Ready, Set, Brunch: OEB

I’ve often bemoaned the lack of brunch culture in Edmonton, making the joke that Mack and I would be more likely to drive to Calgary to enjoy this meal. While there are a handful of local restaurants that are known for their brunch service (Hathaway’s Diner and Hap’s come to mind) that number multiplies by several factors when we look to our southern neighbour. So in some ways, given this current vacuum, it’s no surprise that Calgary brunch staple OEB decided to expand to Edmonton.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

OEB in the Kelly Ramsey

OEB is on a mission. Now with a trio of locations in Calgary, they’re not only setting up shop in Edmonton (with a second branch opening next fall on 124 Street in the former North 53 space), but in Vancouver and Scottsdale, Arizona, too. Mack and I dined at OEB’s first restaurant in Calgary back in 2010 when it was still known as Over Easy Breakfast, and though the menu in its current iteration is still daunting, the aesthetics of OEB has changed to embrace a more modern and sleek design. At the end of October, Mack, Emily, and I were invited to preview the first Edmonton location of OEB in the Kelly Ramsey Building on Rice Howard Way.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Window seats

It’s really great to have such an eye-catching tenant on street level. Although OEB prides itself on unique interiors in each of its storefronts, it’s apparent their spaces make the most of natural light, bright accent colours, and egg-shaped decorations. The Kelly Ramsey shop features an open kitchen and pantry, so it feels even more welcoming. It’s fun without being too kitschy, and overall makes it a very pleasant place to dine. The only drawback, perhaps, is that there are few sound dampening measures, so the room can get a bit loud.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton


To say there is something for everyone on the OEB menu is a bit of an understatement, as there are over 50 items to choose from. To set them apart, OEB not only has an extensive breakfast poutine selection, but also includes some unusual brunch ingredients like rabbit, lamb, duck confit, black truffles, and caviar. On that initial visit and a follow-up trip, I couldn’t resist ordering breakfast poutines both times. They didn’t disappoint.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Ehhh Itza Meatball breakfast poutine

Most poutines are made up of a base of herbed potatoes (half of which could be substituted with spinach if so desired), poached eggs, and hollandaise, then dressed up with a variety of proteins – from the more traditional bacon and cheese curds to the more refined seared scallops and lox.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Chasing Chickens breakfast poutine

Mack and I shared the Ehhh Itza Meatball ($18) and Chasing Chickens ($17) at the preview. Of the two, the pulled chicken was the better cooked protein, easier to eat along with the potatoes and curds. The Spolumbo’s chorizo meatballs were on the dry side, so digging in to create a complete bite of all of the bowl’s components was a challenge. That said, the eggs were poached to yolky perfection (we were advised by the server to request a medium doneness; apparently at OEB, soft poached means a barely cooked egg with a transparent white), and the hollandaise was delicious.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Our spread

Emily was also treated to her very own kids meal (her first!). She enjoyed nibbling on the toast and scrambled eggs. Although OEB is equipped with a couple of high chairs, curiously, neither of the washrooms had a change table.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Emily, content

When I returned for lunch a few weeks later, I ordered their signature Soul in a Bowl ($17), topped with slow-cooked bacon lardons. Again, the medium poached eggs were consistent with my previous visit, and the potatoes were as crispy as I remembered (Emily enjoyed them, too!). And though I appreciated the generous hand that dealt the bacon, because of how salty they were, less may have been more in this case.


Soul in a Bowl breakfast poutine

At the preview, service (as expected) was superb. On my return visit however, it was equally outstanding. I was particularly impressed with the small details – a shift change had occurred, but the second server didn’t miss a beat, and had already been informed that I was drinking decaf coffee which she topped up without having to clarify.

OEB’s entry into the Edmonton brunch market has already made quite the splash; lineups are commonplace on the weekend. OEB does use a waitlist app to help diners manage their time, but the best advice may be to try and avoid peak times if possible – try for an early or late brunch on weekends, or better yet, check it out on a weekday if able. I know I’m already eyeing up OEB as a place to catch-up with visiting relatives over the holidays.

Thanks again to Bonafide Media for the invitation to the preview!

10174 100A Street (in the Kelly Ramsey Building/Enbridge Centre)
(587) 520-0936
Monday-Friday 7am-2:45pm, Saturday-Sunday 8am-2:45pm

Spanish Brunch: Bodega Highlands

Sabor Divino and its family of restaurants is a local success story. Sabor is known as one of the top seafood establishments in the city, while Urbano Pizza helped usher in the wave of quick-serve, thin-crust pizza parlours in Edmonton. Bodega, on the other hand, occupies a unique position with its authentic approach to Spanish tapas, allowing diners an accessible way to traverse the globe for Mediterranean flavours. It’s a successful formula that has translated into a need to expand the original location on the Boardwalk downtown, spawned a cozy second location in Highlands, and later this year, will add a third just off 124 Street in the former Dish and the Runaway Spoon space.

That said, each Bodega branch will offer something slightly different; for instance, we were told that the 124 Street location will be open for lunch. The Highlands location on the other hand, serves what they term "Spanish brunch" every Saturday and Sunday from 11am-2pm. The menu carries over some of their tapas-style dishes, but features other, egg-based dishes to tempt the palate of weekend brunch seekers.

The dishes are variations of familiar dishes, but with a Spanish or Portuguese twist – a Spanish potato omelette, baked eggs with chorizo and Serrano ham, and a breakfast sandwich topped with the chef’s special sauce, a unique recipe every Portuguese restaurant has on its roster, or so we were told.

My friend May and I met up at Bodega Highlands for brunch on Saturday. There were only a handful of other tables during our stay, which was a bit surprising given the usual brunch hustle in Edmonton. Our server indicated that it’s typically busier on Sundays, but we also had to wonder whether their brunch program is still relatively under the radar.

Bodega Highlands

Bodega Highlands

I ended up ordering the migas con huevos ($15), sautéed bread crumble and bacon with two fried eggs and beef sausage. May selected the Francesinha ($18), a Portuguese baked sandwich with Edam, sausage, ham, beef tenderloin, chorizo, fried egg, and the aforementioned special sauce – definitely not a dish for the faint of heart. We also decided to share the salt cod fritters ($9) to start.

Given the quiet state of the dining room, we received our dishes relatively quickly. The fritters were nice and light, though probably would have paired better with a glass of wine or beer as opposed to coffee.

Bodega Highlands

Salt cod fritters

Our mains were generous; a side salad wasn’t mentioned on the menu but I appreciated the pop of freshness on the plate. The mixture of toasted bread, bacon, and eggs was satisfying, but it was the well-seasoned beef sausage that was the star of the dish. My only quibble was I had to send my eggs back once to have them cooked to the requested doneness; unfortunately, even after that they were still not right.

Bodega Highlands

Migas con huevos

May really enjoyed her sandwich, a meat eater’s dream. The sauce soaked right through the bread, and provided a nice accompaniment to the different layers of meat.

Bodega Highlands


Service was attentive throughout, and refills of water and tea were plentiful. It may have been different with a busier room, but we were satisfied with the experience overall.

Afterwards, we walked off brunch with a stroll through the neighbourhood – Bodega works well as a starting point to explore Highlands, if you don’t frequent it often (as is the case for me). We checked out the elegant MacGrath Mansion, then popped into some of the shops on 112 Avenue, including Mandolin Books, Majesty and Friends, and Be-a-Bella.

If you’re looking for something different to change up your weekend brunch routine, I’d suggest giving Bodega Highlands a try.

Bodega Highlands
6509 112 Avenue
(780) 757-0137
Monday-Thursday 4:30-10pm, Friday-Saturday 4:30-11pm, Sunday 4:30-9pm; brunch Saturdays and Sundays 11am-2pm

Recap: Saturday Brunch Pop-Up at Get Cooking

In the last year, there has been an increase in the number of non-traditional venues hosting brunch. This includes Sailin’ On’s Breakfast Club at The Buckingham, and the fairly new Wild Heart Brunch Club at The Mercury Room. Another recent addition to the weekend scene is Get Cooking’s Brunch Pop-Ups.

They launched just over a month ago at the end of January, and seek to provide people with a relaxed opportunity to gather and socialize. It takes place every Saturday at noon, and based on our experience last week, it isn’t a meal you will rush through (we were there a total of 2.5 hours). Brunch at Get Cooking is meant to be savoured, and if you don’t know the folks around your communal table, you will by the end of the afternoon! Plus, the food we consumed was so rich we needed time between courses just to recuperate.

Mack and I were invited by Get Cooking to experience their brunch last weekend. We arrived just after noon to a nearly full house. For those who prefer one of the coveted island seats, I’d recommend arriving early to guarantee yourself a front row vantage point. Some of the kitchen action can be seen from other areas of the room on the TV monitors, but cooking tips and tricks (unlike other Get Cooking classes) are not the focus here. In fact, Chef Doreen Prei wasn’t miked, so she was difficult to hear above the din of social chatter. We did wander over to the stove every now and then, but the open kitchen was more of an incidental presence than a deliberate attraction. Personally, I would have appreciated more details about where the ingredients were sourced (even if only on a menu), but I was probably in the minority.

Brunch at Get Cooking

Chef Doreen Prei

The $45 ticket ($22.50 for kids aged 7-13) includes a tasting board, an amuse, four courses, coffee or tea and a welcome cocktail. The cocktail was served family-style in a generous punch bowl – Ann’s Garden Punch was an easy-to-drink combination of pineapple-infused rum, lemon, almond syrup, sumac, mint, cucumber and strawberries.

Brunch at Get Cooking

Ann’s Garden Punch

It might have been a small detail, but Mack and I appreciated that the coffee, made with Iconoclast-roasted beans, kept coming. Staff ensured the French presses at our table were refreshed as necessary, and the milk for coffee was even thoughtfully warmed.

Before the hot courses arrived, we were invited to sip our drinks and fill up our plates at their tasting board. Changing weekly, the selections that day included margarita scones (served with compote and cream), and a variety of cheeses and charcuterie.

Brunch at Get Cooking

Tasting boards

Chef Prei’s amuse bouche consisted of shot glasses of Gold Forest Grains steel cut oats, bits of chorizo, and a garnish of whipped cream, blueberries and pistachios. I’ve never been a fan of oatmeal, but the addition of chorizo was genius – the fat and flavour boost has made me reconsider this breakfast option.

Brunch at Get Cooking

Steel cut oats with chorizo, whipped cream, blueberries and pistachios

Ricotta fritters, served on beautiful table-length wooden planks, were a delight to eat, lightly battered, fried, and accompanied by a tomato and orange jam.

Brunch at Get Cooking

Ricotta fritters

Eggs made their appearance in the next course – poached over smoked salmon and a delectable potato rosti and bernaise. Chef Prei shared her secret for poaching eggs: a splash of vinegar and vigorous whisking of the water prior to slipping the eggs in, as the motion helps draw the whites in around the yolk.

Brunch at Get Cooking

Eggs benedict with smoked salmon and potato rosti

My favourite dish was one I would never order on my own at brunch – a beer-marinated flank steak with greens, a German bread dumpling and mushroom sauce. The beef was perfectly medium rare, and the dumpling, pan-fried in butter, was delicious.

Brunch at Get Cooking

Beer-marinated flank steak with greens and a German bread dumpling

Dessert combined hot and cold elements: fried brioche rolled in lavender sugar with a brandy chocolate drizzle plus a white chocolate elderflower parfait.

Brunch at Get Cooking

Fried brioche and white chocolate elderflower parfait

As a whole, the meal at Get Cooking featured some of the most refined dishes I’ve ever had at brunch. As everything was made fresh, it does distinguish itself from the buffet-style brunches aligned by price alone. In this case, the ticket price is justified based on the quality and unique nature of the dishes. And because of the ever-changing menu, this brunch stays true to its pop-up inspiration.

Brunch at Get Cooking

Up close and personal with plating

Thanks again to Kathryn and Liv for the invitation! If you’re interested in trying their brunch, make sure to reserve online in advance, or stay tuned to their Twitter account for information about seats available on the day of.

Get Cooking
11050 104 Avenue
(780) 934-8058

Check out Athena’s review of the same brunch experience here.

With a Side of History: Sunday Brunch at Fort Edmonton Park

Fort Edmonton Park is easily my favourite City of Edmonton attraction. I’m a sucker for amusements, and the 1920s midway at Fort Edmonton is one of the city’s best kept secrets. In the off-season, however, the Park  operates on a limited basis – Capitol Theatre screens vintage films, Hotel Selkirk offers temporary accommodation year-round, and Johnson’s Café (located in Hotel Selkirk) hosts a special brunch every Sunday.

Mack and I were invited by Fort Edmonton Park to try their Sunday Brunch last weekend. Before settling on driving to the Park, we did explore public transit options (especially given the Park lends its name to an LRT stop). The closest we could get on a Sunday, however, was a bus ride from, ironically, University station followed by a 21 minute walk.

Fort Edmonton Park

Hotel Selkirk

Reservations are taken for seatings every half hour from 10:30am until 1pm. By the time we arrived for our noon reservation, we found Johnson’s Cafe nearly full, made up of small parties of two and larger groups of families with small children.

From the outset, the meal was of good value, food-wise, and more than justified $32.95 cost for adults (seniors tickets are $27.95 and children 4-12 are $19.95). We were told that over the years, the brunch selection has increased significantly, from occupying one corner of the dining room to now taking up the hotel lobby in its entirety.

Fort Edmonton Park

Omelette station

The Sunday brunch buffet spread spanned breakfast, lunch and dessert options. We started off with breakfast, taking full advantage of the omelette station, plump breakfast sausages and fantastically crispy bacon. We didn’t sample the eggs benedict, as it was doubtful the yolks would remain runny in the chafing dishes, but I did really enjoy the Parmesan grilled tomatoes.

Fort Edmonton Park

Breakfast for two

We returned to sample the lunch choices, which included several cold salads, cheeses and charcuterie, seasonal vegetables, pasta, pork loin in a pineapple sauce, grilled chicken, and a carving station offering up nicely marbled beef brisket with a peppercorn jus.

Fort Edmonton Park

Carving station

To be frank, I saved up the most room for dessert. I was most impressed with the dessert selection, highlighted by a showstopping red velvet cake and a deliciously moist spinach and beet cake (the green layers were vibrant without any noticeable spinach flavour). I was also drawn to the pineapple upside down cake, decadently served with a side of cream, and the notion of lavender and apple shooters, an interesting alternative to alcoholic shots. Mack was drawn to the kid-friendly desserts, including Rice Krispie treats and mini cupcakes.

Fort Edmonton Park


Service was fantastic throughout – there were numerous staff ensuring the food stations were constantly refilled, while the dining room staff checked in with us constantly, topping up our coffee and water without request.

After brunch, we wandered 1905 and 1920 Streets, peering into windows and enjoying the scenic facades on a sunny winter afternoon. In the summer, brunch includes admission to the Park, which operates May until September. On that warm day, we couldn’t help but wonder why Fort Edmonton couldn’t be a year-round attraction, or at least one with a season extended beyond one-off events like Christmas Reflections and Easter hunts.

Fort Edmonton Park

Visiting with the horses at Mellon Farm

As a part of the Winter City Strategy, the Park has built-in warming stations in its indoor facilities, and could easily replace train and streetcar transportation with horse-drawn wagon rides (an attraction that operates now, but is only available to groups). It would also be a great way to educate people about how Edmontonians in previous eras worked to stay warm.

Fort Edmonton Park

1920 Street

Mack and I both agreed that while we enjoyed our brunch experience at Hotel Selkirk, because it required a trip to Fort Edmonton without the promise of visiting the attraction as a whole, we would be more likely to return during the summer months when it could be combined with the operational Park.

Of note, because we did commit to driving to the Park, we detoured to finally check out the Alfred H. Savage Centre, located on the opposite side of Fox Drive from Fort Edmonton (accessible through the Whitemud Park turnoff). It’s a lovely facility with restrooms that functions as a warm-up centre for the adjacent toboggan hill (marked as "closed" that day, in spite of all of the families out enjoying the beautiful day). Consider walking off the sumptuous meal with a jaunt in the trails, as we did.

Whitemud Park

At Whitemud Park

Thanks again to Fort Edmonton Park for hosting us! The Winter Sunday Brunch series runs until March 27, 2016.

Check out Linda’s review of Sunday brunch here.

Recap: What the Truck?! Brunch on the Boulevard

On June 10, 2015, What the Truck?! hosted its first brunch-themed event at Capital Boulevard.

What the Truck?! at Capital Boulevard

Brunch on the Boulevard

Fourteen vendors joined us for Brunch on the Boulevard, serving up inspired items ranging from breakfast pizza to banana bread French toast and Captain Crunch ice cream sandwiches.

What the Truck?! at Capital Boulevard

Canicus Catering’s breakfast pizza

The weather, while mostly cooperative, was overcast and windy at times. As a result, lines were minimal, and attendees enjoyed seamless access to most vendors – there’s definitely an incentive to coming out in spite of less than optimal conditions!

What the Truck?! at Capital Boulevard

Weather wasn’t a deterrent for these folks

It was great to have DJs Thomas Culture and Polyesterday on hand to create an upbeat, sunny atmosphere. They literally had some people dancing in the streets!

What the Truck?! at Capital Boulevard

DJ Thomas Culture

The Downtown Edmonton Community League and GFL also deserve shout-outs, given the sponsorships really helped us make the event a reality.

We had chosen the location primarily because we thought it was worth showcasing. Much has been invested to develop not only Capital Boulevard, but also the new Centennial Plaza and renovated Federal Building. In some ways, we were too ahead of the game – not all of the street’s infrastructure was ready (power, for instance), and the public art on the centre island planters are a year or two out.

What the Truck?! at Capital Boulevard

Capital Boulevard

As for the Plaza itself, the coloured fountains were being repaired, and the Visitor’s Centre was aiming to open in time for Canada Day. And because of antiquated policies relating to the use of the Legislative Grounds, we weren’t permitted to purposely use the Plaza (we couldn’t place seating or porta-potties on the Plaza, for example). Apparently there are folks working to change these rules, but we’ll see how soon the shifts can be made.

What the Truck?! at Capital Boulevard

Incidental use was permitted

It will also be interesting to see how other events end up programming the Boulevard in the future – with at least one parkade with its only entrance and exit fronting the Boulevard, multi-day festivals will have a challenge maintaining access. The centre planters also pose an additional difficulty, further reducing space for fire lanes. These were definitely elements we didn’t consider until trying to program the space ourselves; hopefully the City was aware of the limitations when designing the street.

If you missed the event, not to worry, our next What the Truck?! is just around the corner. We’ve had requests over the years for beer gardens, and while we’re not in a position to make that happen ourselves, we’ve partnered with someone who can.

What: What the Truck?!
Where: Northlands Park (7410 Borden Park Road NW, Edmonton, AB)
When: Friday, July 10, 2015
Time: 5-10pm
RSVP on Facebook!

We’re hosting a What the Truck?! at Northlands, in conjunction with Park After Dark. Ever curious about horse racing? Mack and I went a few years ago, and had a great time. On July 10, you’ll not only be able to catch some live horse racing and enjoy a cool drink on their patio, but you’ll also be able to sample from fifteen different trucks!

Check out the website on Friday for menus. Hope to see you there!

Meet for Brunch: Meat

Mack and I rarely get out for brunch in Edmonton. Weekends are an opportunity for us to sleep in, but more than that, we find there are only a handful of places in the city that are worth waking up for. In this instance, Calgary has us beat – their brunch culture is far more dynamic, offering variety to spare.

On Saturday morning, after dropping off Mack’s Mom at the airport, it seemed prudent to take advantage of the fact that we were already out and about. After stopping at the nearby Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market, we headed over to Meat. The restaurant just started offering brunch on weekends from 11am-2pm earlier this month, so it wasn’t a surprise that the crowd was tame; it’s still a well-kept secret.


Mack at Meat

In some ways, Meat was made to host brunch. Their expansive windows allow in ample natural light, and also double as a vantage point for the bustling street outside – people watching over coffee isn’t a bad way to start the weekend. Lastly, their large communal tables make Meat a natural meeting place for large groups gathering over brunch – something not necessarily seamless in other establishments.

The menu is straightforward – 7 breakfast dishes, 3 sandwiches and the option to add booze to your coffee. Most of the dishes incorporate their smokehouse staples – buttermilk fried chicken & flapjacks, for instance, or housemade Southern grits with your choice of brisket or pulled pork. Mack selected the beef brisket benny ($15), while I couldn’t resist the biscuits & gravy ($13).

The kitchen was right on top of things, as our dishes arrived in no time. Mack’s benny was built on a buttermilk biscuit, topped with brisket, caramelized onions, a perfectly soft poached egg and housemade hollandaise. He liked the fact that the usual English muffin had been replaced with a flaky biscuit, and did especially enjoy his crispy, indulgent hash brown.

Beef Brisket Benny at Meat

Beef brisket benny

My biscuits & gravy weren’t advertised as anything else, and its components were tasty. The biscuits were definitely the highlight, and would have been worthy of unadorned consumption. The sausage gravy wasn’t overly studded with meat as I’ve encountered before, and because of that, I think there could have been more to the dish. Canteen’s version adds hash browns and sausage patties, but what makes Meat unique is their namesake. As they work through enhancing their brunch offerings, it would be great to see an “add on” section on the menu, where diners could not only add a poached egg on top of their biscuits & gravy, but also some pulled pork or brisket. A fellow diner commented on how her request of pulled pork on top of the smoked apple and cheddar flapjacks is what made them sing. Or, how about a side of fried chicken? Sure. An extra biscuit? Why yes, please!


Biscuits & gravy

That said, it’s still early days in Meat’s brunch service. They have a great foundation – service was excellent, as always – and the food did convince us that waking up some weekends could yield some rewards. We’re looking forward to returning again on an early bird inspired weekend.

8216 104 Street
(587) 520-6338
Sunday-Thursday 5-10pm, Friday-Saturday 5-11pm; brunch Saturday-Sunday 11am-2pm

Alberta Avenue Adventures: Elm Café and Deep Freeze Festival

It’s been some time since Mack and I have had a brunch date, so earlier today, we sought to rectify that. I caught an Elm Café tweet that their Alberta Avenue dining room would be hosting brunch this weekend; given we were heading to the Deep Freeze Festival later anyway, it made sense to start off our day there.

Although the Elm Café dining room doesn’t offer meals on a regular basis, they’re worth looking out for. Our last visit involved a variety of Austrian dumplings, and this time, a straightforward, but satisfying brunch menu.

The expansive windows also illuminated the room well, and its street-level windows lent itself to people watching.

Brunch at Elm's Dining Room

Dining room

Mack and I shared the buttermilk biscuit ($4), warmed and served with stone fruit jam and butter. If we hadn’t agreed to split the order initially, I think we would have wound up fighting over the scraps!

Brunch at Elm's Dining Room

Buttermilk biscuit

The caramel apple French toast ($14) was decidedly even richer with a layer of Irvings bacon. I loved the finishing touch of crisp matchstick apples.

Brunch at Elm's Dining Room

Caramel apple French toast

Mack’s corned beef hash ($14) was made up of some of his favourite things. He found the house-made corned beef particularly tasty, and appreciated the sweetness of the peppers.

Brunch at Elm's Dining Room

Corned beef hash

Allan (who was in the kitchen this morning) was sweet enough to make us an extra treat too.

Brunch at Elm's Dining Room

Mini tarts with yogurt and rhubarb compote

The leisurely brunch was just what we wanted – hopefully we can look forward to more festival meal pairings in the future!

Afterwards, we walked outside to explore the Deep Freeze Festival. Over the years, it has become our favourite winter festival – the range of activities appeal to visitors young and old, and with displays, games, music, and old fashioned outdoor fun, there is no shortage of things to see and do.

Deep Freeze Festival 2014

Cabane a sucre

Deep Freeze Festival 2014

Ice carvers at work

The festival organizers did a great job of improving the layout this year, by putting the thaw hut competition and deep freezer races right along 118 Avenue, encouraging even more walk-by traffic.

Deep Freeze Festival 2014

Dustin Bajer in his thaw hut entry (constructed with Paul Giang)

Deep Freeze Festival 2014

Deep freezer race!

As in past years as well, I appreciate that the audio of the indoor musical performances are piped outdoors, tying the different spaces together and providing a common soundtrack for the event.

Deep Freeze Festival 2014

The always popular ice slide

This year’s viking theme was visually prevalent throughout the festival, though I have to say my favourite incarnation was the stunning ice-carved viking ship that functioned as the outdoor concession stand.

Deep Freeze Festival 2014

Streetpole art

Deep Freeze Festival 2014

Ice bar

Kids at heart, Mack and I took advantage of the wagon rides, always a great vantage point to admire the neighbourhood’s tree-lined streets.

Deep Freeze Festival 2014

Beautiful horses

Deep Freeze Festival 2014

Wagon ride

Congratulations to the organizers for what looks to be another successful year!

Check out Mack’s post on Deep Freeze for a video overview of what to expect!

The Personal Touch: Hathaway’s Diner

Mack and I often deplore the state of brunch in Edmonton – when asked for brunch recommendations, we’re often hard pressed to suggest hometown favourites; it’s much easier for us to defer to our go-to spots in Calgary. That said, after visiting Hathaway’s Diner this summer, we can confidently say that with a few more gems like this one, Edmonton’s brunch scene would be well on its way.

Of course, Hathaway’s Diner is far from new. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve driven past it, given it’s a stone’s throw away from where Mack’s grandparents live. Tucked in a non-descript strip mall inside the neighbourhood of Wellington, it’s definitely not a restaurant likely to be stumbled upon. But that’s what makes it even more special.

Hathaway's Diner

Mack at Hathaway’s Diner

On a Saturday morning (Hathaway’s is closed on Sundays), the restaurant was busy, but not full. The interior was charming enough, with checkered floors and a wood counter complete with a built-in pie case. The only hiccup that day was an initial delay in getting our order taken, but after that, the service we received was some of the best we’ve encountered at breakfast in Edmonton.

Pam was the ultimate hostess. She was warm, and spent enough time with each table so diners felt welcomed and at home. Her personal touch, such as telling us that she “married her husband for his pancakes” made the experience much more memorable than most.

The food was great, too. I ordered the breakfast special with sausage ($7.99), and the pancakes lived up to expectations, light and airy with a touch of sweetness. Mack also enjoyed his eggs benedict (served only on Saturdays), and especially appreciated the spot on coffee refills throughout our meal.

Hathaway's Diner

Breakfast special

Hathaway's Diner

Eggs benedict

I’m already looking forward to my next visit to Hathaway’s Diner – and not just for the food.

Hathaway’s Diner
13225 – 132 street
(780) 488-5989
Tuesday-Saturday, 7am-4pm, closed Sunday and Monday

Brunch and Bop: Culina Muttart and the Slow Flash Mob

Though brunch is always on the “to do” list when we’re on vacation, while we’re at home, it’s hard to motivate ourselves to get out of bed on the weekend! That said, planned in advance this summer, we were actually pleasantly surprised by some of the new-to-us brunch discoveries we made.

The first was Culina Muttart. Located inside one of Edmonton’s year-round tourist destinations, the restaurant now provides locals with a reason to visit the attraction on a more regular basis. The patio was lovely that day, diners enjoying the full sun among the planters and water feature, but we opted instead for a comfortable window seat inside. The only downside of the interior was its north-facing orientation, meaning that the majority of the tables seemed starved for sunlight, but I recognize not much could be done about that.

The menu is small, with just five mains to choose from. And in anti-food blog fashion, Mack, Grandma Male and I all ordered the exact same dish – the classic eggs benedict with honey ham ($15). Given how hungry I was that day, I also added a pastry basket for two ($7).

The basket arrived, still warm and accompanied by room-temperature butter and Jam Lady spread. Mack and Grandma Male both enjoyed the cornbread, while I polished off a delicious cheddar scone. The basket alone would have made for a light and lovely breakfast.

Culina Muttart

Pastry basket

The waitress then delivered each of us a small bowl of granola, topped with Greek yogurt. Nowhere on the menu was this inclusion listed, and while a welcome addition, had I known in advance, I likely wouldn’t have ordered the pastry basket at all.

Culina Muttart

Granola bowl

The eggs benedict was nicely presented, garnished with microgreens. We found no quibble with the white wine hollandaise, but were a bit disappointed with the eggs, which were medium as opposed to the requested soft poached. However, we all commented that the sweet honey ham was notable.

Culina Muttart

Classic eggs benedict

Service was professional, and Mack was satisfied with the number of coffee refills offered throughout our meal. As a whole, the meal was a positive experience, and made me want to return for one of their Thursday night prix-fixe dinners.

After brunch, we decided to cross the river to Louise McKinney Riverfront Park to take in the Slow Flash Mob. An initiative led by Amy Shostak, the one-day festival on July 20, 2013 sought to encourage multi-generational interaction in an underutilized green space.

Slow Flash Mob

Zumba lessons

Activities ranged from zumba to improv lessons, storytelling and karaoke. The activities were spread out across the park, making use of the Chinese garden, grassy field and Shumka stage. Things were very well-organized, keeping to the schedule. There was even a free shuttle which transported attendees from the Central Lions Seniors Centre.

Slow Flash Mob

Free doughnuts from the Ye Olde Donut Shoppe

It was just unfortunate that it wasn’t better attended. Of course there is always lots to choose from on any summer weekend in Edmonton, but I think some people may have been confused by the name of the event. Had I not read about the festival prior, I probably would have assumed the event encouraged sluggish group dances.

Slow Flash Mob

Julie and Birkley from Sugar Swing perform

Mack and I took part in the swing dance lesson led by the Sugar Swing Dance Club, while Grandma Male chatted with some of the others in the audience. It was a fun way to spend part of a sunny summer afternoon!

Swing lessons!

Thanks to Amy and her team for putting on this event!

Culina Muttart
9626 96A Street
(780) 466-1181
Lunch, Monday to Friday, 11am-2pm; Dinner, Thursdays, 5-8:30pm; Brunch, Saturday and Sunday, 10:30am-2:30pm

Portland: Morning Meals

Most mornings in Portland, Mack and I did not indulge in full meals. This isn’t unlike our usual breakfasts while at home – we opt to have more substantial plates at lunch and dinner. This allowed us to explore some of Portland’s best coffee houses, many which were located within walking distance of our hotel. Of course, on the weekend, we did also manage to fit in a few brunches!

Public Domain

Just down the street from our hotel, Public Domain was our first coffee stop. Sleek and modern, I really liked their open concept that emphasized the coffee bar. Seating wasn’t abundant, but it seemed like most took their drinks elsewhere.

Portland September 2012


Public Domain roasts their own coffee, which we enjoyed alongside a delicious cheddar bacon scone. We also took home a bag of their coffee for at-home consumption – always a great takeaway souvenir!

Portland September 2012

Counter seating


Barista’s downtown location was even smaller than Public Domain. And instead of offering their own line of coffee, they served several varieties roasted by different companies, the majority also based in Portland, including Stumptown, Counter Culture and Heart.

Portland September 2012


Barista only offered espresso and brewed coffee, and of the latter, one could choose the preparation method: French press, pour over or iced, with a different bean used in each (talk about attention to detail!). We ended up with a pour-over sourced from Kenya, roasted by San Francisco-based Sight Glass.

Portland September 2012


Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Of all the coffee houses, we expected the most from Stumptown. It is easily the most well-known, and many of Portland’s restaurants serve their line of roasted coffees. We ended up in their Old Town location towards the end of our trip.

I haven’t seen Portlandia, but I would be shocked if the show didn’t poke fun at the masses of Mac users who set up for the day in Stumptown. It was a bit comical that the first image we were confronted with was a single row of thirty-somethings all typing away.

Portland September 2012


The cafe is equipped with a great up-to-date collection of specialty magazines, with multiple copies of each. We spent a bit of time unwinding there with our iced coffees (brewed to perfection), but we have to mention that the shop could have used a bit more care. Dust bunnies were rampant, and their bathrooms were in desperate need of attention. Given their reputation, our experience as a whole didn’t live up to expectations – it never is just about the food alone!

Portland September 2012

Window seat

Mother’s Bistro

Mother’s Bistro seemed to be a Portland institution. With a cookbook of recipes, and nary a time of day where they aren’t packed, it seemed like a good brunch choice.

Though the dining room seemed to be full to the brim, we were surprisingly seated within five minutes. I loved the chandelier light fixtures and the elegantly framed mirrors that added a touch of class to the room. But it wasn’t all glamour – the message on the back of the mugs reminded us to “call your mother”.

Portland September 2012


That said, my lasting memory of Mother’s isn’t of the decor or the service (which was friendly, but brisk) – instead, I have stomach pains when I think back to the portion sizes. Each plate, priced at under $10, could have easily fed two people! My apple-sausage scramble and Mack’s stuffed fritatta utterly defeated each of us.

Portland September 2012

Apple-sausage scramble

Portland September 2012

Stuffed frittata (the size of a dinner plate!)

Bijou Cafe

On our last day in Portland, we elected to stick close to our hotel, to make sure we wouldn’t be late for our departure. Bijou Cafe fit the bill, located only a few blocks away from our hotel, and had a reputation for a solid brunch featuring locally-sourced ingredients.

The interior was pretty basic, but was without pretention. And after the charming but cramped quarters of Mother’s, we appreciated the room to breathe.

Portland September 2012


My French toast was a bit too eggy for my taste, and after a bite of Mack’s chanterelle and gruyere-laced omlette, we knew his plate won the dish wars at our table.

Portland September 2012

French toast

Portland September 2012

Seasonal omelette (we loved that baguette was a bread option)

Service was personable and friendly, and the coffee refills kept coming. For a chill brunch, I would have no qualms recommending Bijou Cafe to visitors.