Meals in the ‘Hood: MRKT and Blue Plate Diner

One of the best things about living where we do is the plethora of restaurants within walking distance of our home. Although we’ve definitely been eating in a lot more than in past years, on those evenings where we feel like retiring from the stove, it’s great to have many neighbourhood options to choose from.


Not too long ago, Jill, Mack and I had dinner at MRKT. Jill had never been before, but we knew she would like the atmosphere – laid back and unpretentious, it was the perfect place to have a casual bite to eat.

The MRKT ricotta was a lovely starter. Although the house-made ricotta itself didn’t have much flavour on its own, combined with the rosemary almond crackers and apricot-mango chutney, each layered bite begged for another.


MRKT ricotta

Like any of their soups, I couldn’t go wrong with the chickpea and beef stew (that night’s meat option). It was clear a lot of love went into that bowl – the meat and pulses were tender, the broth was well seasoned, and on that rainy day, the soup was thoroughly warming.


Chickpea and beef stew

Mack and Jill had both opted for the night’s special, a paella with chicken, mussels and shrimp. As far as they were concerned, the paella should have been on the regular menu.



With the kitchen’s consistency, you can never go wrong with MRKT. We’ll be back!

Blue Plate Diner

I cheered when Blue Plate Diner’s small, four-table patio was installed earlier this year (perhaps spring should not be measured in produce, but in patio resurrection?), but Mack and I hadn’t had the chance to enjoy it yet. The day finally came a few weeks ago before White Night, on an afternoon made for sipping a cool cocktail under the sun.


Cocktails always taste better on the patio

I love the new menus – laminated and sleek, they also feature a page highlighting which local producers and small businesses they source from! We weren’t all that hungry, so decided to split the Indian sampler platter.

The salad was unnecessary as far as we were concerned. Mack liked the samosas, chock full of potato goodness, while I actually preferred the cauliflower pakoras. Half the fun was experimenting with flavour combinations, as both cilantro yogurt and tamarind apricot chutney were provided for our dipping pleasure.

Blue Plate Diner

The spread

Like MRKT, Blue Plate Diner is another one of our go-to restaurants. Great for its proximity to our condo, but even better because we enjoy the food!

10542 Jasper Avenue
Lunch: Tuesday-Friday 11am-2pm; Dinner: Tuesday-Saturday 5pm-late

Blue Plate Diner
10145  104 Street
(780) 429-0740
Monday – Thursday 11 am – 10 pm, Friday 11 am – 11 pm, Saturday 9 am – 11 pm (Brunch 9 am – 1 pm), Sunday 9 am – 10 pm (Brunch 9 am – 2 pm)

Night and Day: MRKT

Restaurants that attempt to have multiple identities are not always successful (Blink in Calgary, for example, axed its club aspect to focus on fine dining, while The Treasury here in Edmonton should consider the opposite). MRKT, however, got it right.

After dark, the bustling lunch destination transforms from a fun, bright and airy space into an intimate but unassuming venue, refined enough for a pre-show drink, but comfortable enough for a casual date. Mack and I met up with Marilyn at MRKT last Wednesday evening to catch up over drinks and food.

It wasn’t packed, but there were a number of pairs and small groups that dined during our stay. We could have chosen to sit at the long communal table, but we were looking for just a little more light, so opted for one of the tables along the wall.

They had a good by-the-glass wine selection (meaning: both Mack and I found something that we liked). Curiously, though local producers are highlighted in the food menu, no Edmonton breweries are featured among the selection of beer.

The three of us shared a charcuterie and cheese board (meant for two, $21) to start. Though it didn’t look daunting initially, it would have been a hefty starter for two. The cheese and meat selection will depend upon what the restaurant has on hand – but we all had a favourite that night – the manchego for me, the oka for Mack, the truffled salami for Marilyn.


Charcuterie and cheese, paired with some fruit, honey, and Jam Lady condiments

Marilyn and I were both very happy with our entrees: the portion sizes were larger than we’d expected, and everything was nicely cooked. The Spring Creek Ranch boneless beef ribs ($26) were amazingly tender, and I enjoyed the fresh, crunchy slaw that accompanied it. The polenta was a little thin for my liking, but I appreciated the healthy alternative to the usual mashed potatoes.


Spring Creek Ranch beef ribs

Marilyn equally enjoyed her artfully presented sauteed prawns on sweet potato mash, tomato butter and white wine & miso-chimicurri ($17).


Sauteed prawns

Mack’s dish very much resembled the earlier charcuterie and cheese board – comprised of Cortes Island smoked oysters, smoked tuna, oka and crostini ($19). Though he could have clarified with our waitress about its possible similarity to our appetizer when ordering it, a heads up from her, knowing our appetizer selection, would have been appreciated.


Smoked oysters, smoked tuna, cheese and crostini

Other than that minor hiccup, service was laid-back but efficient – we were given the space we needed, dishes arrived in a timely fashion, and the staff were pleasant.

It’s such a fantastic time to be a food lover in Edmonton, but with places like MRKT just around the corner from our condo, it makes me even more grateful to be downtown. We’ll be back!

10542 Jasper Avenue
(780) 757-6758
Lunch: Tuesday-Friday 11am-2pm; Dinner: Tuesday-Saturday 5pm-late; closed Sundays and Monday

Deliciously Trendy: MRKT

Though there has been some mainstream and blogosphere buzz around MRKT, Carla Alexander and restauranteur Sal Dimaio’s newest venture, it still seems to have that “hidden gem” status. This may partly have to do with a lack of aggressive signage at street level (a sandwich board is the only obvious pointer to the restaurant’s existence upstairs), or, up until this point, a lack of formal marketing, but there is something refreshing about an organic growth of customers linked to positive word-of-mouth recommendations. It seems to be a trend in the city as of late, with Duchess and Elm Café having developed their clientele in a similar fashion.

I was happy to finally sample MRKT’s fare last week, having set a lunch date with Ellen (who funnily enough works in the same office as I do, but separated by a floor, means that we hardly ever run into each other).

While MRKT didn’t turn out to be the best place for those on a tight schedule, we didn’t mind the wait as it gave us time to catch up. There were about eight people in front of us, and with that queue of food orders, it was twenty-five minutes before we had plates in front of us.

I loved the décor. When I initially saw photos of the wood paneled walls, I was afraid it would be too dim and imposing. But it was quite the opposite, with the fun curved paneling and two skylights, the atmosphere felt warm and inviting. The communal table (while a little more utilitarian than FARM’s wood version) and blackboard menu also reminded me of FARM, and with their Edison lights (the first in Edmonton!), this interior is probably the trendiest in the city.



Similar to Soul Soup (Carla’s first restaurant venture), there were three soup options. In addition to soup were three sandwiches, a special and desserts (keep up to date with their daily menu items on MRKT’s Twitter account). Ellen and I both opted for a soup and sandwich combo($13). We both chose the meat soup, a spicy Italian meatball, but deviated on the sandwich orders.

The only blip was the the ordering system – we placed our orders at the counter, and then sat down to wait for our food. But instead of calling out orders (which, I would imagine, would be difficult given the din of the room during the lunch rush), we had to go up to the counter to periodically check to see if our order was up. Sure, a minor inconvenience, but making our way around the narrow tables wasn’t effortless.

The food, however, was everything I had hoped for – comforting, tasty, and made with care. Ellen and I both loved the meatballs in the soup, but had hoped for more than a halfhearted kick, especially from something billed as “spicy”. She really enjoyed her oven roasted tomato, basil and arugula sandwich, noting that she liked the choice of asiago cheese.


Roasted tomato sandwich

My braised Alberta beef sandwich was something that still haunts me today, the combination of tender shredded beef, edam, caramelized onions and pesto taunting me to find something equally as memorable and delicious. I loved that the bread soaked up the tomato sauce the beef had been braised in, ensuring every bite was moist and further punched up with flavour.


Braised beef sandwich

I was happy to see on their blackboard that MRKT is also open for dinner now (and fortuitously, Marianne posted her review yesterday, and had good things to say). It’s the type of restaurant that would transform in the evening into a charming, intimate venue – extending its daytime commitment of friendly staff and good food. What are you waiting for?

10542 Jasper Avenue
(780) 757-6758
Lunch: Monday-Saturday 11am-2pm

Dinner: Wednesdays-Saturdays, 5pm-late