HicksBiz Blog

Category: food

food

Thumbs up for Suede Lounge: Weekly Dish review originally published in the Edmonton Sun, Wed. May 2, 2012

It's a pleasure to find a gentle, unpretentious, consistent place to eat.It's even more unusual when the establishment is actually a chameleon, a gastro-pub/lounge in the early evening, morphing into a nightclub as time goes by.Suede Lounge has managed to own this turf on the west end of Jasper Avenue (across the parking lot from Earl's Tin Palace) since Jeff Koltec opened the restaurant/lounge in 2004. He sold it last fall.The new owners, thank goodness, see no need for drastic change and have in fact brought in Chef Andrew Seguin from Calgary to maintain Suede's calling card of good, original food.The room is truly versatile. Modern without going overboard on trendiness, it's 60 seats or so, with a stand-up and mingle area, separated by a few stairs from the dining space.We dined at Suede Lounge as a most successful Art of Conversation LXVIII wound down in the stand-up area. While the crowd continued to socialize, the dining area didn't feel crowded or overwhelmed.Suede is known as a wine bar, but its menu ... Read the rest of entry »

Potpurri of fun: The Hot Chefs Cool bEATS food festival at the Shaw Conference Centre: Weekly Dish column originally published in the Edmonton Sun April 25, 2012

Hot Chefs Cool bEATS food festival, Shaw Conference Centre, April 21, 2012Food: 4 of 5Ambience: 4 of 5Service: 4 of 5Much like that re-invented Alberta Progressive Conservative Party, our culinary world evolves.Previous fundraisers for Culinary Team Canada — an Edmonton tradition thanks to long-time organizers Shaw Conference Centre Executive Chef Simon Smotkowicz and NAIT’s Vinod Varshney — were swish, gala events with fancy dresses, business attire and starched linen.Suddenly, it’s not about old-school elegance any longer.It’s about having fun, bringing out the kid in us.It’s about dropping the price tag, as fewer and fewer companies and individuals are willing to shell out for those $300-plus charity event tickets.Hats off to Hot Chefs Cool bEATS co-chairs Simon and Vinomania’s Gurvinder Bhatia.Like Premier Alison Redford’s campaign managers, they figured out where trends are going, and got there first.On Saturday evening, Hot Chefs Cool bEATS was one big, informal, fun street party — and all the better fo ... Read the rest of entry »

Best bread, best French onion soup at The Dauphine Bakery + Bistro: Originally published in the Edmonton Sun, Wed. April 11, 2012

The Dauphine Bakery and Bistro(780) 421-4410 10129 104 st Edmonton, AB T5J0Z9 Mon to Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday open until 7 p.m.   As the Queen of Tarts of the 104 Street Downtown Farmers’ Market, Linda Kearney’s lemon tart pies were usually sold out before noon.  Fortunately, Kearney had the energy to expand into a permanent bakery and bistro, which sadly, for copyright reasons, cannot use the “Queen of Tarts” moniker. The Dauphine is just steps away from her summer market booth, and what a fine addition to the year-round dining scene it is. The ambience is surprising and delightful. The street-front doors of the old building on 104 Street open onto a wide set of cathedral stairs, leading into an airy loft basement that is anything but — huge ceilings and natural light from the storefront windows create an inviting bakery with the floor space of a warehouse. The main dining space is a niche alongside the great staircase, just seven or eight tables, pl ... Read the rest of entry »

Why the Sorrentino's Garlic Festival is so successful on so many different levels

(This blog posting is a follow-up to the Weekly Dish column in the Edmonton Sun on Wednesday, April 4, 2012, entitled "Alberta's Garlic Advantage" in print, and "Garlic Festival an all-Alberta affair" in the on-line version) The Sorrentino’s Garlic Festival, in its 21st year, has become part of the very fabric of this city. And along the way, a textbook case of great marketing that should be thoroughly studied by any student of marketing and promotion. Most restaurants owners – 99% of them –lack the energy and imagination to separate themselves from the pack. It’s enough, they think, to simply open their doors, provide adequate service, good food and enough advertising to get by. Then there’s Sorrentino’s. Among their many other entrepreneurial strengths, Carmelo and Stella Rago understand the power of being different. Inspired by a world-famous garlic festival in California, Carmelo found the extra energy and extra effort to start that first Garlic Festival two deca ... Read the rest of entry »

Vive Cibo! Graham Hicks' Weekly Dish review of Cibo Bistro, first published in the Edmonton Sun, Wed. March 28, 2012

Imitation is the highest form of flattery. A standing Edmonton restaurant joke has to do with the weeks, if not months, one must wait for a reservation at Corso 32, Jasper Avenue’s tiny, contemporary Italian restaurant that earned a five out of five rating from this column. Three months ago, Cibo opened in the off-downtown Oliver Square (close to Hudson’s Pub). Obviously cousins Mike Giampa and Rosario Caputo were inspired by what  Daniel Costa was doing at Corso. They’re young, like Daniel, but hospitality veterans – Rosario as a NAIT-trained chef, Mike as a long-time server and maître d’. They grew up, like Daniel, in Edmonton’s thriving Italian culture, where good food is a way of life. Cibo (meaning food or nourishment in Italian)  is not only good. It’s excellent. It’s almost – almost – as good as Corso. Given how foodies genuflect at the mere mention of Corso, this is high praise. Cibo is most pleasing atmospherically. ... Read the rest of entry »

Top chef puts mark on Murrieta's - Graham Hicks' Weekly Dish review of Murrieta's West Coast Bar + Grill, originally published in the Edmonton Sun, March 14, 2012

Shane Chartrand is newly arrived as the executive chef of Murrieta’s West Coast Bar + Grill on Whyte Avenue. The Fantasyland Hotel’s L2 Grill, under Shane’s direction, was named in  this column  as the city’s top restaurant in 2011. New management at the hotel led to a change in culinary philosophy not compatible with Shane’s talent. Fortunately, the executive chef job at Murrieta’s came vacant. Shane was head-hunted for the position. While Murrieta’s is part of a three-restaurant group – with Murrieta’s in Calgary and Canmore – the owner believes each chef should have full rein over his or her kitchen. The Weekly Dish went to dine at the “new” Murrieta’s last weekend, not realizing Chartrand’s spring menu, his first, was still weeks away. Not to worry, we were offered a “sneak peek” at the menu to come, with pricing comparable to the current offerings. Oh boy … a w ... Read the rest of entry »

Little Turkish Delight: Graham Hicks' Weekly Dish review of Sofra Restaurant originally published in the Edmonton Sun, March 7, 2012

After a string of superlative Edmonton dining spot reviews, of East, Corso 32, Culina Mill Creek and Cafe Amore, the Weekly Dish has run into a major disappointment.Sofra, the much-praised, cute but elegant Turkish restaurant just south of MacEwan University, is not what it is cracked up to be.On a Saturday, before the 50-seat restaurant had filled, service was slow and somewhat shoddy.The food was OK, but by no means lip-smacking. The bill reflected champagne prices ($25 to $30 for the fish/meat entrees) for beer food.I was surprised, given this restaurant’s good reputation, from both word-of-mouth and on the Urban Spoon website.Sofra sits in a storefront unit within one of the city’s first downtown condo complexes, on 106 Street south of 104 Avenue.It’s actually a dull building, but to walk into Sofra is to be transported into a pleasant, lofty, bi-level bistro — with hardwood floors, a burnt apricot colour scheme and a balcony with private dining spaces.In the middle, guarding the stairs to basement washro ... Read the rest of entry »

Genetics' role in over-eating far more powerful than previously known: Dr. David Macklin at the X-Weighted Connection

I learned a very important lesson at X-Weighted Connection, the all-day health/weight management workshop on Sunday, March 4, 2012 at Edmonton's Fantasyland Hotel, put together by Anaid Productions' Margaret Mardirossian.(After producing five seasons of the popular Gemini award-winning X-Weighted reality show, after having a front-row seat on the enormous challenges some people face in losing weight, Margaret saw the dire public need to put together such workshops for those looking for answers and seeking a healthy lifestyle. Despite the show no longer being aired in Canada, Margaret put together the workshop, for Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg this year, as a public service.)I'd always assumed obesity is far more about 'nurture' than 'nature', that extraordinary weight gain was simply the result of lack of discipline and bad eating habits. That you, dear chubby one, had just as much choice as the rest of us on your overweight condition, but you always chose to have that extra bag, or two, or three, of Dorito ... Read the rest of entry »
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