The Tomato

The 4th Annual Top 100

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The 4th Annual Top 100 best things to eat or drink in Edmonton

Hugs and kisses to all the folks who emailed, tweeted, facebooked, and phoned in their nominations for The Tomato Top 100.

Trends? We are learning to love the offal—Rge Rd’s Questionable Bits topped the list. Perhaps this means that diners are starting to understand the rigorous commitment it takes to practise whole animal cooking. We are still crazy for great pasta and, if we can put something between two pieces of bread and eat it out of hand, we are in! Sandwiches topped the list for the most nominations for a particular category.

Enjoy this snapshot of where we are gastronomically speaking in YEG.

Rge Rd’s Questionable Bits Curtis Comeau Photography

Rge Rd’s Questionable Bits
Curtis Comeau Photography

1. Rge Rd’s Questionable Bits. Rge Rd tops the list this year with a slew of nominations for several dishes on the menu, which changes seasonally. RgRd is as serious as you can get about whole animal cooking and nowhere is this more evident than in the Questionable Bits—where the kitchen team creates gastronomic gold out of the parts of the animal that usually get thrown out. Take heart for example. “The most memorable dishes have been the ones using beef or chicken or pork heart,” says exec chef/owner Blair Lebsack.Or liver. Davina Moraiko spins liver into silky mousse, whereas Colin McFall makes a sublime blood sausage. We still feel as though we are dining in a rock star’s farmhouse, albeit one with his own private butchery. “We want people to ask the question ‘what is that and how did it get here?’ It’s our philosophy on the plate,” says Blair.

Corso 32’s Tonarelli with fresh tomato

Corso 32’s Tonarelli with fresh tomato
Curtis Comeau Photography

2. Corso 32’s Pumpkin Tortelli has quite the provenance. Daniel Costa found a seed source for Marina di Chioggia, the gnarly flat-topped sweet pumpkin from the Veneto lagoon, and asked August Organics to grow it for the restaurant. The result? A flavourful- filled pasta with a silky Parmigiana brown butter sage sauce accented with 30-year old balsamico. The pumpkin tortelli is one among many flawless pasta dishes the Corso kitchen continues to create, such as the tonarelli (a thicker spaghetti-style noodle) with fresh tomato and basil, the most soul-restoring dish around, or the excellent farro pappardelle with walnuts.

3. Cibo Bistro’s Arancini has legions of fans. Their arancini, savoury rice balls, get this sort of reaction: “Though everything at Cibo is amazing, I would go just to eat four bowls of the arancini. The outside is crunchy and the risotto inside is cooked perfectly with oozy cheese,” says Carly Strong. Also well-recommended, the multi-course tasting menu with excellent wine pairings by their somm Lisa Caputo.
Roasted Cauliflower, Ampersand 27

Roasted Cauliflower, Ampersand 27

4. Roasted Cauliflower, Ampersand 27. Who knew cauliflower could be so savoury? Crispy/soft cauliflower, roasted tandoori style and served with plump raisins, tiny beluga lentils and a tangy Romesco (red peppers and almonds) sauce add up to a delish package that has diners salivating. How does chef Nathin Bye create such depth of flavour and the perfect tender texture? The cauliflower is cooked sous vide with turmeric and garam masala before being roasted with yogurt.

The Tuna Twist at X1X Nineteen

The Tuna Twist at X1X Nineteen
Curtis Comeau Photography

5. The Tuna Twist at X1X Nineteen is an appetizer that diners just can’t get enough of. Voters also love the beef tataki.

6. This year it’s Rosso’s breakfast pizza, the Canadese, that garnered the nominations—pancetta, thin slices of potato, with fior de latte (young mozza), a drizzle of rosemary oil, topped with a fried egg (as all the breakfast pizza are). Available on weekends and holidays, the rest of the time you’ll have to content yourself with their excellent Rosso, with spicy soppressata and Taleggio cheese, or the Bianca Rucola with tons of fresh arugula. What’s Rosso’s secret to outstanding pizza? It’s the dough—a little bit chewy, flavourful, never soggy, with just the right amount of char.
The Rye and Speck Crostini at Bar Bricco

The Rye and Speck Crostini at Bar Bricco
Curtis Comeau Photography

7. The Rye and Speck Crostini at Bar Bricco — house-made ricotta and pork speck on crispy rye toast with shaved Napa cabbage and Pink Lady apple is a standout among the many wine-friendly plates served at the atmospheric Bar Bricco. It is owner Daniel Costa’s ode to the Alto Adige region (apples, salumi) and his favourite Bricco dish.

8. The Glass Monkey’s Pappardelle al dente house-made noodles, pork shoulder slow-roasted to create generous depth of flavour, accented with woodsy wild mushrooms—this is rainy day food. Readers also gave a shout out to their incredibly well-priced wine list.
Sandwich & Sons deli-style sandwiches

Sandwich & Sons deli-style sandwiches
smoked meat

9. Sandwich & Sons offers a focused menu of stellar deli-style sandwiches, including the best grilled cheese you have ever tasted. There is nothing not to like—the condiments, sauerkraut, pickles and mustard are made in-house as are the completely addictive crispy chips. We’re thrilled that this home-grown venture of chef Alex Sneazwell and Jimmy Shewchuk just opened a small shop downtown on the 104 Street Promenade; now we don’t have to truck out to the northwest for a sandwich. These workin’ man-sized sandwiches are filled with the most delicious meats—smoked brisket, double-cut double-smoked bacon, all made by local meat guru Jeff Senger at Sangudo Meats. Who knew fried bologna could taste like that?

10. Solstice Seasonal Cuisine made a dish last fall that still has diners talking—the pigtail. In case you want to try this in your own kitchen: “Make a sachet with thyme, bay leaf, black peppercorns, coriander and garlic. Place pig tails in single layer in vacuum bag, add chicken stock and mirepoix. Cook at 82.2oC for eight hours; let cool to room temperature. Remove bone and cartilage and form the meat in the shape of a pig’s tail, season with salt and pepper and moisten with braising liquid. Serve with grainy mustard and maple vinaigrette.” – exec chef Jan Trittenbach.
11. The Marc Frites. Crispy fries with a sublime truffle-scented mayo, a perennial favourite.
Hardware Grill’s Sea Bass

Hardware Grill’s Sea Bass
Merle Prosofsky photo

12. Hardware Grill’s Sea Bass. ‘I can’t stop thinking about it,” said one reader. With truffled lobster potato crêpes, a white corn and arugula sauté, some Gulf prawns just for fun and a warm portobello vinaigrette.

North 53’s Smoke & Oak Cocktail

North 53’s Smoke & Oak Cocktail
Curtis Comeau Photography

13. North 53’s Smoke & Oak Cocktail is the top drink this year—an Old-Fashioned made new via mixology magic. Victoria Oaken Gin, smoked maple syrup, orange and angostura bitters, plus a spritz of orange oil to trap the smoke of the burning blue spruce. Brava!

14. Smoked Gouda Miso Ramen. The top nominated ramen was Prairie Noodle Shop’s Smoked Gouda Miso Ramen; Sylvan Star gouda, mozzarella, garlic puree, with marinated bean sprouts providing acid and crunch and chili oil offering heat. It works. The Prairie Pork ramen with dashi, a soft boiled egg in umeboshi and three kinds of pork is also a fave.
Three Boars Eatery Mushrooms on Toast

Three Boars Eatery Mushrooms on Toast

15. Three Boars Eatery Mushrooms on Toast. A runny egg creates the right amount of lusciousness to partner fried mushrooms. Another favourite is the honeyed Brussels sprouts, roasted until they have an intriguing smoky essence similar to wok hei.

16. The Dovetail Deli Roasted Pork Shoulder Sandwich is served with chimichurri or their pilsner mustard or a roast garlic aioli and the daily salad on the side. Voters loved it every which way, as well as the tasty coriander chutney with the samosas.
Doreen Prei

Doreen Prei
Mary Bailey photo

17. Doreen Prei’s Pop-up Saturday Brunch at Get Cooking. This delicious brunch—cold platters of meats and cheeses with chutneys, pickles and relishes to start, followed by several hot dishes; eggs on potato pancakes with yellow tomatoes, braised beef, perfectly cooked Irving’s bacon, then dessert, is already garnering a following. Come hungry!

18. Local Omnivore’s toothsome cold-smoked bacon is a thing of beauty and now you don’t have to line up outside a truck to get it. Bacon aficionados Ryan Brodziak and Mark Bellows have sold the truck and built a bricks and mortar location in a revamped warehouse space on the north side (it was the home of Marc Holland Industries for decades) with lots of parking. Also noted, salsa verde porchetta sandwich and the poutine.
The Common’s Pork au Feu

The Common’s Pork au Feu

19. Fans of Jesse Morrison-Gauthier’s cooking at The Common are impressed with Pork au Feu, a delicious Asian-inspired take on a French country classic at a recent Swine & Dine and the Jackson Steak Salad on grilled romaine with blue cheese, mustard and artichokes.

Farrow’s Grick Middle Sandwich

Farrow’s Grick Middle Sandwich

20.Farrow’s Grick Middle Sandwich. Devin Horne says “the Grick Middle is still the best breakfast sandwich in the city.”

Lock Stock Coffee’s irresistible baked goods

Lock Stock Coffee’s irresistible baked goods
Curtis Comeau Photography

21. Lock Stock Coffee always has interesting sweet and savoury treats to go with the coffee such as their rosemary gruyere biscuit, (“because the layers of flaky and seductive pastry coupled with the savoury cheese will change your life,” says Katherine St. Pierre) a delish carrot cake with the frosting in the middle, a cheesy herb biscuit, peanut butter cookie.

22. Readers love the house-made Charcuterie Boards of spicy coppa, duck prosciutto, Italian fennel salami and sopressata at St Albert’s Privada wine + tapas.
Cibo Bistro’s Grilled Octopus

Cibo Bistro’s Grilled Octopus
Curtis Comeau Photography

23. Cibo Bistro’s Grilled Octopus is described by nominator Karin Fodor as “so delicious and oh so tender.” The smoky flavours created by the grill play off the briny meat in the most savoury of ways.

12 Acres Gold Forest Grains Salad

12 Acres Gold Forest Grains Salad
Genevieve Cameron, Genevieve Imagery

24. 12 Acres Gold Forest Grains Salad. Talk about a taste of the Prairie. Pretty much everything John Schneider grows at Gold Forest Grains near Morinville is in this salad—farro, barley and wheat berry grains, Einkorn tuile, rye croutons, plus shavings of pastrami-style beef tongue, finished with birch and saskatoon vinegar syrup and toasted buckwheat for crunch.

Workshop Eatery’s beet salad

Workshop Eatery’s beets n’ barley salad

25. The Workshop Eatery Beets n’ Barley Salad has many fans, who can’t get enough of the red, yellow and Chiogga beets accented with goat cheese and barley risotto. Workshop is the new project by popular Edmonton chef Paul Shufelt, formerly of the Century Hospitality Group. The creamy smooth and luscious chicken liver parfait is also a hit with diners.

Bar Bricco Uovo Raviolo

Bar Bricco Uovo Raviolo

26. Bar Bricco Uovo Raviolo. A whole egg cooked inside ravioli with ricotta, then showered in a lavish dusting of pecorino. Delicious shared, glass of bubbly in hand.

27. Attila the Hungry’s Duck Tots caused a flutter of tweets about their amazingness.
28. Anything by Irving’s Pork said the notes. That would be their bacon, pork shoulder roasts, and the sausages.
29. Mama Lee’s Kitchen Squid and Pork. This spicy, tangy, just the right amount of greasy take-out specialty delivers knock out umami; you’ll crave it at the most unexpected moments. We also love the many versions of kimchee available to go as well as the fried anchovies which supplies another umami hit to whatever you pair them with, even if it’s just a beer.
Nong Bu Seafood Pajeon

Nong Bu Seafood Pajeon

30. Nong bu Seafood Pajeon (fried pancake) packed with seafood and green onions, tasty, crispy, with salty soy flavours to complement.

31. Cavern Cheese is a fave for breakfast on summer farmers’ market Saturdays when people line up for sidewalk tables. Fans love the care and attention Tricia Bell brings to their selections, with strength in French regional and Quebec cheeses, always at the perfect ripeness. Cheeseheads would be hard pressed to find anything more delicious than membership in the Cavern’s Cheese Club with monthly deliveries.
32. S’wich Sandwich Truck’s Korean Beef and the egg salad, breads made fresh daily and their own brisket. They often do cooking classes at Get Cooking if you find it hard to pin down the location of the truck.
The Bon Ton’s new sandwich bar

The Bon Ton’s new sandwich bar

33. The Bon Ton’s new sandwich bar is handy for lunch in the west end. There were several nominations for the classic Rueben.

34. Sundog Farm Carrots. Only a few more months until their spring radishes too.
35. The Juniper Handheld Bennie is topped with arugula, house-made hollandaise and a spicy chipotle sauce or lemony aioli, on a toasted-on-the-flat-top- grill Portuguese bun adding savoury brown butter flavours to the mix. Readers also get a kick out of their drinks list—wine, beer and four kinds of gin, that’s it.
12 Acres Burger

12 Acres Burger
Genevieve Cameron, Genevieve Imagery

36. The 12 Acres Burger is a classic — a combination of ground chuck, all their trim, house-made mustard and mayo, a sharp cheddah, Gull Valley tomatoes with fresh greens on a (mostly Park wheat) bun made daily. Also noted, the Northern Divine sturgeon, lightly smoked and dry aged for nine days, quick sear, basted with butter and served with parsnip puree and wheat berry pilaf. Wow!

37. Bar Bricco’s Eggs Moliterno cacio e pepe. You’ll never look at scrambled eggs in the same way —rich and creamy (it’s all about the double boiler) with a heavenly dusting of Moliterno cheese (Sardinian sheep’s milk cheese infused with black truffle) and lots of cracked black pepper. Breakfast of champions for sure.
38. Syphay Tom Yum soup. “From scratch, packed with galangal,” said Tippolina.
39. Gold Forest Grains are top notch and loved by many, especially their oats and Red Fife flour.
40. Potato chips. Finally. Get good house-made crisps at the Dovetail Deli, Sandwich & Sons, Workshop Eatery and the Glass Monkey.
41. The Pulled Pork Tacos at El Cortez.
Kitchen by Brad’s Pyrohy

Kitchen by Brad’s Pyrohy

42. Kitchen by Brad’s Cured Arctic Char. There are many fans of chef Brad Smoliak’s Ukrainain cooking classes as well. He makes crepes and pyrohy easy as pie.

43. Cococo’s Sea Salt Caramels are a truly excellent candy; rich chocolate, toothsome caramel, just the right amount of crunchy salt crystals.
44. What’s not to love at the Duchess Bake Shop? Their croissants and sour cherry pie are perennial favourites.
45. The Downtown Diner in Fort Saskatchewan makes a hot dog that sounds amazing; “This hotdog is just too cool. It’s a pork cutlet pounded flat, stuffed with cheese and bacon, and rolled up like a hotdog, then panko-crusted and fried.” The BLT and the Shepherd’s Pie Burger also got the nod from several on facebook.
46. Big G Jerky  “Gille’s food is incredible. From the pulled park and beef jerky, and the magic mustard, everything he makes is crafted with passion and is delicious!” says Alison Ottewell.
47. The Avonlea Cheddar at Bonjour Boulangerie; cloth-bound 12 months-aged cheddar from Prince Edward Island with their just right sourdough is bread and cheese heaven.
48. Belgravia Hub Corn Fritters Abbey Laviolette is a fan—“these corn fritters are light yet filling. Pair with their house-made strawberry jam for sweet and savoury tastes.”
49. Willhauk Beef Jerky (Leduc Meats) Spicy, savoury, lean  and chewy, this jerky is delicious. Let’s hope they find some Edmonton retailers soon.
50. The Italian Centre’s new chicken salad: slices of roast chicken, a bit of salami, cheese, corn and greens with a light dressing. Good food to go in a right-sized portion.
McKernan Food Works Vinegars

McKernan Food Works Vinegars

51. McKernan Food Works Vinegars Living vinegars made from apples and honey, unfiltered and delicious.

52. Newget Salted Caramel Nougat, ‘chewy and delectable’ says Janet on Facebook.
53. We love that you can now get West Country Herbs Fresh Basil almost all year-round. Fresh, fragrant and grown nearby.
54. Leva’s Margarita pizza, thin enough to fold like a NYC slice, always delicious.
55. Kazoku Ramen’s Spicy Chicken Karaage and the Spice Miso Ramen are both winners according to several nominations. We like their slightly chewy noodles and soulful broth.
Sugared and Spiced baked yummies

Sugared and Spice’s baked yummies

56. Sugared and Spice’s Amy Nachtigall is a terrific baker with many fans who love her cakes, the Morning Glory muffin and especially the Girls Night In cookie — chocolate, caramel, raspberry dessert wine dusted with sea salt, enough said.

57. Little Brick’s Mushroom Salad.
58. Riverbend Gardens Cauliflower and Cabbage.
59. Vesta Gardens Green Beans.
60. Sparrows Nest Summer Arugula.
61.Hops Across the Border Cocktail at North 53. Think of this as a blonde michelada with benefits: Resposado Tequila with Averna, lime juice, agave nectar, shaken and strained over ice and topped with a froth of hoppy Lagunitas A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Wheat Ale.  How refreshing!
62. Earth’s General’s Sprouted Lentil Hummus is pretty wicked!” says Tippolina.
63. Mrs. Kulhmann’s Sauerkraut, you can buy it, or you can follow the recipe on their web site and make your own.
64. Kelsey Bulmer is a fan of the Cauliflower Goat Cheese Fritters at St. Albert’s Buco Pizzeria
65. A nod to Sabor’s Piri Piri Prawns from the Twittersphere.
66. Dauphine Bakery’s high tea is becoming an Edmonton institution.
67. Tres Carnales Pescado Taco.
68. The Coffee Bureau Latte and their Croissants.
69. District Coffee Co’s Salted Caramels.
70. Red Balloon Pie Company’s Orange and Clove Caramels.
71. Autumn Spice Caramels at Whimsical Cupcakes, also their bacon caramels
72. El Cortez Cantina’s Fried Cauliflower.
73. Ampersand 27’s Forest Floor Flatbread, redolent of mushrooms, truffle oil, peppery arugula and ricotta.
74. The Smoked Salmon Platter and the tasty Beet and Fennel Salad at Leva are big enough to share.
75. Alley Kat’s Full Moon IPA.
76. Massimo’s Bolognese Sauce, for when you don’t have time to make your own, made with their wonderful Piemontese beef.
77. The Grizzly Gouda Pyrohy served at Rge Rd.
78. Spicy Beef Satay Soup at Thanh Thanh Oriental Noodle House.
79. Rostizado’s  Rotisserie Chicken and Roasted Cauliflower.
80. The Baby Back Ribs at Real Deal Meats.
81. The Sweet Sheep Chipotle Dip from The Happy Camel.
82. The Great Scott from the South Island Pie Company is a great breakfast pie that really fills you up,” says Chris Douglas. The Arvo steak and mushroom pie also nominated.
83. The Coconut Margarita at El Cortez.
84. Upson’s Classic Lavender Grapefruit Soda Named for the originator of lemonade, made by chef Shaun Hicks in classic lemonade, rose lemonade and the lavender grapefruit delish with gin.
85. Earth’s General’s Sprouted Lentil Hummus is pretty wicked!” says Tippolina.
86. Nigiri at Japonais Bistro. The Matcha Crème Brulee is a favourite, as is the Yellowtail, seared and served with ponzu, cilantro, jalepeno and tobiko.
Mojojo Pickles

Mojojo Pickles

87. Mojo Pickles Traditional Carrot topped the reccies; we love the pickled eggs with mustard and dill and the kim chee Brussels Sprouts with chile and ginger.

88. Planet Organic’s Hail to the Kale Salad.
89. Sylvan Star’s Grizzly Gouda.
90. Izakaya Tomo’s Tonpei Yaki, shaved pork, cabbage, egg with okonomi sauce.
91. Vietnamese Five Star Noodle Bowl at Golden Bird.
92. Viphalay’s Gaeng Kah Gai (coconut soup).
93. One nominator described the Manor’s Eggs Bennie thus: “Eggs Benedict are my go-to morning meal, and nowhere else in Edmonton makes them better. The hollandaise is buttery and flavourful, the eggs perfectly poached and the accompanying potatoes and couscous aren’t throwaways like they are in many other places. Also, love the banana bread with the pecan butter.”
94. The Glasshouse Bistro’s gluten-free Almond Coconut Cake
95. Metro Cinema at the Garneau Theatre’s Popcorn
96. The Nudda Budda-Peanut Donut from Frickin’ Delights also the matcha vanilla bean donut.
97. Upper Crust’s Baked Goods lemon squares, the cakes and the chocolate nut cookie, all classics in their own right.
98. Earth’s General Espresso, also their black and tan coffee.
99. Whimsical Cake Studio’s Peanut Butter Awesomes.
100. Phil’s Fudge makes dozens of flavours, the seasonal pumpkin Pie, peanut butter chocolate and Irish cream are popular.
101. Most Improved-looking Restaurant has to be Café Mosaics now with lovely big windows letting the light in. Still love the tofu scramble, green onion cakes with flax seeds and hemp hearts, and the vegan chocolate cake.
102. We are getting our brunch on! Culina’s Dogwood Brunch at the Victoria Golf Course (huevos rancheros); Ampersand 27, (scones, lemon ricotta pancakes, corned beef hash); the Royal Glenora Club’s fabulous offering open to non–members, Canteen (chicken and waffles); Sugarbowl (cinnamon buns); La Ronde’s breakfast with a view (omelette and seafood station); Get Cooking’s Saturday offering — wow!  Brunch lovers are spoiled for choice now.

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