2018 was a high-calorie 12 months on the Edmonton meals scene

Links to the breadcrumb trail

Flavors from sweet to bitterly salty will be the 2018 food scene

Author of the article:

Liane Faulder

Publication date:

December 31, 2018December 31, 2018Read for 4 minutes Join the conversation Chef Ryan Hotchkiss and his restaurant Bündok made it onto the list of the top 10 new restaurants in enRoute magazine in 2018. Chef Ryan Hotchkiss and his restaurant Bündok made it onto the list of the top 10 new restaurants in enRoute magazine in 2018. Photo by Greg Southam /Postal media

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This year it was 10 years since I took the food beat in the Journal. During that time, it was exciting to see the food community expand and deepen. Restaurants, trends, and chefs may come and go, but the great thing about it is that Edmontonians who care about food expand their shared palates and encourage innovation and delicacy wherever they appear.

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These days I cover less about the food scene as my beat has expanded to include theater and other art coverage, as well as news as needed. I’m saying this to warn readers: if I’ve missed a new restaurant, grocery store, or passion project, please forgive me. And don’t hesitate to call or write and let me know what you’ve discovered.

Nevertheless, I am happy to report that it is as difficult as ever to keep up with the food scene in YEG. One of the most notable features in 2018 was the arrival of more vegan and vegetarian restaurants. This year, the simple and delicious plant-based Moth Cafe hit downtown, along with a couple of vegan chains and the upscale Canoe, the vegan restaurant on Jasper Avenue owned by American celebrity chef Matthew Kenney’s plant-based dining establishment.

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Edmonton expanded its selection of local bean varieties on other levels as well. The Sorrentino chain opened not one, but two new iterations of BUCO (in Windermere and the Epcor Tower). Trendy 104 Street welcomed a big new player called DOSC, which opened in the Metals building. Another historic building received a facelift, with Wilfred giving one of the old Molson buildings in the Brewery District a whimsy and millennial pink.

Wilfred's is located in a small historic building in the Brewery District, 10429 121 St. Shaughn Butts / Postmedia Wilfred’s is located in a small historic building in the Brewery District, 10429 121 St. Shaughn Butts / Postmedia Photo by Shaughn Butts /Postal media

Chef Cyrille Koppert has sold the Manor Casual Bistro (which closes in April) but has opened a hip new place on the High Street called Partake, a wine bar with nifty bites. Louisiana Purchase, a fixture downtown for more than 35 years, opened another location in north Edmonton. Calgary-based OEB Breakfast Company is packing its bright, new space on Rice Howard Way.

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Smaller, food-focused establishments keep popping up, adding texture and variety to the cityscape. Bloom Cookie Co. branched out at 124 Street, and the city’s famous onion pie got its own storefront. Confections Cake Co. opened a high-quality dessert shop in St. Albert and Food in the Nud opened a Ritchie bakery for people with food allergies and sensitivities. If you haven’t visited Meuwly’s on 124 Street, take your sausage lover down there to check out the selection of meats, cheeses, and condiments.

Gelato got bigger than ever, with new storefronts like La Carraia Gelato on 109 street and Da Vinci Gelati in St. Albert. Edmonton’s soft serve dream Yelo’d opened up to long lineups.

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There were losses too. At the end of December, Characters closes its doors after 20 years downtown. Even though enRoute magazine was included in the list of the top 10 new restaurants in Canada in 2017, Ben Staley’s Alder Room closed just a few months later and its niche concept failed to attract the attention of the broader market. Park Allen Restaurant, a staple of the Southside neighborhood for 36 years, has also closed. With the closure of Hillaby’s Tools for Cooks at the Enjoy Center, there was another loss in the grocery retail business.

One particularly annoying loss was that of Chef Brad Lazarenko’s Dogwood Cafe, who served golfers and cross-country skiers from the Victoria Golf Course clubhouse for three years with a focus on fresh, local and innovative. The City of Edmonton decided to place the grocery contract with Civeo, a giant Houston-based provider of accommodation for employees around the world.

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To news that is too lighter. Much champagne was consumed when Ryan Hotchkiss from Bündok put up the enRoute list of the best new restaurants in Canada for 2018, drawing even more attention to the restaurant route on 104 Street. Bar Clementine was named one of the Top 10 Bars in Canada by the Toronto editors of Canada’s Best 100 Restaurants in 2018.

Chef Davina Moraiko from RGE RD topped the podium on the first Edmonton outing for Canada’s Great Kitchen Party (formerly Gold Medal Plates) national cooking competition in October.

As for other winners, when you see Megan Stasiewich shopping for groceries in Leduc make sure and shake hands with her. The Leduc County barber made it into the last episode and was one of the top three bakers on the popular CBC series The Great Canadian Baking Show.

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Megan Stasiewich, 30, a hairdresser and mother of three boys from Leduc County, made it onto the final episode of the second season of the Great Canadian Baking Show. Megan Stasiewich, 30, a hairdresser and mother of three boys from Leduc County, made it onto the final episode of the second season of the Great Canadian Baking Show. Photo delivered by /Postal media

Local food writer Twyla Campbell kicked it out of the park with her bio about late cook Gail Hall, Maps, Markets and Matzo Ball Soup. Another prominent local food publication launched in 2018 is Food Artisans of Alberta, which was published last spring and features many food manufacturers and suppliers in Edmonton.

The year 2018 is drawing to a close, and 2019 promises to be just as delicious. Le Petite Dauphine, a French bakery and restaurant, is about to open in the Montrose area and will be presented by the same people who had Dauphine on 104 Street.

Later that winter, Chef Nate Box – owner of four restaurants, Elm Cafe, Little Brick, Salt and District – will open two more in the historic Gibbard Block of the Highlands, including Fox Burger (with Chef Sean O’Connor at the helm) and the Jewish-inspired June’s Delicatessen.

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