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Category: Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Rebel Food & Drink a great neighbourhood fit BY GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, January 2, 2018

REBEL FOOD & DRINK 9112 142 STREET 780-752-7325 CENTURYHOSPITALITY.COM/REBEL Mon. to Fri. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sat. and Sun. 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $30; loaded, $60 Food:  3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Rebel Food & Drink takes the old – the idea of a neighbourhood-based eatery/bar – shines it up, modernizes and makes it trendy.   But it’s still the place to meet your pals for a drink, or bring the family if nobody wants to cook. And if you’re over .05 thanks to half-price wine Wednesdays, you can walk (cab/UBER) home without breaking the bank, then come back in the morning to get your car. It may have been partially circumstantial, but the latest concept from Chris Lachance’s Century Hospitality Group (Lux, Delux, MKT, Hart’s, Parlour) hits all the right buttons. Piccolino’s had been an old-style village Italian eatery, an inner-west end fixture ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Edmonton's food future all about the chefs BY GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, December 19, 2017

Matilda, the kudos coming Edmonton’s way for its restaurant renaissance are for real. The facts speak for themselves: City restaurants earned three of Canada’s Top 10 new restaurants in enRoute Magazine, five of Open Table’s 100 Best Canadian Restaurants for 2017, five of Canada’s 100 best restaurants as chosen by Canada100Best.com. Edmonton came out of nowhere to jump onto Resonance Consultancy’s Top 100 World Cities annual rating for this year – at number 60. Our culinary smorgasbord was a “quality of life” factor. The Toronto Sun ran a culinary travel story under the headline “Why your next foodie trip should be Edmonton.” When Air Canada announced non-stop Edmonton-to-San Francisco service (in the spring), the EnRoute Top 10 awards were cited by an Air Canada executive as an example of our city’s “considerable, young, entrepreneurial demographic.” By my count, some 50 young (or young-at-heart) exciting chefs hav ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: LOFT Thai Eatery elevates its food BY GRAHAM HICKS originally published Edmonton Sun: December 12, 2017

LOFT Thai Eatery 5324 75 St. 780-466-5638 Loftthaieatery.com Mon. to Fri. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sat. 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Sunday Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $30; loaded, $50 Food:  4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 2.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns The food is beautiful. The space is not. LOFT Thai Eatery chef Shon Vichitvorakul is producing the best Thai “fusion” dishes this city has seen since The King & I Thai Restaurant was one of Edmonton’s Top 10 restaurants. The young Thai, trained in Australia and five-star hotels in Thailand, is producing green curry and pesto pastas, duck leg with fragrant Thai curries and cooked fruit, delicious home-made coconut-infused peanut sauces and dozens of other original Thai-based creations. The LOFT’s rama salad is a mix of soft and crunch. Plus, it should be added, conventional dishes for the meat ‘n’ potatoes crowd. Sadly, the venue does not do the food jus ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Sorrentino’s Staff Lunch by GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, December 5, 2017

A wonderful tradition, entirely unknown outside the restaurant kitchen … and probably not much practiced in North America in any case, is the impromptu staff lunch. After the noon rush at Sorrentino’s Downtown,  executive chef Alberto Alboreggia gathers up food in the kitchen that is  surplus to the customers’ needs: Fish skeletons from which the filets have been cut, what’s left of a primal beef detached of its sirloins and prime rib, vegetable peelings and so on. Every day, Alberto converts them into a delicious, quick staff lunch.   A 22 pound, never-frozen fresh salmon has already been stripped of its salmon steaks and filets.  But left over is the head, the fins, all the meat buried alongside the spine. There are pounds of edible fish here, but it’s of little interest to the front-of-house guest. A few pieces of chicken might be left from the night before. Roasted potatoes – quartered, peeled, sprinkled with olive oil and herbs – remain i ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Holy Roller One Visual Treat By GRAHAM HICKS; first published Edmonton Sun, November 28, 2017

Holy Roller 8222 Gateway Blvd 780-540-4659 theholyroller.ca Mon. to Wed. 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thurs. to Sat. 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sun. 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $16; loaded, $50 Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Old Strathcona’s newest restaurant Holy Roller is way too cool, full of Harry Potter twists and turns. The “lobby” (and cafe)  is all London men’s club – the library, a quiet bar. One half expects Winston Churchill slouched in one of the overstuffed easy chairs, puffing on a cigar. But then the hostess leads you through a secondary entrance to the interior. Suddenly a crystal palace greets you, a crystal palace, a restaurant all a-bustle with restless energy, an enormous ceiling, chandeliers, a bar/ open kitchen all down one side, comfy and trendy tables marching down the others. Keep going, to the third space at the back, an entirely new world – modern white ta ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: The Butternut Tree's young chef offers near-perfection By GRAHAM HICKS, FIRST PUBLISHED EDMONTON SUN, November 21, 2017

The Butternut Tree 9707 110 Street, #101 (Ledgeview Business Centre, ground floor, complimentary indoor parking) 780-760-2271 Thebutternuttree.ca Tues. to Sun. 5 p.m. to midnight Closed Mondays Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $80; loaded, $125 Food:  4.75 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4.75 of 5 Suns So close to a perfect five out of five for food. If not marred by over-salted jus (gravy) for its duck breast entree, the new Butternut Tree Restaurant would have earned an extraordinary Weekly Dish five-out-of-five Sun rating for its food, and equally close to a five out of five for service. From where did this lovely restaurant, comparable already to the Hardware Grill in quality and meticulousness, come from? When chef/owner Scott Downey, an incredibly young 27, opened Butternut Tree in August, nobody knew who he was.  Years ago he had left the family home in St. Albert to wander the world and ended up apprenticing in top restaurants (Noma in Copenhagen) and ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Parkallen Restaurant retools for the next 35 years By GRAHAM HICKS, FIRST PUBLISHED EDMONTON SUN, November 15, 2017

Parkallen Restaurant 7018-109 St. Parkallen.com 587-520-6401 Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, 4 p.m. to midnight Closed Sunday Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $45; loaded, $90 FOOD: 4 OF 5 SUNS AMBIENCE: 4 OF 5 SUNS SERVICE: 4 OF 5 SUNS All the successful “classic” restaurants of Edmonton – i.e. those 30 years or older still providing excellent dining experiences – share a common trait. They evolve – adding new dishes here and there, quietly dropping the dated stuff  but ensuring customer favourites stay on the menu. Above all, they’re willing to change … which is why they thrive. The Parkallen Restaurant was a favourite pizza joint of the inner southwest when Habib and Nahia Rustom opened in 1982, all by itself at that time on 109 Street in the stretch between Whyte and 61 Avenues. Son Joseph grew up in the business. As a young adult full of ideas, he set the Parkallen on a course that served it well for de ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Ramen all over the city By GRAHAM HICKS, FIRST PUBLISHED EDMONTON SUN: November 7, 2017

Once upon a time, a good chicken soup was the ticket to warm you up on a cold winter’s day. Today, it’s ramen. The Japanese soup/broth – long-brewed pork bones in which all the fat and marrow etc. cooks into cloudy white creamy liquid – has exploded in popularity. Since the Prairie Noodle Shop opened two years ago, at least 10  traditional ramen shops have sprung up across Metropolitan Edmonton. And why not? The big bowl of creamy pork broth over noodles, slices of pork belly and various other accoutrements is a very fine comfort food and a meal unto itself. Down a full bowl of ramen with its meat slices, slurpy noodles, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, boiled eggs and multiple other options … you are warmed from feet to head, ready once again to brave this new winter’s cold. In Japan, ramen is as popular as hamburgers are here, being a quick but healthy food that can be downed in minutes if one is in a hurry. Like hamburgers, there are literally thousands of ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: London Local offers jolly good food: GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN: October 24, 2017

London Local 2307 Ellwood Dr. SW (South of Henday Drive, off 91 Street.) 780-752-2244 London-local.ca @LondonLocalYEG Tuesday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to late Sunday, noon to 8 p.m. Closed Mondays Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $50; loaded, $90 Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns London Local is a veritable mountain of paradox. On the one hand, a new, contemporary restaurant specializing in British cuisine (i.e. England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales) is extraordinary unto itself. Isn’t  “fine dining” and “English” an oxymoron?  Hasn’t the food world always laughed at the notion that these chilly, perpetually rain-soaked islands actually have a food culture … besides mushy peas, mashed potatoes and sausages?  Aren’t Indian curries the tongue-in-cheek “official” cuisine of the British Isles? On the o ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS WEEKLY DISH: The Bedouins: A desert oasis on the northside BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2017

The name is a draw unto itself.  “The Bedouins” – brilliant! It conjures up mythical images of Arabian desert nomads – Lawrence of Arabia, The English Patient, that kind of thing. Do Bedouin tribes have a distinct Middle Eastern cuisine? Not really. The two savvy partners in North Edmonton’s The Bedouins restaurant readily admit the name is more impressionistic, a brand rather than actual Bedouin dishes. While Bedouin tribes dot the desert landscape from Morocco to Saudi Arabia, maitre d’ Emad Elgaddafi and chef Ashruf Oun are offering North African cooking, the distinctive tajeens and beautiful lamb dishes of the Maghreb – the coastal regions of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. If there’s a regional bias, it’s Libyan. Pasta shows up more often than grains at The Bedouins, as Libya was once an Italian colony. Elgaddafi and Oun are of Libyan descent, Canada’s gain when civil war forced the two dynamic young men out of their ... Read the rest of entry »
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