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Category: Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks Weekly Dish: Grandin Fish 'N' Chips - Fish ’n’ chips done right BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 05, 2017

Grandin Fish ‘N’ Chips 9902 109 St. 780-250-3474 Grandinfish.ca 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Saturday No reservations Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 stars Plenty of fast food outlets offer fish ’n’ chips, but the batter usually drips oil like a rusting car, the fish is mushy, the French fries from a bag and the ambience as charming as an aging fastfood court. In the years I’ve called Edmonton home, only once have I experienced the very best of fish ’n’ chips, being a special-of-the-day at Beaumont’s charming Franco-Albertan Chartier restaurant. Until now: With the opening of the Grandin Fish ’n’ Chips shop on 109 Street just north of the High Level Bridge, a glorious new era of fish ’n’ chips has dawned. The new shop is clean, sunny and well-ventilated, with some 40 seats. The decoration and décor is whimsical and appropriately Maritime themed. The open kitchen is superb. It&rs ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Vivo Restorante Downtown - Sleek, spacious, and recommended BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, MARCH 28, 2017

Vivo Ristorante Downtown 10505-106 St. 587-525-7500 vivoristorante.ca 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week  (Pizzeria and Taverna sections, 11 a.m. to late) Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 stars  Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip):  basic, $45; loaded, $120   The start was rough, but the evening proved enchanting. An unsmiling, unwelcoming host, as charming as a James Bond villain, led us into the new Vivo Ristorante Downtown, pointed at the table we were to occupy, turned heel and left! Having settled in, I opened the menu, and just about fell off my chair. Antipastos were priced at $17 to $54, pastas at $20 to $43, entrees at $54 to $92, and veggie side dishes at $14 to $19! For a moment, we considered moving downstairs to Vivo’s Pizzeria, where a beer and a personal pizza can be had for $12. The initial “oh dear” moment didn’t last. All was made well by delightful Michelle, who, as our server, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Baijiu - Ultra-trendy but not fantastic BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 2017

Baijiu Mercer Building, 10359-104 St. 780-421-7060 Baijiuyeg.com Tuesday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Closed Sunday and Monday Reservations for large groups only Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 stars  Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip):  basic, $40; loaded, $60 Baijiu is not all it’s cracked up to be. The new, ultra-trendy restaurant-bar in the trendy Mercer Warehouse building in its ultra-trendy location (right across from Rogers Place) is definitely ultra-trendy. The ambiance is clever, and a ton of fun. I’ve heard of this narrow but spacious space described as a 1930’s style Shanghai speakeasy mixed with Southern California pastels and neon. Tables are squeezed down one side with cheek-by-jowl seating. Across the aisle is one of the longest sit-down bar counters in the city. Like Michael Maxxis’s Old Strathcona Have Mercy and El Cortez restaurant bars, Baijiu’ ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks weekly dish: Bundok top-notch comfort food BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, MARCH 07, 2017

Bundok 10228 104 St. 780-420-019 Bundokyeg.com Tuesday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to midnight Closed Sunday and Monday Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 stars Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $40; loaded, $80  Bundok is misleading. The name of Edmonton’s latest downtown, chef-as-chief-attraction bistro sounds very Asian. Indeed, it means ‘mountain’ in Filipino. Bundok owner and chef Ryan Hotchkiss will likely play with Oriental flavours in the future, depending on the season. But for its wintery opening months, Bundok’s menu is all about French-inspired comfort foods, not rice and soy. Delicious, top-notch comfort food it is. The subtle, soft hand of a culinary master is at work. A relationship exists between all 12 starter/sharing small plates ($4 to $9) and the four entrees ($18 to $28, with a striploin at $38), a similarit ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: A look at ancient restaurants of Edmonton, frozen in time BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2017

They might as well be on Mars, as far as modern dining goes. The ancient restaurants of Edmonton have stood unchanged, frozen in time. To walk into the Saratoga, the Flamingo or Billy Budd’s is to head back to the ‘50s or ‘60s, to walk into a world of rec-room panelling, thin carpeting, naugahyde booths, room dividers and fake plants. Everything is 50 shades of brown. But there is comfort. While the foodie world searches for the latest pork belly, bouillabaisse, octopus or carpaccio, many Edmontonians loathe such foods. They don’t want surprises. They want normalcy, familiarity and friendliness. No matter how old they may be, they want what their mom made for them. Or a good steak. Just before the 23rd Avenue turn-off, The Saratoga (2610 Calgary Trail) has faced Calgary Trail for 59 years. Despite being open since 1958, it has no real dining reputation. It’s just been there. As I drove to The Saratoga, I wondered what I’d find. Would the gravy be the all-purp ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks weekly dish: Four years later and I’m disappointed BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2017

Canteen 10522 124 St. 780-465-5727 Canteenyeg.ca Tuesday to Friday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Mondays Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 stars I was disappointed. Very disappointed. When Canteen opened on 124 Street in late 2012, it was one of the first chef-driven bistros to dramatically elevate the quality, quantity and fun of casual fine-dining in our town. Frank and Andrea Olsen, chef and maître d’ respectively, had long made the Red Ox Inn in the Strathearn neighbourhood a dining establishment of choice. Canteen was the Red Ox Inn’s cheekier younger sister, with more flair, more “fun” fine dining. My first visit to Canteen, a few months after opening, was a true dining experience – exactly as Frank had conceived. I still remember his unusual, super-tasty French fries, big, juicy Moroccan lamb chops and almond-coated Arctic char. Four years later, it was ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: OTTO Food and Drink is all about small-is-beautiful BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 07, 2017

OTTO Food and Drink 11405-95 St., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 780-477-6244 ottofoodanddrink.com Hours:  5 p.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, No reservations Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns  Price: Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $20; loaded, $45 Beer drinkers, sausage eaters and conversationalists, rejoice. You now have the perfect Edmonton eatery – OTTO Food and Drink. OTTO is friendly, modern, clean, easy on the wallet and without pretense. It’s in a solid working-class neighbourhood a few blocks north of Little Italy on 95 Street. OTTO is designed for conversation. There are no televisions, no loud music. What a concept! Other than the usual sides (fries, mac & cheese, coleslaw, potato and house salads) and desserts, OTTO sells nothing but sausages. (Actually a “veggie of the day” is on the chalk board. The beets on horseradish-seasoned goat cheese were inspiring.) You also go to OTTO to dri ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Crash Hotel Lobby Bar re-inventing bar foods BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2017

Crash Hotel Lobby Bar 10266 103 St. http://crashhotel.com/lobby/ (780) 719-3807   Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 stars   Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $25; loaded, $50 Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week   Urbansparq Hospitality, meet Nathin Bye, meet the Crash Hotel. Nathin Bye, meet Urbansparq and the Crash Hotel. Urbansparq is a low-profile hospitality operation based in Edmonton with the Midas touch – witness the proliferation of its flagship The Pint pub operations across Western Canada and into the USA, plus dozens of other well-run hospitality operations. Nathin Bye is one of the city’s leading chefs, first at The Wildflower Grill, then Ampersand 27. He won the prestigious Gold Medal Plates Edmonton culinary competition in 2012 as a wet-behind-the-ears 26-year-old. The Crash Hotel is a prototype for a possible new Urbansparq hotel division. The company bought the decrepit 70-room three-story G ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Dining at Zinc is breath-taking BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JANUARY 24, 2017

Zinc Restaurant  2 Sir Winston Churchill Square (north-west corner, Art Gallery of Alberta)  zincrestaurant.ca  780-392-2501  Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 5 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 stars  11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. - Tuesday and Wednesday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday to Saturday Closed Monday and Sunday evening Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip):  basic, $50; loaded, $120 When Zinc Restaurant is good, it is very, very good. In fact it’s easily in the Top 5 restaurants of Edmonton. But when it is bad … Inconsistency has plagued executive chef David Omar’s kitchen since the lovely restaurant opened on the ground floor of the equally beautiful Art Gallery of Alberta in 2010. I’ve dined at Zinc at least a dozen times over the years. The inconsistency has been consistent. When the kitchen is on, it produces a cornucopia of beautiful food. When it’s not, you wonder what the reviewers ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks weekly dish: Haus of honesty BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2017

Haus Falkenstein German Schnitzel House 15215 111 Avenue 780-483-5904 haus-falkenstein.ca Wednesdays to Sundays, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays (reservations recommended) Food: 3 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service:  3 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip):  basic, $30; loaded, $50 Never have I seen such honesty on a restaurant menu. On the second page of the Haus Falkenstein menu is a list of “Frequently Asked Questions.” For instance, why do you use canned mushrooms? Because (I paraphrase) fresh mushrooms go bad quickly, shrink when cooked and it would take too long to fry them. Why do you use processed cheese? To paraphrase the response … Have you bought cheese lately? A friend bought four slices of Swiss cheese at Sobeys for $9.28! You want us to keep our schnitzel prices down, you get used to processed cheese! Besides Kraft processed cheese goes perfectly with our toppings. You don’t know whether to l ... Read the rest of entry »
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