We Still Love Living Downtown: But Now, With Baby!

When Mack and I first shared with some people that we were expecting, the first question we were often asked was, “So when are you moving?” Our love for living Downtown is well documented, and though we knew raising a child in a very urban neighbourhood would come with some challenges, I couldn’t imagine trying to navigate being a new mother in a new-to-me area, too.

I also don’t drive, so it was doubly important to reside somewhere not only walkable, but with good access to public transportation. It’s easy to become isolated as a new parent, but I wanted to be able to continue my pre-baby lifestyle that did not depend on a vehicle. Although our household does own a car (which Mack drives when necessary), we want Emily to be familiar with a variety of transportation options.

Now, after almost a year and a half of seeing Downtown through child-tinted lenses, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. What follows are some of my reflections on our experience (so far!) in raising a baby in Downtown Edmonton.

Walkable Amenities

In those early weeks, I was lucky enough to have my parents around for a few hours every week to give me a bit of a reprieve during the day. The weather was pretty brutal in February after we brought Emily home, so I didn’t feel comfortable taking her out for walks just yet, but it was everything to be able to get some fresh air and to stretch my legs. And more than that, it was nice to feel like myself again during simple errands like visiting a drugstore or grabbing a coffee, sans baby. It was convenient to have a destination to visit on foot that wasn’t too far, but one where I could lose myself in the anonymity of white noise for a short while.

We’ve always relied on our proximity to the City Market to provide us with the foundation of our groceries, and this didn’t change after Emily. We continued to walk to City Hall in the winter (and pop out our front door in the summer) for our weekly shopping trips. Before Emily was born, I was afraid we wouldn’t have time to visit the market any more; I’ve since learned that you can make time for anything, especially those activities that you value. But it’s definitely easier to plan for it when it’s close by.

City Market

At the City Market on 104 Street

One of our more recent discoveries is that our Downtown Edmonton Community League membership (which happens to be free in 2018-19) provides us with access to a free weekly swim at the Don Wheaton YMCA. Being just a block away from our condo, this is a fantastic amenity that we will be putting to use year-round. The family change rooms are clean, spacious, and (bonus), even features a stall with a play yard.

Places for Children

I was very fortunate to discover several indoor amenities for small children within a short walking distance from our condo; the proximity meant I was much more likely to access them on a frequent basis.

The Enterprise Square branch of the Edmonton Public Library was a lifesaver for me. I didn’t really know how fantastic their programs were for babies and toddlers until I started attending them on a regular basis. Although the program space is temporary until the Stanley Milner Library renovations are completed in 2020, we didn’t mind the aesthetics. The staff are wonderful, and most create the welcoming atmosphere that encourages repeat visits (a special shoutout to Jenna, who always made the effort to greet Emily by name!). We were attending the Baby Laptime program twice a week religiously for the last six months of my maternity leave; the program and the parents we got to know are one of the things I miss most since returning to work. A side note – the Enterprise Square branch hosts Books2Buy sales every three months, with all proceeds going back to the library; we’ve filled Emily’s bookshelves predominantly with second hand books picked up at these sales.

Edmonton Public Library

Enterprise Square Library 

The Royal Alberta Museum opened up in October 2018. One of the additions in the new facility is a Children’s Gallery, which includes a dedicated area for kids 3 and under. The section is carpeted, with a padded half that doubles for Emily as some of the only “stairs” she encounters on a regular basis. And for $35 (kids under 6 are free), adults can purchase a Mammoth Pass that provides unlimited admission for a year! My only small quibble with the Gallery is that the adjacent dinosaur dig area contains little plastic pellets, which inevitably end up in the toddler section (and, given their size, are prime eating hazards for babies).

Royal Alberta Museum

In the Children’s Gallery at the RAM

The Downtown Edmonton Community League (DECL) has also been offering an Urban Kids playgroup for a number of years. Volunteer-led by Downtown parents, the group gathers in the DECL space every Friday from 10am-12pm for snacks and crafts. While I didn’t start attending the group until towards the end of my leave, my Mom still takes Emily there from time to time to reconnect with the other kids she’s met.

Urban Kids

Halloween with Urban Kids

Green Spaces

While I welcome the additional green spaces still in development for the core, I treaded some familiar paths on walks with Emily. McKay Avenue School provided a concise loop point when I didn’t want to venture too far, and the adjacent Dick Mather Park features some nicely shaded benches. The Legislature Grounds were further afoot, but Emily and I spent many afternoons there on a blanket people (or bird) watching.

Legislature Grounds

Bird watching at the Legislature Grounds

Closest to home is Alex Decouteau Park, just a block away from our condo. Mack and I were first time community gardeners last summer, and I learned that I could actually enjoy tending to a plot. While Emily was a bit young to appreciate what we were growing at the time, this year, she’s relishing the freedom of exploring the (thankfully fenced-in) yard, eating as many cherry tomatoes as she can fit into her mouth, and peering into the adjacent dog park!

Alex Decoteau Park Garden

At Alex Decouteau Park Community Garden

We did find that one of the downsides of our location is the distance to playgrounds. By foot, the closest playgrounds are located at Grandin or Oliver Schools, about twenty minutes away. As a result, we are thrilled with the new playground installed in Dick Mather Park! It’s not as elaborate as some school-based set-ups, but for now, it’s a fun amenity for Emily to explore.

Dick Mather Park

Playground at Dick Mather Park

Arts and Cultural Activities

There were a few months where Emily would voice her displeasure when in the confines of the car seat. As such, there was a period when we limited our vehicle trips to non-negotiable errands.

Swing

Swing dancing at City Hall

Because we are so fortunate to live in a neighbourhood rich with festivals and events, it was always easy just to walk out the door for something fun to do. We also found that because the barriers of distance and ease of access were removed, we were more likely to keep our annual traditions alive, just now with Emily in tow.

Grey Cup Parade

At the Grey Cup/Santa Claus Parade

Public Transportation

While I tended to remain within a radius measured in walking distance of twenty minutes one way, there were times I had to step outside that bubble. On those days, I relied on our public transportation system to do so. The majority of trips were pretty seamless (Emily’s pediatrician, for instance, is just a 10-minute bus ride away), but there were some instances when my frustration level mounted. Sometimes this was because of minor inconveniences (recognizing that I am able bodied and on most occasions had some flexibility with my time), but mostly because it would be easier to be a strong advocate for ETS in a car-oriented city if the system were more reliable.

Taking Emily on transit in those early days would always involve the stroller, primarily because I had a tendency to overpack and needed cargo space. As a result, taking busy routes during rush hour required some patience; no longer could I pack onto an already full bus and hang on. I did have buses pass me by because they just couldn’t accommodate a stroller with all of the passengers already on board.

I also had to become very familiar with the locations of LRT elevators. Their cleanliness, particularly downtown, was questionable, but that was secondary to whether or not they functioned. I count myself lucky to have not experienced an unexpected outage when out and about on my own with Emily, but a couple of times out with Mack, we encountered elevators out of order. We were able to handle it because there were two of us, but it again factors against the dependability of the system for those with accessibility concerns.

Edmonton Transit

Yay, a working ETS elevator!

Stroller Access

One of the reasons we love living Downtown is the architectural variety, including the historical buildings in and around our street. That said, I learned first hand that many of these buildings don’t have provisions for strollers (or wheelchairs for that matter). Many independent shops and restaurants that I frequented before baby, located in buildings like the Mercer Warehouse or Beatty Lofts, required that I plan ahead to use a baby carrier so I could easily traverse the stairs when solo. Obviously protecting the historical integrity of these buildings is important, as is ensuring the small businesses can thrive, but it was a reality that I was only forced to reflect on after relying on a stroller for the first time.

On a related note, construction detours were another constant headache. I am supportive of the infrastructure improvements that are being made, but the frequent pedestrian detours over the past year have been a nuisance to say the least.

Future Improvements

One of the biggest potential deterrents for us to stay Downtown for the long term is the lack of an elementary school within close walking distance. Some might consider it a privilege, but we’d really like Emily to be able to walk to school. Although it’s not impossible with Oliver and Grandin Schools (a twenty minute walk for adults), something within the Downtown boundary would further show how serious officials are about making the core welcoming to young families.

Oliver School

Oliver School

So while some changes could be made to further improve Downtown as a welcoming place for young families, in our experience, it’s been pretty great. We hope more parents and parents-to-be consider the core as a viable neighbourhood in which to raise their children.

I’ll be writing a separate post about dining out close to home with a small child!

Food Notes for January 30, 2017

Happy Lunar New Year to those of you who celebrate! I had a lovely weekend full of family festivities – though it’s hard to believe the first month of the year has already passed us by. On to this week’s food notes:

  • La Mision is back with its first pop-up of 2017 at The Chvrch of John on January 31, 2017 from 5-7pm.
  • The next event in the Dining with Friends series will be a Buddhist feast hosted at Padmanadi on February 9, 2017. The family-style meal will include nine dishes for $43 per ticket.
  • Mark your calendars: the 14th annual Downtown Dining Week will take place March 10-19, 2017. Menus will be up by February 15, 2017.
  • Avenue Edmonton is getting ready to celebrate their annual “best restaurants” issue – tickets for the launch on March 13, 2017 are now on sale for $44 each.
  • Thanks to Jenn for the heads up – Tokiwa Ramen is coming to the Brewery District this spring at 11978 104 Avenue.
  • Avila Arepa, an “urban Venezuelan kitchen,” is also forthcoming in Old Strathcona – 10760 82 Avenue.
  • Blink and you’d walk right by it – Bundok in Fox One is now open at 10218 104 Street.
  • Just down the street – Baijiu, the new Asian-inspired cocktail bar (and sister restaurant to North 53) opens on February 1, 2017.
  • The folks behind El Cortez are expanding their Old Strathcona empire to include a third restaurant inside the same historic building this summer.
  • Chef Nathin Bye has put his stamp on the menu at the restaurant inside Crash Hotel (the former Grand Hotel).
  • Cindy is among the first to review new Old Strathcona restaurant Pho Boy, and its somewhat modern take on Vietnamese cuisine.
  • The Journal enjoyed brunch at the Riverside Golf Course, as prepared by Dogwood Cafe (who also runs the brunch program at the Victoria Golf Course).
  • Twyla shares her experience at a recent Scandanavian-inspired pop-up at Clementine, called Kos.
  • Congratulations to Chef Levi Biddlecombe, who will be at the helm of Packrat Louie.
  • Why did Chef Andrew Cowan of Northern Chicken gravitate towards fried chicken? It’s all about family.
  • Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Jacek’s spring collection (romantically named the Galaxy Collection) is now available.
  • It’s never too early to start thinking about the summer – shares of Riverbend Garden’s community supported agriculture are now on sale!
  • Ian from Winding Road Cheese reflects on his first year in business.
  • Megan checked out the “Meet Your Farmers” event hosted by SPUD Edmonton over the weekend.
  • Sleep in all you want: all-day breakfast at McDonald’s rolls out in Canada on February 21, 2017, followed quickly by A & W on February 27.
  • We’ve been hankering for brunch at Meat for weeks, so we were happy to finally indulge over the weekend.

Meat

Breakfast sandwich and beef brisket benny from Meat

City Market 2013: Welcome Back to the Promenade!

Now that the City Market is back outdoors on the 104 Street Promenade, it finally feels like spring! I ended up missing my window to post about opening day last Saturday, so I thought I’d just combine the first two weeks in one post.

City Market

Opening day

The weather was very cooperative last week, gloriously sunny skies providing the perfect welcome to vendors setting up shop on the street.

City Market

Last week

Today was quite the opposite: overcast, windy, and eventually, rain. 

City Market

This week

Due to the the Fox Towers construction, the market has been required to make some adjustments to their layout. Change is not always well-received, so I was eager to see how its new “T-shaped” configuration along 102 Avenue would look.

City Market

102 Avenue

It turns out, the shift was better than I anticipated. The aisles were spacious and easier to navigate (the Avenue seemed wider than the Street), and the vendors we spoke with were happy with their new placements. Erdmann’s and Sunshine Organic anchor the 102 Avenue drag, which will hopefully encourage shoppers to tour both ends.

City Market

Wide aisles

My only suggestion has to do with seating. Although it wasn’t an issue today because of the blustery conditions, it was quite obvious last week that the market could do with more tables and chairs. With musical buskers attracting crowds, and multiple prepared food vendors surrounding the market “plaza”, places to rest and linger were in short supply. I recognize this isn’t an easy problem to solve, with the challenge of on-site storage, but hopefully it is something that can be looked into.

City Market

Plaza

In terms of vendors, it was great to see all of our favourites again, including Sundog Organic, Riverbend Gardens and Edgar Farms. But it was nice to see some new faces at the City Market as well, such as Heritage Baked Goods and their unique doughnuts. Without question, we ended up filling our shopping basket much too full – call it the spring reflex, where anything remotely green results in an impulse buy.

City Market 

Asparagus from Edgar Farms

City Market

Rhubarb from Sundog Organic

City Market

Spinach from Sundog Organic

City Market

Onions from Sundog Organic

City Market

Spring onions from Sundog Organic

City Market

Microgreens from Sundog Organic

City Market

Tomatoes from Gull Valley Greenhouses

City Market

Cabbage from Riverbend Gardens

City Market

Herbs from Riverbend Gardens

City Market

Flowers from South Cooking Lake Greenhouses

It’s wonderful to have the market back on our doorstep. See you there next week!

Walking at Work: Update

I thought I’d write an update about the walking club, given I’ve been pretty silent about it since my first and only post.

I won’t lie; the winter, especially this winter, was a difficult one to get through. Even with my belief in the power of walking and fresh air, coupled with a bit of a stubborn obsession to not let this group die, it was challenging in the dead of winter.

We found an indoor space nearby (about a two minute walk from our office) that served as our outdoor alternative, but truth be told, it was a hard sell. Why would one want to get all dressed up, only to have to discard their winter gear once indoors, else overheat?

But I kept the option open, and there were a scraggly few that joined me on those bleak Wednesdays. One memorable afternoon involved Jill and myself, stepping out into the -36 weather, trying to convince ourselves that it wasn’t as cold as it was.

Hurrah for walking!

My coworkers love being outside!

There were a few weeks where I didn’t venture outside (Wednesday or not), but for the most part, I found winter walking more calming than in warmer weather, and really enjoyed my solo walks on other days. It had something to do with the fact that the neighbourhood was blanketed in white and the snow absorbing some of the sound, transforming the streets to a peaceful, glistening wonderland.

Blue sky

Look to the sky

Spring brings new challenges – sure, potholes are an issue, but what about concave sidewalks that are every walker’s nuisance? Wellies are an absolute necessity with lakes puddles like these.

Puddles

With puddles like these, who needs lakes?

The open road

In the last week, I’ve just taken up walking on the road

I plan on continuing this weekly group activity, which should pick up as the weather improves. Along the way, I did learn many lessons that factor into the success of the group.

  1. Appropriate footwear: those who wear spiked heels in the winter, or flats in the spring thaw aren’t likely to be active walkers, at least, not without a pair of outdoor shoes with them at the office.
  2. Time: I still believe it would be easier to run such a group in an office where work schedules are more predictable, and where staff are mostly desk-bound. Many of my colleagues don’t control their own schedules, and are out of the office for long periods of time.
  3. Consistency: even if they aren’t a part of the group themselves, my entire office now knows that Wednesdays are synonymous with walking, and the group is open to everyone.

I should also mention the support – moral and otherwise – provided by the resource person at the Alberta Centre for Active Living. Her regular e-mails helped keep me on my toes, as I didn’t want to disappoint her!

Walking army

There they go!

I hope the spring brings renewed (or continued) physical activity for you as well!

Walking at Work: Better in a Group

I really enjoy walking. It is my preferred means of transportation (within reason), and though there are mornings where I wish I had a vehicle to fall back on, there are worse ways to start off one’s day than a brisk walk.

So when staff at my office expressed interest in participating in a regular walking group, I happily took on the responsibility of coordinating it. A meeting with a representative from the Alberta Centre for Active Living got us going – we established a regular day and time, circulated a poster around the office, and sent around a one-page fact sheet on the benefits of walking. The representative also agreed to initially lead the weekly walks, at least up until the group became self-sufficient.

On a walk

On a walk through the canopied Central McDougall

We started the walks at the end of June. The preliminary response from staff was better than I anticipated, with ten of my colleagues taking part that first week. Since then, we’ve had wavering participation (as expected with any new initiative), but I’m proud to say that ten weeks in, we are still averaging five walkers every Wednesday. Three weeks ago, we even added an additional day to the schedule, in order to try to further some of that momentum.

Patrick and Chinlong

Patrick and Chinlong, two well-dressed walkers

Though my innate preference lies with solitary walks, I’ve grown to really look forward to the walking club. It surprises me how much I want to motivate my colleagues, but at the same time, be accountable to them myself. When the weather is lousy, or I’m feeling tired, it’s easy for to stay at my desk for the bulk of the day – but I know it’s not an option when the group is set to meet.

Surinder and me

With my colleague Surinder after a walk

In mid-July, we were able to provide pedometers to the group. It helped everyone track the number of steps they were taking, and we were told to shoot for 10,000 steps a day (given that wasn’t too far above our average step count). Though I know walking alone isn’t enough (darn that elusive cardio), it’s helped to make me more conscious of what I need to do to achieve my daily goal.

Pedometer

A good day

I’m not sure how the walking club will fare once the weather goes south (with the dangers of falling a serious concern), but I’m hoping to keep this going as long as possible, and at the very least, start it up again in the spring.

Thanks to my coworkers for their continued support, and for helping to make the walking club a worthwhile initiative!

Volunteering for Homeless Connect 4

On Sunday, Mack and I joined a few hundred other volunteers at the Shaw Conference Centre for Homeless Connect 4. Coordinated by Homeward Trust, Homeless Connect is a biannual event providing a “one-stop shop” of services for those without a permanent home – everything from foot care to employment assistance to haircuts.

Ready to rock

Many of the service providers from previous events were present, though a big gap (unfortunately because of the Mother’s Day clash) was dental services. New this time around were artistic touches, including a vibrant art display from iPulse, and a volunteer pianist, who helped lighten the ambiance among the sounds of busy chatter in the hall.

Art display

Pianist

As this was our third time out (and my third in the capacity of a registration volunteer), we knew what to expect – the non-stop flow of guests for the first two hours, then inconsistent waves throughout the rest of the day. And though I’ve remained in the same role each time, I have to say I still enjoy it, and find it immensely rewarding.

The few minutes of sitting down with a guest, getting a mere snapshot of their situation, always reminds me of how fortunate I am to have a roof over my head. And with those guests who seem willing to share their story, I know I’m always torn between prolonging the interview for my own selfish desire to know more about their reality and getting them through the process so they can start accessing the services they need.

Registration area

I’m happy to say that Homeward Trust also did a great job of streamlining the form this time, eliminating the long list of questions regarding awareness of different organizations that appeared in the previous version. Also, offering a sticker to those who preferred not to have their image captured by media was another great addition.

My registration space

At the end of the day, over 1250 guests came through the doors, more than the last Homeless Connect held in October. As Homeward Trust succeeds with achieving the targets in the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness though, it is hoped that attendance numbers eventually start to decline (and with a great start, I am optimistic that this will happen).

Thanks again to Homeward Trust and Shaw for organizing such a valuable service to those less fortunate. I’ll be back again in October to help out.

You read my recaps of previous Homeless Connect events here and here.

Slow Food Edmonton’s Wild Boar and Beer Scavenger Hunt!

Slow Food Edmonton’s 4th annual Wild Boar and Beer is a celebration of local food and drink! It is a chance to sample Mayerthorpe’s Hog Wild products, as well as several local and regional side dishes. In addition, there will be beer tastings and tours of Edmonton’s award-winning microbrewery, Alley Kat.

When: Sunday, July 12, 2009 at 1-4pm
Where: Alley Kat Brewery, 9929 60 Avenue
Cost: $35 for Slow Food Edmonton members, $40 for non-members, $10 for children under 10

For your chance to win 2 tickets, on behalf of Slow Food Edmonton, I’ve put together a scavenger hunt of local producers, restaurants, and independent businesses. Your objective is to collect as many points as possible! From now until June 29, take photos of yourself posing with as many of the items below as you can. Some items on the list will earn you more points than others. Remember to ask permission before taking photos with individuals!

Upload your photos to a photo sharing site such as Flickr or Picasa, and send the link to boarandbeer@gmail.com by June 29. In the event of a tie, the name of a winner will be randomly selected. The winner will be announced on June 30.

Have fun with this – the scavenger hunt is meant to encourage exploration of some of the best Edmonton has to offer. Perhaps you will find a new favourite in the mix!

I would like to acknowledge the Amateur Gourmet, and their Great New York Foodie Scavenger Hunt as the inspiration for this challenge.

Good luck!

Take a picture of yourself…

  1. Holding a copy of City Palate (5pts.)
    next to Mary Bailey (an extra 10pts.)
  2. With 1lb. of Transcend Coffee (10pts.)
  3. Holding a bottle of Alley Kat beer (5pts.)
    dressed as a cat (an extra 20pts.)
  4. With a bar of Kerstin’s Chocolates’ Chocophilia (5pts.)
    next to Kerstin Roos or Curtis Jones (an extra 20pts.)
  5. Holding a package of Hog Wild Specialties (15pts.)
  6. In front of Cafe de Ville (5pts.)
  7. Posing with an “Eat Local First” flyer (5pts.)
    in front of Wild Earth Foods (an extra 5pts.)
  8. Holding any Greens Eggs and Ham product (5pts.)
    with Mary Ellen or Andres Gruenberg (an extra 10pts.)
  9. Eating a Fat Frank (5pts.)
  10. Holding as many bell peppers as you can at the City Centre Farmers’ Market (1pt. each, up to a maximum of 10)
  11. With a copy of the Edible Prairie Journal (10pts.)
  12. In front of Call the Kettle Black (5pts.)
    holding a pot (an extra 5pts.)
  13. With an Original Fare VIP card (10pts.)
  14. Eating a dish at the EATery at the ARTery (10pts.)
  15. With a bottle of en Sante Wine (5pts.)
  16. Holding an order of Amy Quon’s hot and dry chicken (5pts.)
    with Amy Quon (an extra 10pts.)
  17. Holding a Slow Food membership card (10pts.)
  18. With a copy of Company’s Coming (5pts.)
    next to Jean Paré (an extra 30pts.)
  19. Enjoying gelato at Leva (5pts.)
  20. With cheese curds from the Cheese Factory (5pts.)
  21. With a d’Lish to-go meal (5pts.)
  22. Holding asparagus from Edgar Farms (5pts.)
  23. With a product from Blue Kettle (5pts.)
  24. Lining up at the Italian Centre deli (5pts.)
  25. With a bottle of jam from The Jam Lady (5pts.)
    Holding A Jam Story print (an extra 20pts.)
  26. With Sylvan Star Cheese (5pts.)

Food Notes for March 2, 2009

I’m still recovering from the shock of The Bachelor’s revelations – why?! As I try to unpack what happened, here are this week’s notes:

  • The Lois Hole Hospital Foundation will be raising money on Thursday, March 5 through the Epicurean Experience, where “Edmonton and area restaurants will generously donate a portion of the proceeds from the day’s food sales to the Lois Hole Hospital for Women.” Check out the list of participating restaurants here.
  • Liane covered two of the twenty-odd restaurants participating in Edmonton’s Downtown Dining Week, which starts March 6 and runs until March 15. I still think $50 for a set meal is still too high of a price to pay in these lean times, but best of luck to the new restaurants trying to attract different clientele.
  • Gail Hall compiled a list of the “25 Best Things to Eat in Edmonton” for the latest issue of Avenue Magazine. My personal list would include a banh mi and pho, but I like that she tried to span dishes large and small.
  • I just found out about this today when I saw a story on CTV news, but a group of friends challenged themselves to subsist on a diet of $80 for the month – “the working poor diet” – as a means of building awareness and raise money for the Edmonton Food Bank. They found it doable but difficult, and learned about ways to make their dollar stretch even further to meet the standards set by the Canada Food Guide. Their blog chronicling the month is worth a read.
  • Roll up the Rim to Win frenzy is back (I love that Tim Horton’s commercial with the giant cup in “Canadaland”). For the fifth year running, Calgary-based Jon Lin is documenting his losses (and hopefully a few wins) on his blog.
  • Doritos opened up a contest to allow the public to come up with a name for their latest “mystery” chip flavour. I spied the white bag the last time I was at the grocery store, but didn’t think to pick one up to try – perhaps I’ll have to.
  • Mack sent me a link about a new mobile service called ReadyPing that enables restaurants to send out a text message to diners when a table is ready (instead, say, of chaining diners to a small perimeter around the restaurant with pagers). Interesting idea, but there could be some issues, as the article lays out, with customers wandering a bit too far.
  • A good article in the NYT this week about food magazines that are doing their best to stay relevant and afloat during these economic times. It’s surprised me to find out that for the most part, circulation hasn’t dipped.
  • On the subject of saving money, the Times also had an article about using less water to boil pasta (and thus saving energy in the process) – something I’ve wondered about myself. Turns out: it can be done, without really sacrificing the pasta output.
  • A cute Grub Street compilation of what high-end chefs cooked as kids. I can’t say I experimented much in the kitchen as a child, though there was that one Mother’s Day where my intention of making Orange Julius for my Mum went terribly, terribly wrong…

A Second Chance Granted: Garage Burger Bar & Grill

Last spring, I garnered my first serious comment smack-down on a post about my mostly negative initial experience at Garage Burger Bar & Grill (10242 106 Street). I have since learned that it is a much-loved installation in the downtown dining core, even though some of its most stalwart fans have also admitted that Garage has fallen prey to inconsistent standards in the last year.

On Thursday, prior to the Biden-Palin smackdown, Mack and I were finally ready to give Garage a second chance, prodded somewhat by a coupon I had on hand. Still early in the evening, the restaurant was completely empty when we walked up, and remained so throughout our brief stay. We were quickly seated at a self-selected table on the patio, eager to soak up the last rays of autumn, and after settling in with our drinks of choice, paged through the well-worn menus.

I ordered the Bacon Mozza ($6.49), while Mack opted for the Chili Burger ($6.49). We topped off our meal with a basket of french fries ($3.95), as they were out of onion rings.

The advantage of being the only customers in a restaurant became evident when our food arrived just minutes after placing our order. Our burger plates looked virtually identical to what I could remember from our past visit, but thankfully, the fries appeared to be fresh this time around. Our burgers themselves were fine – they hit the spot, but in general were nothing special.

Bacon Mozza Burger

Chili Burger

“Why are you always taking my picture?”

While more inexpensive than a comparable burger from a place like Red Robin’s, I’m still left wondering how Garage has accumulated the reputation it has; perhaps we have to patronize them later in the evening to get a sense of the large community that supports their favourite burger joint and keeps the restaurant on its toes.

Garage Burger Bar & Grill
10242 106 Street
(780) 423-5014
Monday 11am-6pm, Tuesday & Thursday 11am-8pm, Wednesday & Friday 11am-9pm, Saturday 12-8pm, closed Sundays