Preview: DOSC opens on 104 Street

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

DOSC

DOSC

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

DOSC

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

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

DOSC

DOSC bar

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

DOSC

Sober Cat

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

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

DOSC

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

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

DOSC

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

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

DOSC

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

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

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

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

IllumiNITE 2013

Similar to Deep Freeze, IllumiNITE is another grassroots, community-led festival that celebrates winter (in this case, its darkness), and provides a great opportunity for people to engage with art outdoors.

Last weekend, the festival took over the pocket park on 104 Street, lining the paths with fourteen different light sculptures.

IllumiNITE 2013

Pocket Park

Like last year, it was wonderful to see the creativity and imagination from the different artists. The life-sized Street Brite by Chris van der Hoek and Bobby Harris was a fun example of interactive art – kids and adults alike were having a blast playing with the display.

IllumiNITE 2013

Street Brite

I also appreciated the installations that took the park itself into consideration, whether that meant a projection and enhancement of a pine tree, or the use of trees as a structural element.

IllumiNITE 2013

Untitled by Laurissa Kalinowsky and team

IllumiNITE 2013

Lighting was used in different ways too – I loved the eye-catching Morse code display, as well as the ethereal piece strung up on the hill.

IllumiNITE 2013

IllumiNITE 2013

Though we didn’t partake, bannock making was in full swing as well! Fires and food are always a good cold weather combination.

IllumiNITE 2013

Bannock making

A pop-up shop was also set up in former 29 Armstrong space, and after the fact, we heard that there was an ice bar outside of Cask & Barrel. It wasn’t evident on the street that there was anything south of Jasper Avenue, so a minor improvement for next year would be to include a small map on the program. But otherwise, another fantastic event by the organizing committee – bravo on a second successful year!

2nd Annual Al Fresco 104 Street Block Party

We had every intention of returning to 104 Street in the early evening to check out the Block Party festivities (including the wine tasting, fashion show, and yoga demonstration), but after our weekly trip to the City Market that morning and a few hours at the office, relaxing at home with a glass of wine before heading out for that night’s 10pm movie screening was just what I needed (both Chris and Sarah wrote about the Block Party happenings, so I was able to see what I missed).

Armed with our camping chairs, we reached 104 Street at around 9:30, which gave us enough time to wander before showtime. A DJ was on hand to add to the celebratory atmosphere, and yes, a few in the crowd were dancing in the street! Some of the vendors from the City Market were still open (Fridget and Sugar Soul hats, among them), and the patios that had been set up for the dinner hour were, not surprisingly, packed.

DJ

Vendors

Blue Plate Diner’s patio

In terms of food, Sabor Divino was grilling up a storm with their chicken piri piri, while Daniel Costa of Red Star had a crostini bar open for those seeking lighter fare.

Outdoor barbecue

Kerstin’s Chocolates had a table also, fitting as the movie being shown that night was Chocolat. In addition to their Chocophilia bars, they were also selling one of their hotly-anticipated bacon and chocolate truffles, featuring bacon peanut brittle (instead of Berkshire bacon, they are using a hickory-smoked bacon from Sandy Lane this year). Cyrus was kind enough to give me one to try – the peanut butter flavour was definitely the predominant one, and though I was hard pressed to locate the bacon flavour, I can’t say that was entirely a bad thing – I still haven’t been completely won over by the bacon + chocolate combo.

Kerstin’s Chocolates table

Bacon Brittle Peanut Butter Truffle covered in chopped peanuts

Nearing 10pm, we didn’t see any evidence of a screen being set up on 104 Street. We finally asked, and were directed to the small parking lot sandwiched between the Great West Saddlery Building and the Armstrong Block. Given our biggest quibble with last year’s screening was the distraction of revellers more interested in talking than watching, this was the perfect spot located away from the outdoor patios. As the Block Party was organized as a fundraiser, however (this year benefiting the Edmonton School Lunch Program), I wished someone was out deliberately collecting money. While the silent auction run by deVine’s continues for the next week, I would have rather have deposited cash in a box to support the cause.

Outdoor movie theatre

We did enjoy ourselves though. Chocolat is a great movie, and even more so in a novel setting on one of Edmonton’s most vibrant streets on a cool summer night.

Screen after dark

I really hope this becomes an annual tradition!

City Market Opening Day 2010

I’ve been waiting for this day since the City Market wrapped up for the season last Thanksgiving. Though we did make more of an effort this year to visit the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market on a regular basis in the winter months, there really is nothing like this open air market in Edmonton’s warehouse district. The fact that we can walk to the City Market doesn’t hurt either.

Market Day!

We arrived just before nine, to cool air and still-quiet streets. We never typically arrive at the market this early, but since we missed the opening ceremonies last year, we thought it better to be early than late.

The calm before the storm

We started our day off with a quick stroll around the grounds, then headed off to Blue Plate Diner for some much-needed coffee and breakfast. We decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather (and opportunity to people watch) by sitting out on the patio – it was one of the best choices we made all day.

Mack twitters on the patio

Pancake breakfast

Mack’s breakfast special – an Italian scramble

We eventually left our comfortable spot and joined the crowds for the opening ceremony. Mayor Mandel, alongside Councillors Ben Henderson, Jane Batty, MLA Laurie Blakeman, MP Laurie Hawn, and oddly, Bob Black of the Katz Group, rang the opening bells (apparently, Black was there to explore the possibility of the EAD housing the market in the winter months…but I’m not convinced). Jon Hall, who is on the City Market Board of Directors, touchingly donated his mother’s antique brass bell to the market, which will now serve as the “official” bell.

Ring, ring!

It was great to see so many people out – an estimated 13,000 by 12:30pm. With the addition of the Southgate and Century Park stations, I am hoping that the foot traffic will grow considerably this year. In terms of the market itself, they have had a 30% increase in vendors in 2010, with over 145 vendors expected in 2010. Although Sparrow’s Nest will not have a booth this year, most vendors from last year are returning, and span the gauntlet of goods from produce, prepared goods, and crafts. Undoubtedly, fresh vegetables are a big draw, and we had to laugh at the twenty-deep line in front of the Edgar Farms booth – early bird patrons were absolutely chomping at the bit for the few bunches of asparagus available this week.

In the storm

In addition to my old favourites (Greens, Eggs and Ham, Irvings Farm Fresh, Doef’s Greenhouses, Kuhlmann’s, Sundog Organics among them), it was great to see already-established businesses utilizing the market as a means of heightening exposure to their products, such as d’Lish and Sweet Lollapalooza.

Though it’s not an exhaustive feature of all products available at the market, these photos highlight just some of the fresh, tasty and creative things to be found at the City Market.

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The Market is also hoping to draw crowds to the streets with monthly cultural festivals, particularly fun for families. A Chinese celebration kicked off this feature, with lion and dragon dances bringing appropriate energy to an exciting morning. You can see the schedule of upcoming festivals dates here, with the next one being a Portuguese Festival on June 12.

Lion dance

Great crowd on hand for the festivities

We ended our market trip with a brief visit to deVine’s. In honour of the Chinese Festival, they were sampling wines and beers from China. Though I’ve heard some negative things about Chinese wines in particular (especially because it is such a new industry in that country), I was pleasantly surprised with the Noble Dragon wine. And priced at just $13.95, we had to pick up a bottle to share with my parents.

Chinese beer and wine

It really was a great morning – I hope to do it all again next weekend!

Check out Mack’s Flickr set here, a post from Chris at Eating is the Hard Part here, a post and video clip of the market from Raffaella here, and Valerie (A Canadian Foodie)’s post here.

Doors Open Alberta

I had been looking forward to Doors Open Alberta, a summer event that celebrates the province’s architectural heritage. Edmonton’s events took place this last weekend, and Mack and I participated in two of them.

The first was a 104th Street Walking Tour, led by Jon Hall, Manager of Marketing and Communications for the Realtors Association of Edmonton (husband of Gail Hall of Seasoned Solutions). Jon provided a bit of history of Cobogo Lofts during the Market Fresh Cooking Class I attended last year, so I already knew he would make a great tour guide.

I heart the City Centre Market that spans a portion of 104th Street, so the buildings he referred to were familiar to me, but the features and detailing on the buildings were not. He provided an introduction to the area, and pointed things out that I likely would not have noticed without his enlightenment (such as – the small set of stairs just behind the front doors of the former warehouses made it more fluid height-wise to pack cargo away in freight cars or horse-drawn carriages). Even with the boon of condo conversions and construction in the area, laws passed have helped preserve the “integrity” of the street. After five stories, towers on top have to be built at least ten meters back, allowing sunlight to stream down to street level, and to ensure that the design of newly-constructed buildings are congruent with the heritage buildings in the area.

Not historic, but I learned that the penthouse suite of the Icon Tower is still available…for $1.6 million dollars

If you missed the tour, but are interested in the history of the area, this document would allow for a self-guided tour.

Second, after some dawdling at the City Centre Market, we boarded a bus at the Art Gallery of Alberta for the Capital Modern Tour.

Led by Manasc Issac architect Shafraaz Kaba, the bus tour focused on buildings in Edmonton designed in the modern-style of architecture. Born out of a reaction against the adornment of neo-classicism, modern buildings were clean and simple, or in my opinion, plain.

You can recreate the route with this PDF document, but much like the walking tour, I was able to see things in a new light under the tutelage of a knowledgeable guide. From the CN Tower, Royal Alberta Museum, Ross Sheppard High School, HUB Mall and the Paramount Theatre, I appreciated details I had previously never noticed. My favourite stops were Peter Hemingway Fitness and Leisure Centre(formerly Coronation Pool) and the Queen Elizabeth Planetarium. I had never before been to Coronation, and driving past, really had no idea that it housed a pool. The interior structure of complex cables holding up the sloped roof were really quite amazing.

Peter Hemingway Fitness Centre

Inside the pool

The Planetarium, sadly neglected with visible stacks of boxes inside, is one of a few modern buildings on the “A” list of historic resources for the City, and yet, continues to suffer from ill-attention. The paths are apparently constructed to scale with the solar system (with the planetarium standing in for the sun), and at appropriate spaces in the footpaths, one can notice the relative distance of planets from the sun – who knew such a cool resource existed in Edmonton?

In front of the Planetarium

The tour was a great way to learn more about Edmonton – the seemingly handful of architects that impacted the modern landscape of the city, some of the architectural achievements and international recognition attained by local architects, and really, drawing my attention to structures that I wouldn’t have cast a second glance at.