Hardware Grill opened in 1996; to put that in perspective, when chef Larry Stewart introduced this fine-dining establishment in the city, Bill Smith was the mayor of Edmonton, Toshiba and RCA were set to introduce the DVD player to market and the Oilers missed the playoffs. OK, scratch that last one. In those 23 years, dining has become more casual, but Hardware still stands out as a place to have a wonderful, quiet dinner. The menu rotates, but it’s a solid bet you’ll find great lamb, steak and seafood dishes. There’s no sense of food fads coming and going here, just a great place for cocktails, wine and well-prepared meals.
Four decades ago, in an era of bell bottoms and muscle cars, the cuisine of Central Europe was trendy. But, years have passed and, well, the food critics and trendsetting chefs have moved away from Mitteleuropa. But, in the end, at Bistro Praha, it’s not about what’s trendy — it’s about what’s good. Consistently wonderful schnitzels, crusty and golden on the outside, perfectly done on the inside. Pork hocks with meat that falls off the bone. Fluffy bread dumplings and a stuffed crepe for dessert. We were saddened to learn that restaurant co-owner Sharka Svajgr passed away in February. She has created a fantastic dining legacy in Edmonton.
There’s no doubt that pho holds a special place in the Edmonton culinary scene. Edmonton has embraced this Vietnamese staple for decades, and it has never faded. Trends come and go, but pho remains one of this city’s favourite dishes. And Pho Hoan Pasteur crafts a rich broth that makes you smack your lips again and again and again. My favourite variety is the brisket; with slices of tender meat that pack a lot of flavour, they’re anything but boiled-out and bland. And, the “small” bowl is a full-on meal — get the large order and you’re in for the long haul.