Mark Rendell

Restaurant Roundup: Robin Finds His Nest

The latest food news sees a big move down at the Arnica Inn, a Castle coming to town, the delicious promise of Korean cuisine, and more

Twin Pine Diner

Bacon waffles with bourbon peach compote and pecan whipped cream – how does that sound for a Saturday morning munch? Or how about scotch eggs with a Cajun/boudin sausage twist?

Yellowknife’s brunch scene is about to get a whole lot juicier, with Robin Wasicuna of Wiseguy and Numbers at Bayside fame graduating from food trucks and pop-up restaurants to his first brick-and-mortar establishment: the Twin Pine Diner. (Fear not, ye Wiseguy lunch-goers, Wasicuna will still be operating his food truck, at least for this summer.)

The diner, set to open the third week of June, will be in the Arnica Inn at the bottom of Old Town hill, in the space recently vacated by Epic Grill. “It used to be the Twin Pine Motel, so our name’s a little throwback to ’70s Yellowknife,” says Wasicuna.

“It’s going to be like an old-school American diner: all-day breakfast, chili-cheese fries, pulled pork, fried chicken, really classic diner food, but done with a Wiseguy twist.”

And that twist is?

“Well, for example, we have this Caesar salad, but instead of anchovies we make it with smoked oysters.”

At both Wiseguy and Numbers, Wasicuna got most of his meat butchered at Northern Fancy Meats; with a permanent location now, he’s planning on doing most of the butchering himself. He’ll also be making pies and cakes in-house and hopefully displaying them in “one of those vintage diner display cases where the pies spin around.”

Even with specially butchered cuts, fresh ingredients, and a wider range of ingredients than your typical YK breakfast joint, Wasicuna assures EDGE that the prices will be “very reasonable.”

The diner will be open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday for brunch.

Getting medieval: the Kilt and Castle

Hasn’t Yellowknife always wanted for somewhere to drink Kilkenny in a kilt and feast on wurst under ramparts like it’s 1262? Cue the Kilt and Castle, the Irish-pub-and-castle-themed fine dining ensemble that’s set to replace the recently defunct Sunny’s Bistro.

At street level, The Kilt will serve Guinness, Kilkenny and Smithwick’s on tap alongside more pedestrian offerings like Keith’s and Budweiser. The Irish pub will also dish up your typical bar fare, says first-time restaurateur Bob Stewart. And there’s a small stage area that he hopes to fill with local musicians keen on Irish music.

The Castle, styled, as the name suggests, with a certain baronial glamour – stone walls, ramparts, a drawbridge perhaps? – will be upstairs. Don’t expect a platter of tough hog and sour mead though. Stewart assures EDGE that The Castle will be on the finer side of YK dining, revisiting Le Frolic’s carte européen, but with a pan-continental flare.

“It’s going to be a mix, hopefully something from England, Spain, France, Italy, and so on,” says Stewart.

Stewart is still looking for a chef and hasn’t solidified his lease yet. But if all goes to plan, the Kilt and Castle should be open by Canada Day.

Councillor’s kimchi

Kimchi is coming to town this summer with Coun. Phil Moon Son and his mother opening Yellowknife’s first Korean restaurant. The details of the operation are sparse, as Son won’t divulge much until he’s secured a lease.

Nonetheless the prospect of some decent Bulgogi – succulent marinated grilled beef – or Bibimbap – a scorching hot rice bowl with eggs, veggies and piquant flavorings – or Hae Mul Pa Jun – fluffy, crispy seafood pancakes – has some of us here at EDGE salivating already.

Korean restaurants usually come in two molds: Korean BBQ, the more meat-centric option where patrons grill at their own tables, and traditional Korean, which tends to comprise a wider variety of home-style offerings. We’ll just have to wait and see which way the Sons go with their new place. Both? Both would be good.

Javaroma on the fly

Come July, you‘ll no longer have to get your pre-flight pick up from Quizno’s watery excuse for coffee, with Javaroma opening a coffee-and-snacks kiosk at the airport.

“Everybody wants to have a cup of coffee in the morning, and with the new rules you have to be there one hour in advance, so once you check your bags in, you’re going to need a cup of coffee,” says Javaroma co-owner Rami Kassem.

The café with several tables will be located in the recently renovated space to the left of the arrival lounge, if you’re coming into the building through the arrivals door. It will open at 6 a.m. and serve coffee as well as the usual Javaroma fare of bagels, sandwiches and bubble tea.

Beyond being a boon for tired travellers, it’s also an exciting first step for the Yellowknife coffee shop which has big plans for expansion: “We are a northern store with a northern product and we want to expand everywhere and anywhere in the North,” says Kassem.

Wildcat soft open

From their Facebook page, a shot of the restaurant’s new menu. Under management of the Fuego team, the Yellowknife landmark had a soft open this weekend: