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Category: Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Fine dining at Fort Edmonton Park BY GRAHAM HICKS , EDMONTON SUN POSTED: TUESDAY, JULY 15, 2014

It still remains a culinary secret, even though Johnson’s Café has been open for over 10 years in the Hotel Selkirk at Fort Edmonton Park.

Why would this very good dining room, in the height of summer, only have a few tables occupied on a lovely Thursday evening?

Location, location, location.

It’s the café’s biggest strength and weakness. The historic Hotel Selkirk is in Fort Edmonton Park, accessible by a side road after the park closes. The site is so beautiful, it’s Jasper without the three-hour drive.

But destination diners don’t think of Johnson’s Café. And if they did, they’d be unsure how to get there and uncertain of its hours.

This will change. Fort Edmonton Park soon plans to be open year-round with upgraded services. Leading the changes is new food services supervisor and master chef Jasmin Kobajica, who’s already raised the bar on park food.
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Hicks' Weekly Dish: It's all about the Meat BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN POSTED: TUESDAY, JULY 08, 2014

Meat, recently opened in Edmonton's Old Strathcona district in Alberta, Canada,  is one of the best, fully thought-through restaurants I’ve had the pleasure of entering.
It’s full of contradictions. Yet, from the initial impression, to décor, to food and menu, it’s one delicious whole.
Whoever has heard of a BBQ smokehouse parading as a tea room!
This slightly dainty, new-age establishment is serving up mounds of mouth-watering beef brisket, pulled pork and smoked chicken! It’s the opposite to the stereotypic “y’all chow down now, y’hear?” smokehouse. In fact, there’s not a smokehouse cliché to be seen.


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Hicks' Weekly Dish: Tasty Tomato is all about classic comfort food BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN POSTED: TUESDAY, JULY 01, 2014

Tasty Tomato Italian Eatery 14233 Stony Plain Road 780-452-3594 www.tastytomato.ca Open evenings, with lunch Thursday and Friday. Closed Sundays Food: 3 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 stars If it ain’t broke, why fix it? I can’t bear witness, as last week was my first visit to the Tasty Tomato Italian Eatery. But by all reports, not much has changed in 20 years, other than Angelo and Mirella Amendola are older, and son Joe is now a full partner in the family-run restaurant. To which Angelo would shrug his shoulders and say, why change? The restaurant is full on weekends and obviously has a loyal clientele that spans generations. Tasty Tomato has a comfy ‘80s feel. It’s not the least bit trendy, but is in no need of a makeover. Which also describes the menu — as classic Canadian-Italian as you’ll find, with 18 pasta selections, veal and chicken entrees, starter tomato salads, calamari, eggplant, escargot and brusc ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks’ Weekly Dish: How not to run a restaurant BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN POSTED: TUESDAY, JUNE 03, 2014

The Weekly Dish talks about some of the basics in providing a satisfying dining experience ... and how many small restaurants are lacking in many departments! 

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Hicks' Weekly Dish: The Parlour offers quality for everyone BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, JANUARY 28, 2014

The Parlour Italian Kitchen & Bar 10334 Capital Blvd. (108 St.) 780-990-0404 Centuryhospitality.com/parlour Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tips and taxes: Basic, $35; loaded, $80 Edmonton’s Century Hospitality restaurant group (Century Grill, Lux Steakhouse, Hundred, MRK and two Delux Burger Bars) knows the secret to its undeniable success. It’s so smart. It deliberately stays about 30% behind the culinary sophistication of high-end bistros like The Red Ox Inn or the Three Boars, knowing those outlets attract a very small market of high-end discerning foodies. But the Century group venture far beyond the predictable conventions of the big-box chain restaurants. It presents, and presents well, something for everybody at the table — from the I-know-what-I-like crowd to the adventurous foodie out with friends and family. Even the tried ‘n’ true — pizza, steak, hambur ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: The truth about Filipino foods BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, JANUARY 21, 2014

o, there’s no dog. Having just finished my fifth visit to the Philippines in some 25 years, I’ve decided this dog-eating thing is a complete myth. Filipinos don’t eat dogs. It’s not part of the culture. Filipinos eat the same meat/fish proteins as North Americans, maybe about one-hundredth the amount, but chicken, pork, fish and shell fish are what you see in the market. There’s nothing weird like snakes or rats or monkeys … or dog. Or if there is, it’s very secret. Besides, why would anybody want to eat a Filipino dog? The street dogs in the country are the scrawniest canines on earth. They all look like they’re about to die from malnutrition. There’s nothing there to eat! The weirdest food you’re going to find is balut – a duck egg with a near fully developed duck embryo that absorbs salt and flavours in a resting stage, then is quickly boiled, peeled and eaten with a vinegar dip. I tried it … once. If you closed you ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Enzo's — just like momma used to make it BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2013

Enzo’s on 76 11214 76 Avenue 780 800 1976 enzosedmonton.com Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tips and taxes: basic, $30; loaded, $60. It was a cold, cold night in the city‘s southwest. But our gang was as snug as a bug In a rug, sitting in a corner nook at Enzo’s on 76. Nice and warm, no drafts, looking out a big bubble window at the snow-piled windrows along 76th Avenue … piled up over those famous bike lanes. What is it about Italian eateries in our town that make them so darn cosy? Piccolino, Pazzo Pazzo, Sorrentino’s in Little Italy, Nello’s, Café Amore, Il Pasticcio, Rigoletto’s, Il Forno and now Enzo’s on 76th. Cliché becomes truth. Scratch the surface of any good Italian restaurateur, and it’s all about how momma and nonna (grandmother) used to do it, how the pasta never stopped, all visitors were long-lost cousins and a big pot of tomato ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Sabor Divino still the king of seafood BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 03, 2013

Sabor Divino 10220 103 St. 780 757 1114 www.sabordivino.ca Food: 4.5 of 5 stars Ambience: 4 of 5 stars Service: 3.5 of 5 stars Dinner for two excluding drinks, tips and taxes: Basic, $80. Fully loaded, $110. What a joy to return to Sabor Divino and find this restaurant has not only held up to its own impeccable standards, but continues to improve upon those standards — a first, first-class restaurant as it were. In the downtown Boardwalk Building on 103 Street, Sabor Divino (Portuguese for “divine flavours”) has been practising the art of fine cooking for five years, on a contemporary Portuguese/Spanish base, but reaching far beyond. It was one of the first restaurants to represent a new generation of culinary entrepreneurs. Co-owners chef Lino Oliviera and manager Christian Mena were skilled professionals who would have been successful at whatever they put their minds to. They are open to innovation, are leaders rather than followers, and are not afraid to char ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Cactus Club couldn't get any better: EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2013

Cactus Club Café (Downtown) 11130 Jasper Ave. 587 523 8030 http://www.cactusclubcafe.com Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip), basic, $45; loaded, $75. It’s the professionalism that’s so remarkable. Everything at the Cactus Club Cafe — the new one on Jasper Avenue — is so well done. It’s the chain concept taken to new heights. The food is impeccable — everything is done just right. They may be the same young ladies in the black cocktail dresses, but the servers are intensively trained for three weeks before they hit the floor. Founder Richard Jaffray opened the first Cactus Club Café in Vancouver in 1988 with a concept that has remained constant to this day, especially in this, the 25th Cactus Club Cafe: To produce consistent, high-quality food at manageable prices. Cactus Club was doing well in the food department. Then super-chef Rob Feenie set ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Under the High Wheel fun yet confusing: Edmonton Sun, Wed. Nov. 20, 2013

Under The High Wheel 8135 102 St. 780 439 4442 www.underthehighwheel.com Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 2.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding drinks, tip and taxes), basic, $40; loaded, $60. The food is good, the room spotless, but the whole set-up is quite peculiar. Under The High Wheel is a restaurant/café/bistro — take your pick, it can’t quite decide — on the ground floor of the new-age swishy “Roots on Whyte”, a brand-new three-storey building at the corner of Whyte Avenue and 102 Street. The landlord has bet on Edmonton being ready for an entire suite of organic markets, yoga studios, health foods, specialty massage and restaurants, all in one building. It’s all hippy-dippy and new-age mumbo-jumbo, but, like I said, the place is new, clean, spacious and enthusiastic about its offerings. Under the High Wheel is a loft-like space on the ground floor, sharing one big room with Da Capo espresso and gelato. The ... Read the rest of entry »
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