The Dish: September and October 2019

Ice District discoveries, pizza at Toast Culture, Japanese highballs, Cave Beastro burgers and Wahkohtowin: the Battle River Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Distinguished Artist Awards Dinner.

ice is nice

chefs Jason Greene, Anthony Walsh and Jeremy Korten
chefs Jason Greene, Anthony Walsh and Jeremy Korten

Lots to discover at the new JW Marriott Ice District (10344 102 Street, 780-784-7950, Kindred Food + Drink is a bright and spacious spot for breakfast, lunch, brunch and casual dinner. Kindred’s chef de cuisine, Jason Greene, cooked with Corey McGuire at Tzin and Ryan O’Flynn (Canadian Culinary Champion 2015) at the Westin. Excellent bacon and eggs and loved the carrot cake, big enough for four people, and the crazy and delicious table-sized chicken pot pie. The Braven chef de cuisine is Jeremy Korten. Braven is all about classic steak house done with aplomb—wedge salad, shrimp cocktail, creamed spinach, seafood tower, several cuts of steak and old-school Chateaubriand—as well as three-course prix fixe ($49) ideal for pre-game dinners—in a clubby gentlemen’s cigar room ambiance. Happy hour in the Lobby Bar is from 3-6pm and 9pm-close—loved the Edmonton Negroni. There is also Alchemy, a tiny jewel box of a cocktail lounge on the fifth floor, with the entrance secreted behind a bookcase and a huge patio, opening soon.

toast culture includes pizza

a Toast Culture offering
half the Toast Culture smoked salmon toast

Check out the new Toast Culture (11965 Jasper Avenue, 780-761-4482, in the Pearl Tower. The café is a welcome addition to this stretch of Jasper with its friendly casual vibe, modern look and seriously tasty food. Yes, there is avocado toast (with bacon or without) a really good breakfast of eggs and fennel sausage, with roast potatoes, and at night, well-executed pizza. We’re crazy about the smoked salmon toast. Breads are from Bon Ton Bakery, coffee from the Columbian, meats from Meuwly’s. Chef/co-owner Josh Wilhelm is a congenial host, we expect this will become your new daily hang. Excellent coffee.

the art of the japanese highball

Filistix’ Rod Canafranca makes a Japanese highball
Filistix’ Rod Canafranca makes a Japanese highball

What’s the big deal about the the Japanese highball? It’s all about the quality of the ingredients and, yes, a completely persnickety (some would say obsessive) attitude towards the making of the drink. Samantha Yeung-Canafranca and her husband Rod Canafranca of Filistix (10621 100 Avenue, 780-716-4708, worked in Hong Kong at two top notch restaurants, Ronin and Yardbird, both owned by former Albertans. (Ronin is on the Asia Top 50 Restaurants list.)

“Yardbird is known for its attention to the Japanese highball,” says Samantha. “We started to learn about ice—how it affects the carbonation, which soda is best, and the importance of the right whisky.

“We thought it would be something great to bring to Edmonton. Here most highballs are made with cheap whisky and soda out of the gun,” she says.

“When it’s only three ingredients, spirit, mixer and garnish, what you use makes all the difference.

“We work with a local ice producer who makes a completely clear ice; it has no air and doesn’t dilute the drink. The cube is cut to the same height as the glass and is 1¾-inch thick. Our glasses are thinner which helps make the aromatics more evident. We also tie the highball menu into our food menu by using ingredients like tamarind and calamansi.”

The highballs at Filistix are impeccably balanced (not boozy) and taste the same from the start to the finish—a beautiful drink.

now, this is a burger

the burger at Cave Beastro
the burger at Cave Beastro

Burger fans must try the burger at Cave Beastro (102, 6104 104 Street 780-540-2283,; handmade patty of grass-fed beef, gorgeous bacon, griddled onions on a gluten-free bun that is more than edible, it’s tasty. Cave doesn’t use dairy, or products with gluten or soy. You won’t miss it, the food is delicious. Owner/chef Dave Kantor works closely with Bear and the Flower Farm for pork and Top Grass for beef. He was a regular chef at one time, becoming an expert in cooking for those with food sensitivities after marrying his wife Jennifer. Look for the special Beast Dinners throughout the year.

Shane Chartrand is the chef for the bison-based celebratory dinner on Saturday, September 21, part of the Battle River Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Distinguished Artist Awards. “Wahkohtowin means working together, neighbourliness and kinship– all guiding values for what we are doing in our region,” says Jane Ross, co-chair. The bison for the dinner was culled ceremonially from the Maskwacis herd. “In keeping with the spirit of wahkohtowin, the menu was planned around locality and affordability,” says Jane. It’s deliciously straightforward—roast Maskwacis bison with root vegetables, seasonal and foraged greens, fluffy bannock, potato lefse and a wild saskatoon and rhubarb crumble for dessert. The program includes notes about the ritual and ceremonial aspects of the foods. Events get underway at 2pm. Tix: $50, For all the events during the Battle River 2019 Lieutenant Governor Arts Awards of Alberta, visit