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Category: Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks' Weekly Dish: A self-guided culinary tour of Jasper By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 19, 2019

By GRAHAM HICKS It’s been a tough winter, especially when the bank account has no room for a sun/beach holiday. Non-stop cold, treacherous ice and eternal darkness plays havoc on the emotions. When your spouse curls up tighter than a fetus for days on end … So here’s Plan B. Jasper! It’s still winter … but winter in the mountains can be a tonic. STORY CONTINUES BELOW You don’t have to ski, snowshoe, or take teeth-chattering hikes. You can do nothing but eat!!! Supported by out-of-province tourists in the summer, by skiers from Edmonton in winter, and year-round by local residents, Jasper’s culinary scene is alive and kicking. I pried Maria out of her fetal position, set the Toyota’s controls for Jasper. Off we went for a two-night, three-day self-guided-with-advice Jasper Culinary Tour. The idea was to discover/rediscover some Jasper dining gems – especially the ones the locals consider their own. Prices, incidentally,&nbs ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Fast and fresh from Amore Pasta Downtown By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 12, 2019

The gleaming open kitchen of Amore Pasta's new downtown location. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton Amore Pasta Downtown 10235 – 101 St.  (Sutton Place Hotel lobby – north end) 780-488-421-4450 No reservations Delivery: Skipthedishes.com, DoorDash.com, Foodora.ca 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Sat. and Sun. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.) Dinner for two excluding tip, taxes or beverages: Basic, $22; loaded $42 Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns By GRAHAM HICKS The “new” Edmonton food scene is fast upon us. A few steps backwards: It’s retroactive – back to basics like pizza, hamburgers and pasta.  It’s fresher and healthier than fast food, but still about high-volume and speed. There’s no sense of occasion. STORY CONTINUES BELOW A few steps forwards: It’s quality food, not fast-food junk. It’s about a third less-expensive then full-service restaurants. It’s consistent, fast, casual but not ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Fight back against ‘tip shaming’ By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 5, 2019

(Getty Images) By GRAHAM HICKS In January, I wrote about restaurant tipping, moving from appreciation for good service to unacceptable levels through subtle suggestion, guilt and “suggested tip” options. Just a few years ago, tipping was 10 per cent of the bill for average service, 15 per cent for exceptional service. Today, servers expect 15 per cent for average service, up to 25 per cent for exceptional. The column generated a massive response — at least 100 readers joined in with their thoughts. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Ninety per cent agreed that tipping has spun out of control. Albertans were doubly piqued because servers had — much as they downplay it — already received a major raise when the minimum wage jumped from $10 to $15. It’s the mobile payment terminal’s “suggested tip option payments” that stick in most craws. The terminal, used for credit and debit card payments, used to have tip options of 5 per cent, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Fight back against ‘tip shaming’ By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 5, 2019

(Getty Images) By GRAHAM HICKS In January, I wrote about restaurant tipping, moving from appreciation for good service to unacceptable levels through subtle suggestion, guilt and “suggested tip” options. Just a few years ago, tipping was 10 per cent of the bill for average service, 15 per cent for exceptional service. Today, servers expect 15 per cent for average service, up to 25 per cent for exceptional. The column generated a massive response — at least 100 readers joined in with their thoughts. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Ninety per cent agreed that tipping has spun out of control. Albertans were doubly piqued because servers had — much as they downplay it — already received a major raise when the minimum wage jumped from $10 to $15. It’s the mobile payment terminal’s “suggested tip option payments” that stick in most craws. The terminal, used for credit and debit card payments, used to have tip options of 5 per cent, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Cajun for Canadians, eh? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN January 29, 2019

The red beans in sauce, shrimp crole and sausage made for a satisfying jambalaya at Louisiana Purchase North. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton Louisiana Purchase North 13503 St. Albert Trail (Christy’s Corner shopping centre) 780-488-3536 Louisianapurchase.ca/north  (Reservations online) Delivery: Skipthedishes.com Mon. to Sat. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (1 a.m. Fri. and Sat.) Sundays noon to 10 p.m. Dinner for two excluding tip, taxes or beverages: Basic, $30; loaded $60 Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns By GRAHAM HICKS The dining purist will not be amused. But, for my money, Louisiana Purchase does a very good job “Canadianizing” Creole/Cajun/Louisiana cooking – turning down the spicy heat, adjusting famous Cajun dishes for Edmonton palates more accustomed to Ketchup than Tabasco, while not losing the essence of Louisiana cooking. STORY CONTINUES BELOW The cuisine is steeped in history – the Canadian contr ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Chinatown Dining Week discovers some Chinese restaurant gems By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 22, 2019

A full meal - beef noodles, shrimp, lemongrass chicken and bok choy at Cui Hua Gui Lin Noodle House. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton Cui Hua Gui Lin Noodle House 10626 97 St. 780-497-8280 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., closed Mondays Cash and debit only Fuqing Lanzhou Noodles 10824-97 St. 780-760-1110 fuqinglanzhounoodle.com 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., closed Tuesdays Ratings for both restaurants: Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two at both restaurants, excluding beverages and tips:  Basic, $20; Loaded, $35 STORY CONTINUES BELOW By GRAHAM HICKS Thank you, organizers of Chinatown Dining Week. I have long searched in Edmonton for authentic Chinese food. Dozens of Chinese-Canadian restaurants still serve the standard deep-fried chicken balls, crispy Szechuan ginger beef and oily chow mein that’s been around for eons. But the real thing (actually “things” – Chinese cuisine is very regional) remains difficult to ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Partake offers the best of the old and the new BY GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN January 15, 2019

Partake is re-inventing classic European dishes like this version of a Salade Nicoise. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton Partake 12431 102 Avenue 780-760-8253 ouipartake.com No listed delivery service No reservations Mon. to Sat. 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. (1 a.m. Fri. and Sat.) Closed Sundays Dinner for two excluding tip, taxes or beverages: Basic, $30; loaded $60 Food:  4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns By GRAHAM HICKS As darkness  falls over fine dining in Edmonton, a new dawn breaks. Partake is the brainchild of Dutch-born, French-trained restaurateur Cyrille Koppert (Urban Diner, Manor Bistro). It’s a cozy nook beside the Urban Diner on 102 Avenue just west of 124 Street, transformed into a Euro-bistro/bar. Koppert has gleaned the best from the ultra-informal dining trend that has enveloped Edmonton, such as small plate portions, a hipster bar, quick service, and less seating (30) to minimize staffing. Cyrille Koppert holds a cured pork haunch ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Chef Hung — extraordinarily ordinary By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN January 8, 2019

Chef Hung's tendon, shank and tripe beef-noodle soup was ordinary at best. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton Chef Hung Taiwanese Beef Noodle Edmonton 10336 81 Avenue 780-244-4004 Chefhungnoodle.com No listed delivery service Seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (11 p.m. Friday and Saturday) Dinner for two excluding tip, taxes or beverages: Basic, $25; loaded $50 Food:  3 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns By GRAHAM HICKS Don’t  believe the hype. Chef Hung’s Taiwanese Beef Noodle restaurant, at least here in Edmonton, is nothing special. It’s your basic Asian beef-noodle shop with marketing clout. Backed by Vancouver business conglomerate the Fairchild Group, Chef Hung now has five outlets on B.C.’s Lower Mainland, two in the  USA, a handful in Asia. The Edmonton Chef Hung, in Old Strathcona off Whyte Avenue, is the first in Canada outside B.C. Maybe just this outlet is the problem. Before partnering with Fairchild, Chef Hung i ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Tipping is outta control By GRAHAM HICKS first published EDMONTON SUN, January 1, 2019

By GRAHAM HICKS Tipping in the restaurant business and elsewhere  is getting ugly. It’s gone from an act of appreciation for excellent service to a cat-and-mouse game,  squeezing a maximum tip out of the customer through suggestion, guilt or credit card payment options. My family – 14 of us — enjoyed a holiday brunch. The server was friendly and efficient. But it was a buffet. Besides collect the dirty dishes, all she had to do was serve coffee and tea. The bill, when presented, included a mandatory “service charge” – i.e. an automatic 18% tip for large groups – or $66.51.  The aforementioned server, however, quietly mentioned it was a “group tip” distributed to all the restaurant staff.  If I wanted to give her an additional personal tip, she wouldn’t refuse. Blindsided and guilt-tripped, I added another $25.  Which worked out to a 25%  tip — over $90! Yes, it was voluntary.  Did I feel pres ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: OEB Breakfast Co — the power breakfast has arrived in Edmonton! By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, December 18, 2018

The Farmer John's Delight omlette is one of 70 items on the trendy new OEB downtown breakfast spot. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton OEB Breakfast Co. 10174 100A St.  (Kelly-Ramsey Building) 587-520-0936 eatoeb.com Reservations: by phone weekdays, weekend wait list No listed delivery service Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Weekends and holidays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Breakfast for two excluding tip, taxes or beverages: Basic, $25; loaded $50 Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience:  4 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns By GRAHAM HICKS The biggest problem at the OEB Breakfast Company (besides trying to remember if it’s OEB, EOB or BEO – it stands for Over Easy Breakfast) is where to start? The new downtown  breakfast emporium has 70 different dishes – everything under the prairie sky, as long as it has some connection to eggs, waffles, French toast or bagels. At lunch (it’s open until 3 p.m.) you could even order a Moroccan-Style Alberta Lamb Burge ... Read the rest of entry »
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