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Category: Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

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 »

HICKS WEEKLY DISH: Restaurant craziness in downtown Edmonton BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, AUGUST 16, 2016

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 »

HICKS' WEEKLY DISH Taste of Edmonton quality way up in 2016 BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, AUGUST 02, 2016

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 »

Hicks weekly dish: Swiss 2 GO BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JULY 19, 2016

Swiss 2 GO 4306 118 Ave. 587-520-9400 www.swiss2go.ca Food: 5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Tues. to Sat. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Mondays Dinner for two (without tip or beverages): Basic, $20; fully loaded, $35   I’m all for the Denny’s, Joey or McDonald’s of this world – may a thousand flowers flourish – but what a joy to find another small, independent restaurant off the beaten track, offering home-cooking excellence that the chains simply can’t touch. You have to drive down 118th Avenue almost to the Beverly Bridge to find Drita Keller’s Swiss 2 GO sandwich shop at the corner of 42nd Street. You’d never know from the outside that Swiss 2 GO makes the city’s best sandwiches, even better than the hipster sandwich boutiques of Farrow, Sandwich & Sons, the Nate Box group and Local Omnivore. You’d never know, except there’s one big clue: The exterior of Swis ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: It’ All Korean Buffet BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JULY 05, 2016

It’ All Korean Buffet 10023 107 Ave. 780-705-9953 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. six days a week Closed Tuesdays Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns   Dinner for two: Excluding drinks and tip, a la carte or buffet, $40.   There’s probably not a more delicious, filling meal for the price in all Edmonton.   It’ All Korean Buffet, just south of the original Brick Warehouse at 101 Street and 107 Avenue, has recently made some major changes – going to a 90% Korean menu from the previous Japanese and Korean, slashing its all-you-can-eat buffet price to $19.95 for dinner and $14.99 for lunch.   The a-la-carte menu, from which our party of seven dined, was bargain-priced at $10 to $12 a dish. We shared about 14 dishes, with a total price (excluding drinks and tip of course) of about $20 each.   At those low prices, you steel yourself for low quality – tougher gristle-filled meat, linge ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks weekly dish: First-rate food at The Juniper Cafe BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JUNE 28, 2016

Juniper Café & Bistro 9514 87 St. 780-490-6799 Juniperbistro.com Tues. + Wed. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fri. + Sat. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sun. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Mondays Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 Suns Dinner for two:  Excluding drinks and tip, basic $25; loaded, $50. I love independent cafes full of personality, where the owner genuinely cares about the neighbourhood he or she serves, who makes the dining area his/her living room, who serves as the barista, cook and bottle-washer. Think of the Woodrack Café on 109 Street and 76 Avenue, McKernan-Belgravia’s Gracious Goods Café, or the Blues Java Bar tucked away in Gold Bar, where Leah from Ghana is mother to all. Add another to this limited list of community builders. Strathearn’s Juniper Café & Bistro — turn left at the crest of Connors Road, angle down 95 Avenue about seven blocks — is a neighbourhood gathering spot complete with a children&rsqu ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Little Brick Cafe and High Voltage - Hard to find but worth it BY GRAHAM HICKS, Edmonton Sun, FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

Little Brick Café + General Store 10004 90 St., Riverdale 780-705-1230 littlebrick.ca 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Lunch for two:  Excluding drinks and tip, basic, $20, loaded $40 High Voltage 10382-63 Ave. (corner 104 St. and 63 Ave.) 780-437-3202  Mon. to Fri., 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Sat., 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  Closed Sunday Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 2.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 Suns   There’s no character or personality on downtown Edmonton streets fronted by banks or office towers or inward-looking malls. The average suburban commercial strip — out beyond the Henday — is dullsville incarnate. So, please, raise a glass to new social entrepreneurs like the Little Brick’s Nate Box, who are as interested in community as they are in money. And may crusty old guys like Taso, who has made the best donairs and gyros on the South Side at High ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Cibo revisited BY GRAHAM HICKS, Edmonton Sun, FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2016

Cibo Bistro 11244-104 Ave. (Oliver Square), 780-757-2426 www.cibobistro.com Tues. to Fri. 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sat. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Sundays and Mondays Food:  4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two: Excluding drinks and tip, loaded, $120, basic, $50 Returning to a restaurant previously reviewed starts with worry. You mightily enjoyed that dinner four years ago, gave the establishment top marks. But, with so many other eateries out there worthy of attention, you have not been back. What if the eatery has gone into decline? Been sold? Changed chefs? Started to cheap out? What if the restaurant had been guilty of inconsistency, one night to the next? To report that Rosario Caputo’s Cibo Bistro in Oliver Square remains on top of its game is both satisfying and a relief. In fact, with its service much improved, I would move Cibo up a notch. With one or two more improvements in the kitchen, Cibo would be ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' weekly dish: Lemongrass Cafe simple, but good BY GRAHAM HICKS, Edmonton Sun FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, APRIL 05, 2016

Lemongrass Cafe 10417 51 Ave. 780-413-0088 Facebook   Mon. to Fri. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sat. noon to 10 p.m. Sun. 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.    Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 Suns   When my family is in the mood for a light, tasty, filling meal, we inevitably turn to Vietnamese cooking. It’s a gentle, delicate cuisine - less greasy than Chinese, not as spicy or sweet as Thai, less forceful than South Asian. More shy and retiring than other Asian cuisines, Vietnamese food is dependably tasty, rarely sits around in the kitchen, and usually uses the freshest of ingredients. Then there’s the famous pho soup, a meal unto itself for which every self-respecting Vietnamese restaurant has a secret family recipe. I have a mental taste-fest, just thinking about pho! Heading into the city from the Edmonton International on Saturday afternoon, the Lemongrass Café on the South Side, on 51 Ave. was calling our name - especially after a four-hour pl ... Read the rest of entry »
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