Every year, the editorial team at WHERE Edmonton Magazine reviews the new restaurants that have opened in Edmonton and awards their pick for the Best New Restaurant. Here’s a look at their choices in 2017 for the overall best new restaurant! (Check out our January/February 2018 issue for more great spots, including our winners for best new casual, bakery, and menu.)
When one imagines a brewpub, usually a basic burger and fries with the hockey game on in the background comes to mind. But Christine Sandford—head chef at Biera, which is attached to Blind Enthusiasm Brewing—has elevated the menu to fine-dining heights. And with a beautiful open space featuring the brewery tank visible behind a glass wall, the restaurant offers a unique and memorable dining experience. Sandford has worked in the industry for over a dozen years, spending some time interning with Belgian chef Kobe Desramaults, and has put that training to use in crafting this upscale brewpub’s menu. Her menu made it a clear winner for our Best New Restaurant Award, as she uses innovative cooking techniques to expertly pair each beautifully plated dish with the brewery’s craft beer.
Diners here need to start with the soft, house-made sourdough bread that you can savour with a salted lard spread. The tender, charcoal-grilled ACME Pork Shoulder is almost upstaged by the accompanying beets, which have been dehydrated, rehydrated, and glazed to give them a pleasant fig-like texture. Finish off your meal with the Sourdough Ice Cream, which will hit that sweet spot.
2nd: The Butternut Tree
Chef Scott Downey’s return to Edmonton has led to a welcomed fine-dining establishment, which focuses on often underused and underappreciated Canadian ingredients. For several years Downey trained at Michelin-starred restaurants in New York and Denmark that have influenced the unique ways he showcases his food.
The highly seasonal and concise menu is frequently shifting, but you’re guaranteed an incredible dish no matter what you order. An early stand-out is the broccoli, which is served on cereal grains with chunks of succulent boar belly and a soft-boiled duck egg. With large, wall-length windows, the restaurant offers a gorgeous view of the Alberta Legislature and river valley. From the plating to the view, the Butternut Tree will impress any diner or client you bring with you to experience it.
Derived from the word “boondocks,” meaning off the beaten path, this restaurant is another honourable mention that focuses on the flavours and foods of the region. Chef Ryan Hotchkiss’ small 38-seater features a focused menu with sharing plates such as the tender Gnocchi Parisienne—with Brussels sprouts, kabocha squash, and breadcrumbs—and Beef Tartare, which gives a flavourful kick with pickled celery, mustard aioli, and horseradish.
Located in the central downtown area near Ice District, Bündok also serves up a delightful lunch. Must-tries (especially for the wintertime) include the soul-pleasing Parmigiano Soup with peas and bacon, and the crisp Fried Chicken Skin, seasoned with honey mustard and thyme.