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Category: Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

Weekly Dish: Edmonton’s leading-edge dining scene BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2016

For years and years, snotty socialites would complain about the Edmonton dining and cultural scene. It was soooo backward here, dahling, compared to that wonderful Toronto or fabulous New York City. Even Calgary was better than plain ol’Edmonton. It drove me nuts – you’d reel off 10 excellent restaurants, they’d not been to one. You’d name 10 recent theatrical productions in this theatre-rich town, and they’d not seen one. They’d not bothered with the symphony or to visit the art gallery. No matter. We were just … backward. The best news of the past year: That complaint is gone! The opposite has happened. Fancy national magazines now send out writers from Toronto to chronicle Edmonton’s leading-edge dining scene. I don’t care if Edmonton is ahead or behind the times. I just live here and thoroughly enjoy what my city has to offer in a staggering array of dining-out options. The number of new, informal, high-quality bistros continues t ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Opposite but two great places to eat BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2016

Bodega Highlands 6509 112 Ave. 780-757-0137 bodegahighlands.ca 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (11 p.m. Fri/Sat) Closed Sundays (No reservations outside of groups) Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $30; loaded, $60   Red Goose Restaurant 9625 66 Ave. 780-435-8661 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Sundays Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Lunch for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $10; loaded $24   While as opposite as opposite can be, Bodega Highlands and Red Goose are two terrific places to go eat. Highlands is charming in an upscale, informal, old-fashioned way — as if you’ve wandered into a tapas bar in Lisbon ...with a 40C difference in temperature. Red Goose is a magic portal into the 1950s. It’s not trying to be kitschy or retro-fashionable. Korean owners Hank Lee (server) and his wife Chon Lee (cook) simply like the place the way it is ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS WEEKLY DISH Latino's: Just about everything is very, very good BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 06, 2016

Latino's Restaurant 10708-98 St. 780-705-1895 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $25; loaded, $55 Decisions, decisions, decisions. When it comes to taco/tortilla choices in Latino/Mexican/Tex-Mex cooking, where do you start? Tacos, tortillas, corn tortillas, flour or wheat tortillas, corn shell tortillas, crispy tortillas, taco shells, crispy tortillas, masa tortilla, steamed tamales – all originating in a single round portion of unleavened, mostly corn flour bread. Then there’s the popular names for tortillas and tacos with fillings — rolled (enchilada), folded (quesadilla), topped with grilled meat and onions (fajita), extra-thick (pupusa), closed-end wraps (burrito). Finally, there’s no end of tortilla/taco variations based on place, i.e. the geographic regions of Latin and South America,  individual country preferences, regional cooking with ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS WEEKLY DISH ATLAS Steak + Fish a cut above BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2016

ATLAS Steak + Fish Grand Villa Casino, 10224 104 Ave. 780-413-3178 atlassteakandfish.com/edmonton/ 4:30 p.m. to late, seven days a week 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday to Friday Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $60; loaded, $90   Precious few restaurants in this town make ordinary food extraordinary. Even fewer can make steaks, pork chops and chicken that will satisfy both Trucker Tom and Fiona the Foodie. Well done, ATLAS Steak + Fish – the casual but elegant restaurant in the new Grand Villa Casino that’s glued on to Rogers Place. Executive chef Shelley Robinson walks this tightrope between mass appeal and fine dining as if it were a super-highway – pumping out dish after dish of familiar proteins, starches and sweets, but every one with a “Wow, is that ever good!” factor. It’s too much fun to watch Robinson at her usual station at the open kitchen’s pi ... Read the rest of entry »

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 »