HicksBiz Blog

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Braven lives up to expectations By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, December 10, 2019

Braven's prime rib will make meat-lovers think they have died and gone to heaven. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUN Braven JW Marriott Hotel, Edmonton ICE District 10344-102 St. 780-784-8580 bravenrestaurant.com Reservations: opentable.ca No listed delivery Hours:  Mon. to Fri. 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 pm., 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sat. and Sun. 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tip and taxes: Basic, $60; loaded, $150 Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns By GRAHAM HICKS Braven, to our great relief, is all it’s cracked up to be. The more formal of the lobby-level restaurants in the new, exciting JW Marriott Hotel, Braven is doing an extraordinarily good job of having something for everybody, of offering top-notch quality and dining satisfaction within the “something”. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Its traditional steakhouse selections – the five-to-14-ounce steaks, roast beef, lamb, 14 oz. pork chop, salmon a ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: We live in disturbing times By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, December 6, 2019

The Edmonton skyline is visible through the falling snow as a lone pedestrian walks through McKinnon Ravine Park, in Edmonton Friday Nov. 29, 2019.David Bloom / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS We live in disturbing times. Deep sociological rifts and fractures head out every which way in our city – differences over climate change, educational philosophy, equality, progressive versus pragmatic opinions, debt management. At the same time, there’s growing intolerance of dissenting opinion, no matter how well-informed. Forgiveness and redemption, fundamental moral principles of all the great world religions, have been forgotten. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Ten years ago, Don Cherry would have been reprimanded for his stupid remarks about immigrants not wearing poppies. But given the man’s  life-long support of good causes and his reputation as a proud, well-meaning Canadian, he might have been conditionally forgiven, “go forth and sin no more”. B ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Brasserie Bardot - casual continental dining at its best By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, December 3, 2019

The Brasserie Bardot calls this combination of poutine with fondue cheeses a "fontine." PHOTOS BY GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Brasserie Bardot 10109-125 St. 780-757-8702 Reservations: brasseriebardot.com Hours:  11 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tip and taxes: Basic, $40; loaded, $80 Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns By GRAHAM HICKS Breathe easy. The new Brasserie Bardot, taking over the lovely old Edmonton mansion vacated by The Manor Bistro, is NOT a high-falutin’, snotty, pretending-to-be-a-five-star French restaurant. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Quite the opposite: it’s a comfortable, casual bistro with a menu that, like so many good restaurants of late, offers twists on the familiar. I would describe Brasserie Bardot as “French-inspired” or “In the French style.” It has poutine, burgers, steaks and wings. But over the poutine’s French fries, cl ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Second Specs disrupts the eyeglass business By GRAHAM HICKS first published EDMONTON SUN, November 30, 2019

Second Specs' founders and partners Quy An, left, and Dr. Aaron Patel. Graham Hicks / Edmonton Sun In the business world, they’re called “disrupters,” companies that enter a business sector with a new technology or business model, making their products some combination of cleaner, greener, safer, faster and cheaper than those of the established companies. The established companies — especially in retail — are not happy campers. Before the disrupter came along, they were usually making a tidy profit with little risk. About six years ago, a kiosk opened in West Edmonton Mall close to the waterpark. It was called Second Specs. Second Specs has disrupted the Edmonton retail eye-glasses market. It offers new glasses at a price competitive with online companies, way cheaper than most walk-in Edmonton optical companies, provides personalized service … and can make and fit prescription lenses to a new frame within a half-hour. Second Specs is 100 pe ... Read the rest of entry »

Waitress is much deeper than it lets on - review by GRAHAM HICKS, HicksBiz.com

Waitress Broadway Across Canada production Jubilee Auditorium, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Tuesday Nov. 26, 2019 to Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019 On the surface, Waitress ought not to have been a Broadway hit. The touring version of the show, at Edmonton's Jubilee Auditorium from Tuesday Nov. 26 2019 to Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, skates across well-worn Americana themes -  unfulfilled lives in small towns, ekeing out livings by serving in roadhouses, putting up with snarly customers, looking for love in all the wrong places.  All is delivered with much humour and song. And it takes about 20 minutes into this touring Broadway production for the audience, consciously or unconsciously, to grasp this shows's deeper, if predictable, thematic currents:  That "love" is a pretty weird thing, manifesting itself in a myriad of ways; that no one way is better or worse than another - believe me, conventional happy married-couple love is conspiculously absent!;  that romantic/physical love somehow helps reconcil ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: The craft-beer pub craze By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, November 26, 2019

Campio brew-pub makes an excellent, super-crunchy Korean fried chicken sandwich. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton Polar Park 10416 80 Ave. 855-934-2337 polarparkbrewing.com Reservations: opentable.ca 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 Campio 10257 105 St. 587-635-1953 campiobrewingco.com Reservations: opentable.ca 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. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tip and taxes: Basic, $30; loaded, $70 By GRAHAM HICKS There is much joy in all the new craft/artisan in-house brewpubs opening in Edmonton. At least until the market works its magic, an ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton restaurateur putting restlessness to work By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, November 22, 2019

Brad Lazarenko of Culina to Go, one of the food-based tenants in the Oliver Exchange. Taken on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019 in Edmonton.Greg Southam Greg Southam / 00086532A By GRAHAM HICKS If one thing is predictable about chef/businessman Brad Lazarenko, in the 30-plus years he has been active in Edmonton’s dining and food circles, it’s his unpredictability. He delights in left turns without signaling.  Once Lazarenko has launched and executed an interesting food concept, usually under his Culina kitchen brand, he’s thinking of his next move. Culina Mill Creek, Bibo Wine Bar, Passa Tempo in Osoyoos’ Spirit Ridge Resort, a wine bar in Nelson, B.C. a return to Edmonton to open Culina Muttart, the Culina Cantina in the downtown police station, helping his sister open Culina Highlands, catering, running the food outlets at the City of Edmonton golf courses, and now, his latest venture, the take-out-only  Culina To Go in Ivan Beljan’s newly renovated Olive ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Culinary Team NAIT's deep dive into contemporary Canadiana By GRAHAM HICKS first published EDMONTON SUN, November 19, 2019

While gorgeous to look at, Team NAIT's vegetarian dish for the Stuttgart Culinary Olympics still needs work. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Ernest’s Dining Room, NAIT – Culinary Olympic luncheons 10701 118 Ave. nait.ca/ernests 780-471-8676 Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns Hours (only when school is in session) : Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday, showcase buffet Fridays, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dinner (pre-set menu) 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. Tuesday to Friday. Special Olympic luncheon: $20.95 per person Dinner (pre-set menu, excluding beverages, taxes and tip):  $45 per person; lunch, average $12 per person. By GRAHAM HICKS Lovers of good food, especially those with champagne tastes hampered by the glum reality of beer budgets, here’s a chance to glimpse culinary heaven. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Culinary Team NAIT is off to Stuttgart, Germany in February to compete in the prestigious, very global 20 ... Read the rest of entry »

The Spotlight Cabaret opens a new chapter in YEG live entertainment - REVIEW/FEATURE by GRAHAM HICKS, Hicksbiz.com

Legends of Music Spotlight Cabaret, second floor, 8217-104 St. Spotlight.ca 780.760.0202 Wed. Thurs. Sat. Sun. 6 p.m. Show and four-course dinner, $50  (Saturdays, $75) Feature/review by GRAHAM HICKS, hicksbiz.com (Other productions currently at Spotlight:  Duelling Piano Party, Fridays - $45 with light dinner; Tuesdays through November, 7:30 p.m.,  Atomic Improv Filmfest ($7);  Saturday brunch, Christmas season, Wonderful Christmas Carol: A Pantomime Radio Play;  various evenings after 10 p.m. , no cover, Laugh Track, Karaoke, Bourbon & Burlesque. ) Edmonton knows all about dinner theatre -  The Mayfield Dinner Theatre has been with us for some 45 years, Jubilations Dinner Theatre in West Edmonton Mall for decades. Dinner cabaret, being brilliantly executed in Old Strathcona’s beautiful, still-new Spotlight Cabaret, is a different kettle of fish. Dinner cabaret is more nightclub-like, more intimate than dinner theatre. It starts earlier, lasts longer, morp ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS ON BIZ: Alberta farmers need to change the way they do business By GRAHAM HICKS first published EDMONTON SUN November 15, 2019

Consultant Jerry Bouma warned regional leaders agriculture in the Edmonton region is close to a tipping point in his state of the industry report on agriculture at the Edmonton Metropolitan Regional Board meeting on Aug. 9, 2018.Elise Stolte / Postmedia, file Jerry Bouma is frustrated. The agricultural consultant, past Northlands president — when Northlands meant something — and now honourary consul for The Netherlands has long worked within Alberta’s $8.5-billion agriculture industry. Always a pragmatist and a realist, Bouma is worried. He says opportunity is slipping away in this province … at a time when the entire economic effort of Alberta should be in well-directed strategies to boost and modernize business sectors besides oil and gas, for obvious reasons. But he doesn’t see much happening. It’s as if the province has forgotten agriculture. November, for instance, used to be rural/farm awareness month In Edmonton, centred around the week-long C ... Read the rest of entry »