The Next Act (and an amazing local pig farm)

Review

Since I’m still a little bitter about SugarBowl’s shit-tastic eggs benedict and I’m too lazy to make some myself, let’s go out for brunch again.


I stopped by The Next Act while on a bacon procurement trip to the Strathcona Farmers Market.

Side note: There’s this little stand (booth? stall??) that sells the most amazing bacon I have ever had. They’re local, free-range, and use Berkshire pigs (which are a 300 year old breed dating back to the pig herd of the British House of Windsor). Currently, the breed is incredibly rare, but is known for its “juiciness, flavour and tenderness”. It’s priced competitively with supermarket pork and is better in every way imaginable. Oh, and the shoulder steaks are fucking delicious on the grill with just some salt and pepper. If you’re in the area and like pig, check them out.

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This delicious fucker.

As you would suspect, The Next Act is half a block away from Whyte Ave and the farmers market, which makes it a great stop after you’re tired from walking down the one interesting street in the entire goddamned city.

The restaurant is pretty unremarkable aside from a few tiny outdoor tables, and the line-up outside before they open.

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I should probably cover his face but this picture is pretty good..

Service was decent enough. Orders were taken promptly and food was brought out in under 10 minutes which was quite impressive. The only issue I had was getting my drink refilled but we can chalk that up to a busy restaurant.


We ordered the Eggs Benedict and Huevos Rancheros (rancher’s eggs), which both came with house made hashbrowns.

If I’m being honest, the hashbrowns were mediocre. Hard on the outside, a little bit dry and a bit too salty. Sort of like something you would expect out of a small town breakfast buffet. But hey, at least they weren’t soggy.

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Eggs n’ beans n’ salsa n’ guac

The huevos rancheros were pretty good, although just a bit too cold and wet. The eggs were the only thing that was heated, as the beans, tortilla, salsa, guacamole and feta all felt like they came straight out of the refrigerator. Once again, this isn’t entirely a bad thing as the flavours were all there and it would no doubt be refreshing on a really hot day.

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Looks a bit plain, but tastes so damn good.

The eggs benedict, however, were absolutely on point. Crisp, toasted and buttered english muffins, perfectly poached eggs, Canadian bacon (still not entirely a fan), and a magnificent zesty hollandaise sauce. I would think there’s close to three tablespoons of butter in the dish, but the tartness of the lemon in the sauce cuts down on the grease, making for an incredibly satisfying yet non-cloying dish.


Not much to say here.

The Next Act knows its eggs.

I have yet to find a place in Edmonton that knows how to properly cook a fucking potato.

Next Act Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Brunch at SugarBowl

Review

I’m pretty sure everyone in Edmonton under the age of 30 has either been to, or heard of Sugarbowl.

Hailed as ‘the one good brunch place’ in Edmonton, Sugarbowl is known for its chicken and waffles as well as its expansive beer selection.

The problem with places like this is that everyone succumbs to groupthink and it’s hard to get an honest opinion of the food without getting sucked into the endless ‘MUH CHICKN’ WAFFLES’ circlejerk.

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Relevant, mildly offensive picture.

So let’s try some of the other brunch items (dinner/bar will be reviewed in another post) and see what happens.


If you’ve never been, Sugarbowl is located off 109th street and 88th avenue, right next to the Garneau theatre and within walking distance of the University.

It’s a small restaurant, and seemingly always packed. There isn’t a reservation policy for brunch, so if you’re going during the weekend, be ready for a short line-up.

The interior is hard to describe. A curved wooden bar with numerous taps takes up a third of the restaurant, while dented wooden tables and chairs are squeezed into the remaining floor space. Terrible local art by shitty local artists adorn the walls. While the “art” itself is of poor quality and questionable artistic value, they add to the bohemian feel of the restaurant.

Service is generally responsive, however due to the hectic nature of service and the crowded restaurant, may seem a bit rushed at times. Regardless of the crowd, it does seem like the servers genuinely care about your experience, and will accommodate your needs and/or complaints. The only issue is spending 5 minutes attempting to make eye contact with someone trying to avoid your gaze like it’s the fucking plague..


Because brunch is essentially replacing both breakfast and lunch, you’re allowed to order way too much food.

We started with the face-sized cinnamon rolls, which were pretty fucking delicious. They were soft, warm, chewy, completely covered in cinnamon sugar and awesome with a slab of butter.

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Shapeless, yet delicious.

Next up were the poached eggs with potatoes and béchamel sauce. Presentation wise, it was acceptable, with nice usage of colors and nicely poached eggs, but it was lacking in the taste and texture department. The eggs themselves were adequately poached, with a runny yolk and smooth white, but the sauce just didn’t work. Poached eggs are traditionally served with a more acidic hollandaise sauce to cut through the richness of the yolk and butter. The béchamel in this case was too bland and unnecessarily creamy. Oh, and they used cornbread instead of English muffins and back bacon instead of normal fucking bacon. There is no possible explanation for this besides the urge to be a special little snowflake, and the ‘SugarBowl Benny’ ends up tasting worse in every way compared to a ‘NormalFucking Benny’. The bread is dense and greasy, the bacon is bland and the sauce is flat out wrong.

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Home-made ketchup, which is in every way worse than Heinz.

Fuck.

The potatoes were almost inedible. I generally expect hash browns to be crispy, but our spuds turned out completely soft and drenched in grease. To make matters worse, there was almost no seasoning. Per my discussion with the waitress, SugarBowl cannot serve crispy hash browns as they’re cooked in a batch at the beginning of service and left in a vat until needed. It would just be far too impractical to fry up a new order.

To their credit, I was offered another side, but it doesn’t really make up for cutting so many corners on their fucking potatoes.

My lovely companion had the fruit and waffles, which were, sure enough, fruity and waffle-y. Jokes aside, it was a pretty mean waffle and the grapes were kinda kick-ass.

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Fruit..and Waffles! Who woulda thunk?

Oh, and I had a cappuccino.

It was pretty.

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Tasted nice too 🙂


All things considered, stick to the safe bets at Sugar Bowl. The only adventurous item we ordered tasted like a limp, greasy sock, while the cinnamon bun and waffles were predictably delicious.

So does this place live up to the hype?

No.

In terms of brunch, there are better, more well rounded restaurants in Edmonton. Admittedly, the chicken, waffles and cinnamon buns are solid, but not special enough for me to return time and time again.

I could order a bucket of KFC and toss some batter into my waffle iron and I wouldn’t need to deal with the crowd, blasphemous eggs benedict, squelchy potatoes, and the weeping sores they’ve nailed to the walls in support of local artists.

 

Sugarbowl Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato