Biera's Korean style ribs were not exceptional. GRAHAM HICKS/Edmonton SunEdmonton

9570 76 Ave. NW
587-525-8589  (reservations)

Wed. to Sat. 11:30 am to 11 pm
Sun. 11:30 am to 4 pm
Mon. closed
Tues. 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Food: 3 of 5 Suns
Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns
Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns

Dinner for two, excluding beverages and tip:  Basic $60, loaded $90

Was it the particular evening? An off night?

Was Biera executive chef Christine Sandford absent?

Did we simply order the wrong dishes?

How was it possible for our party of four to be so underwhelmed at Biera? This, after all, is a restaurant consistently listed on reputable Top 5 dining out lists (reputable meaning not open to voter manipulation, not being “bought”).


In Avenue Magazine’s just-published Best Restaurants 2020 edition, an independent judging panel named Biera as Edmonton’s Best Overall Restaurant.

For years, Chef Sandford has been devising dishes meant to be paired with craft beers from Biera’s in-house Blind Enthusiasm craft brewery. Biera has also been a culinary leader, going all-in with shared “small dishes,” doing away with large individual entrees.

We expected to be wowed. It was at least my fourth visit to Biera since it opened in 2017. Never before had I been disappointed.

This time … underwhelming, to say the least.

The Nova Scotia scallop ceviche: Nothing much to write home about. Soft and silky allegedly with a touch of Mezcal and jalapeno. The small dish was mostly about sliced radish, with two or three teaspoons of chopped-up scallop. Despite the suggestion of spirit taste and spice heat, the scallop was so mild as to be invisible.

Biera’s trout fragments were lacking both flavour and texture. Edmonton

The spruce & citrus cured trout: Truly perplexing. To be cured in spruce and citrus would suggest a strong, brisk flavour, with the promise of a sprinkle of house-crafted beer, smoked trout roe and a halved kumquat (a small sweet citrus fruit) for the squeezing.

Despite the description, precious little was there for the tastebuds. The trout was odd — presented as tiny sushi-like filet tidbits, dull in both taste and a too-smooth texture. All the citrus, spruce, roe, beer and kumquat did not make for any memorable taste.

The ricotta dumplings: Finally, a flavour/texture/presentation hit. The ricotta lightened the usual heaviness of steamed or boiled dumplings. The presentation creatively resembled scoops of mashed. The dumplings were rich and tasty, beautifully paired with a whey butter sauce and an imaginative crispy Swiss chard topping.

Biera’s ricotta dumplings were a hit. Edmonton

The “grass-fed” Korean style short ribs: For all the grass feeding, and wort glaze (presumably made from the brewery’s spent malt) and green salad topping, there was nothing special about these small, flat beef portions. They could have come from any local Korean restaurant.

The sourdoughnuts dessert: Ho hum, underwhelming again. Four fried dough balls that were closer to Timbits than to beignets, partially redeemed by a pleasant whey curd dip.

The Biera sourdough bread: The two pieces of fresh-baked sourdough were a highlight of the disappointing dinner, arriving with two butter blends. But Mama Mia, the price! Twelve dollars for two — two — normal-sized slices of bread!

The ambience of Biera is pleasant, contemporary iron, wood and floor-to-ceiling glass, built around the gleaming steel tanks of Blind Enthusiasm beer. Excluding the summer patio, within the open high-ceiling space are some 100 seats in four distinct areas.  The service was acceptable, but not friendly. Is it “cool” in trendy restaurants for servers to be disengaged, or are they simply not trained?

It was a distressing night, being so disappointed — especially after reading my own very enthusiastic review from three years ago. It’s understood that top quality costs more, but in Biera’s case — a few teaspoons of scallop for $22, fragments of trout for $22, two to three ounces of rib for $33, $6 for a slice of bread — prices are simply too high.


Downtown Dining Week starts Wednesday March 11 to Sunday March 22 at 50 participating downtown restaurants with most of the better downtown restaurants taking part. Each restaurant offers a $20 two-course lunch or brunch, or a three-course dinner for $35 or $50. Full menus and details at  Make reservations quickly. The best restaurants fill up fast.

Atlas Steak + Fish in the Grand Villa Casino is part of the Downtown Dining Week. I recently dined in its twin-sister restaurant — Atlas in the west-end Starlight Casino. The formality was refreshing. The food, while very classic, was first-class.

Equally enjoyable was a family dinner at Tony Saporito’s Nello’s Downtown, which was Il Pasticcio until proprietor Nello Saporito, Tony’s dad, passed on. Nello’s Downtown continues the Il Pasticcio tradition of friendly service, big portions and delicious, made-from-scratch, traditional Italian cuisine.

Fast food: the A&W bison burger lives up to its hype, with a big, rich and very juicy (surprising for bison) patty topped with seasoned slow-cooked onions.  Sadly the A&W cod burger is just another fish filet sandwich.