Capital Health now has their Restaurant Inspection website up for Edmonton and surrounding communities. You can search by name, address or browse by alphabetical listing.
“For each restaurant, critical violations observed during the five most recent monitoring inspections since April 1, 2008 and any inspections conducted between monitoring inspections (including re-inspections) is provided.”
Best of luck in not discovering your favorite restaurant is a cesspool!
For those of you who feel like hitting up an Italian restaurant in Edmonton but are bewildered and baffled by all the fine Italian choices, this post is for you. Simply figure out what sort of mood you are in and I’ll choose for you.
I would rather have great food than hear the person across from me
PiccoLino Bistro – The only thing louder than the boisterous Italian customers at PiccoLino’s are the staff. This is not a bad thing. The energy and passion at this family owned restaurant is readily apparent and this comes across in its food. Simple, affordable and incredibly delicious - there is a reason why this place is consistently packed every day of the week. Get your dinner conversation out of the way before you head to PiccoLino’s (and if you need, tell your date to turn her hearing aid down, I won’t judge) because you’ll likely be too busy eating and listening to the sounds of lively Italians.
I feel like the best pasta in the city with a possible side order of attitude
Nello’s – You have to be on your dining game when going to Nello’s. The food is undeniably delicious and the pasta portions are enormous. I cannot think of another place that nails food quantity and quality as much as Nello’s. However, there are no reservations for parties under 6 people and getting a table can be tough. On weekends you’ll be stuck waiting at the bar for 20 minutes after 6pm. Cluttering up the inside double door of the restaurant are shabbily drawn signs warning patrons of their “policies.” No split bills, not hats in the dining room…be certain it is Nello’s way or the highway. Nevertheless, if you are in the mood for pasta there is nothing better.
I am already in a relationship, have nobody to impress, and don’t care what my breath smells like at the end of the night
That’s Aroma – Self proclaimed “The Garlic Restaurant”, That’s Aroma worships the stinking rose (the first time I heard this phrase I thought it meant something COMPLETELY different, boy was I embarrassed). Almost every item on the menu features garlic and suffice to say, this is not the place to go when hoping to hit the late night oyster bar, if you know what I mean… and you probably don’t. As the only garlic restaurant in Edmonton (well there are actually two locations now, Hy’s Centre and the south side) you don’t have a lot of options for a straight garlic fix, but That’s Aroma usually delivers.
I don’t like to go out at night and don’t have a lot of money
Marcello’s – Whenever I am wandering around downtown at lunchtime cursing the lack of quality fast food options, more often than not I turn to my old friend, Marcello’s. If restaurants were dogs and I was a shepherd, Marcello’s would be my Old English Sheepdog. Take THAT Shakespeare. Marcello’s boasts an unusually diverse lunchtime buffet and its pay by the weight of your food system allows both anorexics and gluttons to go away happy. Keeping in mind that this is a fast food buffet, the quality of the food is surprisingly high and I rarely find myself thoroughly disgusted by my choices.
Agree or disagree with my choices? FINE! Visit Edmonton Eats and write your own review then!
Choosing a restaurant can sometimes be tricky business. You have the picky eaters, the food snobs, not to mention those bothersome vegetarians.
And then there’s me, the chain snob. I don’t like going to chain restaurants. While I’m not going to throw a tantrum and choose to sit at home instead of eating at a chain restaurant, I will definitely try to suggest an independent restaurant. To me, it just makes a lot more sense. Read on for my thrilling analysis.
1. Local Ingredients
Independent restaurants are much more likely to support local growers and farmers. Many chain restaurants have supply chains and distribution networks already set up leaving little incentive to buy local. Trucks arrive carrying pails of tomato sauce and ingredients from who knows where that are readily available in Alberta. It’s very possible non-chain restaurants source potentially local ingredients from cheaper sources thousands of miles away, however they are much more likely to be looking for a local source. I can’t think of one example of a chain restaurant promoting something local on its menu. This bring me to my next point…
2. Locally Inspired Menu
One of the biggest problems I have with chain restaurants is that they have a corporate test kitchen dictating what will be on the next menu. For example, Boston Pizza, seemingly everyone’s favorite fallback option in Edmonton, has a test kitchen in Dallas, Texas along with a culinary council overseeing it. Call me crazy but it bothers me when I eat at restaurant where the food and menu literally have no connection to the local area. As a side note, it’s also interesting that the very first Boston Pizza was established in Edmonton in 1964 as “Boston Pizza and Spaghetti House.” Trivia like this makes you an instant hit at parties.
Have you ever been to a chain and had a hard time finding something you wanted because everything seems so pedestrian and uninspired? I think this is primarily due to the fact that chains have to construct menus to appeal to the widest demographic of people and hence creativity and originality give way to the typical fare that will sell to the average restaurant goer. Now there’s nothing wrong with this at all, everyone loves to make money. I would just rather eat somewhere that didn’t require me to board a plane to see where the menu was created.
3. Same old song and dance
With chains you know what you’re going to get. You know you will see the slick professionally designed interior, the nice dark woods, the familiar table centers and the massive menus that are as long as the table is wide that always result in a menu fight with the person across from you. It’s all very standard and very predictable and I think this is a big reason why chains can be so successful. If you are going to spend your hard earned money on a meal out, it’s nice to know the food will taste good and the service will be consistent. But to me it’s boring.
I would much rather try something new in hopes of discovering a gem of a restaurant than going for reliable and consistent. For me, most of the fun of eating out is getting to try new foods and discovering that the local bistro down the street with the fading sign and 4 different types of chairs at a single table has the best crab cakes I’ve ever tasted. If I have to eat at a few Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares candidates then so be it.
Open Table is an online restaurant reservation system that allows you to make reservations online. I find that the handiest feature is the ability to search multiple restaurants for open times. This can be especially valuable if you’re looking to make a reservation quickly or at the last second and don’t want to be bothered with phoning around to multiple restaurants.
Open Table supports restaurants around the world and while the Edmonton restaurant selection is a bit small, new restaurants are added once in awhile.
The following Edmonton restaurants support Open Table:
Barring cardiac arrest or a sudden shortage of pants with elastic waistlines, I think I’d be up to the challenge.
This 15lb burger from Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield, Pennsylvania has apparently been eaten by one person several times. I am in awe.
Strategy: Split the burger up into “tiny” one pound size chunks and eat one a day.
Likely Outcome: Develop a serious psychological aversion to anything even remotely resembling beef (I’m looking at you my precious 7/11 Big Bites).
How long would it take: 15 days + 3 months in beef therapy. Does anyone else think Beef Therapy is a great name for a restaurant?
This $1000 pizza for purchase at Nino’s Bellisisma Pizza in New York (where else) is topped with crème fraîche, loads of caviar and lobster. What, no truffles??? This seems less an attempt at pizza and more of an exercise in throwing the most expensive ingredients available on some dough and marking the price up 80%. It doesn’t even look that big, I could definitely do it in one sitting.
Strategy: Easy: 3 pieces a day, taking care to evenly split up the caviar that is so elegantly glopped onto the pizza.
Likely Outcome: An empty wallet and a craving for some real pizza that doesn’t cost $10 a bite.
How long would it take: Depends on which side of the 6 or 8 slice per pizza side of the fence you fall on. Let’s say a long weekend.
Big Wedding Cake
I have no clue why anyone would want such a big wedding cake. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a normal wedding cake finished off at a wedding never mind one that is 15,000 lbs and 17 feet tall. That’s a lot of freezer space…
Strategy: Pawn off as many pieces as I could to unsuspecting weddings guests. When that doesn’t make a dent, resort to stuffing them into every pocket I can find. No purse or fanny pack would be safe!
Likely Outcome: Drive home with two minivans full of wedding cake and tell myself that diabetes is only a state of mind.
How long would it take: Assuming a generous 500 lbs of cake was taken off of my hands by guests I’m left with 14,500 lbs of cake. At a ridiculous 1 lb of cake a day I’ll be licking my fingers in triumph in almost 40 years. This cake would likely last longer than my marriage… just kidding honey I love you!
And The Rest
And finally here’s a video montage of many world record breaking foods. Tell me if you don’t start feeling a little uncomfortable at about the 45 second mark…
I’m sure you’ve had those nights where you don’t want to cook, don’t want eat out and don’t want to get the standard pizza or Chinese delivered.
Well cry me a river you poor baby, you obviously haven’t heard of Dial and Dine (and neither had I until today).
I can’t believe I didn’t know about this before but Dial and Dine is a restaurant delivery service in Edmonton that will go to a restaurant, pick up your order and deliver it to you (for a small delivery fee of course ).
Dial and Dine offers service from over 25 different Edmonton restaurants and full dine out menus on the website, which I found very useful. There’s nothing worse than phoning up a restaurant and trying to stumble your way through an order. “Yeah do you have that pasta on the menu? I think it’s spicy, chickeny, definitely had some capers in it. Hold on, what’s a caper again?”
All you have to do is phone up Dial and Dine, tell them what you’d like to order, and in “45-60 minutes” delicious food will be at your door. Well, the delicious part will depend on who you order from. Be sure to check the map on the website because not all restaurants are available in all parts of the city.
Coming from a guy who has had more than his fair share of leftover pizza for breakfast, I’m definitely going to check this out.
One of the restaurant organizations around Edmonton that I don’t think gets enough attention is Original Fare. Original Fare is:
“… a select group of independent restaurants committed to Promoting, Preserving and Protecting Culinary Diversity.
Original Fare restaurants are independently owned and operated and offer original, diverse, authentic dining experiences you just can’t get anywhere else!”
The Original Fare website offers restaurant profiles, a Chef Q&A, Interviews and Job Postings, however the one feature that caught my attention was the:
Original Fare Gift Card
This is a gift card (available for purchase here) that can be used at any Original Fare restaurant, and I think it’s the perfect gift for any restaurant fan. As Original Fare restaurants are independent and locally owned and operated, this gift card will support our local restaurant scene as well offering an amazing choice of restaurants. The Original Fare Edmonton restaurants are:
Whenever I look up a restaurant it’s a bit of a moment of truth for me. Will I discover a squeaky clean inspection record or constant sanitation and food storage violations for the past two years (I won’t name names). I don’t know about you, but for me nothing says delicious like 8 instances of the word “feces” in the past year. Mmmmm.
When dining out with a group and the bill arrives how do you go about paying? Do you shovel money into the center of the table knowing that you’ve covered your portion? Or are you eyeing the size of your wine glass and covertly calculating on your cell phone the percentage of the bottle you had?
Mind Your Decisions comments on dividing a restaurant bill and essentially gives three common sense approaches and then an “ideal outcome” which I think seems a bit heavy handed.
Common Sense Approaches:
Splitting evenly with the caveats that you have to pay for the people who order expensive items and drinks.
Pay for what you ordered. This can lead to some gray areas with regards to a shared bottle of wine or appetizers and it can tend toward the splitting evenly approach.
Separate checks. Financially the most favorable (from a customer’s perspective) but a few practical problems in that some restaurants can’t/won’t split checks or problems with splitting shared items across the checks.
Proposed Ideal Approach:
Choose a few comparatively priced items on the menu and inform everyone (preferably beforehand) that there will essentially be a fixed menu for the group with a pre-assigned cost. This way, people will still have a choice however the amount owed has all been calculated beforehand.
This just doesn’t jive with my idea of going out to a restaurant. I’d like to be able to choose anything from the menu and not rely on the organizer to pick out a few options for me. If three options will be chosen for the whole group I think we can assume they will be safer options - something I try to stay away from when going to a restaurant!
To be honest, I haven’t run into the problem of people short changing on how much they owe very often. Our strategy is generally to pay what you ordered with this usually entailing looking at the bill and estimating on the high end what is owed. Some will overpay by $5 and some will underpay by $5 but in the end it evens out. And if we are a bit short the money counter will let the table know and usually a guilty party will cough up $5 more. I’d much rather this ad-hoc calculation at the end of the meal than all this planning beforehand.
The thought of preparing a plan to dine out with a group just seems like too much work for too little (if any) reward.