Wishbone Restaurant
By Gene Kosowan

Nice feeling

The first thing that strikes you about Wishbone is its decor. The horizontal wood paneling is reminiscent of lounging in the belly of a clipper ship – and since Wishbone specializes in seafood entrees, the comparison seems like a no-brainer. The wood paneling is what initially drew Brayden Kozak, Wishbone's chef and co-owner, to the space. He says the location had been one of his favourite spots in the city and that it was a "dream come true" to acquire it in June 2017.

"When we were thinking of a name for the restaurant, someone mentioned we should call it Canoe, because it felt like he was in the inside of an upside down canoe," Brayden recalls. "I thought that was actually hilarious, but there was already a restaurant in Toronto called Canoe, so I didn't want to rip that."

Brayden wanted to relate the name of his restaurant with an sensation and settled on Wishbone as a reference to the euphoria one experiences after winning a wishbone breaking competition. "We wanted to give it a name that would reflect a feeling more than an idea of what we do there," Brayden says. "We were trying to find a name that didn't mean anything, but gave you a nice feeling."

I've always enjoyed working with fish. I've wanted to own an oyster bar the last few years. - Brayden Kozak, chef and co-owner
Wishbone reflects chef and co-owner Brayden Kozak's affinity for working with seafood
Wishbone is the latest venture from chef and co-owner Brayden Kozak, who also co-owns Three Boars Eatery and Farrow Sandwiches. Photo courtesy of Wishbone.

A passion for seafood

Brayden, who also co-owns Three Boars Eatery and Farrow Sandwiches, wanted Wishbone to reflect his passion for seafood. "I've always enjoyed working with fish," he says. "I've wanted to own an oyster bar the last few years."

Wishbone's dinner menu features oysters on the half-shell as well as baked oysters. The rest of the menu includes more landlocked fare, such as a double beef burger and a fried chicken sandwich, both served on a brioche bun and available only on the restaurant's lunch and late night menus.

Lunchtime diners can dig into snacks like the fries and napa cabbage salad as well as the soup of the day. Entrees include a mushroom burger lobster roll with coleslaw and a cauliflower concoction with a soft poached egg, hummus and frisée. Wishbone also has a large assortment of sherry and wine, though Brayden is steering away from the ales. He says the bar program is wine and cocktail-focused, with a plan to slowly grow the beer bottle list.

Wishbone offers a full seafood menu, along with more landlocked options
Wishbone offers both oysters on the half-shell as well as baked oysters, along with other seafood options such as mussels and scallops. Photo courtesy of Wishbone
Wishbone's wine service means you can pair the perfect glass of vino with your meal
Wishbone boasts a wine-focused program, but also has a number of cocktails and three taps of beer on the menu. Photo courtesy of Wishbone

Tapas-style service

Brayden says the menus at Wishbone are still a work in progress, but he's testing out dishes that suit the habits of both midday and evening diners. "Getting lunch off the ground was really important for us. It was very important with us being downtown," he says, adding that the difference between opening at 11 a.m. or 12 p.m. is significant. "Dinner is like a tapas-style service when the plates come out one or two at a time, so you can snack and share. It's more like a jovial hangout kind of thing."

It's that type of experimenting that Brayden pays close attention to. The competitive nature of independent restaurants in the city makes him more diligent to ensure Wishbone is a choice location to chow down.

"When we're talking about a niche product, I think Wishbone offers something different as opposed to some of our seafood competitors. I wanted to keep more the oyster bar mentality in mind, so I try to push that," he says. "When it comes to the explosion of restaurants that's happening, I think we do see a challenge in some respects. Everyone is really supportive of each other's restaurants, but from an ownership standpoint, you really have to hustle and work really hard to get your name out there."

[Header photo courtesy of Wishbone]

Wishbone is located on Edmonton's popular Jasper Avenue.
Wishbone has quickly become a popular spot for seafood in Edmonton at its location on Jasper Avenue. Photo by Gene Kosowan
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