Every year, the editorial team at WHERE Edmonton Magazine reviews the restaurants that have popped up in Edmonton over the year and awards their pick for the Best New Restaurant. Here’s a look at their choices in 2015 for the overall best new restaurants and those in the grab & go and café categories!
Best New Restaurant
1st: The Workshop Eatery
The overall winner for 2015, this brand new rustic space is the brainchild of Chef Paul Shufelt who was formerly the man behind the menus at Century Hospitality Group. While Shufelt admits that starting his own restaurant has been a lot of work, he is excited about the freedom it is giving him to put his talent behind a menu that is all his own. “The idea [with the menu] is to really focus on the seasons… there’s a time of year for certain ingredients. You shouldn’t be eating corn on the cob in February or strawberries in March.” The menu will change every few months, and new features each day highlight fresh ingredients sourced locally. Garden beds located just outside the restaurant are planted in the summer to make up parts of various dishes, and all jams, jellies, pickles, preserves, ketchup, and dressings are made in house, from scratch. And, in the summer, bees located on the roof of the building provide fresh honey! If you can book ahead of time, the
best seat in the house is, without a doubt, at the chef’s table where you can watch as the kitchen goes off-menu, creating culinary masterpieces using whatever is in the fridge or the pantry at the time. —Lindsay Shapka
2nd: NongBu Korean Eatery
Located in a modern, industrial space, this authentic spot offers a fresh take on Korean street food. Don’t let the names of the dishes intimidate you — the amiable servers are happy to explain everything down to the best way to eat your meal. The names will soon roll off your super-pleased tongue once you try the slow-braised pork shoulder Ssam (lettuce wraps, which you stuff with steamed rice, sliced garlic, cucumber, and chili paste) and the Spicy DdukBboKki (chewy rice sticks in a tasty hot sauce). Between bites, enjoy delightful Banchan, which are little nibbles like kimchee and spicy Korean radish made to refresh your palette. In the evening, the menu expands to offer more tasty street eats that pair well with a refreshing K-Pop Cocktail or a light Korean beer. —Matthew Stepanic
3rd: Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen
In November, the iconic Alberta Hotel welcomed new tenant Chef Spencer Thompson of Toast Fine Catering, which serves tasty eats at the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market. He’s maintained the historic décor, while reviving this Edmonton institution with fine yet simple Alberta dishes with a farm-to-fork concept. Some divine cocktails have been crafted for the menu, including The Absent Sun, which is a bright and fragrant mix of vodka, chartreuse, and grapefruit bitters. In this elegant space, you can dine on the stunning Pembina Pork Cheeks served over a decadent buttermilk polenta, with tomato jam, wild mushrooms, arugula, and pecorino. Finish your meal with the delightful Cheesecake served on an almond sponge with a tart red currant jelly and lemon curd. —M.S.
Best New Grab & Go
1st: Sandwich & Sons
The latest venture of Chef Alex Sneazwell, this traditional-style deli serves up hefty sandwiches with sides of fresh chips and zippy pickles. Its plump Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich is a clear winner: layers of juicy, smoked brisket, and house-made mustard and sauerkraut set between two slices of soft marble rye bread. Order a side of nostalgia with their pumped-up childhood classics: Fried Bologna on soft sourdough or a three-cheese Grilled Cheese with an artichoke spread. Hot tips: buy a jar of pickles to enjoy later or have them cater your next lunch meeting! —M.S.
2nd: Urbano Pizza Co.
From culinary duo Christina Mena and Lino Oliveria comes this quick and exciting meal concept: flash-fired pizzas! In less than 120 seconds, the specialty ovens will pop out a pizza with only your chosen toppings, from grilled eggplant to shoestring potatoes. The customizable pizzas are ideal for celiacs and vegans, but you can also try signature options such as Piri-Piri Chicken and Bacon & Eggs! —M.S.
3rd: Dovetail Delicatessen
In the spring, Nevin and Kara Fenske, owners of the popular Drift Food Truck, opened a delightful wheel-free home, which offers up delectable sandwiches made with daily roasts and house-made condiments. Round out the perfect picnic or lunch with near-endless options (many of which are gluten-free or vegan): unique salads, fresh samosas, pork patés, potato crisps, and more! —M.S.
Best New Café
1st: Bru Coffee + Beer House
This fantastic spot is the winner of this category because it is the perfect place to grab a great coffee, breakfast sandwich, or afternoon pastry, but also serves craft beer and snacks when the sun goes down. The high ceilings and comfortable seating make it a great space to hang out with friends or get some work done while savouring your favourite brew. —L.S.
2nd: Coffee Bureau
It may be small (there are only a few coveted seats in the space), but this café knows what they’re doing. Their great-tasting coffee is perfect for your daytime fix, and they even have a few sweet treats that you can grab to-go as well! —L.S.
3rd: Lock Stock Coffee
Housed in a portion of the popular Red Star Pub, this space is the ideal place to grab a great coffee and have a quick meeting out of the office. There are lots of tables, and the dark, wood-lined walls make it feel especially cozy on cold winter days. —L.S.