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Category: Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks Weekly Dish: Cooking classes from top chefs BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2016

Besides their cooking, all the Christmas in November celebrity chefs at Jasper Park Lodge this past weekend shared one undeniable talent. All were all expert communicators – using humour, home-spun stories, bantering with the guests to create the most entertaining of cooking demonstrations. Up in Jasper, Christmas in November is an enormously successful Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge tradition. The three-day program in North America’s most beautiful wilderness lodge includes all food and wine, gala dinners, accommodation, gifts and, at the heart of the matter, a choice of seven cooking classes with the 14 guest chefs. After 28 years, Christmas in November’s popularity is such that it has grown into three packages of three days each – the opening weekend, mid-week and the closing weekend. Each session sees 400 to 500 registered participants filling Jasper Park Lodge and kicking off its Christmas festivities during a traditionally slow time of year in the mountains. Thanks to ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Syphay needs to review their service BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 08, 2016

Syphay – Thai and Lao Cuisine 6010 104 St. 780-438-8338 syphay.com Mon. to Fri. 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sat. 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sun. – closed Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 2.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): Basic $30; Loaded, $60 My previous experience with Laotian food was unfortunate.   I’d ordered a minced meat salad. It looked innocent enough. But a zealot in the kitchen had poured a few dozen teaspoons of chili powder into the mix. My mouth – and I do enjoy extremely spicy Thai and Indian cuisine – was on fire for hours. One bad experience should not a life-long bias form! It was time to explore this national cuisine once again. Laotian food has its fans. Several of the city’s top Thai restaurants – Syphay, Viphalay, and Boualouang - are advertised as “Thai and Lao cuisine.”. Laos itself is mysterious and appealing. The small, mountainous land-locked coun ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: McDonald's and Chutneys Indian Grill: A tale of evolving fast food tastes BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 03, 2016

McDonald’s, the biggest fast-food chain in the world, is re-inventing itself to stay current. Chutneys Indian Grill is a kid full of dreams, a new fast-food franchise concept originating in Edmonton, with one prototype outlet in the fast-growing suburbs east of Mill Woods. Joe Sangha and his partners in Chutneys are betting the world is ready for a healthy version of Indian fast food, delivered in the pick ‘n’ choose style of a Subway or Chipotle. In a new building in a new shopping common south of Whitemud Drive on 17 Street, the Chutneys’ serving process is familiar, the food less so. As in a Subway, you start at one end and work your way down the serving counter, pointing at that what you want to add to your meal. First up is the base – a freshly-pressed and cooked “burroti” (see below), or brown rice, or salad greens. Then a protein, a sauce (gently westernized versions of butter sauce, tikka masala, vindaloo or daal), multiple toppings (cucumber, onions, toma ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Clementine’s has much more to come BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2016

Clementine 11957 Jasper Ave. barclementine.ca 5 p.m. to midnight, 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday Closed Sundays and Mondays  (No reservations. no phone) Food: 4.5 of 5 stars Ambience: 4 of 5 stars Service: 4 of 5 stars Dinner for two (without tip or beverages): Basic, $40; fully loaded, $70 It’s far too early to tell – like declaring a Stanley Cup winner two weeks into the season -  but Chef Roger Letourneau at the newly opened Clementine has the potential to be the next culinary star to come out of Edmonton.  On the storefront street level of the new 35-story Pearl Tower on Jasper Avenue West, Clementine (or Bar Clementine, the name goes back and forth) is a jewel in the pearl.  Through a winter-proof vestibule, one enters a time-warp, magically transported to a classic European bar circa the 1930s – all dark polished woods, sturdy tables and counters, dominated by a massive curved bar behind which stands rows of spirits of every colour and hue. Co ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: The micro-brewery explosion BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 04, 2016

“It smells of grainy and metallic caramel malt, a twinge of earthy yeast, ethereal oily nuts, leafy, herbal, and floral hop bitters. The taste is bready and moderately biscuity caramel malt, a dark orchard fruitiness, earthy yeast notes, and laid-back weedy, herbal, hay-like hoppiness.” We may not be in Coors country anymore, Toto. These wondrous if unintelligible words from Brady White of thebeerdiaries.tv are not in praise of a fancy French wine, but are a tribute to Rale Yard Red Ale, a specialty beer brewed by the Olds College brewmaster program. Rale Yard is made in the heart of ranching country, its barley grown on the hard-scrabble prairie. Beer is the new wine. Different kinds of beer are being “paired” with food at multi-course dinners in better restaurants. Beer is a new food group, being considered a food flavour unto itself. In 2003, seven craft breweries were producing beer in Alberta, including Edmonton’s venerable micro-brewery Alley Kat and Calgary& ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS WEEKLY DISH: Izakaya Dorinku needs some explanation BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

Izakaya Dorinku 10205-82 Avenue 780-988-9760 dorinku.ca 5:30 p.m. to midnight Sunday-Thursday, till 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday Food: 4 of 5 stars Ambience: 4 of 5 stars Service: 3 of 5 stars Dinner for two (without tip or beverages): Basic, $20; fully loaded, $60 These Izakaya Dorinku people – and there are lots of them — certainly are sociable. When a customer enters the Japanese-style gastro-pub, the staff gustily shouts out “irasshaimase”! As Izakaya Dorinku is a hit, “irasshaimase” (welcome in Japanese) reverberates throughout the stylish but casual drinking/eating establishment. The many young, mostly Oriental female servers never stop ensuring everything is fine. Upon leaving the Old Strathcona establishment (in the new Station Condos building east of the tracks), the front-of-house boss walks you to the door, holds it open, then stands outside, waving goodbye. Izakayas are the gastro pubs of Japan. Found everywhere in that country, izakayas are a vi ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Hankering for great steak? Try Von’s BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 06, 2016

Von’s Steak House + Oyster Bar 10309 81 Ave. (Old Strathcona) 780-439-0041 www.vonssteakhouse.com Food: 4.5 of 5 stars Ambience: 4 of 5 stars Service: 4 of 5 stars 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. (midnight on Friday and Saturday) Dinner for two (without tip or beverages): Basic, $70; fully loaded, $120 The last few years have seen a revival of the venerable steak house. Chop, Ruth’s Chris, Bistecca and the Blue Rare (Sherwood Park and St. Albert) have joined the standing ranks of Lux, Coliseum, Moose Factory, Sawmill and the multiple Kegs. One steak house has stood eternal, above the fray, seemingly unchanging and as popular as ever after some 35 years in the same South Side location that looks over Gateway Boulevard at 81 Avenue. Von’s Steak House + Oyster Bar, built and opened by Barry Sparrow and family around the same time Sparrow opened Cook County Saloon next door, has never changed hands. Operating partner Ron Kauffman continues to run a first-class show. Evolution, ... Read the rest of entry »


Holy atomic pile, Batman! The new JOEY Bell Tower restaurant opened this week, 278 seats with an investment of at least $5 to $6 million in an extension off the downtown Bell Tower, just a 30-second stroll to Rogers Place. JOEY is the latest hospitality business to make such a bold move. At least 50 existing downtown restaurants/bars are pinning their hopes and improvements on the disposable dollars of the 5,000 to 20,000 people that will flow in and out of Rogers Place some 150 nights a year. Another 50 – at least – new downtown bars and eateries will open in the near future. Outside the immediate Ice District (the four office/residential/hotel towers and plazas around Rogers Place) the following restaurants have been announced: Buco Pizzeria and Vino (Sorrentinos Group) opens in the EPCOR Building. Baiju (sister to North 53) in the Mercer Building. Bundok (brand-new, chef Ryan Hotchkiss) in the Fox Tower. Bottega 104 by the Crudo brothers (Café Amore, Black Pearl Seafood ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Sage Restaurant, River Cree Resort and Casino BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, AUGUST 09, 2016

Sage Restaurant, River Cree Resort and Casino 300 East Lapotac Blvd, Enoch, AB 780-930-2636 http://rivercreeresort.com/dining.php 9:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, just food – basic $60, loaded $100 Alas, we picked the wrong day to visit Sage, the excellent dining room in the River Cree Resort and Casino out where Whitemud Drive turns from a freeway to a country lane. There’s no “wrong” day per say. Sage maintains its consistently high quality seven days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. (Casinos rarely sleep.) It’s just that executive chef Shane Chartrand’s alternative menu, reflecting his indigenous culinary fusion cooking, wasn’t available this particular evening. Some country band known as the Mavericks was performing that evening in the River Cree concert hall. A concert means Sage fills with diners checking their watches. To meet time demands, the Sage kit ... Read the rest of entry »


I am not privy to the goings-on at the board level of Events Edmonton, or to managerial decisions made at the Events Edmonton-produced Taste of Edmonton Festival. Nor do I particularly want to be. I can tell you, following last year’s scathing Weekly Dish review of Taste of Edmonton, that this year’s festival offerings and ambience were greatly, greatly improved. The beloved food fair, I had written in 2015, had spiralled downward into a world of deep-fryers, sugar and not much else.  Feedback was positive from discerning consumers and from long-time Taste of Edmonton vendors equally concerned about declining food quality. I am told that the critique was either seen as a vicious attack on a sacred institution or was grudgingly appreciated as an objective wake-up call, that festival standards had indeed dramatically slipped. Fast-forward one year: Last week’s festival in Churchill Square featured about 70 vendors, mostly existing restaurants renting booths, plus food truck ... Read the rest of entry »
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