Local Business

Fork It

Fork Fest is back!

Local restaurants are offering up special menus and deals to get you out of the usual chains and into something just a little different. It’s a great way to try out a new restaurant you’ve been thinking about eating at, or have heard about recently. It’s also a nice way for me to pretend I’m fancy and eat somewhere like the Blue Pear. It’s also a reason to head back to old favourites like the Blue Plate Diner and Wild Tangerine.

All of the restaurants involved (most are downtown or in Old Strathcona) have their Fork Fest lunch and dinner menus online at the Live Local Alberta site.

Here are the restaurants (all links take you to the Fork Fest menus):

Which ones do you want to hit up?

Summer 2011’s Fork Fest runs until this Thursday (July 21), then takes a few days off, and July 24-28.


Live at Luzzara: One Last Time

So, if you have been around here for a while you know we enjoy a coffee or seven. And you probably know some of the best coffee and conversation in Edmonton is found at Luzzara Coffee Bar, on Whyte Avenue – specifically, East Whyte.

But owner Sarah (who until recently was the only employee) is closing up shop after the building’s owners decided to try and rent out the old Top Gear Scooters AND Luzzara space together. It’s going to be East Whyte’s loss. And, really, Twitter’s loss. Since anyone on Twitter knows it’s the place to grab a free cookie on Friday and meet folks offline.

We’re going to miss Luzzara. So, we’ll be there, live, from noon until 1pm. Chat with us live at Livestream or on Twitter. Then get down there for a great coffee before it’s gone for good (at 4pm).

Oh, and you can watch us live below.

Let’s not say goodbye – let’s say…no, wait, let’s say goodbye.

Many of us know and love Whyte Avenue’s Luzzara Coffee Bar. Not only is the shop, operated by our friend Sarah Jackson, home of some of the best coffee in the City – it is also a hub for folks in the area to mix and mingle. As anyone who has been to Luzzara knows, it’s basically impossible to get a coffee there without meeting someone new.

So obviously, it was really a buzzkill when Sarah announced earlier this month that she would be closing up shop. The role both she and Luzzara have played in revitalizing East Whyte Avenue is not to be understated. Certainly, Sarah is on to bigger and better things – but until then, we want to commemorate the role of this beloved coffee shop in our community. So we’re going to do a one hour live webcast from Luzzara on its last day of operation (on our Livestream Channel, from noon-1 pm).

Here’s where we need your assistance. We’ll happily provide the livecast – but we’d like you to take a second and contribute a little something. Do you know Sarah? Did you frequent Luzzara? Will you miss it being gone? Did you always plan to go there but never get the chance? Take a second, flip on your webcam and record a message (you can send large files through YouSendIt.com) – or send a drawing, a letter, an animated gif – perhaps compose an original song, etch a piece of glass, perform a monologue, create a scrapbook or carve something from sandstone. Basically, just help us fill an hour of time, and help us thank Sarah for providing us with so much excellent coffee and conversation.

We expect this finale to rival all the greats – Lost, Cheers, So You Think You Can Dance Canada 2010 – and we can’t do it without you. Send your submissions to submit@theedmontonian.com, or come down to Luzzara at noon this Sunday to be on our show.

These Shoes Were Made For Walking?

Summer is the time to get out and walk around Edmonton. Sure, we should get exercise in the winter too but, come on, it’s freakin’ freezing.

I’m all about the random walk. The kind where you end up seeing stuff you didn’t know was down the street, or in a nearby park, or in Edmonton at all. But I can enjoy a walk with purpose, or destination, as much as the next walker.

Have you checked out the Walkable Edmonton maps? They’re handy little maps that show you what to watch for, and check out, in a number of neighborhoods. Put together with neighborhoods groups and organization, they give you a good idea of where to go and what to look at.

There are a dozen maps, covering ground in more than 40 neighborhoods.

Speaking of walking…I’m not sure if I’m walking way more than shoes are made for, buying crappy shoes, or have weird feet that simply destroy shoes in a short period of time, but I find I’ve got to buy new shoes every year or two.

Am I doing something wrong? Am I a walking machine? Do I just need to buy more expensive shoes that can hold up to feet that don’t just sit on gas pedals and couches?

What are the best spots in Edmonton to get high-quality shoes that are going to stand up to me walking through all of those maps?

Hilarious Hair (on me, at least)

There are few things funnier than putting on wigs and hats and trying to look ridiculous. There could also be few things more helpful, when deciding on a new haircut or hairstyle, than being able to have some idea of how you will look when the hairdresser steps away and puts the scissors down.

Edmonton-based salon EvelineCharles is making both dreams come true.

The chain of salons has a new iPhone app that acts a virtual stylist. And they know you and I will also use it to make hilarious Facebook profile pictures. (They are totally cool with the app being used for entertainment purposes!)

Once you download the app you can plug in any photo of yourself and try out a number of hairstyles. If you find one you like you can use the app to find the nearest EvelineCharles, where they will be ready to provide you with any of the looks in the app, and even book a hair appointment right from your phone (or iPad). You can also show off your photos at an EC salon to receive freebies.

You can also tweet, e-mail, and share photos of yourself on Facebook from the app, so there’s no delay in letting everyone know you look good.

Now I’m just waiting for the next update of hairstyles…

(Yes, I am fully aware, this one’s really more for the ladies.)

Sabzy Persian Grill

You could be eating this right now.

A few months ago, Jeff and I were having lunch at Sabzy Persian Grill (also known by many as Sabzy Cafe) on Whyte Ave., and struck up a conversation with Ahmad Sabetghadam, who owns and runs the restaurant with his family.

Ahmad is a ridiculously interesting person who totally digs talking about food and has a rather unconventional story for a restauranteur – he’s an academic (a professor at the University of Alberta, to be exact) with a background in agriculture – but when he talks about Sazby’s menu and their emphasis on food as preventative medicine, it all starts to make sense.

seinfeil: Just The Tip

Really? You’re not even going to use innuendo? Really?!

Wooly Bully's you have changed.

I mean, we’ve all see this, in Wedding Crashers, in that great TT & Mario song (below, at 1:06). Now it’s a part of Edmonton’s heritage.


Eat Pizza. Help Japan.

All day Tuesday, Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria‘s Alberta locations will be donating its profits to Red Cross relief efforts in Japan.

So, eat some pizza to help out those devastated by an earthquake and tsunami. Charity donations don’t get much easier, and tastier, than that.

Famoso’s got four Edmonton locations and one in Calgary. (By writing this I’ve also learned they plan to open a restaurant on Whyte Avenue this year, which means more delicious pizza for me.) That means there’s plenty of room for all of us to eat our way to a better world.

There will probably be quite a few small, medium, and even large events around the city collecting money for the Red Cross and other efforts in Japan. So keep your eyes peeled, Edmonton.

Say It Ain’t So

Now what is Edmonton’s premiere Cougar Bar?

We suspect this will soon be The Pint v2.0. Or New City could upgrade/add a second location. Or something so crazy we don't even know!

Booming Tree

By Amanda Bennett

What is Taiko, you may wonder? It is the Japanese word for drum and this form of art is a passion for two local artists.

It was Open Mic Night at the Pour House on Sunday, post-Super Bowl, on a cold -15 Edmonton night. Booming Tree, a Japanese drumming group founded by Gregory Shimizu and Twilla MacLeod. The atmosphere inside was charged and electric as the drumming began. Greg, a co-owner of this establishment, has some hefty plans for his relatively new venture and if tonight’s entertainment was any indication, this will be a happening place for artists, musicians, and literati to congregate and blossom. (more…)


(Editor’s note: We love Wunderbar. Just thought you should know that.)

A lot of things are different at Wunderbar lately; a snazzy new website, slick new bench seating, a tasty new limited-run whiskey lager from our friends at Ambers Brewing. But the big change at the Whyte Ave. drinking hole, the one at the root of Wunderbar’s current popularity, are owners Levi Christensen, Chris Janke, and Craig Martell.

The three guys worked at another popular Edmonton bar for years before deciding to venture out on their own.

“We were like ‘We have an idea,’” explains Craig.  “And everybody wants to open a bar, but not everyone has an idea.”

The idea in question? To create a bar that was community-based and thoroughly accessible to all.

“When people come here,” says Craig “[We’re] making them feel comfortable – making someone who doesn’t drink feel comfortable. You can come here and not have a beer and we’re okay with that. There’s not many bars in town where someone who doesn’t drink feels comfortable.” (more…)

Live from Luzzara

Watch live streaming video from theedmontonian at livestream.com

edmonton, luzzara, blue, fish, coffee, tiara

Come on down to Luzzara and meet this blue fish. Yes, it's wearing a tiara.

You know, it’s been some time since we tried out the whole live on the Internet thing. You never know when we’ll actually need to use those “skills” for something important, so it’s time for some live Internetin’.

This morning I’m taking a page out of Sally’s book e-book and broadcasting live from a coffee shop while doing stuff. Lucky for me (and probably you) I’m at Luzzara, which is a great little shop on Whyte Avenue, with the always-bubbly, super coffee-knowledgeable Sarah Jackson. Luzzara’s a hub of east Whyte and you don’t know who will stop in…

Also, I’ll be putting together today’s Headlines while broadcasting, providing you with spectacular video of me typing and copying links. Yeah, I know what you like.

You should be able to watch the “show” at the top of this post in an embedded video player (try refreshing the page if it’s not there) or at our livestream.com page. Drop us a comment, tweet at us, or join the livestream chat and I’ll do my best to talk with you while this all goes down.

Not Lyve anymore

edmonton, lyve on whyte, one way state

This is Edmonton's One Way State rocking Lyve on Whyte back in October.

The first indication I had that something was up at Lyve on Whyte was when The Joe (Joe Gurba) was talking about moving his album release. It was going to be at Lyve on Whyte in January. Now it’s at the Haven Social Club.

Then, last night I saw the sign outside of Lyve say it was “closed for business.” Yup, Lyve on Whyte is no more.

Today we hear the owners pulled the plug because they just weren’t packing in the people needed to keep things afloat. Has Jasper Avenue siphoned off too much of the drinking and partying business? (If you’re keeping score, that’s two of the larger bars in Old Strathcona to close in a week.)

I hope this doesn’t kill the live music vibe Whyte Avenue has quietly been building on since SOS Fest. Edmonton needs live music venues!

July 2010 - November 2010

Update: I totally forgot that Savoy closed at the start of the month too.

Seinsess – 3rd on Whyte

edmonton, third on whyte, internet cafe, sign

There’s pretty much no way you don’t know what kind of business lies behind this sign.

Featured Edmontonian: Connie John

When I first considered doing a story to inform you all how much I enjoy a trip to Two Rooms Restaurant on Whyte Avenue, I seriously debated just posting a picture of the amazing carrot cake they serve. This would’ve benefited me twofold; 1) I am lazy, and 2) I would’ve had an excuse to down some carrot cake.

But! After a brief conversation with Two Rooms owner Connie John one day over breakfast, I knew I couldn’t just phone it in. Even if it meant bypassing carrot cake for the short term.

Connie is an elegant, charming lady whose passion for food is unmistakable. She is not a career restaurateur; in fact, her resume will probably surprise you. (more…)

Live Local First

edmonton, local, business, shopping, jacketYou may or may not have heard by now that November is “Shop Local First Month.” Among the various other “months” November is (think of Movember, Family Violence Awareness, etc…)

Now, I like to think I know at least a tiny bit about you, sitting out there staring at me. I bet that some of you shop at local, original stores quite often. You may even go out of your way to shop at Edmonton businesses and support local entrepreneurs. (more…)

Meet the Press’d

edmonton, press'd, sandwich, restaurant, downtown

So, I was wandering around downtown Edmonton’s mall district the other day (which is just City Centre Mall) and came upon a new sandwich place in the old Cargo & James spot.

Being an enjoyer of a good sandwich, I stopped in to see what Press’d had to offer. My first question, after ordering their take on the club with a potato soup, was whether this was a chain. One of the owners informed me this was an Edmonton deal. Good for them.

You can see all kinds of bread stacked high in the corner, by the cash. It appears quite a bit of food is prepared on the fly too, since it took a few minutes for my sandwich and soup.

I opted for a half-size because I wanted to pair it with a cup of soup (full-size sandwiches and bowls of soup are also options). That was a good call since the sandwich was piled high with turkey meat. I think it was just your standard lunchmeat, and the bacon was really thinly sliced, leading me to believe it was that microwavable kind. The soup was pretty good though, and they’ve got a handful of regular choices. The sandwich iteself is BIG. Did I mention that? I feel like I should mention that.

edmonton, press'd, sandwich, restaurant, downtown, turkey, bacon, soup

I would tell them to lose the bread cup next time I get a sandwich with my soup. Too much bread.

Press’d is probably going to be a decent choice for you downtown lunchers. It’s not deep-fried, and that’s always a step in the right direction.

Plus, they have rules on how to order, Soup Nazi style, which can only add to the experience. I wonder if they’ll deny sandwiches to those who break form…

Check out Press’d and let me know what you think. It’s in City Centre West.

edmonton, press'd, sandwich, restaurant, downtown

The sun is calling my name

That sun is shining, the weather looks great this weekend, so I’m phoning it in this Friday.

Here’s what I’ve got:

Watch the video above, filmed and edited on an iPhone4 (!) for local baby shop lala ladybug. (Thanks to Randy for the link.)

For all of your other weekend needs, check out new movies with Gregg, prepare for the Spaceport debate with Colin, and find stuff to do with ShareEdmonton and YEGlive.ca.

See ya Monday!

It might be the last great weekend. Don't miss it.

The Black Sheep has arrived

edmonton, black sheep pub, bar

I’ve been meaning to mention this one for a week…

The Black Sheep Pub is open. It’s at 111 Street and Jasper, where Prohibition was. Which used to be The Stonehouse.

Hopefully they can resurrect the wing goodness of the Stonehouse.

They officially opened last Wednesday.

Feature: Sherwood Park’s TerraFrog Clothing Corp.

Cori and Bobbi Windsor of Terrafrog

Cori & Bobbi Windsor (as kids, d-uh)

As if the story of Sherwood Park’s Terrafrog Clothing Corporation wasn’t already the stuff of screenplays: a pair of scrappy sisters with no fashion experience tire of clothes that don’t fit them properly and launch their own upstart fashion company, producing socially conscious, limited-run workout wear which catches on like wildfire and launches them into a fast-paced career in fashion (this is all mine, by the way – I’m totally optioning it so BACK OFF).

Now, there’s another interesting twist in the story of Bobbi and Cori Windsor, owners of Terrafrog. The company’s environmentally conscious workout wear has just been picked up in the U.S. by Kinespirit Studios, described in a Terrafrog press release as “a chain of upscale New York wellness studios specializing in Gyrotonic exercise and Pilates.”

Starting in September, these Canadian products will be showing up on store shelves in Manhattan.

So I guess you could say, Cori and Bobbi’s fancy-pants pants just got a whole lot fancier.


Okay, tough crowd. But let me backtrack a bit.


Rope yourself a good burger

rodeo burger, edmonton, french fries

Not too long ago, Sally and I had the pleasure of stopping in at Rodeo Burgers. This new burger spot is on the University of Alberta campus, across from the hospital.

It’s also a fantastic place to get a burger.

The patties are a little bit thinner than you might be used to, but you can always load your burger up with toppings, including a homemade relish. I’m kicking myself for not noticing the homemade relish until after I had my food. Next time…

You could also get an extra patty or two, to beef up your meal.

The fries come with a spice or nice and salty. We had the salted version, and you can see in the photo above that they appear to be freshly cut potatoes. They were great. And came in a fun, generic, fry container.

I took a peek inside the bun before eating.

The burgers do take a few minutes to make, again we’re talking about fresher food, but they are well worth it. And if you pile it up with condiments and veggies you are in for one of those parties in your mouth where everyone is invited.

That it can get a little messy only adds to the appeal, in my opinion.

Oh, and before I forget, go for the sauteed onions. You’re welcome.

Sally went for the veggie burger, which she reports is quite good.

The food is more expensive than your average burger or fast food joint, but it’s fresher, tastier, and you can get a beer. I don’t know how that last one means anything to the price of a burger and fries, but it’s somehow worth mentioning.

Ride on down to Rodeo Burgers the next time you’ve got a hankerin’ for a burger. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see another Rodeo or two pop up around Edmonton.

LYVE on Whyte

In case you missed out the first floppity jillion times we brought it up, this weekend is Edmonton’s first ever SOS Fest (we are very excited)!

But! that is not the only exciting news in Old Strathcona. This is also the inaugural weekend for a spanking new music venue on Whyte Avenue. (Did you see what I did there, with the linking and the segues and the seamlessness?)

Yup, LYVE on Whyte is the latest bar to launch in the Whyte Avenue area (8111 105 Street NW). Their grand opening was this past Wednesday, and according to LYVE on Whyte’s Rob Ferguson, the launch event, featuring Jay Sparrow and the Wheat Pool, “was awesome. It couldn’t have been any better.”

He adds that folks were lined up outside for good chunk of the night, which bodes well for business.

You guys may remember some of the former bars that graced this same spot, like the Urban Lounge, or more recently, Dirty Pretty (Let’s just add those to the list of now-defunct bars I can reference to make me sound old. Remember when Lucky 13 was Rebar? Remember when the Starlite Room was the Bronx? ).

I ask Ferguson why the location is being changed from a nightclub to a live music venue.

“The way that nightclubs go, they’re hot when they’re new, and then they cool down,” he says. “We actually wanted to be a venue right from the get-go.”

You might remember the Urban Lounge’s roof collapse back in 2007. After that, the bar moved to its new, but sadly short-lived location down to 105 St and Whyte.

Ferguson explains it seemed like the wrong time to launch another live music venue.

“We didn’t really think it was right,” he says.

But things have changed! LYVE on Whyte is now open for business, and patrons can expect to find live original music on Wednesday and Thursday nights, and cover bands on Fridays and Saturdays. You can also expect to see an original traveling act about once a month.

You can catch popular local cover band Mustard Smile playing this Friday and Saturday as part of SOS Fest.

Kegs, Corks and wine (mostly wine)

Keg n Cork, edmonton, wineAs I hinted at in today’s Headlines, I know 2.3 more things about wine after an informative evening. (And thanks to Tanya for inviting us.)

Before last night I had never been to the Keg n Cork, a wine and liquor store on 99 Street, near 39 Avenue. After last night I have a lot of reasons to return.

I would soon win that prize.

The evening began with an excited introduction from the KnC’s Lionel Usunier, a guy who knows his stuff. Aside from the wine tasting, I like that the store is stocked with the good stuff.

Lionel then turned things over to Denise Brisson and Tom Dixon, of Cellar Stock. They help fill Lionel’s shelves at the KnC. (He would step back in between wines to give away prizes from the store. I won some kind of mashing device to be used to make a Brazilian drink, called Kashasa.)

Our wines for the evening, for those of you that know more about this kind of thing than I do, were La Playa’s Block Selection Sauvignon Blanc and Claret, Don Rodolfo’s Torrontes and Tannat, Vino de Eyzaguirre’s Cabernet Sauvignon, and Lujan de Cuyo’s Llama and Swinto. (Forgive me if I got any of that information backwards.)

edmonton, wine tastingBecause La Playa, a Chilean winery, is all about producing wine through green practices we heard quite a bit about sustainable, organic, ISO and green wines and winery processes.

Denise and Tom were fantastic hosts to walk everyone, including wine-newbies Sally and me through the tasting. Along with information about the wines, they mixed in stories of world travels, of Juan visting Calgary during a snowstorm and attempting to brave it without a stitch of winter clothing (and enduring a harried, snow-filled car ride), of the seemingly-powerful Don Rodolfo meeting them at an Argentinian airport to fly them into his vineyard by helicopter.

They appear to have traveled to most of the places they import wine from. They talked about that a little on the organic side of things.

Because there are so many standard on the green side of wine, and food, there aren’t universal standards. So know who your wine producers are.

Or, it’s probably a little easier to know who you’re buying wine from, and know that they know who they’re importing from, who know the producers. The chain here would be that you buy from Lionel, he knows Tom and Denise, and they meet with the winery owners and operators here and in their home countries.

They also recommended looking for an “EU” on the bottle, citing European standards as probably the best for producing and cleaning up after the wine. That second part is actually key since you could avoid pesticides on the grapes but use bleach or harsh cleaners on the tanks.

Now, here’s what I actually learned about wine from this wine tasting. Torrontes and tannat are types of wine, just like cabernet and sauvignons. There are a lot more names and types of wine (and grapes) than I had thought.

Some wineries, like Don Rodolfo, can put a lot of wine. He produces eight-to-nine million cases each year. Yet, some vines, usually much older, can yield as little as half-a bottle.

The most interesting thing, in my opinion, was about a wine we didn’t even taste. Temple Bruer has a vegan friendly wine. Nobody at the table knew what that meant. Tom told us its vegan wine because they use a type of clay to remove particulate matter from the wine. Normally winemakers use egg whites.

Like my mind wasn’t being blown enough.

I think I’ll keep my eyes peeled for more tastings at the Keg n Cork, but also around town at the finer wine, beer, and liquor stores. There’s plenty to learn about wine, and other alcoholic beverages I’m sure, and I didn’t feel like a total rookie last night.

I also picked up a cheat sheet so I now look like I know what I’m doing.

Have you been to a wine tasting? Another kind of beverage tasting? What’s good, where else is good?

A step above “everyday foods”

As much as we love burgers and pizza (and we do) we know that a good diet is rounded out. Even when dining out.

For that reason, and for the simple fact we had yet to eat at Sabzy, Sally and I jumped into a tasty lunch recently.

As I mentioned, we’ve been there before, but for coffee and tea. Not for a meal.

Sabzy is a Persian-themed restaurant on Whyte Avenue. It’s also a hookah joint and that patio will be smokin’ soon.

Their menu is fresh, healthy items with middle eastern flair.

And, you’re going to want to have coffee since they do a fine job with that sweet elixir.

Sally went for the grilled chicken sandwich, which comes with corn chips. Actually, a couple of their dishes come with the crispy chips.

With the house hummus and bell peppers the sandwich is a great option to having another burger in another casual dining place.

(I see that Flavours is going to re-open as the Pour House and I fear the same old.)

I chose the Kabob Platter, which gave me one chicken kabob and one beef and lamb. I opted to pay the extra $2 and have saffron rice. That was right move. The rice was totally moist and great and was as good or better than the kabobs.

Oh, and saffron is a spice you’ll see a lot of in Sabzy.

The kabobs didn’t come stuck on a stick. Which could be good or bad, depending on how much you like eating things off sticks.

The meat was cooked really well, and it was spiced to make me want more, more, more.

We finished with americanos and super-sweet desserts. I mean the squares were sweet as in delicious but also really sweet in flavour.

They’re also vegan-friendly if you like that kind of thing, Gregg Beever.

Sabzy gets 8.73 Saffrons out of 10. Check them out.