Best Restaurants: Best Overall
The top five dining experiences in the city.
Head chef and owner of Corso 32, Daniel Costa (far left) manouevres through the kitchen, while creating homestyle Italian dishes from an ever-changing menu. Photo by Curtis Comeau.
Photography by Curtis Comeau and Curtis Trent
First Place >> CORSO 32
What is there to say about Corso that hasn’t been said already — by the Edmonton Journal, by Air Canada’s enRoute, even by Avenue when we crowned Corso the top Edmonton restaurant of 2012? The intimate seating, the minimalist décor, the dedication to fresh ingredients and the devotion to simple, homestyle cooking have all become rote in food blogs and foodie conversations alike. More amazingly, the menu hasn’t become stale because Corso has managed to maintain a balance between consistency and change. The change comes from an ever-shifting menu based on head chef and owner Daniel Costa’s experimentation with simple taste combinations, while its consistency comes from knowing that no matter the dish, it will taste like something you’ve never tried before. And so, like seasons that shift but remain the same year after year, Corso remains as refreshing as a summer in Tuscany. It also has made its way into our Italian category, which should go without saying, as well as our service category. The reason Corso can find itself at the top of a list of disparate styles of food (how does one really compare an Italian bistro with a steakhouse or fine French dining?) is because it confidently explains how we should be eating. And, after two years at the top, I think we’re all listening. (10345 Jasper Ave., 780-421-4622, corso32.com) —Caleb Caswell
Runner-Up >> THE MARC
The Marc merges both casual and formal. With the clean, black and white décor and attentive-yet-not-stuffy service, it’s both a place you can go with coworkers after a tough day at the office, or a great spot for a long, romantic dinner. You can wear a suit, or you can wear jeans. But the attention to detail and technique is what makes dinners at The Marc so memorable. Duck breasts are perfectly cooked; the scallops with the potato and cauliflower puree are decadent, and no one makes a better order of steak frites in the city. The steak tartar is tangy and rich all at the same time. Servers are knowledgeable about wine pairings. Somehow, owners Patrick and Doris Saurette managed to keep all of the French flair, but coveniently lost the hubris that usually goes with it. (9940 106 St., 780-429-2828, themarc.ca) —Steven Sandor
Third Place >> WILDFLOWER
Restaurant owners often claim the key to success is an excellent location, but without good food and a welcoming atmosphere, people could walk right by a centrally located restaurant without a second glance. Luckily, the Gold Medal Plates champion Wildflower has all three. Located right downtown, the romantically lit fine dining establishment has a warm feel complete with a tagline “new Canadian cuisine,” since the dishes combine local ingredients and cooking styles with international techniques. You’ll see dishes on the menu with a distinctly Canadian bent, like the poutine-style Yorkshire pudding or West Coast Cioppino alongside internationally inspired plates like the lobster braised prawn and Thai green curry. (10009 107 St., 780-990-1938, wildfloweredmonton.com) —Caroline Barlott
Fourth Place >> THREE BOARS EATERY
No one really knew what to expect when Three Boars opened. The name isn’t particularly telling of its style — unique dishes in a trendy setting with a menu that changes every few days — something most restaurants would consider a marketing nightmare. But not only has Three Boars pulled off seamless integration into Edmonton’s need-to-eat scene, it’s done it quite tastefully by transforming interesting choices of meat (pig’s heart, tongue) into adventurous entrees (lamb liver pate and pickled tongue). For those who like eating out on a limb, experimenting with unconventional cuts of meat, or not knowing what you’ll eat until you view the menu, Three Boars offers some of the city’s most satiating risks. (8424 109 St., 780-757-2600, threeboars.ca) —C.C.
Fifth Place >> MRKT
If you’ve heard of MRKT, it’s because you work anywhere in the downtown area. If you’ve been to MRKT, it’s because you somehow managed to get through the line that winds its way out the front door. If you were impressed with the atmosphere, you must have an appreciation for the modernist confidence to blend minimalist alloys with natural, heavy-grained woods. If you enjoyed your meal, it’s because you enjoy adventurous pairings — like sautéed prawns with sweet potato mash, or ricotta with apricot-mango chutney — made with fresh and always seasonal ingredients. If you can’t wait to go back to sample another option on the menu, you’re just like the rest of us. And if you’re just not sure about MRKT, well, it’s your loss. (10542 Jasper Ave., 780-757-6758, mrktcafeteria.com) —C.C.
Wildflower’s tagline “new Canadian Cuisine” sees local dishes and cooking styles combined with international techniques. Photo by Curtis Trent.