Until a recent work trip, I'd only ventured north of the border once, to Montreal on a family vacation years ago. It was my first taste of life outside of the US, and although freezing in the summer it was overall an excellent cultural first course outside of my bubble. The underground shopping, the way that everyone flipped so easily between French and English, and the beautiful old buildings were my first opportunity to branch outside of the little New England world I'm used to.
I hadn't made it back to Canada yet though, and honestly in my mind I only thought about Montreal and Toronto as places to visit. This was my first mistake.
When I said I'd travel to Edmonton, the only point of reference I had was the Oilers, and I'm not a big sports person. I added the rink inside a mall to the list of places I'd like to go, but other than that I approached this visit with very little knowledge. So little that the only other thing I planned in advance was to print maps of the area since my cell wouldn't have service.
I really underestimated Edmonton. The city sits on a hill - I don't even know if you can call it a hill since a city is on it but whatever - which makes it picturesque as you drive up. Especially if you took ONE wrong turn from your map that left you in the middle of who knows where after a day of flying and the sun just set. Thank god it was an easy city to spot, like a beacon saying, "Silly millennial! You don't need GPS to find me!"
Once I made my way up I was good to go. The city is super walkable, and I made it to and from work each day and spent the rest of each day wandering. Edmonton has beautiful malls to wander, local shops, and a pretty poppin city hall area with oversized chess to play, a shallow pool with fountains to walk through, and lots of local vendors.
Dinner is where Edmonton really shines. Before I get to that though I really have to point out that the breakfast I had at the Marriott Courtyard was spot. on. They had a breakfast buffet for about 15USD (not including tip) that included the best bacon and really delicious English-style slow and low cooked scrambled eggs, which I am an absolute sucker for.
Okay, okay back to dinner!
On the first full day in Edmonton, a friend and I went to Woodwork. This place is on the smaller side but just beautiful. There restaurant has a clean and open efel, with wooden (appropriate) bookcases holding all sorts of liquor bottles. One of my favorite things to do at restaurants is sit at the bar and admire the bottles (really a Belle-style ladder swinging library here), and Woodwork did me one better by including incredible shows by the bartenders as they made their drinks. Each one involved such care, and every bartender worked quickly but with immense attention to every action they took crafting their drink.
And the food! Oh man the food. We started with my friend's recommendation of Steak Tartare, which you can't really get at home. This was delicious - rich and flavorful and perfectly offset with the crunchy salty chips on top. Once we'd blended the egg in we enjoyed these tiny bites of heaven.
My second course here was a combination of healthy and artery-clogging. On the healthy end I ordered their Brassica salad, which was a bed of kale with radish, slices, a poached farm egg, Gouda, pickled onion and this grilled cauliflower that was just delish. This was a sweet dish in a way that would not quit. To offset this surprisingly saccharine main (okay really just cause I love fries), I'd ordered a side of fries to split. They were salty and fresh, with just the right amount of crisp. And there is nothing like some sides to dip your fries in. I am 100% about that life.
Between the drinks with beautiful garnishes lit on fire, the appetizers-you-can't-order-at-home, and the neverending food that hit every spot, I would call Woodwork a big hit. As always, I would love to hear your feedback about Woodwork's ability to provide safe gluten-free food, and any other Celiac-friendly places in Edmonton I missed!