Food Notes for January 23, 2023

Openings

  • Yianni Psalios (who has opened many Greek restaurants in his time om Edmonton, including Koutouki) has opened another called Agora Greek Market, located at 4620 99 Street.
  • Stephanie shared that a new dessert spot called Hadi Cocktail & Waffle is now open at 11844 145 Avenue.
  • Oil Burgers, another burger concept, has joined the 5th Street Food Hall: “OilBurgers is about sharing Chef Cam’s passion for making local ingredients – especially Alberta beef – shine through simple, yet elevated dishes.”
  • JustCook Kitchens is expanding to Old Strathcona in June 2023 at Station Park. The new facility, partnered with Beljan Developments, will feature three fast-casual restaurants, two higher-end style restaurants, and three bars.

Closures

  • After four years in business, cafe Caffiend announced their permanent closure: “This has been a very difficult decision for us and we need some time to process what happens next. I know many of you will want to send messages and may have questions but we ask that you give us some time to grieve, reflect and figure out what comes next.”

Upcoming Events

  • A reminder that Chinatown Dining Week kicks off this week, January 26-February 5, 2023. The menus are here.
  • Old Strathcona’s annual Sweet Treats and Latte Festival will be returning February 4-20, 2023.
  • Meuwly’s is hosting Valentine’s cooking demos while guests enjoy appetizers, cocktails, and wine pairings on February 4 and 5, 2023. tickets are $60 each.
  • In February, Just Cook Kitchens is hosting a Chef Takeover series, with chefs taking over the 5th Street Food Hall on select dates to serve up 5-6 course dinners. February 13 sees Oil Burgers and Seitans chefs team up, while on February 20, Meuwly’s chefs take over the joint. Tickets run $146-165 per person.
  • Silver Skate Festival’s Battle of the Neighbourhoods event is back.
  • Save the date for Downtown Dining Week, running March 15-26, 2023.It’s a friendly culinary competition between breweries, and the food challenge will see the chefs create the “perfect prairie comfort food and beer pairing” with locally-sourced ingredients. Tickets are $35 and include beer and food samples.
  • Edify has started selling tickets to their 2023 Best Restaurants event at the Edmonton Convention Centre on April 3, 2023. Tickets are $85 and include tickets for food and beverage tastings.

Local News

  • Great to see Alberta Avenue launch their Dining Pass, an app that currently provides discounts to 10 participating restaurants, including Battista’s Calzones and Mama Asha Cafe (both #YEGFoodFaves)! It’s free to download onto your phone, and more restaurants will be joining in the coming months.
  • The Currents of Windermere also has their own Dining Passport, featuring 11 participating restaurants. If diners visit 4 restaurants on Mondays or Tuesdays, they can be entered to win a $1000 shopping spree.
  • I love when local companies collaborate, so it was fantastic to hear about Twice Cream partnering with Remedy to produce Twice Remedy Chai Ice Cream. At present it is available only at Twice Cream, but soon will also be offered at Remedy locations.
  • Jack’s Burger Shack made a reasonable plea last week: “Please normalize not comparing restaurants, specifically ones that specialize in burgers to McD…d’s. ie. “Their milkshakes are bigger.” “Burger & Fries there are $4 cheaper.” Please consider size, quality and impact of these other restaurants”.
  • You’re not imagining how inflation has affected the price of staple goods – Jeff Nachtigall of Sugared and Spiced tracked the cost increases of his raw ingredients over the past two years. At the top, frozen raspberries at 143%, followed by oil at 82%.
  • Bliss Baked Goods now offers Kiwi Kosher Sushi on Thursdays and Fridays.
  • Twyla highlighted Pal’s on her Edmonton AM segment.
  • Edify checked out Oomami Dog, Rockin’ Robyn’s, and Chicken Haus, and featured the soups from Pal’s, Hu’s Noodle Nook and Viphalay.
  • Chef Matthew Potts opened up his kitchen at the Cook Country Saloon so Ukrainian newcomers could prepare food to sell in order to purchase supplies for newcomers arriving in Canada.
  • Edmonton AM also did a story on the Too Good To Go food app.

What I Ate

  • January might feel like a downer after the holidays, but I know I will always have Love Pizza’s Mac & Cheeza to lift me up. We indulged in two Big Love-sized pies to get us through. The Mac & Cheeza is available until the end of February!
  • Love Pizza

Mac & Cheez from Love Pizza

  • Mack, Emily, Elizabeth, and I met up with some friends at Shojo Izakaya for the first time. Based on that experience, we will certainly return! I really enjoyed the mushroom cream udon, but the kakuni (pork belly) and Koji fried chicken were delicious as well.
  • Shojo Izakaya//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Mushroom cream udon from Shojo Izakaya

Edmonton Food 2022 Year in Review

The Edmonton food scene in 2022 was a year full of tension. While this blog is primarily about restaurants, it is impossible to ignore the ballooning disparity between those who can eat out and those who can eat at all. It was reported that Albertans have the highest rate of food insecurity in Canada, while food bank usage in the province more than doubled the national rate of increase.

On the restaurant front, several long-standing restaurants closed, some due to declining revenue, while other independent restaurants were able to embrace opportunities to expand. Blue Plate Diner, an 18 year veteran, shuttered over the summer, while The Nook, Pho Boy, and Ono Poke all closed after five or more years in business.

Despite the losses, it was a pleasant surprise that so many small restaurant groups were able to grow their footprint in our community, and offer more unique choices for diners all across the city. These included: El Corazon and Leopard in Glenora; Takam Market at MacEwan University; Hayloft and Woodshed Burgers in Cameron Heights; Seoul Fried Chicken, Northern Chicken, and Birdog on 104 Street Downtown; Pal’s in Old Strathcona; and additional locations for The Colombian and Remedy Cafe in Parkallen and the University of Alberta campus, respectively.

Leopard

Leopard was among the new additions to Edmonton’s food scene this year (photo credit: Mack Male)

It’s also worth noting that Windermere in particular had a banner year in attracting hospitality brands. The chain-loving spirit in Edmonton was in full force with the openings of California Pizza Kitchen and PF Chang’s. But those splashy outposts were joined by independents Black Pearl, Hello Mochi, Flame & Barrel, and Japonais Bistro (to open in 2023).

As inflation continues to increase, the reality of operating food businesses will be even more challenging. But after talking to many restaurant owners over the year, my takeaway was their gratitude towards their loyal supporters in these times. I am hopeful that this theme will continue into 2023.

A few other notable items from 2022:

  • The provincial vaccine passports (aka Restrictions Exemption Program) ended up being short lived, ending February 8, 2022, after being instituted in September 2021.
  • Most pandemic-related pivots restaurants had made in the previous two years ended, such as in-house delivery from Filistix and Duchess.
  • Some restaurants, such as Northern Chicken and Chartier, were transparent about why they had to increase their food prices.
  • In April, it was announced that Giselle Courteau and Jake Pelltier were stepping away from Duchess Bake Shop.
  • The Lingnan reached the incredible milestone of 75 years in business.
  • In October, Tres Carnales had to manage a high profile health-inspection related closure of the restaurant. This month, they announced their permanent closure.
  • No less than six Calgary-based brands set up shop in Edmonton, including Flirty Bird, Deville Coffee, Jerusalem Shawarma, Home & Away, Blanco Cantina, and PACT Coffee.
  • Many new national and international chains also opened in Edmonton this year, such as Fuwa Fuwa, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Vish, Mogouyan, Community Taps and Pizza, and El Furniture Warehouse.
  • Planned development in Strathearn led to the closure of community favourites Ralph’s Handi-Mart and Juniper.

You can check out previous year in reviews here (though I missed last year!).

Food Notes for January 9, 2023

Chinatown Dining Week Returns for a Sixth Year

Chinatown Dining Week is back for a sixth year, and will run January 26 – February 5, 2023. 15 restaurants will be offering $10 and $20 deals for dine-in or take-out. The full menu will be posted on January 13.

Having launched Chinatown Dining Week in 2018, the past six years have been a whirlwind. Getting traction for a new event can ben challenging, but we are fortunate that Edmontonians responded really well and embraced our campaign to encourage diners to discover culinary gems and revisit old favourites.

That said, the past few years have no doubt been tougher on our business partners. After the pandemic at the start of 2020 closed restaurants to indoor dining, a wave of anti-Asian racism related to how the pandemic started impacted businesses in Chinatown. The fifth wave of the pandemic continued into 2021 that brought another set of operating restrictions. In 2022, discussions about Chinatown were overwhelmingly linked to impressions of a lack of safety and security in the neighbourhood.

But through it all, the businesses who are a part of Chinatown Dining Week have soldiered on. While some restaurants are newer to the area, having opened over the last two years, such as China Marble, Co Chin Saigon, and Spirit Bistro, the majority of participating businesses have been operating for at least a decade. Hong Kong Bakery and Kim Fat, for instance, have both been open for more than 30 years. The presence of such long-standing businesses speaks to the resilience of the business owners and the community. We hope Chinatown Dining Week can play a role in continuing to raise awareness about these locally-owned establishments and support their longevity in Edmonton.

Openings

Closures

Local News

What I Ate

It’s been more difficult to blog with two kids than with just one, something I probably should have anticipated but didn’t think would be that much harder! As a result, I took a longer break than I originally planned – but did have a really restful and rejuvenating holiday with my family. I hope you had a similarly wonderful start to the new year.

  • Inspired by a piece by Ramneek Singh in Hungry Zine, my family tried Punjabi-style pizza for the first time over the holidays. Based on our first taste from Supreme Pizza, it’s a style we will definitely order again. The palak paneer pizza in particular was the crowd favourite.
  • Supreme Pizza

Palak paneer and butter chicken pizzas from Supreme Pizza

  • We can never get enough noodles – our go-to on a cold winter night was our neighbourhood Dagu. Their salted crispy chicken was a great side addition.
  • Dagu

Our Dagu take-out

  • Mack and I were also fortunate enough to get away for a date night at Birdog. We finished our night with their version of a Deep ‘n’ Delicious cake – and I can report that it was a dead ringer for the cake, complete with the foil-lined packaging. The texture and flavour is what you’d expect, but the cake is springier and the icing doesn’t have that sheen of oil. Thanks Birdog for the treat!
  • Birddog

Birdog’s chocolate cake

  • We tried Butternut Tree’s high tea for the first time over the holidays. It was pretty close to Emily’s dream meal, as it’s probably the only time in her life she was permitted to eat cookies for her lunch. We were satisfied with the spread of items, with our favourite bites being the bacon-wrapped dates and the turkey and gravy poutine rappe.
  • Butternut Tree

Emily cameos with our Butternut Tree high tea spread

Food Notes for December 19, 2022

Happy holidays to those who celebrate! Just a note that this will be my last Food Notes of 2022 – thanks for reading and supporting local businesses along the way.

Openings

  • Chain restaurant Chung Chun, serving up Korean-style hot dogs, is now open in West Edmonton Mall (Unit 2583).
  • Taiwanese dessert chain Meet Fresh has added a second Edmonton location in South Edmonton Common (1915 98 Street).

Local News

What I Ate

  • I had a lovely visit with a friend last week who offered to bring take-out from Pho Tau Bay over to enjoy. Needless to say, it hit the spot (as did the cup of broth I reserved for the next day!).
  • Pho Tau Bay

Pho Tau Bay take-out

  • Mack and I picked up lunch from our neighbourhood Northern Chicken last week. The chicken sandwich was very satisfying, and given its size, negated my usual need for an afternoon snack that day.
  • Northern Chicken

Fried chicken sandwich with Dorito mac and cheese

Food Notes for December 12, 2022

Openings

  • Luna Mexican Restaurant has reopened in the same location as Huma Mexican Comfort (9880 63 Avenue).
  • Slow Pour, a beer bar which features beer from around the world (and with a new beer each week), opened last week at 10316 122 Street.
  • So many Asian concepts and chains have opened at West Edmonton Mall over the past couple of years – the latest is a Toronto-based chain called Mogouyan, offering hand-pulled noodles. Find them on BRBN Street. Lydia checked them out already.
  • Korean restaurant K-Papa has opened a new stand-alone location at 5728 104 Street (they were previously housed in H-Mart).

Upcoming Events

  • So many holiday events to be had around town, but a favourite of our family’s is Winter in Little Italy. Their horse-drawn sleigh rides are great, but so is the chestnut and marshmallow roasting for those looking for some tastes of the season. The final date runs December 18 from 11am-4pm.

Local News

What I Ate

  • Last week, we ordered from Charcoal Dragon, the Vietnamese food pop-up run by Tu of Jack’s Burger. We weren’t sure what to expect, but were blown away by the flavours. The fry bread reminded me of youtiao (one of Emily’s favourite baked goods), and was served alongside a fragrant stew. It was my second time trying bun cha (the first was earlier this summer at Get Cooking), and I really loved the grilled meat. Mack couldn’t get enough of the spring rolls. The next pop-up is scheduled for January 12, 2023.
  • Charcoal Dragon

Three-course take-out from Charcoal Dragon

Food Notes for December 5, 2022

Openings

Local News

What I Ate

  • We ordered from Panini’s Italian Cucina for the first time last week to satisfy a pizza craving. Chicken pesto is usually my go-to order, but I was particularly impressed with the loaded Italian. The Bolognese beef sauce made for a really flavourful base, and the meatballs were really tasty. We will definitely order rom them again in the future!
  • Panini’s

Loaded Italian and chicken pesto pizzas from Panini’s

Food Notes for November 28, 2022

Birdog on the Hunt for Repeat Customers Downtown

Century Hospitality Group has opened Birdog, its sixth restaurant and its third in Edmonton’s core, intending to complement the downtown food scene.

Century Hospitality Group owner Chris Lachance said he is always looking for opportunities to grow. While he has passed on more than two dozen offers to expand over the past few years because they weren’t right, Lachance was intrigued when he was contacted by a friend over the summer. He was an investor in Bottega 104 and shared with Lachance that it would close in September.

“I already knew the (Bottega 104) landlord, and he was very flexible and accommodating,” said Lachance. “And my friend stayed on as a partner at Birdog and made it easy to transition.”

The name of the restaurant came to Lachance in a dream. The term “bird dog” primarily refers to hunting dogs that fetch game birds after they are shot, but it is also a term in sales parlance for referrals in business. For Lachance, Birdog perfectly conveys what he is trying to achieve with the guest experience.

“It’s the relentless pursuit to get what you’re after,” said Lachance. “In the hospitality business, it’s the way you make people feel. So let’s do something great here, go after it, and let’s bring those guests back.”

Lachance said Birdog was designed to fill a gap he identified in the area. “We looked at what was missing downtown, and thought we could bring in a restaurant with a really cool lobby hotel feel,” said Lachance.

The restaurant at 10181 104 St. joins two Century restaurants downtown: Lux Steakhouse and The Parlour.

While Birdog retained Bottega’s long bar along one wall, the new layout opens up the space. There is also a private room in the back that accommodates up to 12, with its own private washroom. At present, Birdog is open for dinner Tuesdays to Sundays but will consider adding lunch and brunch depending on the response from the community.

While he is proud of the drink menu, Lachance was quick to emphasize that Birdog has a “serious kitchen.” Culinary leader Tony Le has created an approachable menu not out of step with other Century Hospitality properties.

For example, pizzas feature prominently on the menu, as Century retained Bottega 104’s industrious pizza oven. “It’s the Ferrari of pizza ovens,” said Le. “At Parlour, I had to learn how to control a wood-fired oven for our pizzas. Here, it holds a consistent temperature, so I don’t have to worry about it.”

In addition, Le highlighted the burger on the menu, a Minnesota-style “Juicy Lucy.” The beef patty is stuffed with American cheddar and served on Martin’s Famous Potato Rolls, brought in from Pennsylvania. They’re the same buns used at the popular American chain Shake Shack.

Korean-inspired dishes are also on the menu, with kimchi mac and cheese, kimchi wings, and Le’s version of Korean corn cheese. “Maybe I’ve been watching too much K-dramas,” laughed Le.

Experimentation with Korean flavours ties in well with Century Hospitality’s next project, Stingray, located in the former Delux space in Crestwood (Century Hospitality had sold its burger-focused property Delux a few years prior, but subsumed it over the summer). To open in 2023, Stingray will allow Le to flex his interest in pan-Asian cuisines, including tastes from his Vietnamese heritage.

Both Lachance and Le credit their loyal customer base as the reason they continue to thrive, in spite of several rough years during the pandemic. “It was the worst time in my life,” said Lachance. “But to see our guests coming out to ask what we needed, I cried. That’s what being rooted in the community is all about.”

Openings

  • From the folks behind Smokin’ Barrels comes Tropical Sweets Cafe, located at 10235 124 Street, Unit 100B.
  • Forno Flat Bread, offering “Mediterranean and Italian fusion”, is now open at 3418 99 Street.

Upcoming Events

  • Filistix is launching their Kusina Speaker Series on December 7, 2022. It features a multi-course meal from Chef JP Dublado and a presentation from him about his experiences in hospitality. Tickets are $90.
  • A reminder that the Edmonton Christmas Market kicks off on November 30 and runs until December 18, 2022 at Fort Edmonton Park. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for kids 6-17.

Local News

  • Arcadia announced that “taking into account the ongoing human rights issues surrounding the World Cup this year, we cannot in good conscience promote the event”, and will not be showing any of the matches.
  • The Butternut Tree has adopted a policy RGE RD did last year, and as of earlier this month, introduced a $10 deposit fee per person to secure a reservation. The deposit is refundable upon arrival.
  • The more winter patios, the merrier, so it’s great to see that Fu’s Repair Shop has winterized their backyard! See other winter patios listed here.
  • Happy first birthday to the Downtown location of Jack’s Burger Shack.
  • The Downtown Business Association is launching a gift card on December 1 that will be accepted at more than 40 shops, restaurants, liquor and cannabis stores, venues, and hotels.
  • Taproot has the story behind an initiative from Converse and Cook: a new cookbook capturing how Edmontonians coped with the pandemic with comfort food.
  • Edmonton Eats has put together 5 cooking kits that benefit their cultural hosts. The kits cost between $8-20.

What I Ate

  • We celebrated American Thanksgiving with Jack’s turducken burger, a supremely satisfying combination of a turkey patty, chicken skin, and duck gravy. It was a special offered just that day, and sold out for good reason.
  • Jack’s Burger Shack

Jack’s turducken burger

  • I also cannot believe Elizabeth is three months old! I meant to share a photo earlier, but as parents know, better late than never!
  • Emily and Elizabeth

Emily and Elizabeth

Food Notes for November 21, 2022

Openings

  • Century Hospitality is opening a new property called Birdog in the space that formerly housed Bottega 104 (10181 104 Street).
  • Sauce Modern Caribbean Cuisine opened over the weekend, located at 13655 St. Albert Trail.
  • Dorinku Osaka has a new pop-up ramen shop called Tenjin Ramen, that opened over the weekend.
  • The Mash has opened their third location in the Edmonton area, this time in Old Strathcona (joining restaurants in Windermere and St.Albert). Find them at 10402 82 Avenue.

Closures

  • After 4.5 years in operation, Yelo’d shared that they are closing on December 23, 2022. In their announcement, they do hint at “amazing things” planned for 2023.
  • High Dough is closing their Garneau location (in order to concentrate their pizza operations at the Strathcona location). But they promise new life for the former Three Boars space.

Local News

  • I love local collaborations! This one sees Jacek partner with Kind Ice Cream to recreate three of their most popular ice cream flavours into chocolate bars. The bars are sold exclusively at Kind.
  • Another great collaboration is between Remedy and Alley Kat, to produce a Chai Latte Porter.
  • The Silver Skate Festival has brought back their Celebrate Edmonton Bags, surprise bags filled with goods sourced from local companies. I’ve purchased them in the past and have found them to be a delight.
  • After only a 7 week trial, the Edmonton Downtown Farmers’ Market has decided to call it quits on opening on Fridays: “At this time we would like to focus on our current customer base who is telling us their preferred market days are on the weekend.”
  • Edify suggests places to watch the World Cup.
  • Also from Edify, they checked out brunches at Tiramisu Bistro and Versailles Cafe.
  • The University of Alberta held a forum to ponder what we might be eating in 50 years.

Urban Agriculture and Farming

  • Those looking for locally-grown lettuce can consider Vertical Roots Canada, who farm their greens in south Edmonton using aquaponics. Their product is available at the Bountiful Farmers’ Market.

What I Ate

  • There’s nothing like a morning pick-me-up from Rosewood Foods. Their breakfast sandwiches and potatoes are just so good.
  • Rosewood Foods

Chicken sausage sandwich from Rosewood Foods

Food Notes for November 14, 2022

Openings

Upcoming Events

  • Dalla’s Amano Holiday Market returns on December 3, 2022 from 11am-3pm. They will have roasted chestnuts and local vendors.
  • A Christmas version of the popular Filipino Sari Sari Mercado Market will take place on December 10 and 11, 2022 at 10505 106 Street.

Local News

What I Ate

  • While at Dalla for lunch last week, I couldn’t pass up the chance to have the scaccia again – I love the all of the layers of meat and cheese.
  • Dalla

Scaccia from Dalla

  • I have noted in the past that I do wish more meal kits created in the wake of the pandemic remained, but I am glad for those that are still available. This includes the frozen Vietnamese soups from Momma Tong, which are so handy when a craving for Bun Bo Hue hits.
  • Momma Tong

Bun Bo Hue from Momma Tong

Food Notes for November 7, 2022

I’m doing my best to keep to my weekly posting, but the reality is the return to having a newborn in our house has been a steeper curve than I expected! I know some of you missed my Food Notes last week, so here is a super-sized version to catch you up.

Openings

  • Vintage Fork’s tea shop in the historic Barto Residence is now open at 11425 95A Street.
  • Asymmetrical Brewing is opening their new space on November 9, 2022. They are located in part of the storefront that formerly housed Two Sergeants Brewing, 11821 105 Avenue.
  • Rigoletto’s is moving to the CKUA Building (9802 Jasper Avenue), aiming to re-open in mid-November.
  • Bodega is opening their sixth location in Ellerslie in mid-December, located at 916 103A Street SW.
  • After closing their Downtown pop-up, Fawkes Coffee & Doughnuts has shifted their pop-up across the river to 10507 Saskatchewan Drive.
  • Bubble tea shop Boba Bar opens in Sherwood Park on November 8, 2022 at 540, 3850 Sherwood Drive.
  • Taiwan-based bubble tea chain Kung Fu Tea has opened in Edmonton at 14250 23 Avenue.
  • Loblaws City market in Ice District officially opens on November 9, 2022. It is located at 10324 103 Avenue.
  • A new “dessert experience” is coming soon to Old Strathcona, called Phat Bar Bakery, located at 101, 10813 82 Avenue.

Upcoming Events

  • The inaugural ICE District Chili Cook-Off will be hosted at the Molson Hockey house on November 10 from 5-8pm. The entrance fee is a $10 donation to the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation and includes 8 sampling tickets and a vote for the People’s Choice Award.
  • The Butchery is hosting a Christmas Market on November 27, 2022. $15 tickets include food and wine samples, and a $5 credit towards any purchase at The Butchery.

Local News

Urban Agriculture and Farming

  • Has the City’s food and urban agriculture strategy moved the needle at in the decade since coming into being? Not much, some urban farmers told Taproot.

What I Ate

  • Leopard finally began offering take-out, so we finally were able to try their pizza! I’m sure the pie would have definitely been better eaten hot out of the oven, but I loved the chew in the crust. We’ll definitely have to go back in person one day.
  • Leopard

Paulie’s from Leopard (we appreciated that they honoured our request to put olives on only half the pizza, too)

  • We’re always grateful to have Tiffin so close – to be able to walk out with a meal in minutes definitely helps on some of those extra busy nights.
  • Tiffin

Take-out from Tiffin (I especially love their mango paneer!)