Canteen’s ever-evolving menu keeps us coming back


September 5, 2020

Words by: Joe Gurba

Canteen could be sliding into institution status among Edmonton’s best restaurants.

Canteen – 10522 124 St, Edmonton, AB

When Frank and Andrea Olson of Red Ox Inn opened Canteen in 2012, they were among the first wave of upscale casual cuisine and elevated brunch programs in Edmonton. In 2010, the Olson’s travelled to Portland, San Francisco, and Vancouver where they witnessed a now familiar but then emerging approach to dining. In light of the financial crisis of 2008, fine dining was exchanging its stuffier table-clothed rooms for a dressed down dining room experience without sacrificing on the quality of food or service. After dining in restaurants like Olympic Provisions and Cafe Medina, they knew Edmonton needed an establishment of the same ilk—a place where you could enjoy dishes fashioned from the best ingredients by real chefs in an easy-going atmosphere, without paying for little extras like linens, coat checks, or pianists.

Having purchased the Red Ox Inn in 1995 fully built and running, Canteen was the Olson’s opportunity to design their own room from scratch in their own 124th street neighbourhood. Their vision resulted in a warm, modern, and minimal space, allowing the menu a freedom to be anything it wished. The same spirit still imbues their menu, unbound by any regional cuisine or particular school of techniques. Frank Olson and Dylan Prins’ inventive kitchen develops dishes with culinary inspiration ranging from Mexico to China, Argentina to France, Thailand, and the Mediterranean. The throughnote is their use of excellent ingredients and thoughtful execution.

When Frank and Andrea Olson of Red Ox Inn opened Canteen in 2012, they were among the first wave of upscale casual cuisine and elevated brunch programs in Edmonton. 

Anyone in the industry knows that restaurants age in dog years, and boasting eight years open at Canteen, combined with twenty-five years at Red Ox Inn, is a monumental achievement for any restaurateur. The key to Canteen’s ongoing success is consistency. Their veteran front of house and kitchen staff have stayed with the Olson’s for many years in an industry notorious for high turnover. Their food and drink menus are in constant flux yet the quality behind each dish abides. They’ve mastered a harmony between rustic and satisfying bistro dishes while amplifying the complexity of those flavours through advanced techniques.

At risk of describing a dish that may well be replaced with a fresh invention by the time you visit, avid brunchers must try the shrimp toast benedict with thai hollandaise, and by night you need to try the scored duck breast served with green coconut curry and udon noodles. The arctic char with israeli couscous, fennel, braised cabbage, mango, green papaya, and moroccan glaze is another hit. Small and medium sized dishes abound on the dinner menu, perfect for the table that shares. Top that with a killer wine list (with no shortage of cocktails or beer options either) and you have a timeless recipe for longevity.

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