Food Notes for February 1, 2021

In-Person Dining Permitted to Resume

Last week, the Alberta Government announced that due to declining hospitalizations, certain restrictions would be lifted. This includes permitting in-person dining as of February 8, 2021, as long as hospitalizations remain below 600.

The guidelines in place are similar to those introduced back in November, and limit 6 individuals to a table from the same household or two close contacts for those living alone. Liquor service must also end at 10pm and in-person dining by 11pm. A new requirement is the need for the establishment to collect contact information from one person in the dining party.

Some restaurants have already announced that they will be opening on February 8, 2021, including Braven and Dalla. Others, such as Pho Tau Bay, are gearing up to open in March.

Many restaurants have announced that they will remain closed to in-person dining in spite of the change in restrictions. These businesses include Northern Chicken, Cartago, and Jack’s Burger Shack, who shared:

“On Feb 8th we will not be opening our dining room. The reality is our restaurant is just too small to serve everyone safely. At the end of the day, the safety of our staff and guests is paramount. We are suffering along with all other restaurants; we went from a bustling room to only being able to take 40 orders a night before we are sold out of pick times, to avoid overcrowding. Regardless of the impact, we will continue to only provide take out at this time.”

COVID-19-related News

Openings

  • New vegetarian restaurant Palette Cafe is now open in Old Strathcona at 10047 80 Avenue.
  • Hey Croffle is open in the Premium Outlet Collection by the Edmonton International Airport, serving up croissant waffles. Sharon enjoyed her croffles.
  • Freson Brothers is opening a store in Edmonton proper on March 5, 2021 at 5139 Mullen Road.
  • Jess noticed Phoenix Diner coming soon to 10803 Jasper Avenue.
  • Ghost kitchen Flying Burrito is now open.

Closures

  • Careit’s Downtown location in the Fox Tower is closing on February 5, 2021.

Upcoming Events

  • The Edmonton Intercultural Centre is hosting a series of free virtual cooking classes from February 4 – May 6, 2021, with cuisines ranging from Bengali, Sudanese, Turkish, and Vietnamese.
  • The next Edmonton Eats event on February 12-14, 2021 celebrates honey in all its forms, and features recipes for honey marinade, honey vinegar dressing, and honey cake. Tickets are $75 per household.
  • Milk Crate is hosting two virtual cooking classes on February 13, 2021, one for women seeking men/men seeking women, and a second for LGBTQ2 community members. Tickets are $30.
  • Deep Freeze is taking place this year, but with many modifications due to the pandemic. One such change is their annual tourtiere contest, which will be a recipe draw instead of a tasting competition. Share your recipes with the festival by e-mail and be entered to win a prize. The submission deadline is February 14 2021.

Local News

Beyond Edmonton

Urban Agriculture and Farming

What I Ate

  • Last week, we were fortunate to receive a gifted Meuwly’s Secret Meat Club package to help celebrate their fourth birthday. The bag includes charcuterie, sausage, condiments, and their house-made Fleur Jaune cheese. We tried the Cassonade sausage over the weekend, and it is some of the best sausage we’ve had in some time. First time subscribers can get 30% off their first month’s subscription by using the promo code SMCTURNS4, valid until February 15.

Secret Meat Club

Secret Meat Club package from Meuwly’s

  • We got our annual fill of Love Pizza’s mac and cheeza on Friday – it’s one of the rare things to look forward to in January!

LovePizza

Mac and cheeza from Love Pizza

  • We were so spoiled by a gifted curbside brunch from the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald this weekend. It was a sneak peek of their new menu created by new Executive Chef Jiju Paul. The crispy chicken (buttermilk marinated crispy chicken, smoked bacon, mushrooms, hash brown potatoes, and fried eggs) was our favourite, so flavourful and crunchy even after the ride home. The menu launches to the public on February 6.

Fairmont Hotel Macdonald

Crispy chicken from the Hotel Mac

  • One of the best things about living in #yegdt is the diversity of small businesses within walking distance. For Emily’s birthday, we ordered cupcakes from My Cupcake Mama, housed in the Don Wheaton YMCA (and the COVID-19 pivot of Maka Eatery). They were fantastic to work with, and the cupcakes were delicious and not too sweet (their Swiss meringue buttercream is a nice alternative to super sweet icing). I’d definitely recommend them, as would Emily!

My Cupcake Mama

Cupcakes from My Cupcake Mama

Food Notes for January 25, 2021

JustCook Kitchens to Open Downtown Food Hall This Spring

Edmonton might finally get its first food hall. JustCook Kitchens is planning to open the 5th St. Food Hall this spring at 105 Street and 103 Avenue.

This flagship location will feature four restaurant concepts and a bar. The name of the company is derived from a desire to help food entrepreneurs pursue their passion. “We put the infrastructure, technology, and processes in place for the chefs to just cook,” said COO Luke Butterworth. “[By] taking away the additional burden and complexities of being a business owner, we aim to give chefs and foodpreneurs the keys to succeed and thrive.”

JustCook envisions that they won’t be just a landlord to the businesses, but a partner to help them achieve success. “We designed our Food Hall concept around [the chefs], said JustCook CEO Jennifer Keith. “We realized that many restaurants are still lagging behind in terms of technology, so we decided to ensure our food halls would be fully integrated with technology in mind for every step of both the chef and the customer experiences.”

No tenants have been confirmed yet, but they have received interest from several chefs and food entrepreneurs. Their plan is to open additional locations around the city. CMO Maëlle Piquée shared that they want to help build new restaurant brands, and intend to be a “destination food hall for dedicated restaurants in our space and distribute food through eat-in, take-out, and delivery networks.”

The JustCook concept is not too dissimilar from The Public, WildHeart Collective’s initiative to assist small food vendors with scaling up their business. They believe their eat-in space differentiates them, as does JustCook’s approach to technology. “We believe that being able to make data-driven decisions is what will lead to smooth and lean operations,” said Piquée. “Easy identification of best dishes, food trends, or not-so-successful dishes and ways to improve, which will ensure continued success and growth.”

COVID-19-related News

Openings

  • California-style smashburgers are available at Flatboy Burgers, at 8717 53 Avenue.
  • Hanjan and Let’s Go Round Two are behind a new concept called Honey Jam, offering a handful of burgers and sides.
  • Rub’d Smokehouse BBQ is a ghost kitchen located in Crash Hotel Downtown.
    • Tacos El Nido is now open, in the same space as Jiro Ramen and a Presto Tea location, at 11113 87 Avenue.
    • Let Eat Snow has rebranded to Urban Plant Cafe, and re-opens on January 26, 2021. Sharon has a photolog of the renovations.
    • The third Edmonton location of Jollibee is slated to open on January 28, 2021 at 17136 90 Avenue.
    • Noodle Xtreme is opening up a second location in Sherwood Park on January 31, 2021 at #182, 270 Baseline Road.
    • Corner Hub is now open at the University of Alberta campus, at 8623 112 Street, offering coffee and light fare.
    • I was remiss in not mentioning that the sister French bistro to Eleanor and Laurent, La Petite Iza, opened at the end of last year. It is located at 10926 88 Avenue.
    • Bicycle Bakery is another home-based business that opened during the pandemic. The unique aspect is that all orders are delivered by bicycle in several central west communities.
    • The new restaurant in the Transit Hotel is not yet open, but owners are confident their permits will come through soon.
    • A new branch of The Canadian Brewhouse is under construction in Manning Town Centre, to open this summer, and another is in the works for the Edmonton International Airport.

    Local News

    • The Anti-Social Running Club is putting on Dine and Dash, an initiative that encourages people to run a 10K, half marathon, or full marathon from February 7-14, 2021. As a reward, runners will be able to pick up dinner from one of six restaurants on February 14, 2021. The cost starts at $45 for an individual.
    • It’s never too early to plan for Valentine’s Day – Linda has a fantastic post about sweet treats available from small businesses in the Edmonton area (including one of my favourite Valentine’s treats on the list – Cookiegrams from Bloom, which also benefits the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton).
    • Phil Wilson’s latest Best Dishes column highlights the chicken shawarma from El Fino Kabab and Shawarma.
    • It’s always great to see more restaurants move into the online/digital sphere, such as the 45 year old Coliseum Steak & Pizza.
    • Farrow has been able to expand their pastry production in their new location, and are optimistic their shop fits in with the Downtown crowd.
    • This listicle contains 25 Edmonton restaurants offering Oilers game day specials.
    • City Council voted to move forward with public engagement about the possibility of permitting alcohol in public parks.
    • The Taste of Edmonton has announced that the 2021 festival will be relocating to Churchill Square this summer, if the event is permitted to happen.
    • The first episode of NAIT’s new Career Essentials podcast features Chef Steven Brochu of MilkCrate and his mental health initiative MilkCrate Listens.
    • Plant-based products continue to grow in availability – plant-based sausages and burgers from Victoria-based Very Good Butcher are now available at Meuwly’s.
    • Hungry Zine is accepting submissions for their first issue, centred around the theme of home cooking.
    • Additional FreshCo conversions were announced, including the Safeway by the Coliseum, in Millbourne Mall, and Palisades Square.
    • Sikhs for Humanity is giving away free groceries to those in need, then transitioning to a kitchen that can provide meals in downtown Edmonton.
    • Edmonton-based Nabati Foods Inc. is looking to raise four million dollars to help with their expansion.
    • How do urban bees survive? This is a great thread from local bee expert Dustin Bajer about re-locating a wild honeybee colony in a tree.

    Beyond Edmonton

    • An owner of a Montreal Chinese restaurant’s very honest menu descriptions went viral last week after they were shared on social media. They include such gems as, “it has curry flavour, don’t expect it to be SO tasty but it’s a safe choice and make you happy.”

    What I Ate

    • Mid-week, Mack and I had time to visit Farrow’s newest location close to home for a couple of grick middles. It might just be my favourite sandwich in the city.

    Farrow

    Grick middle from Farrow

    • Thank you for all of your support of our fourth annual Chinatown Dining Week. The event just concluded on Sunday, but it’s safe to say that the participating businesses felt the love from the community. We ordered our Friday night take-out from Syphay – their pad Thai is so good!

    Syphay

    Our order from Syphay

    • We also popped over to Tea Bar Cafe over the weekend for some bubble tea and egg waffles. Emily has been a part of Chinatown Dining Week from the beginning (she was born on the final weekend of the first event in 2018), so it’s great that she’s more actively sampling the food now. She thoroughly enjoyed these treats!

    Tea Bar Cafe

    Emily and an egg waffle

    Food Notes for January 18, 2021

    Curated Samples of Local Goods Provide Positive Exposure

    Many consumers are looking for ways to support small businesses, and there are a couple of recent examples that offer compiled collections of local goods.

    The Alberta Box, an initiative of Sobeys, is a package of 22 locally-produced products, including candy, soda, soup mix, and oats. Participating companies, including Gramma Bee’s Honey, appreciated the exposure. Priced at $49.99, the boxes were very well-received and are 90% sold out. As a result, Sobeys will be releasing an additional box featuring new vendors in the spring.

    The Silver Skate Festival has created its own version of an Edmonton box, in the form of Celebrate Edmonton surprise gift bags. The bags not only support the suppliers highlighted, but also the festival itself. This promotion ran over the Christmas holiday (I picked up a bag and was pleasantly surprised by the range and quality of items), and was so popular that the festival has brought it back again for Valentine’s Day. Vendors for this version include Caramunchies, Smokey Bear, Acquired Taste Tea, and Token Bitters. Bags start at $25 and orders must be placed by February 9, 2021.

    COVID-19-related News

    • Love Pizza’s Spruce Grove location is temporarily closed due to a staff testing positive for COVID-19.
    • Northern Chicken has re-opened again after a temporary closure due to a COVID-19 positive staff member.
    • Bundok has chosen to remain closed until at least January 21, 2021.
    • The Calgary-based Alberta Hospitality Association is asking the government to consider allowing in-person dining to resume and to commit to no further shutdowns.

    Openings

    • Farrow’s fourth location is now open in the former Wishbone storefront at 10542 Jasper Avenue.
    • East African restaurant Rayyan is now open in Chinatown (in the space formerly occupied by Garden Bakery, 10019 106 Avenue).
    • Sunflower Eatery is now open at 10014 104 Street.
    • The Express Chef, offering Indian fusion food, is now open at 10534 111 Street.
    • Ayco, a local artisan bakery, opened in West Edmonton Mall back in December.
    • Bubble tea chain Presto Tea added a location to Southgate Centre.

    Closures

    • Cacao 70’s Ice District location has been closed since March 2020, but for some reason remains on the company website.

    Upcoming Events

    • Celtic Kitchen is still taking orders for Robbie Burns dinners for pick up on January 23, 2021.

    Local News

    • Chinatown Dining Week has received some great press in the last week. The event runs until January 24, 2021.
    • The Journal profiled Alberta BBQ Collective, which delivers smoked meats of all kinds.
    • New Asian Village’s Sherwood Park location has been experimenting with fusion-style dishes, including a popular tandoori fried chicken.
    • Vote for your favourite Edmonton cafe in the Th3rd Wave Awards – in categories including coffee shop of the year, best new coffee shop and best new coffee roaster.
    • Edmonton chef Mai Nguyen is back in the MasterChef kitchen for a second chance in MasterChef Canada: Back to Win. It begins airing on February 14, 2021.
    • Kirsta Franke of Wild Heart Collective and Aga Wajda-Plytta and Nina Karpoff of Good Goods Co. were highlighted as a part of EDify’s first class of Edifiers.
    • CTV covered Kind Ice Cream’s recent foray into learning American Sign Language and about Deaf culture. It was driven partly because mask-wearing has made it more difficult for their Deaf or hard of hearing customers.
    • Long-time Old Strathcona Market vendor Hendrickson Bagel has retired.
    • Edmonton’s Food Bank is commemorating 40 years of community service.

    What I Ate

    • Mack and I took advantage of the sun last week to walk over to On the Edge, a new cafe located in the Co*Lab space in the Quarters. We loved the welcoming yellow paint and fixtures outside, and it was a good chance to pick up some beans from the new-to-us local roaster 8 Acres Coffee.

    On the Edge Coffee

    Coffee from On the Edge

    • Our Friday night takeaway was from King Noodle House, our first Chinatown Dining Week meal so far! The soup definitely hit the spot for me, and Linda’s tip about ordering uncooked noodles made a world of difference.

    King Noodle House

    Chinatown Dining Week combos from King Noodle House

    • We finally ordered some bread from Bonne Vie Bakery – the Sturgeon River Cereal sourdough was dense and hearty, and definitely will lead me to try their other products! I also loved how the loaf was presented with such care.

    Bonne Vie Bakery

    Beautifully presented loaf from Bonne Vie Bakery

    Food Notes for January 4, 2021

    New Restaurants Continue To Open During Pandemic

    In spite of the ever-changing public health regulations, more than 4,000 new businesses opened in Edmonton between March and November 2020. Not all of these businesses were in the food and hospitality sector, but they are among the most visible.

    Even this month, as in-person dining restrictions continue until at least January 14, new establishments and concepts continue to pop up. Transit Smokehouse & Bistro, the new restaurant in the renovated Transit Hotel, was set to open by New Year’s Eve, but has since delayed their opening date. The ramen bar in Dorinku Osaka Downtown has been replaced by a new concept called Korea Town.

    COVID-19-related News

    Openings

    • XO Bistro’s second location will be open in February in southwest Edmonton, located at 5021 Mullen Road (Rabbit Hill Crossing).
    • There appears to be a third Jollibee location in the works in west Edmonton.
    • Mondo Pizza has opened in the space formerly occupied by Die Pie (11215 Jasper Avenue).
    • Spirit Bistro is a new-ish Chinese restaurant located at 10824 97 Street.

    Upcoming Events

    • The menus for the fourth annual Chinatown Dining Week are up. The event runs January 14-24, 2021 and features 9 restaurants offering $10 and $18 takeaway deals.
    • Filistix held a couple of successful Kamayan feasts pre-pandemic. They’ll be bringing it back for home consumption on January 16, 2020 for pick up only.

    Local News

    Beyond Edmonton

    What I Ate

    • Mack and I treated ourselves to some cocktails from Woodwork over the holidays! Convenient single servings and pre-mixed, it was easy to order from their online system to boot. I found the Nocturne to be deliciously refreshing, and Mack loved his WW (boozy) egg nog.

    Woodwork

    Nocturne from Woodwork

    • We also dug through our freezer for provisions last week and sampled Nepa Food’s chicken momos. They had great flavour and just a bit of a kick. Find them at the Edmonton Downtown Farmers’ Market.

    Nepa Food

    Chicken momos from Nepa Food

    • On the occasion of Mack’s birthday, we finally tried pizza from High Dough. We loved that the Detroit-style crust was thick, but fluffier than expected. We ordered the Dirt City de Luxe.

    High Dough

    Dirt City de Luxe from High Dough

    • A quiet birthday deserves an epic cake! We decided to go all in for an old fashioned carrot cake from Rosewood Foods (it smelled amazing, and didn’t disappoint).

    Rosewood Foods

    Happy birthday, Mack!

    Food Notes for December 21, 2020

    Chinatown Dining Week Returns For a Fourth Year

    Now more than ever, without indoor dining as an option, restaurants are struggling. Those located in Chinatown, a neighbourhood often mired in negative perceptions, were experiencing challenges even before the pandemic. Now, the current restrictions have further limited their ability to make ends meet.

    Chinatown Dining Week was established to spotlight an area full of culinary gems that are often overlooked, and this year that mission continues (disclaimer: I am one of the founding volunteers of this initiative). The event returns for a fourth year, and runs from January 14-24, 2021:

    11 businesses will be participating in the fourth annual Chinatown Dining Week. We’re thrilled to welcome two new partners to our roster: The Nook Cafe and Kim Fat Market. Both businesses have been strong community advocates, and we’re happy to showcase some of their menu items in our upcoming event!

    Businesses will be offering special $10 and $18 menus for the duration of the event. Due to current public health guidelines, food will be served take-out only; phone orders are strongly encouraged to minimize wait times. Menus will be posted soon.

    COVID-19-related News

    Openings

    • Congratulations to Frida Urban Taqueria, who opened their doors to take-out last week. Find them at 12411 Stony Plain Road.
    • One of the vendors at the Edmonton Downtown Farmers’ Market, On The Edge Coffee, has opened up in CO*LAB, at 9641 102A Avenue. They offer convenient pre-order through Ritual as well.

    Closures

    • Die Pie announced their closure, with their last day of operations being December 22, 2020: “We have seen a continuing heavy decline in sales the past couple months and increases in expenses and interest rates. We have painfully concluded that we can no longer operate further through this pandemic. We remain optimistic about the future, but we are unsure if or when we will re-open.”
    • Veggie Garden also announced they will be closing December 31, 2020: “Our hope is to one day in the future re-open in a location that is more easily accessible and most of all safer for our family and our customers.”
    • Garneau Pub, home of Combat Juice, is now closed.

    Local News

    Beyond Edmonton

    What I Ate

    • Kudos to Filistix who helped us cater a virtual staff lunch last week, delivering meals to the homes of our team members so we could enjoy it together over a video call. It was nice to break bread during these challenging times. I ordered the Tocino Burrito again – so good.

    Filistix

    Tocino Burrito from Filistix

    • Emily played in the adjacent Beaver Hills House Park while we waited for take-out from Wayback Burgers, the relative newcomer to #yegdt. The cheeeesy burger wasn’t quite as cheesy as promised, but the choice of tots was nice.

    Wayback Burgers

    Take-out from Wayback Burgers

    • Sunday was a beautiful afternoon for a Remedy Cafe chai and a stroll.

    Remedy Cafe

    Remedy Cafe chai

    This is the last Food Notes for the calendar year – thanks for reading, and I wish you and your families a restful and safe holiday season.

      Food Notes for December 14, 2020

      Latest Restrictions Shutter Indoor Dining

      Effective December 13, 2020, indoor dining was prohibited in all restaurants, pubs, bars, lounges and cafes across Alberta at least until January 12, 2021. Businesses will be forced to rely on take-out and delivery for a period that, pre-COVID, would have been their busiest time of the year. Patrick Saurette of The Marc expects to lay off 95% of his staff due to the changes.

      Some, such as Pho Tau Bay, have elected to close operations until they are permitted to offer dine-in services again. Others have pivoted back to offering meal kits, like DOSC and RGE RD.

      The day after the restrictions were released, third-party delivery app Skip the Dishes announced a support package for small operators. This includes a 25% rebate on commission for independent restaurant partners also effective December 13. Some restaurants have been appreciative of this gesture, and given the frequency and volume of orders (Canada’s most prolific Skip customer lives in Alberta, having ordered 962 times so far this year), it will hopefully help hospitality establishments with their bottom line. When choosing to support local businesses, diners should still consider picking up their take-out, which ensures all of the profits go directly to the restaurant.

      COVID-19-related News

      • Effective December 14, 2020, licensed establishments can serve mixed drinks through delivery and take-out, as well as offer virtual tastings. This decision has been lauded by Spirits Canada, a national organization representing the Canadian spirits industry.

      Openings

      • It looks like Seoul Fried Chicken will be opening north of the river, taking over the space vacated by Royale on 104 Street.
      • Black Ship opened last week at 10251 Jasper Avenue (the former Hat space). They’ve since shifted to delivery and take-out only.

      Reviews

      Local News

      • DOSC has introduced a new burger menu under the banner Burger Brawl, introducing a new burger every week to “challenge” the others.
      • Northern Chicken just began offering a new gluten-free fried chicken sandwich, and it already has its fans.
      • Linda has an amazingly comprehensive list of where to order take-home Christmas meals this year.
      • Sonic 102.9 has a gift guide featuring local food and beer options.
      • Silver Skate has put together support local surprise bags featuring products from a variety of local purveyors. Bags start at $25 for delivery or pick-up from December 17-22, 2020.
      • Nai Nai Mie has started a crowdfunding campaign on ATB BoostR, in the hopes of raising $20,000 to scale up their operation.
      • Phil’s latest Best Dishes column features Drift’s mulligatawny soup.
      • The Journal featured the holiday boxes currently offered by EdmontonEats.
      • The current issue of The Yards is their annual Best in the Core issue, and includes categories of best outdoor eats and best business innovators (which feature several local food purveyors).
      • Ever wonder how to put together take-away pho? Linda has created a handy video reference.
      • Longtime green onion cake vendor Hongmei Chen has bid adieu to the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market.
      • Another LoveGood Food Exchange box has been set up, this time in front of the Edmonton Police Service headquarters downtown.

      Beyond Edmonton

      What I Ate

      • As the temperatures dip and the lockdown continues, I imagine the geography of our take-out map may shrink even further to those restaurants about a block or two away. Craving soup, we ordered from Ramen Misoya on Friday, conveniently just a few steps away from our condo.

      Ramen Misoya

      Order from Ramen Misoya

      • We made the best of a quick trip to Highlands on Saturday – curbside gifts from Majesty and Friends, picked out a book at Mandolin with Emily, and grabbed some bagels from June’s Delicatessen. Lots of opportunities to shop small on that block.

      June’s Delicatessen

      Cheese bagel from June’s Delicatessen

      Food Notes for December 7, 2020

      Local Initiatives Boost Awareness of Small Businesses

      Independent businesses need love now more than ever, so it’s great to see two new local initiatives highlight some of the caffeinated and culinary pillars of our community.

      CoffeePass is the brainchild of Edmontonian Eric Remagni, who was inspired to create the program after an eight month international adventure. “I began working on building the program in May of this year, and it has really been spurred forward by the challenges the pandemic has created,” he shared. “Now more than ever, our cafes need the support of coffee lovers to help them make it through the pandemic.”

      The pass, priced at $35 (plus tax and shipping), entitles passholders to 22 coffees, one at each of the 22 cafe partners. Participating businesses include more established cafes Little Brick and Doughnut Party and newer additions to the scene such as The Dapper Beaver and ch. cafeteria.

      “Our goal is to help people discover new cafes, and for the community to continue supporting each cafe by making additional purchases when they visit – whether that’s picking up some locally-roasted coffee beans, dining (or takeout because of Covid), or grabbing some merch,” said Remagni.

      Passes must be redeemed by March 31, 2021. CoffeePass is available online, or in-person through their cafe partners.

      Eat. Love. Eat Again! was put together by 7 establishments that hope to encourage diners to patronize other independent restaurants. In the month of December, dine-in or take-out at one of the participating businesses, keep the receipt, and show it at one of the other businesses for 10% off the bill.

      Participating restaurants include Filistix, Kanto 98 St., Mercer Tavern, Otto, Three Vikings, Toast Culture, and Yelo’d.

      COVID-19-related News

      • A server at Crown & Anchor Pub & Grill in north Edmonton needed 14 stitches on her face after an altercation with a patron related to asking the person to don a mask.
      • After temporary closures, Baijiu has re-opened, as has Love Pizza’s St. Albert location and Bagel Bar. Bodega’s St. Albert and Highlands locations will be open for take-out only as of December 8, 2020.
      • Other restaurants have decided to voluntarily transition to take-out/pick-up only, including Ramen Misoya, Three Vikings, Vi’s for Pies, and Red Star (who even created a playlist to listen to while enjoying dinner).
      • More restaurants are pivoting back to make-at-home meals, as took place earlier in the spring. This includes Bottega 104 with pasta, pizza, and cocktail kits, Woodshed Burger patties, frozen dinners from Filistix, and heat-and-eat options from Shojo Izakaya.
      • Katy Ingraham, owner of Cartago and Fleisch, continues her advocacy against indoor dining: “…no one should be sitting inside a restaurant with their mask off right now. Do not dine in. Not even if you’re following the rules. Not even if you don’t feel sick. Not with your household. Not with anyone….”
      • Entrepreneurs representing over three dozen hospitality businesses as a part of the Edmonton Independent Hospitality Community signed an open letter to City Council and other levels of government to plea for the need for more restrictions and immediate financial relief.
      • Lobby group Restaurants Canada will be calling for a national working group at a virtual press conference on December 8, 2020, which will include representation from Patrick Saurette of The Marc.
      • The pandemic and the poor economic conditions continue to impact businesses in Chinatown.
      • Bountiful Market has seen their foot traffic reduced by half due to the pandemic.
      • Cafe Bicyclette had made the decision to close for the remainder of the year – and in the process, donated their excess food to those in need.
      • A recent New York Times survey of 700 epidemiologists found that the most risky activity, in their opinion, is eating indoors at a restaurant.

      Openings

      Closures

      • The Downtown location of Yoshi Sushi in the Matrix Hotel is permanently closed.

      Upcoming Events

      • Taste Alberta is hosting a virtual Holiday Kitchen Party on December 9, 2020 featuring cooking demonstrations from a couple local chefs, including Steve Brochu of Milk Crate and Doreen Prei. The $15 registration fee will be donated to Edmonton and Calgary food banks.

      Local News

      • 2020 just keeps on dishing out the punches – this week, it was a fire that decimated Why Not. Co-owner Levi Biddlecombe vowed they will be back, “We’ll be up to something. People still need to eat … now we’re just trying to rebuild. The name has been built, it’s not just the physical space. We’ve built a brand in the community.”
      • Particularly because of the pivots the hospitality sector has been forced to make, those seeking to give local food gifts have never had more choices to consider. These include Fife N Dekel’s pie subscription and cookie mixes from Confetti Sweets.
        • It’s always great to see local businesses collaborating with one another – the latest example is this Mulled Cider Sorbet from Kind Ice Cream and Broken Spoke Cider.
        • Those looking for ready made turkey dinners for the holidays have many options, including A Cappella, Ernest’s, Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, and Sorrentino’s.
        • Food Bike Tours have rebranded to Chef Table Living, which encompasses their online cooking and mixology classes (supplemented with chef kits for easy preparation). They are also debuting their series of guided and self-guided Food Walk Tours on January 22, 2020 in Downtown and Old Strathcona.
        • Twyla Campbell shared information about alternative grocery providers to consider. On that note, Uproot Food Collective, which she mentions, is now shipping shelf-stable products across Alberta!
        • Sepp’s Pizza is celebrating their first birthday.
        • The latest issue of EDify offers an Indian take on Christmas dinner, recommendations for Thai food, and a profile of Lindsay Jang, a Sherwood Park expat with successful hospitality enterprises in Hong Kong, including branded sake called Sunday’s Spirits now available in Alberta.
        • Lincoln Ho’s YEGventures is collecting votes for his Best of Edmonton 2020 list. Voting ends December 20, 2020. Thanks to whoever nominated this blog – it’s an honour to be included along some other great local blogs!
        • 11 year-old Edmonton boy Dongdao Xiao’s recipe for “pandemic chicken” was selected to be included in the Kid Food Nation cookbook.
        • Edmontonians Allison Harrison and Nathan Beck have started a recipe blog called Cheap & Chunky.
        • Boyle Street Community Services has launched a holiday meal sponsorship program that will enable them to provide warm meals to clients.

        What I Ate

        • I had forgotten to post about the delightful outdoor ordering window at Overflow in Old Strathcona. Post-pandemic, I hope these stay!

        Overflow Cafe

        Mack waits for his drink order at Overflow

        • Desk lunches are made infinitely better when they’re made up of a comforting bowl of soup, such as the bun bo Hue from T and D Noodle House (they also closed to dine-in services earlier in the fall).

        T and D Noodle House

        Bun bo Hue from T and D Noodle House

        • It’s been too long since our last La Mision burrito (served at Tres Carnales now) so on Friday we made sure to upsize and include chips and guacamole with our order, too!

        La Mision

        Chicken burritos from Tres Carnales

        • We couldn’t pass up poutine in a cup at this year’s Zoominescence, and it was much better than we expected!

        Valley Zoo

        #poutineinacup from 40 Acres at the Valley Zoo

        Food Notes for November 30, 2020

        More Restaurants Voluntarily Close Dine-In Services

        Last week, the Alberta Government announced their additional measures intended to curb the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases in the province.

        Though some had expected a temporary pause on indoor dining, restaurants instead can remain open for dine-in services for households of up to 6 people at a table, or for those who live alone, with up to 2 non-household contacts that are a part of their cohort. These enhanced measures were effective November 27, 2020, and are expected to last until at least December 18, 2020. The previously announced restrictions requiring liquor service to cease at 10pm and restaurants and bars to close at 11pm still stand.

        There was confusion early on about the consequences of permitting mixed household cohorts to dine together, but the reality is that the responsibility of enforcing the restrictions has been downloaded to individual businesses and hospitality workers.

        In the wake of the escalating active case numbers, a spate of restaurants have chosen to voluntarily close to indoor dining, some in part due to the challenges inherent in implementing the restrictions. Earlier in November, restaurants including Dagu Rice Noodle, Nongbu, Fleisch, Cartago, and Northern Chicken pivoted to take-out and delivery only. This week, they were joined by more than a dozen in the Edmonton area, including Avila Arepa, Butternut Tree, The Cabin (closed temporarily), Cafe Bicyclette (closed temporarily) Canteen, Cerdo, Chartier, Dadeo, Dang Good, Highlands Golf Club, Italian Centre’s cafes, Meat, The Next Act, On The Rocks (closed temporarily), Otto, Pip, Vaticano Cucina, Workshop Eatery, and XIX Nineteen.

        Andrew Fung, owner and chef of XIX Nineteen shared:

        “I feel very pressured. We (are) already having a tough time asking people (to) put on a mask and now you’re enforcing another rule on top (of that). I just found it very difficult. What we normally do is provide hospitality. We’re not police, we’re not law enforcement.”

        COVID-19-related News

        Openings

        • Arcadia Brewing Co. is now open, after their initial opening date was postponed due to a staff testing positive for COVID. They are located in Manchester Square at 12016 107 Avenue.
        • Back in May, Filipino eatery Joanne’s BBQ House opened during the pandemic at 13119 156 Street.
        • Mesob Habesha Fusion is a new restaurant just north of Downtown at 10546 109 Street (formerly occupied by Kallin Restaurant).
        • New-ish Shawarma Shack promises authentic but modern shawarma. Find them at 12432 167 Avenue.
        • Rayyan East African Restaurant is opening in Chinatown in the space formerly occupied by Garden Bakery.
        • Spruce Grove is home to a new brewery called Talking Dog Brewing.

        Local News

        What I Ate

        • It was a beautiful day to walk over to Chinatown early last week to run some errands. It was also a good excuse to grab some banh mi for lunch from Nhon Hoa.

        Nhon Hoa

        Combo sub from Nhon Hoa

        • Mack, Emily, and I headed out to Jasper for a short getaway last week. As with our previous staycation earlier in the fall, we brought nearly all of our own food to minimize contact. One of the heat-and-serve meals we tried was the noodle packs from Golomein. Considering the preparation involves microwaving the dish from frozen, the quality of the noodles didn’t seem to be impacted significantly. We also enjoyed the flavours overall, and would be open to trying it again!

        Golomein

        Golomein

        • It was nice to have a hot breakfast included in our stay at Pyramid Lake Resort. The take-out was super-efficient.

        Pyramid Lake Resort

        Take-out from The Pines at Pyramid Lake Resort

        • We made one stop in town for some coffee and treats from Bear’s Paw Bakery. It’s hard not to indulge when this is the reaction to having a cookie!

        Bear’s Paw Bakery

        Emily enjoys a cookie from Bear’s Paw Bakery

        Food Notes for November 23, 2020

        Specialty Spirit and Mead On Order

        The pandemic hasn’t halted the development and production of new alcoholic beverages. Strathcona Spirits, even in the midst of their escalating production of hand sanitizer, found the time to create absinthe.

        Distiller Adam Smith learned the craft in Europe two years ago, and worked his way through the process. Smith shared with the Edmonton Journal:

        “It takes an immense amount of botanicals. We used European wormwood in the initial maceration (mashing), and then we did a secondary one using different botanicals, including local wormwood and mint. It was a long and very tiring process.”

        Although the limited run bottles have since sold out, Smith has committed to making more in the future.

        High Water Honey & Mead will be the Edmonton area’s first craft meadery when it opens next August. It will be based out of an old firehall in New Sarepta, Leduc County, opened by couple Will and Mika Munsey.

        Like Smith at Strathcona Spirits, Munsey required some experimentation to create a consistent product, including adding in locally-sourced herbs and berries to flavour the batches. They also have big plans for the space,

        “It won’t only be a meadery. We’d have space for local artisans, music nights, farmer’s markets. There’s a lot of creativity in these parts, and a lot of hard working people. We need to be taking advantage of these aspects, even if it’s a scary time to open a business.”

        COVID-19-related News

        • Love Pizza voluntarily closed their St. Albert location after a staff tested positive for COVID-19.
        • Northern Chicken also voluntarily closed due to a positive COVID-19 case on staff. They plan to re-open on November 29, 2020 at the earliest for take-out and delivery.
        • The Dapper Beaver has chosen to remove in-store seating at the shop.
        • Hookah bar Mist has been closed by Alberta Health Services due to protocol violations related to COVID-19 management.

        Openings

        • RGE RD’s sister business The Butchery opened last week at 12229 107 Avenue.
        • After the season was cancelled, an Edmonton Football player Diego Viamontes opened a cafe called Ch at 14802 Stony Plain Road in the fall. They serve Brave Fox coffee (roasted in Beaumont) and serve Mexican chocolate.
        • Damso Izakaya is the city’s newest izakaya at 10352 82 Avenue (the space formerly occupied by Hanaichi Express in Old Strathcona).
        • Arcadia Brewing had to postpone their soft launch in Manchester Square this weekend due to a COVID-19 positive case on their staff. When they are ready, find them at 10712 120 Street.

        Upcoming Events

        • Biera opened up a pop-up shop in the Bottle Room of Ritchie Market on November 19, 2020 featuring Biera-made products in addition to other locally-sourced gifts.
        • The St. Albert Indoor Christmas Market runs Saturdays from November 21 – December 19, 2020 at The Enjoy Centre. The Green Onion Cake Man is among the vendors.
        • Filistix is hosting their first two installments of Filistix: After Dark on November 27 and 28, 2020, a platform to “try out new recipes, experiment with various flavours and techniques, and encourage us to step out of our comfort zone.” Take-out is available in addition to dining in.
        • Cafe Lavi is hosting an Indonesian food pop-up on December 5, 2020.
        • Ernest’s next Virtual Culinary Series will take place December 10, 2020. Tickets start at $133, and include the option for a cooking kit in place of shopping for your own ingredients.

        Reviews

        • Sharon was invited to try a hosted dinner at Del Posto Italian Kitchen.

        Local News

        Beyond Edmonton

        Urban Agriculture and Farming

        • Global featured local cheesemaker Lakeside Dairy, based in Sturgeon County about 45 kilometers north of Edmonton. It is owned by Jeff Nonay, known in Edmonton for his beef.

        What I Ate

        • While it wasn’t an official #AdoptAShop entry, it really had been too long since my last visit to Battista’s Calzone Co. We rectified that Friday with take-out. The shop is open just Friday through Sunday now, and is cash/e-transfer only, but the food quality hasn’t changed. The New York Mama is still my go-to!

        Battista’s Calzones

        New York Mama from Battista’s Calzone Co.

        • Nothing says the weekend like a box of Rosewood Foods sweet and savoury treats! Their online ordering system also makes pre-ordering for pick-up a breeze.

        Rosewood Foods

        Treats from Rosewood Foods

        Food Notes for November 16, 2020

        Restaurants Voluntarily Close Dine-In Services

        As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in alarming numbers, several Edmonton restaurants have proactively decided to close dine-in services.

        Last week, NongBu, Fleish, Cartago and Northern Chicken transitioned to take-out and delivery only. Dagu Rice Noodle had also closed their dining room in late October. On social media, Fleish shared the following statement:

        This is not a decision we made lightly, and not one we’re making strictly out of the goodness of our heart. As employers and responsible citizens of our city, we feel it’s important to stand up for our people and what we feel is the right thing to do…But we feel this is larger than us and it’s the responsibility of our officials to listen to the experts on the front lines – physicians, nurses, and healthcare workers who are calling for a strict, short shutdown to sharply reduce our COVID numbers and the current spread.

        Some of the above restaurants made the decisions to close dine-in services even before the Alberta Government announced targeted public health measures on November 12, effective from November 13-27, 2020. Restaurants and pubs will be required to stop liquor sales by 10pm and close by 11pm. This falls short of the drastic “circuit-breaker” lockdown recommended by more than 400 Alberta physicians that would include a temporary ban on indoor dining, among other things.

        Although Premier Kenney continues to deny the connection between COVID-19 transmission and indoor dining, recent American studies would say otherwise. In September, a U.S. Centres for Disease Control study suggested those who tested positive for COVID-19 were twice as likely to have dined at a restaurant than those who tested negative. And last week, a study published in Nature indicated that restaurants were four times riskier for COVID-19 transmission than gyms and coffee shops.

        Given the significant proportion of cases that cannot be traced to origin, Premier Kenney’s delay of imposing stricter measures is baffling. It also allows the myth of safe indoor dining to continue to be propagated, as was the case today. In an interview with the Edmonton Journal, Steven Sachse, the general manager of MKT said:

        “The overall feeling kind of in the restaurant industry is that we’re just such an easy target, when the data does not show that restaurants are the cause of these outbreaks.”

        Restaurants are doing their best under incredibly challenging circumstances, and operating and abiding by current public health guidelines. But what if the guidelines are failing to protect the public?

        COVID-19-related News

        • Staff at Meat and Pip have tested positive for COVID-19, so they have chosen to voluntarily close. In addition, as a precautionary measure, sister business The Next Act has also temporarily closed.
        • I was a guest on last week’s episode of Speaking Municipally, where I referenced some of the COVID-19 infection studies mentioned above.

        Openings

        Closures

        • Curry Vibes at 10827 Jasper Avenue is making way for a Queen Donair.

        Upcoming Events

        Local News

        • Linda’s second iteration of #AdoptAShopYEG runs November 13-22, 2020, and locals have already claimed all 200 sign-up spots, committing to collectively spend $12,000 at 64 small businesses across the city!
        • Social enterprise Edmonton Eats has launched Holiday Cultural Boxes that feature family recipes from cultural hosts.
        • Kari Skelton has a list of the best winter patios in Edmonton.
        • Chef Jan Trittenbach (formerly of Lyon and Solstice) has landed at Boxer.
        • Phil Wilson began a new column on Radio Active today that focuses on the best dishes in Edmonton. First up: Thai cuisine at Siam Thai Kitchen (15883 116 Avenue).
        • Colleen’s Chocolates has started an ATB BoostR campaign in the hopes of crowdfunding $15,000 towards business expansion.
        • Alberta Food Tours has launched an Alberta Cares Package containing curated Alberta-made products. A portion of each $79 will also go towards programs that support vulnerable youth.
        • To celebrate his tenth birthday, a young hockey fan was hoping to have pizzas donated in his name to Boyle Street Community Services. He’s already exceeded his goal of 100 pizzas!
        • AGLC is again recognizing bars that “take your fun and safety seriously”, and are currently accepting votes for the People’s Choice Category in Edmonton.

        What I Ate

        • We enjoyed one last Downtown Dining Week meal on Friday, this time from Dagu Rice Noodle. As mentioned above, they’ve been closed to dine-in services since late October. Their containers seemed tailor-made for their noodle soups, and the salted crispy chicken was tasty (Emily was a fan!).

        Dagu Rice Noodle

        Take-out from Dagu Rice Noodle

        • We made the best decision this weekend to order some treats from Sugared and Spiced (their online system makes things a cinch!). Their brownies are so good.

        Sugared and Spiced

        Brownie from Sugared and Spiced

        • Bistro 99 is a great addition to #yegdt, especially when it’s a stone’s throw from the playground at Dick Mather Park. We also enjoyed their sweet liege waffles, dipped in chocolate.

        Bistro 99

        Coffee from Bistro 99