Cultivating Regulars: Partake

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

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



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

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


Our happy hour spread

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

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


Beef tartare

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


Croque mon’soubise’

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


Mini creme brulees

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

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

Room to Improve: Daravara

After work one evening before Christmas, I hopped on the bus to meet Mack for dinner. We had been hoping to finally try Relish, but upon arrival, found that they were closed for a private function. Undaunted, we considered our other options, as 124 Street offers an abundance of choices. We eventually settled on Daravara (10713 124 Street) just across the street.

Unlike many other bars in Edmonton, Daravara seems to have bucked the trend of maximizing seating in favour of generous spacing between furnishings and a games area. As a result, the vibe seemed much more relaxed and casual than some similar establishments. It was easy to see how Daravara could become the go-to watering hole for locals in the area, especially with their very reasonable prices for beer and wine.


The bar at Daravara

Since reading about their burger offering, Daravara has been on our list of restaurants to visit. But it seems that their menu has been overhauled since that time. In spite of that, I thought the menu as a whole had much to choose from, including a variety of tacos, sandwiches, and appetizers (I saved the popcorn chicken hearts for another time). That night, I settled on the beer cheese burger ($14), while Mack chose the waffle clubhouse ($15).



Service was good throughout, and the kitchen, in spite of a near full-house, was on point, and we didn’t have to wait long for our plates to arrive. That said, the flavours could have been better. My burger, served with house-made beer cheese, secret sauce and lettuce, tomato and caramelized onion, had an underseasoned patty, and was unremarkable.


Beer cheese burger with poutine

Mack’s clubhouse, with house-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato and ranch dressing, would have benefited from additional texture. The cheddar cheese waffles were not crispy, and the chicken in this case was grilled, not fried.


Waffle clubhouse with werewolf fries

On the side, I upgraded to a poutine (additional $2.50). The fries were freshly fried and spiced in a way that reminded me of Drift’s house seasoning. But the miso gravy wasn’t my favourite – while there was a noticeable miso base, I didn’t enjoy the saccharine aftertaste. Mack’s substitution of werewolf fries (additional $2.50) were overwhelmingly spicy for him, featuring chipotle cheese, malt vinegar, hot sauce and green onions.

There are still some items on the menu we’d like to try in the future, so though we were hoping for more from Daravara on our first visit, we will be back again in the future.

10713 124 Street
(587) 520-4980
Tuesday-Thursday 11:30am-midnight, Friday-Saturday 11am-2am, Sunday 11am-5pm, closed Mondays

Recap: 124 Street Red Shoe Crawl

It’s hard to believe Red Shoe Crawls have been taking place in Edmonton for five years now! The brainchild of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northern Alberta, Red Shoe Crawls serve to raise awareness and funds to support a facility that houses families travelling to Edmonton to seek treatment for their sick children. Participating businesses donate their time and samples to contribute towards a fun, pedestrian-oriented afternoon.

Red Shoe Crawl

Red shoes!

It’s been a few years since I’ve attended a 124 Street Red Shoe Crawl, so when offered the chance to attend as a guest on September 13, 2015, Mack and I accepted. We brought along first-time crawlers Thom and Alicia.

Red Shoe Crawl

Thom and Alicia at Cococo

There were 25 stops on the list, which included an eclectic mix of retailers, galleries, cafes and restaurants. Though I understand the reasons behind some independent businesses not becoming involved (Sunday closure, staffing requirements, small spaces), it was disappointing to see that several of the newest additions to the street were not participating – the Red Shoe Crawl is a great way to expose a different crowd to your shop.

Red Shoe Crawl

Ascendant Books, one of the new-to-us discoveries

At any rate, we still had many places to explore, many of them new to us. We also elected to participate in the scavenger hunt, which invited us to post photos of different items found in the stores along the way. Although it was much more time consuming, it added another element to the crawl, and I have to say, we did have fun with it.

Red Shoe Crawl

Mack shows us how he eats his pizza at Boston Pizza

Similar to our previous 124 Street crawl experience, our main criticism was the lack of savoury items along the way. While we were treated to many sweet bites (including a scoop of gelato at Cococo), the savoury samples were few and far between. As a result, it wasn’t a surprise that our favourite stop was at reLISH. They served up a generous portion of made-to-order poutine.

Red Shoe Crawl

Poutine from reLISH

Some businesses also took better advantage of their crawl participation than others, offering discounts or special offers for the day or the week of the event. It definitely added an incentive to shop that day, as Alicia and Thom found out at Bling.

Red Shoe Crawl

Decorator’s paradise at Bling

To traverse the entire route at a leisurely pace actually took us the full four hours. But it was a great way to explore the neighbourhood! Thanks again to the Red Shoe Crawl for a fun afternoon, and to the organizers, volunteers and businesses who made it all happen.

Red Shoe Crawl

We made it!

Recap: All is Bright on 124 Street

Mack and I took in the second annual All is Bright Festival on 124 Street last Saturday. With a gentle, glistening snowfall heralding winter, the event was christened with a beautifully ethereal quality.

All is Bright on 124 Street

High Street

Sure, it was a little chilly, but organizers were prepared, with warming fires clustered around the High Street shops. There were even a handful of outdoor vendors, sheltered by custom-built WinterCity huts (these could be the start of a more permanent winter market!).

All is Bright on 124 Street


There was also a covered tent that doubled as a stage, though some performers braved the elements on the chance of gathering an even larger crowd.

All is Bright on 124 Street


Food trucks were on hand also, though their numbers were fewer than last year. Street Eats is fully winterized, so it’s possible you may see them again this season! We were a little disappointed that with all of the foot traffic, event organizers elected not to close any adjacent streets. With the 102 Avenue bridge construction, we thought it would have been natural to close the avenue to vehicles for a more family-friendly set-up as was the case last year.

All is Bright on 124 Street

Street Eats

Of course, one of the best things about this festival is its close proximity to great independent shops, so we definitely took advantage of the opportunity to not only warm our toes but also a head start on Christmas shopping.

Carbon on 124 Street


The festival footprint extended north of 107 Avenue, with horse-drawn sleighs and ETS shuttles connecting the two ends of 124 Street. We opted to walk to Drift’s new storefront to have lunch, and were rewarded with a steaming plate of poutine and wonderfully spiced bowl of mulligatawny soup.

Drift on 124 Street

Drift’s new space

Drift on 124 Street


Across the street, Duchess was handing out hot chocolate and freshly-fried beignets. It was also an opportunity to see their annual gingerbread cathedral still under construction (the intricate “stained glass” windows are a marvel).

Duchess Bake Shop

Giselle all bundled up!

Duchess Bake Shop

Beignets (seconds, please)

Duchess Bake Shop

Gingerbread cathedral in progress

We met up with Hannah and Stephanie in the new neighbourhood Credo, which was bustling with patrons needing a break from the cold.

Credo on 124 Street

Geoff behind the bar

By the time we were done catching up, we realized we had missed the official light-up and fireworks. But it didn’t really matter – one of the best things about All is Bright is an excuse to acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with all of the wonderful shops and galleries in the area.

All is Bright on 124 Street


We did hustle back to the main site just in time to marvel at the lights and closing activities. Although crowds had dwindled down, it was still a wonderful scene of Edmontonians making the most of winter.

Steph, Hannah, Sharon

With Steph and Hannah

Mack and I thought better of slogging away in the kitchen that night, and left the cooking up to The Bothy. We snagged the last free table, and though we had to be patient with the kitchen, it was well worth the wait. Both our dishes were well prepared.

The Bothy on 124 Street

Roasted lamb sausage pasta

Kudos to the All is Bright organizers for putting together a fabulous event – I’m looking forward to what’s in store for next year!