As one of the most talked-about brunch places in Edmonton, I figured it was past time that I investigated what Urban Diner had to offer prior to the 2pm lunch menu (the only menu I’ve ever ordered from).

As Urbanspoon, reviews, and food blogs have shown, the restaurant is quite popular. This was evident the instant we pulled up; at 11:30, Urban Diner was completely full, with three other parties waiting ahead of us for a table. Despite the small location off of 124 St, the owners have managed to cram quite a few tables into the space, so we didn’t end up waiting more than ten minutes. While we waited, there were a selection of Vue Weeklys and Metro Cinemas to read, as well as delicious-looking desserts in a glass case to drool over.

No matter what our dining experience would end up being, I had to give Urban Diner kudos for being one of the few (or even the only) restaurants to serve banoffee pie. If it tastes as good as it looks (and reviews tell me it does), then the restaurant deserves a good review just for the sake of the pie. I didn’t feel right about ordering dessert after brunch, but soon…soon.

The menu was one page, with a selection of wraps, bennies, eggs, and other brunchie delights. I’m always hopeful when a restaurant has a small menu – it usually means that the cooks are experts in preparing these dishes, rather than floundering to remember items off of a 15-page menu. In work and school, if you spread yourself too thinly, the work you produce will generally suffer. So too with cooking and restaurateur-ing.

Our selections were the Fried Egg Sandwich, served with back bacon, tomato, cheddar, roasted garlic aioli, toast, and diner potatoes, and the Diner Hash, two bennies served on a bed of potatoes, corned beef, and caramelized onions. Both were good – we had no complaints. The diner potatoes consisted of potato and sweet potato hash browns: delicious and perfectly seasoned.

The corned beef added the most flavour to the Diner Hash, which could have used a touch more salt; the eggs benedict, however, were cooked perfectly to my liking. We also ordered sides of fruit and back bacon, and came slightly shy of finishing it all.

I’ve always liked Urban Diner – their Diner Mac ‘n Cheese and Pulled Pork Sandwiches are amazing – and I would return for brunch. The breakfast fare didn’t knock my socks off, but it was solidly good, the service was friendly, and the atmosphere was (as always) extremely relaxed, despite the line up.

In the end, though, was it worth the line up? We were lucky for coming at an opportune time, but hopeful diners arriving at noon or later had to wait for a fair amount of time for a table. Based on what we ordered during this visit, I definitely wouldn’t wait 20-30 minutes to eat here. There must be some draw to Urban Diner, though, and, based on the amount of quiches I saw leaving the kitchen (and they sure did look delicious), I think we may have missed out this time. So yes, give Urban Diner a try, don’t be discouraged if you have to wait, and finish off your meal with a slice of banoffee pie, particularly if you’ve never tried this English delicacy. You can thank me later.

Urban Diner (Downtown)
12427 102 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5N 0M2
(780) 488-7274
Monday – Friday – 11:00am – 9:00pm
Brunch 9:00am – 1:30pm
Lunch 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Dinner 5:00pm – 9:00pm
Sunday – 9:00am – 3:00pm

Privada wine+tapas

This restaurant was my birthday choice, simply because there’s no better thing than enjoying delicious tapas, delicate wines, and all kinds of cheeses in the dead of winter (especially in Canada). My expectations were high, based on the reviews and the online menu – I hadn’t had a stand-up charcuterie plate since England, believe it or not. Were my expectations met, or was I to be disappointed?

Absolutely yes and definitely not. My friends, this place was fantastic. A tiny little bistro with room to barely sit 50, Privada was stylish, comfortable, and homey – everything you want in a tapas restaurant. With low lighting and beautifully ambient music, the atmosphere was delightfully charming – enough so that even the TV’s insistence on showing the fireplace channel couldn’t dampen the mood. The wine selection was excellent; even the ‘lower-end’ malbecs were full-bodied and smooth – perfect to pair with a charcuterie plate.

Taner and I started out with the seared maple scallops, served with white wine corn puree on marinated roma tomatoes, as well as the prosciutto-wrapped asparagus. The scallops were perfectly cooked, with the puree acting as a hollandaise-esque sauce that complemented them nicely.

The asparagus – oh, the asparagus! I would return to this restaurant simply for the asparagus. I read several reviews before visiting Privada, and almost all of them (the smart ones) made mention of this amazing dish. Please go there. Please try them. You won’t regret it. Also, several of my friends tried the Asian Chicken Skewers, served with wasabi dressing, and pronounced them delicious. However, the Garlic and Artichoke dip (served with the Chips and Dip) wasn’t the best we’ve ever had, and the chips tasted too much like the oil they were cooked in. Oh well, can’t win them all, right?

I’m completely obsessed with cured meats and gourmet cheeses (thanks to my fantastic UK MA friends, who showed me the way) and it was my birthday, so I went Double Butcher. The charcuterie plate can work three ways: select three cheeses, select three cheeses and two meats, or have one of everything. The Double Butcher, as you may have guessed, was a smorgasbord of all the tasters Privada has to offer. Our plate consisted of:

  • Dairy: Le Triple Creme (soft), Sir Laurier (soft beige), Bleubry (blue), Le Cendrilon (ash-covered goat), Contonnier (semi-firm), and Le Saint Raymond (soft).
  • Butcher: Westfalin Ham, Prosciutto, Pepper Salami, and Coppa.

Our tasting plate was accompanied with crackers, breads, chutneys, and spreads; my only regret was that we didn’t get one tasting plate each!

The dessert shots – served in shot glasses – were delightful. At $2 a pop, you can try a couple of different ones without breaking the bank or having to eat a mammoth-sized cake, as is too often the case. I tried the Lime Cheese Cake, a mini-dessert perfect for lovers of key lime.

All in all, I would definitely visit this restaurant again. The food, the wine, the atmosphere, even the service – all perfect. In fact, writing about it now makes me think I should book myself a table again sometime soon…

Definitely make sure to book, though – a place this good will always fill up fast.

Privada wine+tapas
100 – 21 Perron Street
St. Albert, AB
(780) 569-5479
CLOSED Sunday-Tuesday
Wednesday-Thursday 4-10
Friday 4-12
Saturday 3-12