HicksBiz Blog

HICKS' WEEKLY DISH Worship at Edmonton's new food altar, Alta BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, APRIL 20, 2017

Alta 10328 Jasper Ave 780-244-3635 altayeg.ca   Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 Suns 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Closed Sundays and Mondays Dinner for two, excluding drinks– Basic $40, loaded $80. (Alta is a no-tipping establishment) At long last, Chef Ben Staley is back on the scene. In 2014, Chef Staley created a stir during his 10 month stint as chef at North 53 restaurant.  His was a menu like no other, going far beyond the obligatory “local” and “sustainable” to new dishes using local ingredients in utterly unforeseen ways.   “Every dish at North 53 is unique, a creation unto itself,” I wrote in this column at the time, “tastes, textures, food combinations and presentations  leave you with unabashed admiration for this kitchen.” Staley left North 53 in the fall of 2014 to open his own restaurant. Thirty months later, that dream has finally been realized. Alta opened its doors la ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Growth in electric cars will come, but only with heavy government intervention BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, APRIL 14, 2017

Electric cars are coming. In this part of the world, with our cold weather, three hours driving time to the next big city and inexpensive gasoline, electric vehicles will come later. We’ll be many years behind California, where, thanks to government subsidies and incentives, every major auto-maker now has a fully electric car on the market.  The biggest barrier to electric cars is about to come crashing down. Industry buzz says the next generation of electric cars – specifically the Chevy Bolt EV (Electric Vehicle) and the Tesla Model 3 will represent price breakthroughs to the $30,000 US range, with batteries that will double the current 160 to 200 kilometre range of electric vehicles. (One current EV, the Tesla Model S, has a 320 to 530 kilometre range.) Which sounds like the era of fossil fuels is drawing to a close. Prepare ye the end of the Alberta economy as we know it. HOWEVER … there are multiple reasons why Edmonton car dealerships only sell, if they’re l ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Sorrentino's annual garlic festival BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, APRIL 11, 2017

Sorrentino’s 26th Annual Garlic Festival April 2 to April 30, 2017 Downtown – 10162-100 St. – 780 424 7500 South – 4208 Calgary Trail – 780 434 7607 West – 6867 170 St. – 780 444 0524 Little Italy – 10844 95 St. – 780 425 0960 Stony Plain – 108 Genesis Drive – 780-591-2121 Bistecca Italian Steakhouse – 2345 111 St. – 780 439 7335 Food: 4 of 5 stars Ambience: 4 of 5 stars Service: 4 of 5 stars   At least 15 years ago, at the lively reception that always kicks off the Sorrentino’s Garlic Festival, Sorrentino’s Carmelo Rago and I retreated to a corner to enjoy our wine. “This festival has sure worked out,” I said to Carmelo. “But how long can you keep this garlic theme going?” “I’m thinking the same thing,” said the always restless Carmelo. “What’s next?” There was no next! So many good things – a puppy licking your cheek, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Labour laws in play BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, APRIL 07, 2017

It’s not like it’s unexpected. Two years ago, Alberta shocked the nation by electing the province’s first ever left-of-centre, union-biased government. That the Notley government hasn’t yet reformed and revised Alberta’s labour laws to conform with its views on workers’ rights, i.e. unionization, has purely been a matter of priority. Here it comes, folks. There’s nothing official, other than an innocuous workplace legislation review questionnaire on the Alberta Labour website. But labour and business circles are abuzz with rumours that much, much more is about to come down the pike from this government. Major labour law changes: Like an end to secret ballots for union certification, no more replacement workers during strikes and compulsory arbitration of some labour disputes. The rumoured changes, depending on your point of view, could either give Alberta’s workers a better deal through unionization, or represent yet another blow to Alberta& ... Read the rest of entry »

Peter and The Starcatcher at the Citadel Theatre: Give me time to laugh! Theatre review by GRAHAM HICKS

Peter and the Starcatcher Citadel Theatre, Maclab Stage, Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA April 1 – 23, 2017 Tickets - $30 and up Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  hicksbiz.com Call it a qualified success. The Citadel Theatre’s version of the 2012 Broadway hit Peter and the Starcatcher is full of fun, friendliness, theatrical invention, imagination, silly puns, song, dance, vaudeville, panto, slapstick and so on. But the show – based on a book that is another author’s prequel to the classic Peter Pan – is just too frantic, trying just too darned hard to squeeze a monster into a mere two hours. The 14 actors each have a main character, and they all perform multiple other characters. The show dashes from scene to scene – in the first half, on board the two sailing ships the H.M.S. Neverland and H.M.S. Wasp somewhere in the late 19th Century when Britannia ruled the waves, in the second half on the mythical island that will become Neverland. The theatrical challenge is a ... Read the rest of entry »

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 »

Hicks on Biz: Plan to End Homelessness a Success BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 2017

Whichever way you look at it – financial, moral, compassionate – the city-led, mostly provincially funded 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness launched by then-Mayor Steve Mandel in 2009 has been a success. You can look at numbers until your brain is spinning, but a few big ones stand out. Since 2009, Homeward Trust – the umbrella organization coordinating housing and social programs in Edmonton for the homeless – says 6,000 formerly homeless individuals have been housed. Two-thirds of those helped were considered to be chronically without shelter. The annual 2016 Homeless Count – the best measurement available – was 1,752 people. The 2014 count was about 2,170. The count in 2008 was about 2,500. Had no action been taken, the 2009 report suggests the homeless count could have jumped to 8,500 by 2018. Many tax dollars have been spent on this effort. Homeward Trust’s 2015 budget was $44.6 million for building new housing units, rent subsidies and social progr ... 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 on Biz: Alberta and Canada debt problems? Depends on who you ask BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 2017

A hurricane of numbers has descended upon us, as both the Alberta and federal governments announced their 2017/18 budgets in the past two weeks — i.e. their anticipated (i.e. hopeful, optimistic, ideal) spending and expected revenues for the next 12 months. I often think the parties in power simply throw out as many numbers as possible, so we will give up on trying to make sense of anything. But two numbers — two measurements — can tell us how we are doing economically as a province and as a nation. One is the gloom and doom, fiscal-conservative number — the debt-per-capita. The other is the why-worry measurement used by free-spending governments to justify their spending — the debt-to-GDP (Gross Domestic Product) ratio. Right now, the Alberta New Democrats and the federal Liberals are tossing the province and the country into big-time debt. On a debt-per-capita basis, the numbers are terrifying. Formerly debt free (thanks to oil and gas revenues), Alberta&rs ... 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 »