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Category: Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks weekly dish: Bundok top-notch comfort food BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, MARCH 07, 2017

Bundok 10228 104 St. 780-420-019 Bundokyeg.com Tuesday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to midnight Closed Sunday and Monday Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 stars Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $40; loaded, $80  Bundok is misleading. The name of Edmonton’s latest downtown, chef-as-chief-attraction bistro sounds very Asian. Indeed, it means ‘mountain’ in Filipino. Bundok owner and chef Ryan Hotchkiss will likely play with Oriental flavours in the future, depending on the season. But for its wintery opening months, Bundok’s menu is all about French-inspired comfort foods, not rice and soy. Delicious, top-notch comfort food it is. The subtle, soft hand of a culinary master is at work. A relationship exists between all 12 starter/sharing small plates ($4 to $9) and the four entrees ($18 to $28, with a striploin at $38), a similarit ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: A look at ancient restaurants of Edmonton, frozen in time BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2017

They might as well be on Mars, as far as modern dining goes. The ancient restaurants of Edmonton have stood unchanged, frozen in time. To walk into the Saratoga, the Flamingo or Billy Budd’s is to head back to the ‘50s or ‘60s, to walk into a world of rec-room panelling, thin carpeting, naugahyde booths, room dividers and fake plants. Everything is 50 shades of brown. But there is comfort. While the foodie world searches for the latest pork belly, bouillabaisse, octopus or carpaccio, many Edmontonians loathe such foods. They don’t want surprises. They want normalcy, familiarity and friendliness. No matter how old they may be, they want what their mom made for them. Or a good steak. Just before the 23rd Avenue turn-off, The Saratoga (2610 Calgary Trail) has faced Calgary Trail for 59 years. Despite being open since 1958, it has no real dining reputation. It’s just been there. As I drove to The Saratoga, I wondered what I’d find. Would the gravy be the all-purp ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks weekly dish: Four years later and I’m disappointed BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2017

Canteen 10522 124 St. 780-465-5727 Canteenyeg.ca Tuesday to Friday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Mondays Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 stars I was disappointed. Very disappointed. When Canteen opened on 124 Street in late 2012, it was one of the first chef-driven bistros to dramatically elevate the quality, quantity and fun of casual fine-dining in our town. Frank and Andrea Olsen, chef and maître d’ respectively, had long made the Red Ox Inn in the Strathearn neighbourhood a dining establishment of choice. Canteen was the Red Ox Inn’s cheekier younger sister, with more flair, more “fun” fine dining. My first visit to Canteen, a few months after opening, was a true dining experience – exactly as Frank had conceived. I still remember his unusual, super-tasty French fries, big, juicy Moroccan lamb chops and almond-coated Arctic char. Four years later, it was ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: OTTO Food and Drink is all about small-is-beautiful BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 07, 2017

OTTO Food and Drink 11405-95 St., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 780-477-6244 ottofoodanddrink.com Hours:  5 p.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, No reservations Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns  Price: Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $20; loaded, $45 Beer drinkers, sausage eaters and conversationalists, rejoice. You now have the perfect Edmonton eatery – OTTO Food and Drink. OTTO is friendly, modern, clean, easy on the wallet and without pretense. It’s in a solid working-class neighbourhood a few blocks north of Little Italy on 95 Street. OTTO is designed for conversation. There are no televisions, no loud music. What a concept! Other than the usual sides (fries, mac & cheese, coleslaw, potato and house salads) and desserts, OTTO sells nothing but sausages. (Actually a “veggie of the day” is on the chalk board. The beets on horseradish-seasoned goat cheese were inspiring.) You also go to OTTO to dri ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Crash Hotel Lobby Bar re-inventing bar foods BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2017

Crash Hotel Lobby Bar 10266 103 St. http://crashhotel.com/lobby/ (780) 719-3807   Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 stars   Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $25; loaded, $50 Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week   Urbansparq Hospitality, meet Nathin Bye, meet the Crash Hotel. Nathin Bye, meet Urbansparq and the Crash Hotel. Urbansparq is a low-profile hospitality operation based in Edmonton with the Midas touch – witness the proliferation of its flagship The Pint pub operations across Western Canada and into the USA, plus dozens of other well-run hospitality operations. Nathin Bye is one of the city’s leading chefs, first at The Wildflower Grill, then Ampersand 27. He won the prestigious Gold Medal Plates Edmonton culinary competition in 2012 as a wet-behind-the-ears 26-year-old. The Crash Hotel is a prototype for a possible new Urbansparq hotel division. The company bought the decrepit 70-room three-story G ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Dining at Zinc is breath-taking BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JANUARY 24, 2017

Zinc Restaurant  2 Sir Winston Churchill Square (north-west corner, Art Gallery of Alberta)  zincrestaurant.ca  780-392-2501  Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 5 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 stars  11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. - Tuesday and Wednesday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday to Saturday Closed Monday and Sunday evening Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip):  basic, $50; loaded, $120 When Zinc Restaurant is good, it is very, very good. In fact it’s easily in the Top 5 restaurants of Edmonton. But when it is bad … Inconsistency has plagued executive chef David Omar’s kitchen since the lovely restaurant opened on the ground floor of the equally beautiful Art Gallery of Alberta in 2010. I’ve dined at Zinc at least a dozen times over the years. The inconsistency has been consistent. When the kitchen is on, it produces a cornucopia of beautiful food. When it’s not, you wonder what the reviewers ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks weekly dish: Haus of honesty BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2017

Haus Falkenstein German Schnitzel House 15215 111 Avenue 780-483-5904 haus-falkenstein.ca Wednesdays to Sundays, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays (reservations recommended) Food: 3 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service:  3 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip):  basic, $30; loaded, $50 Never have I seen such honesty on a restaurant menu. On the second page of the Haus Falkenstein menu is a list of “Frequently Asked Questions.” For instance, why do you use canned mushrooms? Because (I paraphrase) fresh mushrooms go bad quickly, shrink when cooked and it would take too long to fry them. Why do you use processed cheese? To paraphrase the response … Have you bought cheese lately? A friend bought four slices of Swiss cheese at Sobeys for $9.28! You want us to keep our schnitzel prices down, you get used to processed cheese! Besides Kraft processed cheese goes perfectly with our toppings. You don’t know whether to l ... Read the rest of entry »

WEEKLY DISH: The Almanac offers winning formula on Whyte BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2017

The Almanac:  10351 82 Ave. NW 780-760-4567 Website: almanaconwhyte.com Twitter: @almanaconwhyte Hours: Sun. to Thurs. 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Fri. to Sat. 11:30 a.m. to midnight; Closed Mondays Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $30; loaded, $60Know yourself. And know your audience. by Graham Hicks 780-707-6379 graham.hicks@hicksbiz.com hicksbiz.com @hicksbiz The Almanac on Whyte Avenue is owned and operated by the same partners that two years ago opened the Solstice Seasonal Cuisine on 124 Street. But customers at the 124th Street establishment are a different kettle of fish compared to Whyte Avenue clientele. Solstice is a destination, a full evening built around breaking bread. Solstice attracts a 40+ audience whose nightclubbing days are long behind them. Three hours of multi-course dining, good conversation and good wine constitutes a fine evening out. Know your audience. The Alma ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Northern Chicken + Popeyes - two takes on fried chicken BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JANUARY 03, 2017

Northern Chicken 10704 124 St. 780-756-2239 northernchickenyeg.com 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday Closed Wednesdays 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday to Sunday Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $15; loaded, $30   Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen 3773 17 St. NW popeyeschicken.ca  Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 2.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $15; loaded $25   A tale of two fried chicken joints – as different from each other as different can be, but both making darned good fried chicken! Northern Chicken, located on 124 Street’s restaurant row, is as trendy as down-home trendiness can be. Three big boys with obligatory mountain-man beards, ball caps and aprons man the open kitchen and the cash counter. There are picnic tables at the front, funky plastic red chairs inside, hipster art on the walls among scatte ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Food memories that stick out from 2016 restaurant reviews. BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2016

This was the year when KFC evolved from Kentucky Fried Chicken to Korean Fried Chicken. “Izakaya” was incorporated into the every-day language of Edmonton dining. Sandwiches became more and more interesting. Tapas and small plates became the norm. Octopus, squid, mussels and clams moved into the mainstream, even though lots of prairie folk remain wary. BBQ The $100 Game-Day platter at Sloppy Hoggs Roed Hus on 118th Avenue is piled high with the best of smoked BBQ meats, easily feeding eight. Bison Von’s braised bison short ribs, bison that for once is rich and moist with a cherry molasses sauce. Burgers The BBQ Crunch at Jack’s Burger Shack in St. Albert, with its magnificently seared monster patty, home-made orange soda BBQ sauce, and potato chips in the burger for crunch. A nod for McDonald’s for its new, Create Your Taste “custom” burgers – except there’s no more McDonald’s cost advantage. Charcuterie Past th ... Read the rest of entry »
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