• Kazoku Ramen

    May 13 • ASIAN, EDMONTON, JAPANESE, REVIEW • 194 Views

    Ever since I had to say goodbye to the love of my life (i.e. gluten), I’ve had to make do with poor substitutes and laughable facsimiles. The gluten free landscape has become more bountiful as of late, but the realm of wheat-free ramen has been fairly disappointing. So, when I learned that Kazoku Ramen, a restaurant close to my new place of employment, offered gluten free noodles, I was desperate to give it a try. Edmonton has been raving about its ramen restaurants for the past year and I’d automatically assumed that my allergy would exclude me from indulging myself–thankfully, I was wrong.

    Kazoku is a new restaurant located in Mayfield/Meadowlark in west Edmonton. They’ve been open since October 2015 but I hadn’t heard much about them, other than from Cindy’s review on Let’s Om Nom. Of course, moving to the west end for work gave me ample reason to browse the list of restaurants in the area–thus, my first visit to Kazoku.

    The restaurant is cozy but with plenty of table space and featuring an adorable wall painting of a godzilla chewing on a piece of narutomaki. The menu is brief but well-stocked, featuring a handful of traditional Japanese appetizers (think gyoza and edamame), tempura, ramen bowls, curry, and rice bowls. The server was a little quick on the draw, asking us what we wanted less than one minute after handing us the menus, but I assume that’s because lunchtime at Kazoku brings in the hoard of regulars, each one knowing exactly what they’ll have that day. We needed a little longer to decide, finally settling on the gluten-free miso ramen with pork shoulder char siu and the Japanese char siu rice bowl. (Note: the miso ramen is the only soup that’s gluten-free. While they have gluten free noodles, the soup base for most ramen bowls includes soy. Celiacs should also note that the char siu marinade may include trace amounts of gluten, so this restaurant is much more suited to those who are gluten intolerant.) 

    Miso ramen noodle bowl

    For only $13, you get a huge bowl filled with delicious soup, noodles, delightfully salty meat, and all the fixings: a half soft-boiled egg, shredded nori, bamboo shoots, corn, toasted sesame, green onion, and narutomaki. Kazoku prides themselves on including fresh ingredients in all of their dishes, including hand-picked pork, free range chicken, and locally grown produce–and it shows. The flavours are amazing. My miso ramen, despite having a smaller portion of noodles than normal (thanks, gluten-free), was excellent. I couldn’t help but finish the bowl, even with the possible risk of me falling asleep at my desk afterwards.

    Japanese char siu rice bowl

    The restaurant does, however, close on Tuesdays–holding inconsistent weekly hours is just one of the things smaller, independent restaurants tend to do. When I showed up there on a Tuesday at lunch, it was entirely my fault for not checking the hours beforehand. That still didn’t keep me from being disappointed that I wouldn’t get an excellent bowl of ramen that day (though I have learned my lesson since then).

    In any case, if you’re in the area or feel like making the trek to the west end, I recommend you swing by Kazoku, say hello to the naruto-nibbling godzilla, and sit down to a steaming bowl of delicious ramen.

    Kazoku Ramen
    16518 100 Avenue
    Edmonton, AB T5Y 4Y2
    (780) 483-0448

    3.5/5

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  • State and Main (Jasper Avenue)

    May 5 • AMERICAN/CANADIAN, EDMONTON, FOUR GLASSES, GLUTEN FREE • 48 Views

    Due to my mad panic to finish cosplays in time for Calgary Expo, it took me longer than expected to get to this post. But here it is, at last!

    Gastropubs. So hot right now.

    There’s something about the fusion of a welcoming pub atmosphere and a stylish menu line-up that just speaks to me. Maybe it’s the fact that I enjoy great food but don’t always feel like dressing to the nines (or paying through my teeth) just to get it.

    State and Main sits somewhere between the likes of Original Joe’s and Central Social Hall. The interior is stylishly casual and friendly. The menu is the epitome of modern Canadian comfort food with a few surprising twists: steaks, wings, and pulled pork sandwiches sit amongst Korean-inspired gogi tacos, chorizo lasagna, and a Greek-esque spanako flatbread (think spinach, goat cheese, and roasted red peppers).

    Media Tasting Event

    Signature Caesar

    Pretzel Sticks

    With locations already in Windermere, Southgate, Sherwood Park, and Spruce Grove, State and Main recently took their brand to central Edmonton with a new restaurant on Jasper Avenue and 100 Street. At the media tasting event on April 12th, food writers, bloggers, and local media were treated to an extensive menu to showcase the restaurant’s favourites, along with brief speeches from State and Main staff to introduce newcomers to the brand.

    Before I even get to the food, my primary impression from my very first experience at a State and Main was the level of attention and service we received. Not only were drinks ordered and dropped off efficiently, the staff were also extremely accommodating towards anyone with a food allergy or intolerance. I’ve been to several media events that provided terrible service, so the professionalism of State and Main with regards to this matter was something I truly appreciated.

    Mama’s Meatballs

    Chicken Wings

    Chicken Gyoza

    Dragon Boat Lettuce Wraps

    As for the tasting menu–that gigantic tasting menu–it’s a bit of an understatement to say that we were given a well-rounded look into the types of food the restaurant has on offer. I’d need to throw the term “smorgasbord” in there for that statement to be more accurate. In order to keep this post from getting out-of-hand in length, here are some brief notes on the courses I tried from the tasting menu:

    Food

    • Chicken Wings: How on earth can you go wrong with wings? Answer: you can’t. State and Main has great wings AND they have bleu cheese dip, so I’m sold.
    • Mama’s Meatballs: These were delightful. I couldn’t eat the garlic bread (sigh), but the meatballs themselves were extremely tasty. Garlic tomato and basil sauce, melted mozzarella, and parmesan equals a great time had by all.
    • Thai Salad: I’ve tried many ‘Thai salads’ in my time and haven’t been overly impressed with any of them. This one is probably the best one I’ve ever had because the flavours work so perfectly together. Romaine and rice noodles, cilantro peanut vinaigrette, citrus marinated grilled chicken, mandarin oranges, red onions, pea shoots, and cashews all combine to make a salad that’s equal parts sweet, tart, and savoury. It’s lovely.
    • The Empire State: All I’ll say about this delectable 10 oz. New York cut is that State and Main knows their way around a damn good steak.
    • Gogi Tacos: I had the gluten-free version of these. The shredded pork was delicious! A nice little Korean-inspired treat.
    • (Also on the menu: Dragon Boat Lettuce Wraps, Pretzel Sticks, Chicken Gyoza, Alberta Bison Burger, Jalapeno Mac and Cheese, Ice Cream Sandwich): Sadly, I couldn’t try any of these, but the pretzel sticks were a fan favourite at the table. Everyone was raving about the red ale mustard sauce.)

    Jalapeno Mac and Cheese

    Gluten-free Gogi Tacos

    The Empire State

    Cocktails

    • Signature Caesar: There’s really no excuse for serving up bad caesars in this day and age. Thankfully, State and Main’s Signature Caesar is excellent. I may have had several.
    • State Mint: The gin drew me in but while this drink was tasty, it was a little too sweet for my liking. Probably better for someone who’s just easing into gin and needs a powerful mixer.

    Thai Salad

    Alberta Bison Burger

    Gogi Tacos

    All in all, I had a great time at State and Main. The food was good, the service was top notch, and the company was excellent. Price-wise, everything is mid-range and reasonable, with entrees generally sitting between the $15-25 mark. AND there’s a fairly extensive gluten-free menu, which is great. They’re also open at 7:00 a.m. on weekdays, meaning that downtown employees can stop in for breakfast before starting their workday! The only issue with this restaurant, as with many others downtown, is parking. There is, however, a large Impark lot behind the building that’s probably not too expensive if you get there after 6pm.

    State and Main
    10065 Jasper Avenue
    Edmonton, AB
    (780) 990-0907

    4/5

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  • Narayanni’s

    Apr 8 • BUFFET, EDMONTON, FIVE GLASSES, FOUR GLASSES, GLUTEN FREE, INDIAN, REVIEW, SOUTH AFRICAN, VEGAN, WINE • 131 Views

    I can’t say I had ever tried South African food until last night, which, as I quickly discovered, has been a deplorable loss on my part. I’ve been completely missing out.

    Narayanni’s, a Whyte Avenue staple since 2010, serves up some of the finest curry I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. While the food is primarily Indian cuisine (as a result of immigration in the late 19th/early 20th centuries), it comes with a delightful South African twist: fewer dairy-based items, roti instead of naan bread, and a subtle European spin on items like the braised kale and cabbage. It’s the kind of cuisine that will leave you feeling content and full–warm and fuzzy–without weighing down your stomach with starches.

    The restaurant itself is really hard to miss, once you know where you’re going. Just head one block south of Whyte at 101 Street and you’ll find yourself in front of a bright red door and panel, with a huge sign right above it. Inside, Narayanni’s is homey and comforting, with relaxed ambient lighting and the friendly murmur of other guests filling the spacious room. The buffet stands at the centre, with dishes lined in a circle around a barista used to make their signature hot chai drinks.

    They have a neat selection of South African wines by the bottle, giving diners the authentic cuisine experience. We were recommended a bottle of the Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon (2010) by daughter and Front of House manager Youmashni Naidoo; to our delight, it was amazing. Similar to a full bodied malbec but with less powerful tannins, this wine paired beautifully with the spicy curries on the menu. The only danger lies in the wine’s drinkability–we had polished off the bottle before we knew it.

    The food–oh, the food–was delightful. It’s strange to enjoy a meal that’s both hearty and filling and yet not feel sluggish afterwards. The majority of Narayanni’s menu is dairy free, many items are gluten free, and vegan options are abundant (they even offer a vegan buffet on Tuesday nights). My favourites were the chicken curry (moderately spicy), the grilled masala chicken (tender and flavourful), and the braised kale and cabbage (surprisingly spicy).

    While Narayanni’s has only opened for dinner in the past, Old Strathcona residents and employees can now rejoice in the fact that the restaurant will be open for lunch Tuesday to Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The lunch buffet features four gourmet South African Indian courses: home-cooked soup, salad, chicken curry (local, free-range, hormone/antibiotic-free), and three vegan entrées for only $12 a person. If I worked anywhere near Narayanni’s, I’d make this lunch buffet a weekly routine. For the quality of food you’re getting at that price, you’ve really got no excuse.

    One of the things that makes Narayanni’s such a genuinely friendly restaurant is that it’s completely family owned and run. The Naidoo family, also the proprietors of Whyte’s Block 1912, are the brains behind Narayanni’s South African Indian cuisine. In one of my tweets during the visit, I likened the restaurant’s chicken curry to my own mother’s excellent curry–unsurprising, really, since the curry at Narayanni’s was cooked by the mother of the Naidoo family and co-founder of the restaurant, Selva Naidoo. We also finished off the meal with some cinnamon-infused rice pudding, prepared by Narayanni’s dessert master and father, Daya Naidoo, as well as cups of regular chai and pistachio chai.

    Along with their new lunch buffet ($12), vegan nights on Tuesdays ($15), and lamb items in the buffet on Saturdays ($25), Narayanni’s is currently also holding a spring special on Wednesday nights, offering the dinner buffet at $15 a person, rather than $20. To be honest, even $20 a person for an all-you-can-eat buffet of this quality is extremely reasonably-priced. You’ll be hard pressed to find the same quality of food at a better price at any other Indian restaurant in the city. At $15 a person, it’s a bargain!

    My experience at Narayanni’s was excellent and beyond expectations. The friendly, welcoming atmosphere, the unbelievable food, the clear passion each member of the family has for the business they’ve created–every aspect of this restaurant appealed to me. They’ve made it very easy for me to give a rave review because, quite simply, Narayanni’s is wonderful. And I cannot wait to go back.

    Narayanni’s
    10131 81 Avenue
    Edmonton, AB
    (780) 756-7112

    5/5

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  • PAMPA’S SECOND ANNUAL BACON FEAST

    Apr 7 • BRAZILIAN, EDMONTON, EVENT, GLUTEN FREE, STEAKHOUSE • 104 Views

    Edmonton, for some reason, has become bacon crazy in the last couple of years.

    Did I just say, “for some reason”? The obvious reason: bacon is THAT delicious. What with Baconfest, an influx of bacon-inspired cocktails (think Caesars), and more and more restaurants offering items like pork belly and pulled pork on the menu, food options throughout our city can get a little pig-heavy. Even Sailin’ On has a vegan BLT–it’s coconut, but you get the idea.

    Pampa, my beloved Pampa, has joined the bacon ranks with their annual Bacon Feast event. The restaurant, which normally serves up cuts of meat rodizio-style (i.e. rotisserie that’s carved tableside), is offering a bacon-inspired special for the month of April. Alongside their usual dinner service, guests can add on the Bacon Feast menu for $14.95, which includes bacon-wrapped boneless veal leg, marinated crispy pork belly (my favourite), and a chocolate petite gateau for dessert (warm chocolate cake filled with bacon-infused caramel sauce and topped with vanilla-bean ice cream and caramelized bacon bits). Bacon Caesars are also on special for $10, each one featuring Bakon Vodka and a slice of bacon–although be sure to eat that bacon strip immediately before it gets soggy.

    This is Bacon Feast’s second year and, from my experience, offers a nice variant to the traditional Pampa dining experience. The inclusion of dessert is a huge selling point–even though I couldn’t eat it because of the gluten, I had a nibble at the bacon bits and ice cream, and everyone else at the table seemed to devour their cakes with reckless abandon. Bacon Feast is also a good reason to go out and try Pampa’s pork belly, which I raved about in my review of their brunch. Like I said, it’s not for those who are afraid of fat on their meat (again, I’m surprised those people exist).

    My dinner plate. Note: the roasted whole garlic is AMAZING.

    The bacon-wrapped veal leg was tender and cooked to medium–this was my first time trying veal, so it was a little unusual for me, but it was filled with flavour. And, of course, anything wrapped in bacon is a good thing. Other than the Bacon Feast offerings, there were the standard ten cuts of meat for Pampa’s dinner service: signature rump steak, top sirloin, bottom sirloin, striploin (which we unfortunately didn’t get to try), pork sausage, parmesan pork loin, bacon-wrapped chicken thighs, marinated Frenched chicken legs, marinated leg of lamb, and garlic rump steak. I go to Pampa for the beef cuts because I’m a huge fan of how they’re cooked: seasoned with rock salt and fired over a charcoal grill. The rump steak will always be my favourite–I think I had three servings of it during this dinner.

    Cold salad bar

    Marinated pork belly (image from brunch)

    There’s also Pampa’s endless cold salad bar which, as always, is great…but be careful not to fill up on pasta salad. You’re better off saving that room for more meat!

    Image courtesy of Pampa

    Along with Bacon Feast, there are other exciting new things happening at Pampa. The restaurant is starting to offer spring and summer Brazilian cooking classes, which is a really neat idea for a date night or friend date. They’ll teach you to prepare and grill Brazilian-style BBQ using hardwood charcoal, how to make meat-stuffed bread, and how to cook Brazil’s national dish, the Feijoada–a stew of black beans with beef and pork. The Churrasco Master cooking class includes three hours of demonstration and hands-on instruction, lunch, a Pampa apron, a recipe booklet, and a tropical guava cheesecake for dessert. I believe they’ll also be teaching people how to make the delicious (and gluten-free) cheese bread that Pampa serves complimentary with every meal!

    Cooking classes take place from April to July and only eight students are permitted per class. Cost is $119 per person, with GST included. Find more information here or register for a class by calling (780) 756-7030.

    If you’d rather have someone else do your Brazilian cooking for you, head to Pampa and check out Bacon Feast before the end of April! Find more information on the event here or book a table online here.

    Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse
    9929 109 St
    Edmonton, AB
    (780) 756-7030

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  • Urban China

    Apr 5 • ASIAN, CHINESE, DIM SUM, EDMONTON, REVIEW • 123 Views

    Growing up (half) Chinese, I had my fair share of exposure to dim sum over the years. It was always a weekend brunch activity, where myself and my parents, or sometimes a huge portion of my Lee family clan, would head to our favourite dim sum restaurant and satisfy our cravings for bite-sized shrimp and pork dumplings. Siu mai was life.

    And yet, never in my life did I have dim sum for dinner until February of this year. In a world where you can get a Tim Horton’s double double at any hour of the day, or go to the gym at 2:00 a.m., it can come as no surprise that dim sum, traditionally served for brunch, is now served all day at a number of restaurants. I’ve never even considered eating it past the early afternoon, but when my friend Dana suggested we grab dim sum for dinner, I was intrigued.

    Enter Urban China. I’ve heard great things about their dim sum but have never managed to make it out on the weekend. An evening meal was the perfect time to try out their dumplings.

    The restaurant is well taken care of, with white tablecloths, plenty of traditional decorations, and a nice, relaxing atmosphere. It’s a little classier than many of its Chinatown competitors and the price point reflects that–it’s a few dollars more per dish than restaurants like All Happy and Garden Bakery, but the food is made fresh and the service is much more attentive. While I do love the occasional greasy spoon, Urban China is about midway between the bustle and bluntness of All Happy Family Restaurant and higher-end Asian restaurants like East. It honestly just depends on your mood.

    And we happened to be in the mood for dinnertime dim sum. Do you know why there are no pictures of siu mai in this post? Because we ate them much too quickly for me to even grab a photo. They’re delicious. Firm, non-greasy, and tasty–a dumpling to write home about. The har gow (which, despite having gluten, never seem to affect me) were little pieces of heaven, wrapped firmly in dough that held together steadily when picked up by chopsticks. The sticky rice was delicious, but could have contained a little more meat for my liking.

    One thing about going for dim sum in the evening is that, without the constant train of carts, you select only the items that you know you like. We didn’t waste space on trying out something new; instead, we indulged in multiple orders of our favourites (two pieces of siu mai is never enough for one person).

    Overall, I was impressed with the food and the service at Urban China. It’s a little pricier than my usual dim sum haunts, but I’d rather pay a few dollars more for fresh, non-greasy siu mai, since the alternative can be extremely unappetizing (i.e. pre-closure Mirama). I probably wouldn’t go there if I was starving and looking to down a million pieces of har gow, though–those beautiful little dumplings just go down way too easily.

    Urban China
    10604 101 St NW
    Edmonton, AB T5H 2S1
    (780) 758-1888

    3.5/5

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  • Brunch at Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse

    Mar 18 • AMERICAN/CANADIAN, BRAZILIAN, BRUNCH, BUFFET, EDMONTON, FIVE GLASSES, FOUR GLASSES, GLUTEN FREE, REVIEW, STEAK, STEAKHOUSE • 108 Views

    If I’m going to be honest with myself, whenever people ask me about my favourite restaurant in Edmonton (which they do a lot, since it comes with the food blogger territory), I always say Pampa. I’m not sure if it’s due to my weakness for savoury red meat or my fondness for dining experiences that allow me to eat myself into a coma. Either way, Pampa is always top of mind when recommending restaurants to my carnivorous friends.

    I recently had the pleasure of trying Sunday brunch at Pampa for the very first time. We had gone to the restaurant for the Downtown Dining Week special, which unfortunately wasn’t offered on Sundays, but we ended up staying for brunch instead (which offered a greater meat selection, anyway).

    All about that rump

    Salad bar offerings

    A brunch dining experience at Pampa is almost identical to a dinner service, although at a more reasonable price–$29.95 per person, rather than the usual $49.95 for the full dinner. Brunch runs from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. every Sunday, with the regular all-you-can-eat salad bar and five cuts of meat: signature rump steak, top sirloin, chicken drumsticks, pork belly, and pork sausage.

    For those of you who have never tasted the delights of Pampa, meal service is run in a Rodizio style–you help yourself to the cold salad bar, sit back down at your table, flip your little card over to green, and wait as gauchos with sizzling meat on rotisserie sticks swing by and offer you a variety of options. They slice the meat from the rotisserie for you right at the table, never giving too much (so that you have room to try everything), but always being generous if you favour a particular cut. It’s indulgent and delightfully salty, thanks to the beautiful rock salt they use to season their meats.

    Salad bar offerings

    A nice selection of cheese and greens

    Salad bar offerings

    A great addition to the meat roster was the pork belly. Not for those who don’t like fat on their meat (if those people actually exist), the pork belly was tender, juicy, and covered with a small portion of delicious crackling, adding a nice crunch to the overall texture. These pieces weren’t served on a rotisserie stick but rather on a plate and with a slice of lime.

    My favourite, as always, was the rump steak. Ever since they took ribeye off the menu–which was based very much, I’m sure, on the high cost of that cut–rump steak has been my welcome alternative. While the top sirloin is still tasty, it has a tendency to run a bit dry, whereas the rump steak is consistently juicy and flavourful.

    Pork belly and lime

    Try the ceviche–trust me

    Local oils and balsamics from Evoolution

    The salad bar offerings are not to be sneezed at, either. My favourites include the whole roasted garlic, sliced pineapple and capicola, a great selection of olives and imported/domestic cheese, and the ceviche (fish marinated in citrus juices). Of course, all of these delicacies are nothing without the accompaniment of a big glass of red wine–thankfully, wine is also 10% off on Sundays and sangria and mimosas are only $7 a glass.

    As always, the service was top notch. I’ve never had bad (or even neutral) service at Pampa–each server comes to your table with a wealth of menu and drink knowledge and each Rodizio gaucho is supremely accommodating with their meat. If you’re looking for a particular cut and simply mention it to them, they’ll send it over as soon as possible. It’s perfect–service at Pampa is a well-oiled machine. And, when you’re filled to the brim with meat, you flip over your card to the red side and your server will bring by a visual demo tray of their many desserts (all of which are fantastic, by the way).

    Cheesy goodness

    If you’re new to the Rodizio experience and aren’t sure if you’ll enjoy it, I strongly recommend trying Pampa for lunch or Sunday brunch so that you get a taste of the experience without paying the full dinner price. The cost of the full dinner is a fairly significant deterrent for many people, so trying the restaurant for lunch or brunch is a good way to dine at Pampa without making the full cost commitment. There’s a parking lot underground that you can reach from the back alley and which offers free parking for restaurant guests (but I believe this is only on weekdays and after 6pm). Personally, I try to get to Pampa at least once every few months for my Rodizio fix. I simply can’t get enough of that rump.

    Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse
    9929 109 St
    Edmonton, AB
    780-756-7030
    Make reservations online

    5/5

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  • BRUNCH AT HOTEL SELKIRK (FORT EDMONTON PARK)

    Mar 1 • AMERICAN/CANADIAN, BRUNCH, EDMONTON, FOUR GLASSES, REVIEW • 49 Views

    I haven’t been to Fort Edmonton Park since I was just a teenager, which is something that I plan on rectifying this year once the weather gets a little nicer. Taking a step back in time and providing a living history experience is Fort Edmonton Park’s specialty—and nothing beats stopping in at The Midway for a selection of old fashioned sweets and treats.

    I was lucky enough to be invited to try winter brunch at the Park recently, a weekly event held every Sunday in Johnson’s Café within Hotel Selkirk. Guests are required to pre-purchase tickets and reserve a place at each Sunday sitting, at which the hotel lays out the full gamut of delicious brunch offerings, from domestic and imported cheeses, to a full-service omelette station, regular brunch items like bacon and eggs, and a pork shoulder carving station complete with mustard, horseradish, and apple gravy sides (although I believe the carving station rotates its meat, since Linda had roast beef when she visited).


    The charm and rustic interior of the café adds a unique touch to the brunch experience, with solid wooden tables and the 1920s style of Hotel Selkirk. The quiet and classic environment of Fort Edmonton Park is a nice change from the bustle of our city.

    I was pleasantly impressed with the food, particularly the carvery pork shoulder. Among my favourites were the Guinness-braised beef ribs (not entirely gluten free but I couldn’t help myself), the selection of cheeses, and a salmon fillet in a creamy sauce. There were so many delicious things to choose from that I filled my plate the first time around, leaving no room for a custom omelette—on my plate or in my stomach. The next time I visit, I plan on making a beeline to the omelette station at once.




    The dessert options were also endless. Fruit, homemade caramel fudge, cakes, mousse—everything looked amazing, with full bowls surrounding the hotel’s main dessert centrepiece: the chocolate fountain. What’s the perfect way to finish off a decadently indulgent brunch? Why, with freshly-made chocolate covered strawberries, of course. Of the dessert offerings, I thoroughly enjoyed the chocolate mousse and the orange rosemary and pernod shooter (I don’t usually like anise, but this was refreshing).

    While some brunch buffets really fail to push the boundaries of imagination in their selection, Hotel Selkirk does quite the opposite, offering a little gourmet something for everyone. Chefs were constantly coming out from the kitchen with new platters to replace dishes that were only half empty. The attentiveness to items like the scrambled eggs and the fruit was impressive—everything was kept fresh and well-stocked, never left out long enough to grow even slightly stale.

    The price is reasonable for an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet, as well. At $32.95 per person (adults), you get access to a delicious menu within a spacious and comfortable dining area—that’s significantly less costly than brunch at La Ronde, with more room and a fresh, modern selection of food. If you have a special occasion coming up or just fancy an outstanding Sunday brunch, then Hotel Selkirk is the place to be!

    Make a Sunday brunch reservation here.

    Johnson’s Café, Hotel Selkirk
    1920s Street
    Fort Edmonton Park
    (780) 496-7227 ext. 1


    5

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  • Cured Wine Bar

    Feb 29 • AMERICAN/CANADIAN, CHARCUTERIE, EDMONTON, FIVE GLASSES, REVIEW, WINE • 146 Views

    A great charcuterie is a beautiful thing. And its recent popularity, Edmonton’s growing need for meat, cheese, and selected accompaniments, has stemmed additions to menus all across the city. Every aspiring restaurant, pub, and gastropub has a variation of charcuterie on offer—and the sad thing is that many of them are supremely disappointing.

    I mean, sure, you can stick a few slices of salami and a chunk of cheddar on an oddly-shaped slab of wood and call it whatever you like, but a great charcuterie—a charcuterie you go 25km out of your way to enjoy—is a work of art.

    Cured Wine Bar, a recent addition to south Edmonton’s Ellerslie and Summerside neighbourhood, clearly takes pride in their art. Similar to Ampersand 27 on Whyte Avenue, Cured offers a build-your-own charcuterie and cheese board, with a variety of cured and dried meats, seafood, paté, and imported and domestic cheeses to choose from. Partner that with a selection of shared plates, from simple olives and pickles to clams with double smoked bacon, squash salad, and phyllo-wrapped brie, and you’ve got a well-rounded menu to appeal to even the most pretentious self-proclaimed foodie.

    The restaurant also offers an excellent wine list, including two bottles of red priced at $1000 for the big spenders and an enomatic wine system, which allows them to offer small (as tiny as 1oz) tasters of select fine red wines.

    I’ve dined at Cured twice now and each time I have been wholly satisfied with their charcuterie. While Ampersand charges per item, Cured lets you choose five meats for a set price and an addition of cheese at $5 an ounce. The “small” board (1-2 people) is $32 and the “large” (approx. 3-4 people) is $46, although you can get all of the meats on one board for $125. Each board automatically comes with accompaniments such as crostinis, condiments, and dried fruit, so you don’t have to pay extra for mustard like you would at Ampersand (thankfully, since Cured’s mustard is unbelievable).

    Between my two dining experiences at Cured, I’ve decided that my favourite meats were the spicy soppresata, smoked salmon, and smoked duck prosciutto. I’ve yet to try one of the patés, though, and am dying to give the rabbit and blueberry terrine a taste.

    Cheese-wise, you can’t go wrong with favourites such as the smoked gouda, seven-year aged cheddar, and gorgonzola. The highlight of the cheese section, though, was the saganaki. We saw the server walk by with a sizzling, fiery pan of some kind of cheese and knew we had to try that for ourselves. It’s a beautiful addition to any charcuterie and I strongly recommend you give this cheesy Greek delicacy a try.

    It should be noted, however, that Cured only takes walk-ins and the dining area is fairly small. We’ve never had any issues going before 6pm or going a bit later in the evening, but it fills up fairly quickly during peak hours, particularly on the weekend. It is a beautiful dining room, though, and the ambience is romantic, slightly bustling, and perfect for any number of occasions, from date night, to work meetings, to drinks with a close friend.

    Cured Wine Bar
    2307 Ellwood Drive
    Edmonton, AB T6X 0A9
    (780) 756-3722

    5/5

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  • 97 Hot Pot (Lunch)

    Jan 6 • ASIAN, CHINESE, EDMONTON, FOUR GLASSES, HOT POT, REVIEW • 38 Views

    Hot pot. I can never get enough–especially once the cold weather hits (although I’ve never been one to turn down a summer trip to Chili Hot Pot). I usually don’t branch away from my favourites but, when I heard that 97 Hot Pot offered a pared down version of hot pot for lunch, I knew I had to try it out.

    One of the most glorious and gluttonous things about hot pot is that generally, you eat your fill. Each hot pot restaurant charges a set price (usually $25-$30) and you indulge in a hedonistic all-you-can-eat extravaganza. Lunch, on the other hand, doesn’t quite give you the food baby you’ve come to expect from a hot pot experience…and that’s probably a good thing.

    At 97 Hot Pot, $12.95 gets you your choice of broth, five items from their menu of entrees, and a bowl of mixed vegetables. Definitely not all-you-can-eat, but not exactly Weight Watchers, either.

    Sauces

    My go-to soup (satay) wasn’t on the menu, so I chose the Szechuan spicy chicken, which was delicious and had the perfect amount of spice–I still like to be able to feel my tongue afterwards. For entrees, I went with the sliced sirloin beef, sliced lamb, winter melon slices, Japanese crab sticks (some of these aren’t on the full menu but they’re on the checklist you’re given), and fish balls. The mixed vegetable bowl came with broccoli, a portion of corn on the cob, squash, sui choy, bok choy, and a handful of enoki mushrooms. And, since going back, I’ve tried the handmade fish mash, which is also very good, although I’d prefer a shrimp mash if it was an option.

    Szechuan spicy chicken soup

    Overall? I was really impressed. You get a significant amount of food for half the price of regular hot pot and it’ll leave you feeling full and satisfied, but not uncomfortably stuffed, which is perfect if you have to go back to work afterwards (as in my case). The food items aren’t as fresh as Chili Hot Pot, but everything was still extremely tasty and the service was lightning fast. But seriously, how can you go wrong for only $13?

    Sliced sirloin beef and sliced lamb

    Fish balls and Japanese crab sticks

    I’ve been back since and will be going again next week, so I’d say 97 Hot Pot is onto something smart by offering a lunch version. Asian Express Hot Pot is currently also offering lunch, but I haven’t seen anything yet from Urban Shabu or Chili Hot Pot (though the latter might be a little too out of the way for a lunchtime excursion). In any case, I’d recommend this restaurant if you want a quick, tasty hot pot lunch but would defer you to Chili Hot Pot if you want to invest more time in an evening hot pot experience.

    97 Hot Pot
    10602 92 Street
    Edmonton, AB
    (587) 521-1888

    4/5

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  • 2015 Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival

    Nov 19 • AMERICAN/CANADIAN, EDMONTON, EVENT, WINE • 104 Views

    This year was not my first time attending the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival, nor will it be my last. With more than 130 wineries, more than 180 breweries and distilleries, and 31 restaurants and food vendors in attendance, this year’s festival took indulgence to a whole new level.

    Held again at the Shaw Conference Centre on November 6th and 7th, the festival brought together wines, beers, and spirits from across the globe, offering them alongside food samples from some of Edmonton’s most popular restaurants. The entire main hall was filled with booths doling out samples of anything from Chinese vodka to chips and salsa.

    As per usual, the RMWFF operated on a tickets-per-sample basis. Unlike Winefest, which has an all-inclusive ticket price, the RMWFF allows guests to purchase sample tickets at fifty cents a piece so that they can control how much they spend. Drink samples ranged upwards from 3 tickets, with the most expensive sample belonging to the festival’s pièce de résistance: the Ledaig 42 Year Old Scotch–worth more than $7,000. A 1/2 oz sample of this treat went for 240 drink tickets. That’s $120 for half of a regular shot. For what it’s worth, some friends of mine were able to sample this scotch and I had to listen jealously while they told me it was the greatest thing they’ve ever tasted…and they don’t even like scotch on a normal day.

    Going on the Saturday evening session of the RMWFF can be somewhat trying because it’s one of the busiest times of the festival, but we never felt like we waited too long for a sample. If a line-up at a booth was too long, there were plenty of others within a stone’s throw away to fill the gap. Here were some of my food and drink highlights from the show:

    Sloppy Hoggs Roed Hus – Sweet Sticky Ribs. Imagine rib ends rubbed and smoked, tossed in their signature sticky sauce, and infused with Original 16 Copper Ale. I mention these first because they were, in fact, phenomenal. “Impressed” doesn’t even BEGIN to describe how much I liked these.

    Masi – Campofiorin (Italy). A favourite of mine. Ruby red colour, dry, and medium-to full-bodied.

    Canadian Club – Chairman’s Select Maple. Smoky, full-bodied, and delightfully sweet, this is definitely one for sipping and not for mixing. For those who don’t generally drink whiskey, I feel like this would be a good segway into a whiskey education.

    Three Amigos Authentic Mexican Restaurant – Tequila Lime Chicken Tacos. There are a number of great Mexican restaurants in Edmonton, so it’s saying something when a particular taco stands out above the rest. These had a surprising amount of heat, which I appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed.

    Chayee Bourras – Reserva (Argentina). A lovely red wine. Tasting notes: a rich and full-bodied wine with dramatic aromas of black cherry, vanilla, spice and coffee.

    Central Social Hall – Albacore Tuna Tataki and Won Tons. These are an ongoing favourite of mine, which I eat without the won tons (gluten intolerance, and all). Light, delicious, and beautiful when paired with both whites and reds. Yum.

    Okanagan Premium Cider – Dry Pear. I’m a huge fan of Okanagan cider and pear ciders in general. This was refreshing without being too sweet. Much better than Palm Bay, in my opinion.

    With delicious food and more drinks than you have time to sample, you can’t go wrong. Always a pleasure, Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Fest. Always a pleasure.

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