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There are so many good things to eat in Edmonton these days, I can’t keep up with it all. We went for the weekend, and it’s never enough time. One of these days I’m going to schedule an eating week and call it work. Who’s with me? Edmonton food crawl? We could wear stretchy pants and explore by bike?
First, I have to tell you (if you don’t know already) about a new multi-tenant eating spot similar to the Simmons Building in Calgary – Ritchie Market houses Transcend Coffee, Acme Meat Market, Blind Enthusiasm Brewing and Biera, a great new restaurant that focuses on pairing food with beer. (And yet I wouldn’t quite call it a brew pub.) Chef Christine Sandford is at the helm in the kitchen-we met her last year when she made us sourdough pizza and baby corn in the cobb oven on a nearby farm.
We snuck in for bar snacks-peppery radishes with salty chicken skin and canola aioli, canola-crisped sourdough nuggets with foamy Alpindon cheese + BC sumac, crispy ferns w ramp aioli, kohlrabi with queso fresco + sunflower shoots. Such interesting, delicious, creative uses of prairie ingredients, with beer brewed onsite to wash it all down. Can’t wait to go back for dinner.
Speaking of food that goes well with drinks, I’m an enormous superfan of Corso 32 and its 30 seat bar next door, Bar Bricco. Everything they serve is amazing, but the Egg Yolk Raviolo at Bar Bricco is truly one of the best things I’ve ever eaten – I’d seek it out any day, and argue it’s worth driving to Edmonton for. (Apologies for not having a photo-my last raviolo experience was with a group who dove in instantly upon its arrival at the back of the dimly lit bar.)
Chef/owner Daniel Costa has since added a third eatery on the other side, Uccellino [oo-che-LEE-no], which is every bit as good as the other two. They’re tiny, long spaces and each opens at 5, so my habit when I’m in town is to go to one of the three right at 5 (it’s tough to get in), or to try to stop in later for a drink and a nibble (or an entire raviolo) if I haven’t already eaten too much elsewhere and I manage to talk myself out of going to bed.
Shall we talk coffee? My go-to has always been Credo (on 104th, because it’s next to Jacek Chocolate), Transcend, (who also roasts beans for Monogram in Calgary), and more recently Iconoclast (above), but this weekend when we went in search of the new La Boule Bakery, which was sadly closed for the August long weekend, our consolation prize was Ace Coffee Roasters a couple blocks away – a surprisingly enormous new space where they roast their own beans and make the very best doughnuts on the planet. I don’t make this statement lightly.
It’s a browned butter old-fashioned. Small and focused on its subtly nutty, intensely buttery flavour, not all dough and show like some doughnuts. (The apricot jelly and classic yeast were just fine, too.)
They weren’t our first doughnuts of the weekend – I’ve been hearing about Doughnut Party since Café Linnea opened around the corner, and it’s finally here! It’s just what you’d expect: a big, flashy, colourful doughnut party, with loaded s’mores doughnuts and cardamom-sugar doughnuts, and some wacky flavours like watermelon mojito.
Café Linnea, if you haven’t been, is a hip new bistro with Scandinavian and French-inspired cuisine – they do lunch, brunch and dinner, with some house-made items to take home: sourdough loaves, mustard sausage, house smoked bacon and pickled mustard seeds. Also in the complex: Local Omnivore, “producer of specialty cured and smoked products”, as it declares on their website. Such great guys, amazing sandwiches, and if you go and see the white painted pallet counter, it’s one they hastily built to cook on for a shoot we did a couple years ago when they were still under construction in a mostly-empty space, and they liked it so much, they kept it!
Everyone told us to go to Meat this weekend and we tried, but like so many Edmonton eateries they open at 5 during the week, so our first attempt at 4 pm failed. On Saturday night, it was so busy there was a lineup. We poked around though, and saw the rimmed baking trays of slowly barbecued meat, and smelled the smoke outside. It looks like a good bet, and it’s right off White Ave, close to Seoul Fried Chicken and other tasty places if you find yourself unable to get a spot.
Speaking of chicken, we need to talk about all the amazing fried chicken there is in Edmonton. There’s Northern Chicken (classic!) and Seoul Fried Chicken, and Edmontonians will debate which is better, but they’re both fantastic. We happened to be at SFC on W’s birthday, which meant he got to pick and went with the classic – a good litmus test for the chicken itself, but I eyed the platters of chicken doused in their Korean BBQ sauce, sticky soy-ginger and curry sauce with envy. Each chicken, they say, is broken down into 20 pieces to give a higher crust:chicken ratio.
Just south of Edmonton in the small town of Beaumont, Chartier has become the next big thing in Alberta eateries (in fact, as I write this it was announced that they, along with Cafe Linnea, have made enRoute’s shortlist of top new restaurants for 2017).
The place is rustic, with plenty of old things and reclaimed wood, thoughtful cocktails and an interesting lunch, brunch and dinner menu. They even have a bread window, where you can walk up and buy a loaf of sourdough, naan or scones to go. We were there on a Sunday, so it was brunch – I had house smoked meat on sourdough with poached eggs and smashed potatoes, and I’d have ordered one of their legendary cinnamon buns had I not just loaded up on doughnuts earlier in the day.
I did, however, pick up a loaf to go.
Before hitting the road we took a trip out to Elk Island Provincial Park to see if we could find some bison (we did), and because it was there, we stopped in at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. (W was thrilled, Mike, who has a Ukrainian family history, not so much.)
I find history fascinating, and we both relished the opportunity to instil in W a visual reminder of what it was like not too long ago, and how kids in small rural towns entertained themselves before the arrival of YouTube. (This is a requisite lecture for all kids attending historical parks with their parents over the summer.)
Mike was cheered by the sight (and taste) of a Ukrainian platter at the peroghy window – house made sausage, peroghies and cabbage rolls, their own from-scratch mustard and pickled beet relish, with sunflower slaw and plenty of fried onions and sour cream. He reluctantly admitted it tasted like his childhood, only better.
I have a list going for our next trip back, which I think will be soon – if you have any Edmonton suggestions or additions to my list, I’d love to hear them!
* I love showing off my home province – thanks to Travel Alberta for helping me do it! As always, all words, photos, opinions (and choice of destinations) are my own.