Oh the food memories of 2017 …

The sweet plantain fries plus spicy shrimp/melted cheese arepas at Rolando Sandrea’s Avila Arepa Urban Venezuelan Kitchen … The lamb shoulder stew on noodles at the Bedouin Experience … Any of the ramen soups at Tokiwa … LOFT Thai Eatery’s Thai-Italian fusion confit duck leg with Thai curry.

We lost the Alberta Hotel & Grill’s take on duck breast when that restaurant closed, but the same room has re-opened as the exciting Revel, with Chef Tony Krause’s octopus cassoulet. LUX stepped out of its steak house mentality by adding a deep-fried and battered whole-fish Pacific snapper to the menu. Takami Sushi’s deluxe sashimi floated in a soft bed of dry ice.

Tang Bistro has finally offered Edmonton authentic regional Chinese cuisine. Real fish ‘n’ chips came from Jesse Morrison Gauthier’s Grandin Fish ‘n’ Chips. The best dessert ever tasted in Greater Edmonton was in St. Albert, being Privada’s apple tart tatin.


Tang Bistro’s authentic Chinese cuisine.

Vaticano Cucina carved out a niche in the competitive Italian restaurant scene with its sweet ‘n’ savory caramelle pasta. At Biera, Chef Christine Sandford is the first to truly understand the matching of menu items to Biera’s house-brewed Blind Enthusiasm beers.


This was the year of high-quality patisseries inspired by the Duchess … Arno’s, Art of Cake, Macarons & Goodies, FanFan, La Boule, Passion de France, Reinette Café & Patisserie and the venerable La Favorites – all making beautiful macarons!

Poke (diced tuna, an Hawaiian favourite) came to Edmonton via the informal Ono Poke on 104 Street and Splash Poke on 109 Street.

Barry Sparrow sold Von’s Steak and Oyster. Plates International morphed into Sumo Sumo Edmonton. Cured was sold, to re-open as Chef Lindsay Porter’s London Local, a contemporary treatment of English cooking.

Vivo Downtown – an up-and-comer on the fine-food scene, sadly closed due to financial woes on the part of ownership. Packrat Louie’s was re-born with a beautiful new menu, but chefs Levi Biddlecombe and Tyson Wright departed within months to open their own Why Not Café and Bar on 109 Street.

Trendy Baiju – The Orient meets Hollywood – opened in the Mercer Building right across from Rogers Place. A block away, Bundok quietly served up lovely French-inspired comfort food. Bundok chef Ryan Hotchkiss was rewarded for his effort with a bronze medal at the regional Gold Medal Plate competition.

As hoped for, Rogers Place is drawing pre-and-post concert/hockey game diners by the thousands to the downtown.

Sage’s Shane Chartrand FINALLY won the annual Gold Medal Plate competition in his eighth try, and now takes his inspired First Nations cuisine to the national stage for the Gold Medal Plate national finals.

This was the year of national dining recognition: Café Linnea, Alta Room and Clementine were named to EnRoute Magazine’s Top 10 new restaurants in Canada for 2017. Open Table made some fine picks in naming Ernest’s (at NAIT), The Marc, Sabor, Tzin and Vivo Westend to its Top 100 Canadian Restaurants. Canada100Best.com named all three of Daniel Costa’s side-by-side eateries, Corso 32, Bar Bricco and Uccellino plus Rostizado, RGE RD and Clementine to its 100 best Canadian restaurants in 2017.

On my personal Top 10 for a full fine-dining experience this past year would be Corso 32, RGE RD, Chartier, Solstice, ZINC on a good night, Sage (if Chartrand was doing something special), Solstice, Cibo, Hardware Grill and Sabor. Close behind would be the new and unconventional Butternut Tree, Shone Oborowky’s venerable Characters and, if I was in the mood for culinary adventure, a seating at Ben Staley’s Alta Room.

High-end comfort food is gaining currency, i.e. Holy Roller with its Spanish pintxos snacks in Old Strathcona. Bar food has been re-invented at the Crash Hotel’s Denizen Hall. La Ronde in the Chateau Lacombe – attractive and current after 50 years – is offering Steak Diane and other blasts from the past on Retro-Thursdays.


Holy Roller’s pear and prosciutto pintxos.

Becoming past tense: fried chicken, fish tacos and charcuterie. Have charred Brussel sprouts had their run?

More popular by the day are classy neighbourhood restaurants/coffee shops run by knowledgeable operators, such as Ed Donzelmann’s tiny sausage-and-craft-beer OTTO, the trendy Rebel on 142 Street, Woodrack Café on 109th Street, The Glass Monkey, Square 1 off 119th Street.

Overall, it has been a simply fabulous year to have been eating out in Edmonton! And as always, there’s so much more to come.