FIRST POSTED: | UPDATED: 

The Pinchos (tapas-like) seafood board featured in the August-long SABOR Restaurant Seafood Festival.
The Pinchos (tapas-like) seafood board featured in the August-long SABOR Restaurant Seafood Festival. Photo by Graham Hicks

It’s the very good gourmet burgers, the friendly but contemporary décor, the beer taps all featuring Alley Kat and Wild Rose brewery beers, but, most of all, it’s the people.

The franchise owners of the new Relish Gourmet Burgers, John and Julie Wallace, are good people who will do more than their share for the 124 Street hospitality community. The new burger emporium is on 124 St. just north of 107 Ave.

Their signature burger, for instance, is The Roxy, named after the next-door theatre being re-built after a fire. “The Roxy saved us from bankruptcy,” says John. A building inspector discovered improperly installed vents from a previous renovation. Unless the theatre signed off, the entire system would have to be re-aligned at a cost of $100,000. “The Roxy folks were great,” reports John. “Without their whole-hearted co-operation it would have been game over for us.”

The Roxy burger is topped with roasted garlic hummus, feta cheese and balsamic bruchetta (chopped tomatoes). Like all the Relish burgers, it’s top-notch. The uniquely topped burgers run from $7.50 to $10, combos from $14 to $15.50.

•••

Home cooking from the Homefire Grill

My respect for Bruce Wells, the Homefire Grill executive chef and my partner in charity crime, jumps with every succeeding charity dinner that he cooks and I serve.

Bruce and his sidekick, Homefire Grill sous chef Kaitlyn Jones, cooked an unbelievable five-course Canadiana dinner at the home of the now-retired former Edmonton Sun publisher Craig Martin and his wife Janet.

Craig, Janet and friends so enjoyed the previous Sun Christmas Charity Auction package that they were the highest bidders for the second year in a row.

Bruce and Kaitlyn started with a smoked Arctic char chowder, then brought out an Indian summer salad — bacon, twisted onion crisp, bannock bread croutons, corn and black beans in an avocado dressing.

After a shaved watermelon and vodka mouth cleanser with mango ice cream, out came the entrée — a char-broiled bison tenderloin wrapped in prosciutto (Italian bacon) with a bernaise sauce. To die for! Plus thyme-drenched beautifully browned scalloped potatoes and fresh market veggies purchased that same day.

Finally, for a perfect dessert, a sweet potato cheesecake with a Saskatoon berry sauce.

•••

St. Albert’s Buco Pizzeria pays tribute to Lois Hole

The Sorrentino’s gang has unveiled its latest concept, an ultra-contemporary pizzeria anchoring an ultra-contemporary small shopping strip in St. Albert.

Buco Pizzeria + Vino is a tribute to the late Lois Hole and her family, “buco” meaning hole in Italian. The new shopping complex itself, the Shops at Boudreau, is built on the original Hole’s Greenhouse land around which St. Albert grew.

The atmosphere of Buco is stunningly sleek, all white tile and white brick walls, polished cement floor and stainless steel. The open kitchen is crowned by a futuristic wood-fired stone oven that looks like a mini-version of the downtown Rogers Place.

Buco represents a passing of the torch, being managed by one of Sorrentino’s founders Carmelo and Stella Rago’s four sons, Antonio, while brother Maurizio manages Sorrentino’s St. Albert.

I won’t comment on the food at this stage given the opening party was mostly samplings of the many “rossa” and “bianca” pizzas on offer. The menu has plenty of choice.

•••

SABOR Seafood Festival

The month-long Seafood Festival is now underway at SABOR on 103 Street, the city’s top all-around seafood restaurant. I say “all-around” because the wonderful new addition to decent seafood in this town — the Crudo Family’s Black Pearl around the corner on 104 Street — specializes in shell fish.

SABOR executive chef and co-owner Lino Oliviera is fully committed to following the sustainable fishing guidelines issued by the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program, and will not sell any fish species being threatened by global over-fishing. Which takes popular fish like ahi tuna, Atlantic cod and Chilean sea bass off the menu, but still leaves an abundance of fish choices – always beautifully cooked — at the SABOR seafood festival.