Campio brew-pub makes an excellent, super-crunchy Korean fried chicken sandwich. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton

Polar Park
10416 80 Ave.

Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns
Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns
Service: 4 of 5 Suns

Hours:  Wed. 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Thurs. 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., Fri. 2 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sat. 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., Sun. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Closed Mon./Tues.

Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tip and taxes: Basic, $30; loaded, $70

10257 105 St.

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

Hours:  Sun. to Wed. 11:30 am to midnight; Thur. to 1 am; Fri./Sat. to 2 am.


Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tip and taxes: Basic, $30; loaded, $70


There is much joy in all the new craft/artisan in-house brewpubs opening in Edmonton. At least until the market works its magic, and an inevitable consolidation/culling takes place.

Offering food alongside in-house brews are Odd Couple, Sea Change, Analog, Situation, Blind Enthusiasm, Town Square, SYC, Endeavour and probably a few more. Yellowhead and the granddaddy of them all, Alley Kat, do not serve food on a regular basis.

When it comes to food, most of the new brewpubs offer the usual pizzas, tacos, burgers and fries. Are you not bored to death with yet MORE pizza?

There are exceptions … Blind Enthusiasm is Biera’s made-in-house beer, and Biera is one of the city’s best restaurants.

Today’s Weekly Dish checks out the food at two of the better-publicized, bigger, new brewpubs, Campio downtown and Polar Park in Old Strathcona.

Campio is in the former Characters Restaurant, a stand-alone historic building in the downtown, complete with its own parking lot.

Campio comes with a pedigree. Its parent company, Bearhill Brewing, pioneered the recent craft beer pub revival with brewpubs in Jasper, Banff, Calgary and Fort McMurray.

Polar Park Brewing is the brainchild of Robert Oeming, grandson of the late, great Al Oeming, the colourful owner of the long-defunct  Alberta Game Farm/Polar Park private zoo.

Polar Park is finally open after years of renovation, in the attractive former Bee Bell Bakery building in Old Strathcona. The attractive interior uses Polar Park references as its theme.

Campio’s food is good, Polar Park’s is excellent.

Campio is offering upscale comfort. The standards — chicken wings, nachos, burgers, pizza — at least have a Campio twist. Other interesting dishes — falafel, mussels, carpaccio, unusual sandwiches, salads — are on the menu.

Campio’s deep dish pizza was good, but where was the braised rib topping?

At Polar Park, chef Trevor Connie (ex-Corso 32, Cibo) has created one of the most interesting menus in town — establishing Polar Park as much for its food as its beer.

Of course chicken wings, fries and burgers are beer-obligatory.  But they are scattered among more interesting options like pimento ricotta, steak tartar, charred cauliflower, lamb shank and pork belly.

A lushious strip of pork belly at Polar Park, topped with shaved Brussels sprouts.

What to eat? At Campio, two of us went for the “Kitchen Sink” deep-dish pizza and a Korean fried-chicken sandwich with house-made kimchi pickles, Asian slaw and spicy mayo.

The Korean chicken, two ultra-crispy chicken pieces within a hamburger bun, was first-rate, great crunch without being oily. The sour/savory/spicy condiments were unusual and satisfying.

The square, individual-portioned pizza was middling’ to good, the deep dish being a little different. But where was the promised braised short rib topping? Nowhere to be found.

Everything at Polar Park was excellent. A beautiful crisp batter surrounded the creamiest of whipped potato and parmesan cheese in the potato croquette.

The Polar Park kitchen turns out excellent potato croquettes.

The steak tartar is fabulous — a generous dollop of moist, ground, high-end steak, full of garlic and pickled mustard seeds that popped in the mouth. The tartar was presented with an embedded swirl of potato chips to bring the tartar from plate to mouth.

Moist, rich, savoury … Polar Park’s steak tartare is among the best in the city.

The pork belly strip was luscious, soft and rich — with an unusual shaved Brussels sprouts topping, a touch of apple and a rarely seen cauliflower puree.

Everything at both brewpubs went great with the home-brewed beers!

I do get a chuckle over this “new” brewpub trend. CRAFT Beer Market and the Brewsters pubs have been making in-house-brewed beers for years. Peter Johner’s long-gone Boccolino restaurant on Jasper Avenue had great food to go with its own beers … 30 years ago.


• With the Whole Family Health Clinic, RGE RD is presenting a two-hour session on Dec. 1 (from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.) on healthy eating and cooking tips for men, entitled “Mindful Eating for Men’s Health.” Tickets are $50, all the proceeds going to Movember.  587-200-5597 for reservations.

• Chef Ben Staley, previously of North 53 and Alder Room, was renowned for locating the most unusual of ingredients for his 100% ALL-LOCAL sourced, unique dining experiences. Reservations are now being accepted for his new Restaurant Yarrow, opening in January.