Menus to devour at Edmonton's Downtown Dining Week

By Athena Raypold

Each March in Edmonton, the Downtown Business Association teams up with local, independent restaurants to offer foodies fantastic multi-course meals for an amazing price. Participating restaurants design exclusive menus for this fabulous food festival with three options: two-course lunches for $15, three-course dinners for $28 or three-course executive dinners for $45.

If the pricing and prizes aren’t reason enough, Downtown Dining Week offers a unique opportunity to try some of the city’s best restaurants when they’re offering creative new menu items. [Photo credit: istockphoto.com/Rawpixel]

Menus to devour at Edmonton's Downtown Dining Week

Two-course lunches

For $15, the opportunity to try some of Edmonton's best two-course lunch options seems like a steal. Among options this year is The Common, a restaurant and pub located just south of 100 Avenue on 109 Street. Chef Jesse Morrison-Gauthier’s critically acclaimed menus delight Edmonton’s most discerning foodies and their lunch menu for Downtown Dining Week is sure to please the palate.

The first course on their mouth-watering $15 lunch menu is kabocha squash soup with pumpkin seeds and chives. Kabocha squash is a Japanese winter squash known for being sweeter than butternut squash and paired with pumpkin seeds and chives, this soup is sure to be comfort in a bowl. The second course offers a choice between a cashew paella with cumin, chilis, sea scallops and maize or a petite filet of beef with raisin pepper sauce, spinach and buttery potatoes. Given that The Common’s menu for last year’s Downtown Dining Week was such a hit, this menu is destined to be a winner.

Next on the $15 menu is a local favourite – the premier sandwich bistro located just south of Jasper Avenue on 104 Street, The Free Press Bistro. With a name inspired by newspapers and Italian pressed panini, the Free Press serves up pressed versions of classic sandwiches – think Reubens, BLTs, Philly cheesesteak and pulled pork– alongside globally inspired specialty sandwiches including Thai chicken, Mexicali, schnitzel and Southern chicken and pickle. For Downtown Dining Week, the Free Press offers up two courses for $15 – soup or salad plus your choice from three popular sandwiches served with house potato chips.

Three-course dinners

The next level of dining options set to be served up during Downtown Dining Week are a variety of three-course dinners, on the menu for just $28. The Confederation Lounge, located at the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald, serves up mushroom bisque, wild mushroom salad and tarragon oil as a first course, followed by duck stew, confit duck with boar bacon, white bean and grilled foccacia. For dessert, enjoy cherry almond bread pudding with Grand Marnier ice cream and candied orange dust.

Also on the menu for $28 is Cavern, a popular retail cheese store and café. During Downtown Dining Week, Cavern offers up smoked salmon tapa, a cheese board with salami and chopizo with chocolate mousse for dessert.

Executive dinners

Selected as Best French restaurant 2016 and 2nd Best French restaurant 2017 by Avenue Magazine, The Marc is widely lauded as one of the city’s best restaurants and most authentic for French cuisine – not to mention that they’ve scored the number one spot for Edmonton’s best steak four years running (they finally got bumped out this year). Whether you’re dropping in for lunch or dinner, you’re sure to eat delectable, high quality fare at The Marc – but it’s usually on the pricey side.

Downtown Dining Week offers the opportunity to eat an outstanding (albeit adventurous) three-course executive dinner for the great price of $45. The first course is a French classic, a delicacy, really: Cuisse de Grenouille (otherwise known as pan-fried frog legs). The second course is an organic pork chop, smoked paprika spaetzle, lettuce greens, garlic and espelette oil (a French chili pepper). This glorious meal is finished off with tartuffe au chocolate dark, a chocolate truffle with Grand Marnier caramel and fennel pollen.

Also on the menu at $45 is one of the city’s most beloved restaurants, Blue Plate Diner, known for its fantastic, go-every-weekend brunch fare, but the executive dinner menu they’re serving up is bound to attract hordes of hungry Edmontonians looking for a gourmet three-course meal at the amazing price of just $45 per person.

The first course is a lamb shepherd’s pie arancini. Typically an Italian dish made with rice and cheese, rolled into a ball and fried in breadcrumbs, this version is ground lamb, corn, onions and peppers cooked in stout and rolled into luscious mashed potatoes and coated in crispy panko crumbs, all served on savoury Alley Kat beer and cheddar sauce. Next up: tender, juicy, succulent beef tenderloin topped with a demi-glace and asparagus and served alongside confit mushrooms and mashed potatoes. Dessert is a classic diner item: lemon meringue pie.

Finally, located in the beautiful, historic Union Bank Inn on Jasper Avenue and 100 Street, Madison’s Grill is one of the city’s finest, upscale restaurants, but it stays out of the limelight. In fact, beloved RGE RD chef, Blair Lebsack, is their former chef. Yet, Madison’s Grill continues to serve up classic dishes with elegance and flair. Like The Marc, the price points at Madison’s tend towards the high end, so this unique food festival provides a chance to test out their food at a more affordable price. Their three-course executive dinner offers two options for each course, giving diners plenty of delicious options. The first course offers butter seared haddock or hickory smoked pork jowl and cheek; the second course serves up either black garlic rested striploin or pan seared branzino; and the third course shares either rosemary olive oil cake or vanilla chia crème brulee.

Prizes

On top of the discounted prices for high quality fare, Downtown Dining Week is also set to offer a number of high-quality prizes to guests. After dining at participating restaurants, guests can ask their servers for a contest card for a chance to win $50 gift cards to participating restaurants and a grand prize weekend getaway for two at the Chateau Lacombe Hotel, including two nights’ accommodations, breakfast, a spa package and gift cards for shopping and eating in downtown Edmonton.

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Check out more great coverage on things to do in Edmonton from YP:

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These are only a handful of the spectacular menus available from local restaurants during Downtown Dining Week and most of these restaurants are also offering more than one menu for the festival, so be sure to check out the website to find the perfect menu for you.

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