or Uber Eats, their cut involves a significant portion of the total. When possible, consider ordering and picking up directly from the restaurant, or, choose a restaurant that is offering in-house delivery (we ordered from Filistix on Friday and co-owner Ariel paid us a visit himself!).

This week, many restaurants have adjusted their menus to accommodate the demand from diners for more heat and serve-style dishes, which may work better for those looking to stock up their fridges and freezers. Some examples include Northern Chicken and Love Pizza’s take and bake pizzas, take and bake goods from Sugared and Spiced, Highlands Golf Course and Green Onion Cake Man’s frozen meals, RGE RD, Workshop Eatery, Drift Food Truck, and Get Cooking’s comfort food, and Corso 32’s heat and assemble Italian meals.

People are also seeking out grocery delivery services in light of minimizing contact with others, and several local options are now available. Bountiful Farmers’ Market is now offering delivery, as is the Italian Centre (neither have a comprehensive catalogue to order from, however, so it’d be difficult for non-regular shoppers to navigate). In addition, Meuwly’s has put together grocery boxes featuring their charcuterie, meats, and preserves, Uproot Food Collective offers collections of various local products, including Honest Dumplings, South Island Meat Co., and Boocha, and Good Goods Co. focuses on “hyper local sustainable small businesses” such as Herbologie, Roasti Coffee, Gruger Farms, and Laneway Bakery.

In this stressful and uncertain time, it’s also great to see some good news stories being shared. Many local restaurants and hotels donated excess food to the Edmonton Food Bank, and distillers like Strathcona Spirits and Black Diamond Distillery are making hand sanitizer and distributing them for free to those in need. Love Pizza also started selling $5 support pizzas, which goes towards the cost of making and delivering pizzas for those on the front lines of the pandemic. After just two days, over 1,000 pizzas were purchased, and deliveries have since been made to hospitals, a fire/ambulance station, and the Youth Empowerment and Support Services. Keep it up, Edmonton!


  • The Almanac hopes to upgrade to a bigger location by April in the former Holy Roller space. The renamed restaurant will be called Boxer – Alberta Kitchen and Bar.
  • It sounds like a “European cafe and wine bar” is in the works for the vacated Starbucks space at 10504 99 Avenue.


Local News

Beyond Edmonton

Urban Agriculture and Farming

  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Salisbury Farmers’ Market in Sherwood Park has closed until further notice.
  • The Journal featured a story on Greens Eggs and Ham farm, and their desire to gain ground and build on their operations again.

What I Ate

  • As mentioned above, we ordered in from Filistix (they’re offering free deliveries for orders over $50). We especially enjoyed the shrimp fried rice with bagoong and the mee goreng – we even had enough leftovers for lunch the next day!


Our order from Filistix

Food Notes for March 16, 2020

COVID-19 Precautions Impacting Local Restaurants

The precautions arising from the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Alberta are significantly impacting the food and hospitality industry.

Last week, Alberta Health Services implemented restrictions on mass gatherings, which led to the postponement or cancellation of a number of food-related events, including Avenue Magazine’s annual Best Restaurants evening and remaining 6 days of Downtown Dining Week.

This week, in an effort to support social distancing measures, recreation centres, libraries, and some local attractions closed to the public, with schools and post-secondary institutions following shortly, closing to students. While there isn’t yet an outright ban on restaurants and bars in Alberta, there is data showing that behaviours have changed. OpenTable released information that shows that over the last weekend in Edmonton, the number of seated diners at their restaurants were down more than 40% compared to the same weekend one year ago.

As a result, many businesses have begun shifting their business models to accommodate people choosing to stay home. Some establishments, including Otto, Love Pizza, Prairie Noodle, and Chartier, have closed their dining rooms entirely, opting for take-out or delivery orders only. Other restaurants who traditionally haven’t promoted or offered take-out, have started doing so, such as Nineteen and Corso 32.

Lastly, there are restaurants that have elected to close temporarily, including Royale, Wildfred’s, Huma, and King Noodle House.

For those out there looking for ways to support the industry in these uncertain times, Linda Hoang wrote a great post outlining ways to do so.


  • Tokeo Station (10009 101A Avenue) has been replaced by Ra Bar, which describes itself as a “Japanese inspired lounge and restaurant”.
  • The Cabin is now open, in the space formerly occupied by Urban Tavern (11606 Jasper Avenue). Because of COVID-19 precautions they are currently limiting occupancy to 50 patrons.



Local News

  • Some upcoming craft markets were cancelled because of the COVID-19 precautions; as a response, Colleen’s Chocolates put together some “survival boxes” containing items from several local vendors for delivery.
  • Phil shared his top three favourites after partaking in a hot chocolate crawl: Sweet Lollapalooza, Cococo, and Cafe Sole.

What I Ate

  • As mentioned above, Downtown Dining Week has since been cancelled. But last Tuesday (it feels like a different era), Mack, Emily and I attended its kick-off at the Art Gallery of Alberta, and enjoyed, among other dishes, this delicious short rib and polenta from Braven. I’ll have to return some time in the future to order the full plate.


Short rib and polenta from Braven

Food Notes for March 9, 2020

Planet Organic Closing Down

Two weeks after grocery store Planet Organic abruptly shut down one of its five Calgary-based locations, they announced they will be permanently closing all 11 of its stores.

In a memo to all employees, CEO Alan Thompson wrote, “We have tried to find a solution for the company but now it has come the time to recognize that despite the best efforts to restructure the business we are at an end."

The Edmonton area was home to four Planet Organic stores: in Oliver, Old Strathcona, Ellerslie, and Sherwood Park. Back in January, some vendors voiced their frustrations about the unpaid bills Planet Organic had failed to reconcile.


  • Links Woodfire Sausage Co. opened in early January in St. Albert (275 Carnegie Drive), offering wood-fire grilled sausage creations.
  • Wing Snob, an American-based chain, opened its first Canadian location in the Brewery District (11988 104 Avenue).
  • South African restaurant The Curry Bowl is now open on the south side, 3311 34 Street.
  • Nosh and Quaff, opened by the fine folks behind Mojo JoJo Pickles, kept their doors open at Kingsway Mall beyond the Christmas season. They stock many locally-made brands in addition to their own products. Find them by entrance 3.


  • The End Zone Pub, across the street from Commonwealth Stadium, is now closed.

Upcoming Events

  • Filistix is organizing the fourth Bayanihan Dinner Series, their multi-course meals involving a number of local Filipino chefs, on March 18, 2020. Tickets are $103.53 per person.
  • The City of Edmonton will be hosting a free workshop about the process and permits relating to opening food-related businesses like a restaurant or a coffee shop on March 31, 2020.
  • Hot Chefs Cool Beats, an interactive food and drink event benefiting the High School Culinary Challenge, returns to The Mosaic Centre on April 23, 2020. Tickets are $125 each.
  • From May to September, Kevin Kossowan will be leading foraging walks. Learn about edible plants that can be found along the river and in the forest. Tickets are $72 per person.


Local News

Urban Agriculture and Farming

  • Riverbend Gardens is taking a break from the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market until May 9 because they sold out of their storage crops.

What I Ate

  • Some Chinatown businesses seem to be struggling right now, due to a combination of factors including the economic climate and unfounded coronavirus fears. There’s a social media campaign using the hashtag #IWillEatWithYou as a means of combating these fears. If you are dining out – consider choosing Chinatown! I enjoyed pho with some colleagues over lunch last week at Pho Tau Bay.

Pho Tau Bay

My usual at Pho Tau Bay

  • Thanks to the High School Culinary Challenge for inviting me for their awards dinner on Monday night! This year, 57 students from 20 schools participated in the competition. Congratulations to the winners from St. Joseph, ME LaZerte and Archbishop Jordan High Schools on capturing gold, silver, and bronze, respectively. The chefs from the Edmonton Convention Centre prepared the 3-course meal, with their own interpretation of the competition parameters. The most interesting was a deconstructed minestrone soup, featuring a berlotti bean puree, satchetti, and a tomato bisque guests poured themselves.

High School Culinary Challenge

Deconstructed minestrone soup at the High School Culinary Challenge Awards Dinner

    Food Notes for March 2, 2020

    Best Restaurants and Favourite Plates Highlighted in Local Publications

    Avenue Edmonton and The Tomato released their annual lists of Best Restaurants and Top 100 Best Things to Eat or Drink in Edmonton, respectively (disclosure: I was one of the judges on Avenue’s panel).

    On the Avenue side, three restaurants were included in the “best new” category: Partake, Fox Burger, and Braven. In addition, the five restaurants in the “best overall” category shouldn’t be a surprise, given their inclusion on lists prior: Biera, RGE RD, Uccellino, Bundok, Corso 32. Other categories this year include “best plant-based”, “best diners”, and “best quick meal”.

    In The Tomato, it’s no small coincidence that the restaurants behind the top five dishes on their list match Avenue’s “best overall” category: Biera, Corso 32, RGE RD, Bundok, and Uccellino. This year, The Tomato has also included a list of their Top Edmonton Food Experiences.


    • We can expect an Edmonton location of Jack’s Burger Shack to open in the fall. They were the winners of Rohit’s competition The Cut, which saw local businesses compete for the chance to become a tenant in their Stadium Yards development (located behind the Stadium LRT station).
    • The Italian Centre Shop will be opening up its fourth location in the Edmonton area, with a Sherwood Park branch in the Emerald Hills Urban Village planned for Fall 2021. They are also planning a second store in southwest Calgary to open next fall, and expanding to Saskatoon in the future.
    • Another new bubble tea chain has arrived in Edmonton – ShareTea is now open in Edmonton City Centre Mall (10200 102 Avenue), in the space formerly occupied by Second Cup.

    Upcoming Events

    • The Environmental and Conservation Sciences Students’ Association is hosting a free Climate Friendly Food Workshop on March 5, 2020. Camola Sustainable Foods will be on hand with samples of their edible insect products.
    • The 20th annual Taste of the Chamber, put on by the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, takes place on March 10, 2020 at the Jubilee Auditorium. General admission tickets are $25, not including food and beverage sample tickets.
    • Cafe Bicyclette’s annual Sugar Shack Dinners (served in a wood-fired heated tent) return every weekend from March 13 until April 4, 2020. Tickets for the 5-course menu are $75 each.
    • The next Green Drinks on March 18, 2020 is all about “how our food systems are changing the climate and how we can adapt those systems to survive the climate emergency.” Tickets are priced at pay-what-you-can up to $15.


    • Leduc Nguyen has a new go-to place for Korean Fried Chicken – Country Coco.
    • Graham Hicks sampled Japanese fare from two restaurants – Gyu-Kaku and Kobachi. He was pleasantly surprised by the former, and disappointed by the latter.

    Local News

    What I Ate

    • A cold snuck up on me last week so I headed to my trusty (work) neighbourhood T and D Noodle House for my go-to cure.

    T and D Noodle House

    Bun Bo Hue from T and D Noodle House

    • Mack and I finally tried On the Edge Coffee, one of the vendors at the Downtown Edmonton Farmers’ Market. They use beans sourced from The Grizzlar.

    On the Edge Coffee

    On the Edge Coffee

    • We tucked into some take-out burritos from La Mision last week – it’s always great to know they’re close by if we need dinner in a pinch!

    La Mision Burritos

    Chicken burritos from La Mision

    Food Notes for February 24, 2020

    City of Edmonton Chooses Local for Golf Courses

    Last week, the City of Edmonton announced that local company Robert Spencer Hospitality Group has been chosen to run food operations at municipal golf courses, including Riverside, Rundle, and Victoria Golf Courses. They are expected to open in April, and will be run under the name The Greenhouse.

    Robert Spencer Hospitality Group also operates Workshop Eatery and Woodshed Burgers. Chef Paul Shufelt said, “We aim to continue the work we have done with Workshop Eatery and Woodshed Burgers to highlight great local ingredients and the flavours of the season while providing warm and genuine hospitality to our guests. In the months ahead we look forward to turning these venues into year-round dining and event destinations.”

    Back in 2018, the City chose to award the contract for food services at Victoria Golf Course to multinational company Civeo, after local restauranteur Brad Lazarenko had run the successful Dogwood Cafe at that location for three years. That decision was widely panned.


    • Oliver gem Breadland Bakery has announced that they will be relocating to Garneau (the space formerly occupied by Noorish, 8440 109 Street).
    • Kari spotted a new cafe to open in the High Street space that once housed a Starbucks – Cafe Versailles is coming soon to 12507 102 Avenue.

    Upcoming Events

    • West Edmonton Mall is hosting a Taste of WEM on February 25, 2020.
    • Filistix is hosting its second Kamayan Feast on February 29, 2020 (“kamayan” means “eat with your hands”). Tickets are $56.75 per person.
    • The Taste Alberta Brunch will take place at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald on March 8, 2020. Tickets are $65 for access to the buffet.
    • The High School Culinary Challenge Awards Dinner takes place on March 9, 2020 at the Edmonton Convention Centre. The top three teams will receive special recognition, and the 3-course meal will be based on the competition menu. Tickets are $35 each.
    • Start making your reservations for the annual Downtown Dining Week, which runs March 11-22, 2020 this year. 48 participating restaurants are offering two-course lunch and brunch menus for $20, or multi-course dinners for $35 or $50.


    Local News

    • Graham recaps the recent Pe Misto Indigenous event.
    • Both Kanto and Filistix made the list of Big 7 Travel’s list of 25 Best Filipino Restaurants in Canada.
    • Skip the Dishes now offers liquor delivery in Edmonton.
    • Nick Lees has an update on Chef Brad Smoliak’s heart condition.
    • While he didn’t officially make the podium, SC Restaurant’s Chef JP Dublado won the People’s Choice at the Canadian Culinary Championships earlier this month.
    • Congratulations to Team NAIT which brought home a bronze from the Culinary Olympics held in Stuttgart, Germany last week.
    • Edmontonian Moirae Choquette won a scholarship that will enable her to cook with acclaimed chef David Chang in Italy later this summer.
    • Co-authors Shane Chartrand and Jennifer Cockrall-King chat on Semi-Prose, a podcast from the publishing house behind their book Tawâw.
    • Jacek Chocolate Couture is receiving government funding to “expand production and reduce environmental impact through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.”

    Urban Agriculture and Farming

    Beyond Edmonton

    • One of the five Planet Organic stores in Calgary abruptly shut its doors last week, with officials claiming it to be just temporary.

    What I Ate

    • We had a lunch with my colleagues at Sorrentino’s in Little Italy last week. While the menu isn’t the most exciting, I find comfort in their pastas, and never stray far from my order of veal canelloni.


    Veal cannelloni from Sorrentino’s

    • It’s been a while since we’ve had pizzas from the Italian Centre, but we ordered a couple pies for take-out over the weekend. It was pretty convenient; they were ready by the time we were done our grocery run!

    Italian Centre

    Margherita pizza from the Italian Centre

    Food Notes for February 17, 2020

    Forthcoming Forest Heights deli launches crowdfunding campaign

    The owners of Fleish Delikatessen, a forthcoming deli and coffee shop in the Forest Heights neighbourhood, have launched a crowdfunding campaign to help them reach “the finish line”.

    Cartago owner Katy Ingraham and business partner Kimberly Der plan to open Fleish in the spring of 2020, and have a goal of raising $30,000 towards the project. Located adjacent to Cartago, Fleish will provide “hearty and fresh food made from local ingredients, locally roasted coffee, tasty ice-cream and the best locally sourced deli meats and cheeses”, and offer hot breakfasts, lunches and coffee.

    Crowdfunding campaigns are becoming a go-to source of revenue for local restaurant owners. The new iteration of Zenari’s, called Dalla Tavola Zenari, successfully reached their goal of $35,000 after relaunching their campaign late last year, and in 2018, the Black Box Hospitality Group surpassed its $100,000 goal for The Gibbard Block. Not all recent campaigns have been as fruitful; Culina’s push to raise funds for their Hawrelak Park lakeside cafe has been quiet.


    • Edmonton is home to the first branch of Burger Village outside of the US. The quick-serve restaurant is located at 6187 Currents Drive in Windermere, and prides itself on “exotic & grass-fed meats which is humanely raised and organic produce which does not contain any preservatives or chemicals.”
    • The Uproot Food Collective shop (10552 114 Street) is now open, featuring products from several local vendors, including Irvings Farm Fresh, Boocha, MoJoJo Pickles, and of course (as it is run by them), South Island Pie and Honest Dumplings. They’re offering 20% off on pies and dumplings until February 21.
    • Local chain Oodle Noodle has added a location in Terwillegar (#3, 2305 Rabbit Hill Road).


    • The Barking Buffalo Cafe will close its doors on March 23, 2020. The owners have decided to “move onto new areas of our lives and new creative endeavours.”
    • Arcadia will be relocating from their 124 Street digs to a new brewpub location. Their last day at their current space is March 21, 2020.

    Upcoming Events

    • Alley Kat is hosting an opportunity to meet the new owners of Alley Kat on February 20.
    • The Expo Centre is hosting another of their winemakers’ dinners on March 3, 2020. Tickets for the 5-course meal (including wine pairings) are $85.


    Local News

    • Chef Jeremy Charles, based in Newfoundland, will be this year’s Hokanson Chef in Residence in March. Tickets are available for lunch and dinners with the chef on March 12, 2020; tickets are $39 and $65, respectively.
    • Highlevel Diner partnered with a non-profit to help them estimate the carbon footprint of all of the dishes on their menu, as a means to start conversations about sustainability and climate change.
    • Congratulations to Coffee Bureau and Lock Stock for reaching their five year milestones!
    • The Journal outlines what to expect from Guru’s new Ice District restaurant.
    • Also from The Journal – more details on the family behind Popowich Meat Company.
    • CJSR launched a new podcast called That’s Food, which will provide the “backstory to food in Edmonton, one meal at a time.” The first two podcasts feature stories about Kind Ice Cream and the 1986 Gainers meatpacking strike.
    • Stadium Yards announced their finalists for The Cut, a competition that will offer the winner funding and entrepreneurial support to build their business in the area. Finalists include Jack’s Burger Shack, The Grizzlar, Caribe Community Bar & Restaurant, Coffeecito, and Luna & Leo.
    • There’s a new coffee roaster based in Beaumont, called Brave Fox. Find their product at the Sobeys in Beaumont.
    • Coal Lake Honey Farm (a vendor at the Downtown Edmonton Farmers’ Market) announced the passing of Joseph Kent last week.

    What I Ate

    • It was a privilege to be a part of the judging panel at Silver Skate’s Battle of the Neighbourhoods last week. We sampled a variety of stews, bread, and brews to determine the winners: Biera (representing Ritchie) won best stew; Brio (representing Oliver) won best bread; and Alley Kat (representing Old Strathcona) won best brew. Downtown will have to get ‘em next time!

    Silver Skate

    Let the judging commence!

    • Linda and I always have great lunches around Alberta Avenue, and last week was no different. This time, we dined at Mama Asha; I love their chicken suqaar sabayad wrap. Can you believe it’s just $10?

    Mama Asha

    Chicken suqaar sabayad wrap from Mama Asha

    • I met up with the Chinatown Dining Week crew at Noodleholic. It was my first time there, and we found the service to be fast and very pleasant. They feature infinite possible combinations through a build-your-own soup menu, so what we tried was just the tip of the iceberg. I enjoyed my choice of Little Sheep broth with tofu and wontons.


    Build-your-own-soup at Noodleholic

    • Mack, Emily, and I celebrated Valentine’s Day at home, a day made much sweeter with Bloom Cookie Co.’s annual Cookiegrams! It’s also great that $5 from every box went to the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton. Emily loved chocolate chip cookies.

    Bloom Cookie Co.

    Cookiegram from Bloom Cookie Co.

    Food Notes for February 10, 2020

    Hathaway’s Diner is on the market

    Owners of the beloved Wellington restaurant Hathaway’s Diner have announced they are selling the business.

    In a post shared on February 5, Pamela and Lyle Charlet wrote that they will be retiring: “With a heavy heart we are writing to inform you of our hopes to retire from our small but widely adored diner…The truth is we are tired and would like the opportunity for some much needed rest and relaxation before moving forward with some of the other dreams we have been holding on to.”

    They are hopeful that someone new will step in to take over the business. No firm date has been announced, apart from the possibility of a transition by March 2020.


    Upcoming Events

    • Hansen Distillery’s Northern Eyes whisky will be released on February 11, 2020.
    • Stump Kitchen LIVE! will be featured as a part of the Chinook Series on February 14, 2020 at the Arts Barns. Tickets are $22.
    • The Downtown Business Association is hosting a panel discussion on food and the food industry on February 25, 2020 at Campio Brewing. Panelists include Patrick Saurette of The Marc and Henry Song of Buok Fresh Kitchen. Tickets are $10 and include pizza and beer.


    Local News

    Urban Agriculture and Farming

    What I Ate

    • With the Hathaway’s announcement, Mack, Emily and I made a trip down to the diner over the weekend. It’s been some time since our last visit, but the hospitality is still something of a marvel. Emily and I shared some pancakes and eggs, but that didn’t stop her from eyeing up Mack’s eggs benedict.

    Hathaway’s Diner

    Eggs benedict with back bacon from Hathaway’s Diner

    Food Notes for February 3, 2020

    Doughnut Party Opens Second Location

    Doughnut Party’s long-awaited shop south of the river opened last week in Ritchie.

    Located at 9610 76 Avenue, it joins a number of sweet options available in the neighbourhood. Little Duchess, a smaller version of the popular bakery, opened last fall in Ritchie Market, and increased traffic to the building by 20%. Kind Ice Cream also opened last year.


    • BaoBao, offering “Shanghai street food” is now open at 10544 Jasper Avenue.
    • The Edmonton location of Peters’ Drive-In is working towards an April opening date.


    • Urban Tavern’s last day of operation was February 3, 2020. The Cabin will open in its place in March.
    • It sounds like several locations of Wetzel’s Pretzels have closed, including branches at West Edmonton, Premium Outlet Collection, and HUB Malls.

    Upcoming Events

    • La Poutine Week runs February 1-9, 2020, with 8 participating restaurants in Edmonton who are featuring a special poutine for the event.


    Local News

    • The Writer’s Room is temporarily closed as they are looking for a new location after their building flooded.
    • Did you know Tres Carnales now has a catering arm?
    • Congratulations to KB and Company who are expanding to Kelowna with a location to open in March.
    • Three local chefs offer their tips for stress-free cooking – check out what Chefs Paul Shufelt, Jason Greene, and Lindsay Porter eat for dinner at home.

    What I Ate

    • It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a year since Mack, Emily and I visited Route 99. Not surprisingly, not much has changed in our time away – it’s just as comforting of a greasy spoon as we remembered.

    Route 99

    Poutine at Route 99

    Food Notes for January 27, 2020

    City of Edmonton Makes Hawrelak Park Food Vendor Announcements

    Last week, the City of Edmonton officially announced that Culina to Go will be the food provider in William Hawrelak Park. The contract length is one year.

    Rhonda Norman, the Director of River Valley and Horticulture Facilities stated that, “We recognize the importance of working with local providers and we are excited to have Culina operating out of the park. This decision keeps in mind Fresh: Edmonton’s Food and Urban Agriculture Strategy.”

    Culina to Go operator Brad Lazarenko had spoken publicly about Culina on the Lake back in December, and launched his crowdfunding campaign for “Edmonton’s only lakeside cafe” earlier this month. Culina previously operated concessions at the Victoria Golf Course, ACT Centre and Rundle Park, before losing those contracts in 2018, and they will resume operations at the Muttart Conservatory after renovations of that facility are complete.


    • Woodrack Cafe is opening a second location, taking over Square One’s spot in the Premium Outlet Mall. They hope to open in mid-February.

    Upcoming Events

    • Kind Ice Cream is hosting a fundraiser called Ice Cream for Breakfast for Momentum Walk-In Counselling on February 1, 2020. All proceeds from scoops sold from 9am-noon that day will go to the charity.
    • The Glenrose Foundation is hosting Charcuterie Night on February 12, 2020. Guests will learn how to put together a balanced charcuterie board; tickets are $99.
    • Prairie North’s February Cidermaking 101 workshop is sold out, but they have other workshops with spaces in March, including cider tasting.
    • The next Edmonton Eats event, a social enterprise featuring the cuisine of local host families, will highlight Somalia. Tickets for the March 21, 2020 dinner are $75.


    Local News

    • CBC highlighted Little Duchess that opened at Ritchie Market in October; in the story, the building’s owner shared that “Since Duchess came in we’re up 20 per cent year on year for the number of people coming through.”
    • Also from CBC, they analyzed restaurant inspection violations in the Edmonton area in 2018: poor cleaning cloth practices came up the most often at 18%. Inspection reports can be easily searched online through Alberta Health Services’ database.
    • This month’s episode of Avenue Magazine’s Sidebar Podcast features Phil Wilson, who discusses cold weather food and his experience as a judge on the Best Restaurants panel.
    • Local podcast Yeg.Me interviewed South Island Pie owner Jamie Scott about how he started the company and his work on the food business accelerator UpRoot Food.
    • Last week, I shared my (belated) 2019 Year in Review, summarizing what was notable to me over the year.
    • A forthcoming book called Tapping the West: How Alberta’s Craft Beer Industry Bubbled Out of an Economy Gone Flat covers the story behind Alberta’s craft beer boom. It is available for pre-order.
    • The sixth season of Kevin Kossowan’s From the Wild is now available to stream on demand.
    • Victor Hugo shared his recipe for maple-orange carnitas on the Passion for Pork blog.

    Beyond Edmonton

    What I Ate

    • Mack, Emily, and I finally stopped in at the new cafe on our street, A Bite of Brazil. They have a great deal right now: a medium brewed coffee and 3 units of cheesebread for just $3.95. The space is warm and inviting, the staff were super-friendly, and Emily couldn’t get enough of the cheesebread! We’ll be back!

    Bite of Brazil

    Cheesebread and coffee from A Bite of Brazil

    • We’ve started a tradition for Emily’s birthday gatherings to always include soft pretzels from Zwick’s, so while picking up our order, we also treated ourselves to some sandwiches. The McZwick really hit the spot.


    The McZwick’s is a thing of beauty

    • January can be a hard month to get through, but it is a little bit easier to do so with Love Pizza’s January feature – the mac and cheeza! We grabbed their 2 for $22 deal today on the way home for supper.

    Love Pizza

    Mac and cheeza from Love Pizza

    Epicureous in Edmonton: 2019 Year in Review

    It was an interesting year for restaurants in Edmonton, to say the least. While there were a number of high profile closures in 2019, most notably Hardware Grill, Noorish, and Manor Bistro on the independent side, as well as Red Robin’s and several locations of Tony Roma’s on the chain end of things, the scale was still tipped in favour of new restaurant openings.

    The most anticipated addition to the scene was no doubt Filipino fast food giant Jollibee, which garnered line-ups even before opening its doors, and lengthy wait times in the months to follow. The splashiest entry was the arrival of Toronto-based O&B’s quartet of establishments (Braven, Kindred, Alchemy, Lobby Bar), contained in Ice District’s upscale JW Marriott Hotel. But what was most impressive was the number of locally-owned eateries that expanded this year, in spite of the flailing economy.

    These include Baijiu’s addition of a burger joint in Royale and another bar in Pablo, Black Box Hospitality’s move into Highlands with Fox Burger and June’s Delicatessen, Farrow’s third shop on 124 Street, Workshop Eatery’s foray into burgers in Woodshed, Downtown branches of Tiffin and Filistix, and Duchess and Padmanadi opening up outposts south of the river.

    All of these were added over a year that saw a provincial election called. Restaurants Canada, a hospitality lobby group chaired by Patrick Saurette of The Marc, campaigned against policies introduced by the NDP government, including a higher minimum wage and holiday pay. Teresa Spinelli, president of The Italian Centre, and Garner Beggs, co-owner of Duchess, both had to walk back comments made in connection with the campaign. After the incoming UCP government introduced a lower youth wage, in response, some restaurants committed to continuing with higher wages regardless.

    Restaurants Canada

    Here are a few other items notable to me in 2019:

    • Following the success of Ritchie Market, Oliver Exchange was not to be outdone. Also embedded in a mature neighbourhood, Oliver gained Brio Bakery, Iconoclast Coffee, Odd Company Brewing, and Culina To-Go in a single building. Also worth mentioning is the revamp of the former Sobey’s location Downtown, which subdivided, has flourished into a food-centric centre of its own, with international chains Dagu Rice Noodle and Gyu-Kaku adjacent to local contributions Tiffin and Pampa’s A Bite of Brazil.
    • Shopping centres have never been known for their love of local, but West Edmonton Mall welcomed a number of independent businesses last year. Calle Mexico, Splash Poke, Reinette, and Gangnam Street Food all opened additional locations at the complex.
    • Ghost kitchens, which cater exclusively to delivery customers, just started to take off in 2019. Big name players so far include Century Hospitality’s The Flying DoDough, and Leva Café’s Sepps Pizza.
    • Ice cream had a moment this year, with Calgary-based Made by Marcus opening up an Edmonton outpost, and Kind Ice Cream joined the Ritchie renaissance. Duchess also started serving up its own house-made pints.
    • A well-made bagel was easier to find in Edmonton, thanks to June’s Delicatessen and Bagel Bar (currently operating out of DeRose Fine Foods).
    • Edmonton finally made the jump to multi-day farmers’ markets in 2019. Newcomer Bountiful Farmers’ Market went all in, opening three days per week from the start. The Edmonton Downtown Farmers’ Market (formerly City Market) had a rough transition into its new Quarters location, but eventually landed on operating two days per week.
    • Edmonton-based chefs and home cooks had a banner year on TV food competitions. Most notably, Shane Chartrand (SC Damn Fine Food) competed on Iron Chef Canada, and Edmonton, through Alexei Boldireff (Baijiu, Royale) finally got its first contestant onto Top Chef Canada (albeit short lived). A number of local chefs also competed on Fire Masters (including Food Network darling Lindsay Porter of London Local), and home baker Nataliia Shevchenko was crowned the winner on CBC’s The Great Canadian Baking Show.
    • A number of cookbooks from local authors were published this year. Both Giselle Courteau and Karlynn Johnson published their second books, Duchess at Home and The Prairie Table, respectively. In tawâw, Shane Chartrand (with Jennifer Cockrall-King) shared the story behind his Indigenous roots and food.

    You can check out previous year in reviews here.