February 26, 2019
Category: DT Advantage Spring 2019
Downtown Edmonton is blessed with a multitude of restaurants and creative chefs that make an impression on our taste buds. We asked three Downtowners to dish out their best-loved.
Chantell Ghosh, Executive Director, The Citadel Theatre
More so than language or geography, food defines a place. In New Orleans, African, French and Acadian cultures collide to create a unique regional cuisine. For Chantell Ghosh, executive director of the Citadel Theatre, what makes Edmonton’s food scene distinct from other cities is its cultural diversity. “You learn about the soul of a place through its food. Every day that I was away from Edmonton, I missed all the different ethnic food,” says Ghosh who recently returned to Edmonton after a 10-year stint in the US. “There are so many different nationalities that bring different flavors and approaches to Edmonton’s Downtown dining scene.”
For a quick lunch favourite, Ghosh heads to Tres Carnales Taquería on Rice Howard Way for the Al Pastor tacos. The marinated, slow roasted pork shoulder is bursting with full-on flavour and definitely the star of the Mexican menu. “It’s a wonderful bit of heaven wrapped up in a soft tortilla,” says Ghosh. “It’s tangy and has the perfect amount of salt that you crave. It tastes like it’s been cooking a lifetime, just waiting for you.”
Bistro Praha is a firm favourite for a proper sit-down meal Downtown. “I love going there because it’s so warm, homey and the food is consistent.” Though the menu offers a variety of European dishes from beef goulash to Hungarian sausages, the Wiener schnitzel is what Ghosh raves about. The recipe for the pan-fried breaded veal cutlet strictly follows a traditional Viennese recipe that co-owner Milan Svajgr guards closely. “When I’m at Bistro Praha, I feel like an amazing writer is going to walk in and start talking to me about his novel while I sit eating schnitzel and tartar sauce.”
Donna Clare, Architect and principal, DIALOG
Donna Clare has gained prominence in Edmonton building projects like the new Royal Alberta Museum, the Francis Winspear Centre for Music and the Walterdale Bridge. When it comes to the city’s urban environment, Clare, an architect and principal at DIALOG, envisions buildings animating and engaging streets. She has to step outside her office onto 104 Street to see this hustle and bustle.
The restaurant-lined street is home to her favourite lunch time dish, the Nori Glory salad from vegan eatery KB & Co. “I love vegetables so I’m always looking for places that aren’t too heavy on the meat and know how to do vegetables really well,” says Clare. Coconut rice and mix greens are topped with slices of fresh red pepper, diced cucumber, avocado and pickled ginger. Black sesame, mango ginger puree, sriracha and wasabi-mayo. “There are so many different flavours, from sweet to peppery and spicy, but they all work together nicely,” says Clare.
Another vegetable dish that gets top marks from Clare is the roasted cauliflower from Bundok. “It’s savoury, healthy and rich in flavour,” says Clare. Roasted cauliflower topped with crème fraiche, breadcrumbs and capers is simple, yet complex at the same time. Judging by the number of plates of cauliflower delivered to tables, this is one of Bundok’s standout dishes.
Ryan Hotchkiss, Chef/owner, Bündok
When Ryan Hotchkiss, chef of Bündok restaurant, eats out after he’s finished dinner service, he doesn’t walk far to find his favourite late-night eats. One restaurant pinned to his Downtown food map is Baiju. Young gents in business suits and ladies six to a table are regular fixtures at Baiju after 10 pm. Without even looking at a menu, Hotchkiss knows what he wants to order – the pork and shrimp dumplings. “Wrappers are always a big thing for dumplings. They have to be done right. Thin and pinched perfectly.”
Another late-night spot is Bar Bricco, a popular hangout that serves dishes Spuntini style (Italian for small bites). Here, it’s all about the Fonduta Agnolotti “The agnolotti is such an original dish. You eat it properly by pinching the pasta and then dipping it in the butter and the cheese,” says Hotchkiss. “Whenever I take someone who has never been there, they say it’s one of the best things they’ve ever eaten.”
Just as addictive is Bar Bricco’s egg yolk ravioli. “Cracking into that egg yolk has a shock factor that makes this dish memorable.” With both pasta dishes, Hotchkiss orders a glass of Lambrusco, a sparkling Italian red wine, because it pairs perfectly with rich, flavourful food.