If Edmonton cannot, strictly speaking, be considered as a gastronomic destination, then it’s worth noting that there are some very beautiful tables, starting with those of Daniel Costa, the chef who each year the stars of the Edmonton Food Festival, or Blair Lesback, the artist behind the stoves of Rge Rd, the meeting place of the finest plates.
But beyond these two large restaurants of regional, if not national scope, Edmonton has some tables that are worth a detour despite a deficit in pretty bistros and tables in the air of the time. To make sure you enjoy Edmonton, learn where all this magical food happens.
1. Hardware Grill
Where? In the heart of the city, a few kilometres from Rogers Place and the frenzy of Downtown. On just a small sample of land, a veritable haven of greenery in an urbanised environment, the chef has imagined a triptych in a unique setting where he displays his cuisine and his keen sense of hospitality.
Why are we booking? Hardware Grill is highly talked about. It isn’t the biggest and might not be a palace but the restaurant is therefore discreet. And yet it is in this restaurant full of charms that we took one of our biggest gastronomic tastes of the past few months. In this provable bastide, chef Larry Stewart delivers an absolutely breathtaking recital of great cuisine.
Some of the menu highlights? Oysters, cucumber mint and Petrossian caviar, with a small iodized jewel of an amazing freshness. The big roasted langoustine and its Riviera sailor? The perfect meeting of his native Brittany and his adopted Côte d’Azur. Black apple soufflée with bacon from Colonnata and anchovies? A marvel of technicality and delicacy. But the pleasure culminates in an exceptional plate, symbolic of the chef’s ability to magnify the product with mad ease. The shank of veal cooked 24 hours at low temperature, morels and mashed potatoes with semi-salted butter is a monument of gourmandise and gastronomic purity as only the very great chefs know how to make. Even sweeter, here again, the superbly made: “Platinium” with green apple, magic, and the sweet treats brought to the table with three different serving temperatures!
Everywhere throughout the restaurant, the staff show a sense of refinement pushed to the extreme and an obsession for perfection while never losing sight of the essential: to please their guests through plates technically irreproachable and emotionally intense. Very great art.
The price-quality ratio is simply excellent.
2. Cafe Leva
Where? Just south of the North Saskatchewan River and right near the University of Edmonton.
Why are we booking? When we asked for the best cafes in Edmonton, a lot of people answered “Cafe Leva” at the at the University, home of owner Joseph Parrottino…and rightly evoking a “true artist, who also creates his own[ceramic] artisanal plates”. Rightly so, because finding those rare chefs who know how to create, counting as much on the inventiveness of his kitchen as on an extraordinary scenography to electrify the senses.
The cafe’s credo? Work a product (spider crab, langoustine, oyster, suckling lamb, pigeon…) in three stages and through three complementary axes. A colossal creative and technical work that makes the chef and his brigade work on more than twenty different starters and main courses, excluding desserts. And everywhere we find audacity and inventiveness in the cafe, who does not hesitate to inject a good dose of originality into his dishes, literally and figuratively!
A simple dining area (with a great view of the University area) and formal service without being stuffed like in the biggest houses complete the picture. The only downside from our point of view: the approach sometimes a little pompous (entitled extremely long dishes, letter delivered parchment way to explain the culinary approach…). More simplicity wouldn’t be a bad thing.
The extra advice? Ask for one of the tables near the window or on the terrace when the weather permits.
In two words? For fans of the great cafes, it is impossible to miss Cafe leva as this place alone embodies the high new Edmonton cuisine. The palatial aspect of the premises could have curbed the creativity of the area’s artistry but it is nothing of the sort. And so much the better!
3. Buco Pizzeria and Vino
Who? Matteo Cesarotto, a young, pizzaiolo and enthusiastic chef with an impeccable career who pushed his sense of adventure and landed in Edmonton and now is considered one of the best pizzaiolos in the city. Without a doubt, he considers Buco Pizzeria and Vino “his baby”.
Where? Just north of the city actually in St. Albert.
Why are we booking? Knowing how to work with pizza can be an art but a pizzeria with the ability to provide the best family entertainment is another thing.
If the pizza joint still has some room for improvement we feel all the potential of the young chef behind these precise, creative, always seductive and will accomplish that when he moves closer to within the city of Edmonton’s city limits.
The extra advice? Don’t miss the signature eggs benedict on pizza crust.
Address: 130 Bellerose Dr. St Albert, Alberta.
Other recommended tables (but not tested by us) :
Cibo Bistro: Homespun pasta with some uncommon ingredients provides perfect cuisine with inventiveness and lightness, to the delight of the people of Edmonton who are attached to this accessible address.
The Marc: this is the trattoria that everyone loves in Edmonton, the locals as much as the regulars of the destination. Friendly atmosphere, friendly service and Cucina authentic as in France. A sure thing.
Guru: This Indian restaurant with terrace is very popular with a loyal clientele. On the menu, very good cauliflower and no fuss. The team of Guru has long made it its informal HQ.
Uccellino: Unparalleled Italian food, this cuisine is known for its relaxed atmosphere (don’t trust the decorum – tables topped – which lets you imagine a gastronomic table).
These are some of the hottest places to visit and do in Edmonton, don’t miss out this summer visiting them.