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Category: Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Villa Bistro searches for an identity By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUNMarch 26, 2019

Villa Bistro's lamb "popsicles' are heavily seasoned and well-cooked but still tender and juicy. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Villa Bistro 10014 104 St. 780-497-7784 villabistro.ca Delivery: doordash.com Reservations: opentable.ca Mon. to Sat. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (9 p.m. Mon. + Tues.) Closed Sundays Dinner for two excluding tip, taxes or beverages: Basic, $35; loaded $70 Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience:  2.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns By Graham Hicks A survey, released this week by the Restaurants Canada Association, claims one-third of Alberta’s restaurateurs have considered closing because of falling revenues combined with rising costs – specifically the provincial minimum wage hike from $10 to $15. STORY CONTINUES BELOW The word “considered” tempers my reaction. Most of us have “considered” drastic options at one time or another. Rarely have we acted on the same. But there’s no denying these are tough days fo ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Pizza, pizza, everywhere in Edmonton By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, March 19, 2019

Is the Pink Gorilla's namesake pizza - festooned with pastrami and pink-pickled daikon, colourful enough for you? Photos by GRAHAM HICKS/ EDMONTON SUN By Graham Hicks I woke up with a start, the sweaty smell of mozzarella and tomatoes oozing from my pores. What a dream! Imagine, drowning in a sloppy sea of pizza.  Nothing but pizza here, there and everywhere. Melted mozzarella clogging up my nose, tomato sauce waves crashing over my head, pepperoni rafts floating just out of reach! Eating five pizzas in four days had its consequences. In our town, pizza is everywhere. No other fast food is so available – even burgers and fries. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Pizza is good – extremely good – and relatively healthy. But there’s so much of it! Acknowledging the pizza trend, and curious about new toppings, The Weekly Dish did a trendy pizza blitz:  Pizzeria Rosso on Thursday, Blaze Pizza on Friday, Pink Gorilla Pizzeria on Saturday, Love Pizza on Sunday ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Downtown Dining Week is smart marketing By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, March 12, 2019

With a delicious beef brisket option, the River City Revival House has introduced itself to the public through Downtown Dining Week,. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS/ EDMONTON SUN By GRAHAM HICKS Among the detritus of discarded civic slogans, Edmonton once called itself Canada’s Smart City. In fact, the smartest Edmonton project of late has come from within. We are smack dab in the middle of the annual Downtown Dining Week, which superficially is about discounted dining in Edmonton’s downtown. Until Sunday, March 17, 2019, some 50 downtown restaurants are offering two-or-three course lunches and dinners, $18 for lunch, $30 or $45 for dinner. New this year are $18 two-course brunches at about a dozen restaurants. STORY CONTINUES BELOW A  three-course dinner for $45 is great value – about 40% off menu prices – especially at high-end dining rooms like Atlas, Hardware Grill, the Harvest Room, La Ronde, Madison’s Grill, Ruth’s Chris, Sabor, LUX, Chop ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Formosa Bistro worth a trip to the south side By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN: February 26, 2019

Formosa Bistro's gua bao, with its airy dough exterior and egg and pork belly within, is a delicious winner. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUN Formosa Bistro Taiwanese Restaurant 9314 34 Ave. 780-603-0110 Formosabistro.com Online reservations: opentable.ca (or Formosa website) Delivery: Skipthedishes.com. Tues. to Thurs. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fri. Sat. and Sun. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Mondays Dinner for two excluding tip, taxes or beverages: Basic, $20; loaded $42 Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns By GRAHAM HICKS A few weeks ago, thanks to the Chinatown Dining Week festival, two more “authentic” 97 Street restaurants were added to my list of excellent hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurants Cui Han Gui Lin Noodle House and Fuqing Lanzhoo Noodles are small, family-run operations with no marketing, no interior design, little else but excellent, bargain-priced regional dishes. Before Christmas, CBC re ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: A self-guided culinary tour of Jasper By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 19, 2019

By GRAHAM HICKS It’s been a tough winter, especially when the bank account has no room for a sun/beach holiday. Non-stop cold, treacherous ice and eternal darkness plays havoc on the emotions. When your spouse curls up tighter than a fetus for days on end … So here’s Plan B. Jasper! It’s still winter … but winter in the mountains can be a tonic. STORY CONTINUES BELOW You don’t have to ski, snowshoe, or take teeth-chattering hikes. You can do nothing but eat!!! Supported by out-of-province tourists in the summer, by skiers from Edmonton in winter, and year-round by local residents, Jasper’s culinary scene is alive and kicking. I pried Maria out of her fetal position, set the Toyota’s controls for Jasper. Off we went for a two-night, three-day self-guided-with-advice Jasper Culinary Tour. The idea was to discover/rediscover some Jasper dining gems – especially the ones the locals consider their own. Prices, incidentally,&nbs ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Fast and fresh from Amore Pasta Downtown By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 12, 2019

The gleaming open kitchen of Amore Pasta's new downtown location. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton Amore Pasta Downtown 10235 – 101 St.  (Sutton Place Hotel lobby – north end) 780-488-421-4450 No reservations Delivery: Skipthedishes.com, DoorDash.com, Foodora.ca 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Sat. and Sun. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.) Dinner for two excluding tip, taxes or beverages: Basic, $22; loaded $42 Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns By GRAHAM HICKS The “new” Edmonton food scene is fast upon us. A few steps backwards: It’s retroactive – back to basics like pizza, hamburgers and pasta.  It’s fresher and healthier than fast food, but still about high-volume and speed. There’s no sense of occasion. STORY CONTINUES BELOW A few steps forwards: It’s quality food, not fast-food junk. It’s about a third less-expensive then full-service restaurants. It’s consistent, fast, casual but not ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Fight back against ‘tip shaming’ By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 5, 2019

(Getty Images) By GRAHAM HICKS In January, I wrote about restaurant tipping, moving from appreciation for good service to unacceptable levels through subtle suggestion, guilt and “suggested tip” options. Just a few years ago, tipping was 10 per cent of the bill for average service, 15 per cent for exceptional service. Today, servers expect 15 per cent for average service, up to 25 per cent for exceptional. The column generated a massive response — at least 100 readers joined in with their thoughts. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Ninety per cent agreed that tipping has spun out of control. Albertans were doubly piqued because servers had — much as they downplay it — already received a major raise when the minimum wage jumped from $10 to $15. It’s the mobile payment terminal’s “suggested tip option payments” that stick in most craws. The terminal, used for credit and debit card payments, used to have tip options of 5 per cent, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Fight back against ‘tip shaming’ By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 5, 2019

(Getty Images) By GRAHAM HICKS In January, I wrote about restaurant tipping, moving from appreciation for good service to unacceptable levels through subtle suggestion, guilt and “suggested tip” options. Just a few years ago, tipping was 10 per cent of the bill for average service, 15 per cent for exceptional service. Today, servers expect 15 per cent for average service, up to 25 per cent for exceptional. The column generated a massive response — at least 100 readers joined in with their thoughts. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Ninety per cent agreed that tipping has spun out of control. Albertans were doubly piqued because servers had — much as they downplay it — already received a major raise when the minimum wage jumped from $10 to $15. It’s the mobile payment terminal’s “suggested tip option payments” that stick in most craws. The terminal, used for credit and debit card payments, used to have tip options of 5 per cent, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Cajun for Canadians, eh? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN January 29, 2019

The red beans in sauce, shrimp crole and sausage made for a satisfying jambalaya at Louisiana Purchase North. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton Louisiana Purchase North 13503 St. Albert Trail (Christy’s Corner shopping centre) 780-488-3536 Louisianapurchase.ca/north  (Reservations online) Delivery: Skipthedishes.com Mon. to Sat. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (1 a.m. Fri. and Sat.) Sundays noon to 10 p.m. Dinner for two excluding tip, taxes or beverages: Basic, $30; loaded $60 Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns By GRAHAM HICKS The dining purist will not be amused. But, for my money, Louisiana Purchase does a very good job “Canadianizing” Creole/Cajun/Louisiana cooking – turning down the spicy heat, adjusting famous Cajun dishes for Edmonton palates more accustomed to Ketchup than Tabasco, while not losing the essence of Louisiana cooking. STORY CONTINUES BELOW The cuisine is steeped in history – the Canadian contr ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Chinatown Dining Week discovers some Chinese restaurant gems By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 22, 2019

A full meal - beef noodles, shrimp, lemongrass chicken and bok choy at Cui Hua Gui Lin Noodle House. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton Cui Hua Gui Lin Noodle House 10626 97 St. 780-497-8280 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., closed Mondays Cash and debit only Fuqing Lanzhou Noodles 10824-97 St. 780-760-1110 fuqinglanzhounoodle.com 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., closed Tuesdays Ratings for both restaurants: Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two at both restaurants, excluding beverages and tips:  Basic, $20; Loaded, $35 STORY CONTINUES BELOW By GRAHAM HICKS Thank you, organizers of Chinatown Dining Week. I have long searched in Edmonton for authentic Chinese food. Dozens of Chinese-Canadian restaurants still serve the standard deep-fried chicken balls, crispy Szechuan ginger beef and oily chow mein that’s been around for eons. But the real thing (actually “things” – Chinese cuisine is very regional) remains difficult to ... Read the rest of entry »