Love the Dove: Dovetail Delicatessen

Drift has become a fixture of the city’s food truck scene since they introduced their take on sandwiches to Edmontonians back in 2011. And although the number of trucks in operation have more than tripled, they haven’t lost their game – it was a three-peat when Drift was again named Best Food Truck in Avenue Edmonton’s best in food issue back in February.

Drift’s consistency, focus on local ingredients and interesting flavour combinations have resulted in a sizable fan base, one that has been hungry for a year-round ability to enjoy their food. Next week, it will finally be possible.

Nevin and Kara Fenske are about ready to open their brick and mortar shop, Dovetail Delicatessen (the name represents the coming together of their two businesses). Nestled in the 124 Street area, Kara shared that in a way, Dovetail represents a homecoming for her. Kara’s parents have owned a jewelry store in the neighbourhood for more than thirty years, and she remembers spending a lot of time in the area growing up.

Dovetail Delicatessen

Nevin and Kara with Kirsta Franke (of 124 Street Grand Market)

The Fenskes took over the space formerly occupied by Blossoms Café. While they’ve kept the concept of the open kitchen (mimicking customers being able to peek into their truck), they have since maximized the space, allowing for easier movement through and increasing the seating to about thirty.

Dovetail Delicatessen

Nevin readies lunch

Fans of Drift’s sandwiches will be happy to know they are at the core of Dovetail’s offerings. A daily roast will be served in sandwich form, while samosas, salads and dips will also be available from their cooler. At the VIP opening on Friday, we dined on a delectable roasted pork shoulder sandwich with chimichurri and pickled fennel, as well as (for Mack) a roasted carrot salad with parmesan and chokecherry vinaigrette and (for me) a barley salad with roasted apple, pear, toasted almonds and lemon vinaigrette.

Dovetail Delicatessen

Roasted pork shoulder sandwich with chimichurri and pickled fennel and barley salad

To start, Dovetail will be open Monday to Friday 10:30am to 6:30pm, a boon to residents and office dwellers looking for a healthy but hearty lunch. But Nevin and Kara also hope to capitalize on those seeking to unwind with a post-work nibble (they’re licensed!), or want to grab a quick dinner on their way home.

Dovetail Delicatessen

Country style pork paté with pistachio

And if you’re concerned that Dovetail means the end of Drift – set those worries aside. Drift will be back on the streets this year, including as a fixture of the neighbourhood 124 Street Grand Market starting May 14, 2015.

Dovetail Delicatessen


Follow Dovetail on Twitter to find out exactly when they’re opening up next week. Congrats to Nevin and Kara on this big achievement – and Mack and I will be sure to return soon!

Dovetail Delicatessen
10721 124 Street
(780) 705-1293
Monday – Friday 10:30am-6:30pm

Recap: Slow Food Edmonton’s Hijacked

Slow Food Edmonton seems to be picking up steam, with two of their spring events falling so on trend that people might forget all together that the food they’re consuming is good, clean and fair. The first of those events appealed to me because I was curious to see how they would involve a food truck so early on in the season.

Hijacked, which took place on March 8, 2014, was a collaboration between Slow Food Edmonton, Shovel & Fork, Drift, and Alley Kat Beer. The proceeds from the fundraiser were intended to help support SFE members attend the National Slow Food Conference in Halifax later this year.


Parked at Alley Kat

It was a casual event, the $30 non-member ticket price mainly going towards a glass of beer and food. My sisters and I socialized and perused the auction items, but were eager to chow down.

I have to say, SFE hit the weather jackpot, given the Saturday prior was close to –30. It was a fairly balmy evening, the perfect “winter” conditions for a food truck. Although it took some time for the grub to get going, it was ultimately worth the wait.

Each of us received a box of food fit for two people. Our favourite was the shroom melt, made with local mushrooms and onions and The Cheesiry’s pecorino. The sides – one, a northern bean salad with Doef’s peppers and cucumbers, and two, a Sundog Organics slaw with Shovel & Fork apple cider – were great accompaniments that stood up to the mains. I particularly loved the final touch of microgreens. For dessert, we were given a snail-shaped rice crispy treat – too cute.


Dinner at Hijacked

Our only complaint about the event was the lack of seating, something the organizers were very cognizant of, given one of the auction items was actually table seating for four. More cocktail tables would have made things easier to eat, most notably, the meatball sub. We watched as people spread out on the floor inside, or struggled to keep food off their shirts as they ate standing up. We ended up staying outside to take advantage of one of Drift’s cocktail tables, even as the mercury dropped after dark.


Winter patio!

The event was a success, with both seatings selling out. Their next event, a pizza pop-up at RGE RD, is already at capacity, but with this renewed momentum, I’d stay tuned to Slow Food Edmonton to learn when their next happening is taking place so you’re not disappointed!

Recap of Blink: Urban Picnic

Our second pop-up dinner in the Blink series took place on August 26, 2012. Situated outdoors in Louise McKinney Park, the weather would undoubtedly make or break the event. We were fortunate that it was the former and not the latter.

But even better than the conditions that evening, Mack and I were able to find three amazing partners that really helped make Blink: Urban Picnic happen. The first, the Shaw Conference Centre, not only helped us ensure the price of Blink remained affordable, but went above and beyond by kicking things off in an extraordinarily creative way. Shaw lent us dishes and flatwear, a cost that would have otherwise been passed on to the diner. They also introduced the idea of offering an “escalator cocktail” as a welcome beverage. Diners, greeted at the Jasper Avenue entrance, were handed a refreshing drink, and invited to enjoy it as they took advantage of the escalators, an ideal gateway into Edmonton’s river valley.

Blink: Urban Picnic

Cocktail hour

Blink: Urban Picnic

Communal walk to dinner

Blink: Urban Picnic

The tables are set

Second, Kara and Nevin Fenske of Drift, helped articulate the concept of an “urban picnic”, designing a casual but refined family-style menu perfect for communal tables. Their commitment to local producers also meant the courses were seasonal, highlighting the breadth of harvest produce available from area farmers. They also secured live music, which further enriched the setting.

The scene of the crime

Mobile eatery (photo by Hugh Lee)

Blink: Urban Picnic

Nevin and Ron working hard

Kara @ Blink

Kara serves up some crostinis (photo by Hugh Lee)

Blink: Urban Picnic

Enjoying the sunshine

Blink: Urban Picnic

Musicians from Drive the Day and Calan and Cole

Blink: Urban Picnic

Urban picnic

Blink: Urban Picnic


Blinking the potato salad

Family style (photo by Hugh Lee)

Blink: Urban Picnic

The fried chicken was divine, though the warm potato salad was a close second

The third, River Valley Adventure Company, agreed to serve dessert and coffee to patrons as a cap off to the night. Given that many still aren’t aware of their presence in the park, it was a great opportunity for guests to learn more about their services. Even better, Chris, the gregarious owner, offered free segway demos to anyone interested.

Blink: Urban Picnic

Free rides

Though it wasn’t entirely intentional, I ended up really enjoying the physical transitions down the gradient of the river valley. From a cocktail hour at the Shaw, dinner with a view, finished with segway ride next to the river, the sum of the parts made for a very special evening.

Sharon & Mack

Watchful (photo by Hugh Lee)

Thanks to everyone who attended Blink – we hope you enjoyed yourselves as much as we did!

You can take a look at Mack’s full photoset here.

Blink: Urban Picnic

I would say the first event in our Blink series of pop-up dinners came together relatively quickly, from conception to reality (helped greatly, of course, by the staff of Century Hospitality Group). The notion of transforming a pedway into a restaurant felt inspired, almost spontaneous. This is especially true when contrasted with the location of our second Blink event.

For a few years now, Mack and I have been looking longingly at a site at Louise McKinney Park, wondering if it would be possible to program the space. It seemed like the ideal location – accessible, with riverfront views. Though in recent years there have been more efforts to animate the park as a whole (That’s Edmonton For You and Hip Hop in the Park come to mind, besides the long-standing Dragon Boat Festival), it’s still a drop in the bucket.

Louise McKinney Riverfront Park
Louise McKinney Park

The addition of washrooms and a cafe at the base of the building haven’t seemed to help either – on most days passing through in the afternoon or evening, one would be hard pressed to find many people using the trails, let alone lingering. We often hear it said that the best feature of Edmonton is our extensive river valley – but if no one is actually out enjoying it, what use is it?

Louise McKinney Riverfront Park

One argument that has been made is that there should be more reasons for people to visit Louise McKinney. The cafe in the River Valley Adventure Co. is a good start, so people taking a stroll can stop in for a coffee or ice cream along the way, but it’s clearly not enough. Opening up the riverfront to more commercial development doesn’t mean letting it go forward unchecked, but a few more amenities such as a local restaurant with patio seating, would help make our greatest attraction a more user-friendly one. For us, Blink provided us with the ideal medium to explore this idea further – what would a river valley restaurant look like?

What: Blink: Urban Picnic!
When: August 26, 2012
Time: Cocktails from 5-5:30pm, dinner from 5:30-7:30pm
Where: 9735 Grierson Hill

But like our previous event, Mack and I aren’t in this alone. We’re actually quite fortunate in that we’ve again found some wonderful partners to work with.

The biggest challenge was to find a way to prepare the food in the middle of the park. With the advent of food trucks in our city, this was easily solved. We knew that Kara and Nevin of Drift had been wanting to branch out with meals beyond sandwiches, and with their philosophy of promoting local producers, the fit was perfect. With Drift on as a partner, Blink: Urban Picnic was born. We can’t take credit for the name – it was all Kara’s idea, wanting to take advantage of the al fresco nature of the event, under a family-style casual dinner theme. Check out the menu they’ve developed here.

Kara and Nevin also introduced us to the owners of River Valley Adventure Co., who have also jumped on board. They have seen first hand how some development can help introduce folks to our natural assets, but acknowledge that more can be done. They will be offering coffee and tea to diners at the end of the night, as well as an opportunity to try out a Segway!

Louise McKinney Park Cafe
Inside River Valley Adventure Co.

Another of our obstacles was finding the resources to cover all of the materials we would need to set up a pop-up restaurant. We wanted to keep the ticket price as low as possible, and we were only able to do this when the Shaw Conference Centre stepped in. They have been not only a generous, but gracious sponsor, and in this case, the perfect fit. In many ways, the Shaw is the gateway to the river valley – either by folks traversing its outdoor staircase to reach the valley below (as we do on our walks), or by taking the escalator down for similar access. They’ve even come up with a way for diners to experience this latter path in a novel way – by enjoying a cocktail along the way! We are asking that diners enter the site through the main doors of the Shaw Conference Centre off Jasper Avenue. There, they will each receive a champagne flute to drink while riding down to reach Louise McKinney. They have dubbed this an “escalator cocktail” – no doubt this will be the first of its kind in Edmonton!

Shaw Conference Centre
Shaw Conference Centre

Tickets for Blink: Urban Picnic are $50, and will go on sale at 9am on August 20, 2012. We hope you consider joining us for this pop-up dinner!

Everybody Loves Sandwiches: Drift Mobile Eatery

This guest post was written by Mack, an Edmonton-based geek who fancies himself a part-time foodie. You can find him online at his blog, and on Twitter.

There is a distinct lack of good, interesting eateries between Sharon’s office and my office, so it takes something pretty special for us to get together for lunch. Like today’s launch of Drift Mobile Eatery, for instance! This morning we saw the tweet we had long been waiting for, and decided to walk over to 108 Street just south of Jasper Avenue to check it out. First a quick disclosure – we know Kara and Nevin, the duo behind Drift, and they volunteered for us at What The Truck?! last month. It’s safe to say that we have been looking forward to their truck for quite some time now, and as huge fans of the local food truck scene, we hope they succeed.

Drift Mobile Eatery

We arrived right around noon and saw a good lineup of people eager to try the sandwiches. The truck, built by Pizza Trucks of Canada, looks great with its teal green color scheme and big bold lettering. I love that they use 100% biodegradable packaging and had a recycle box next to the garbage can. Their menu was displayed on a chalk board complete with three little plants, as if to reinforce the green aspect of the truck!

Drift Mobile Eatery Drift Mobile Eatery

They had two lineups going, one for orders (cash only) and one for pickups. We waited a few minutes while previous orders were fulfilled and then placed our order. I chose the Back Bacon sandwich, which features brie cheese, roasted apple & cucumber, and of course delicious bacon. Sharon went with the Duck Confit, which features port soaked cranberries and cabbage. All their sandwiches come on ciabatta buns and cost $7.50. We also ordered the spiced drift style fries with house tomato sauce ($3.00).

Drift Mobile Eatery

It took about ten minutes to get our order which, all things considered, is pretty good for the first day. They’ll try to cut that down by at least half as they streamline things. A couple of napkins inside the bag would have been good too.

So, how did it taste?

Drift Mobile Eatery

I am a big fan of sandwiches, and I was definitely pleased with mine. The bacon (from Irvings) was delicious as expected, and I like the choice of ciabatta. But really, how can you go wrong with bacon and cheese? Sharon loved that they are served warm, and as she and Jerry said while we were waiting, where else can you get duck from a truck? She thought there was a nice range of textures, and commented that the sweetness of the cranberries balanced it well. The sandwich choices (there are currently 9) all seem pretty healthy, so I was a little surprised to see fries on the menu. They were good, but I must admit I was not a fan of the fennel seed. The house tomato sauce was delicious, however.

Drift Mobile Eatery

Back Bacon

Drift Mobile Eatery

Duck Confit

Drift’s location downtown is a good one in terms of access to customers, but it would be nice if they were located next a seating area (not their fault…they’ve discovered the “joy” of working with the City). Just walk by Beaver Hills House Park at lunch time – if there are seats available, people will come out of the office towers to use them. It’s ridiculous that only one vendor at a time can be at a location like that park. That’s where we went to enjoy our sandwiches.

Beaver Hills House Park

Drift Mobile Eatery

Congrats to Kara and Nevin on bringing another unique food truck to Edmonton! If you’re looking for something new to try for lunch, go check out Drift Mobile Eatery! You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook for updates. You can see a few more pictures here.