Cafe Linnea

Here’s another of Edmonton’s A-list eateries – Cafe Linnea!

Located once again in an area I don’t normally associate with fine dining (much as we found with Range Road) they’re in a strip mall in a fairly industrial-looking district over on 119st and 109ave)

I was there with Toyota Canada a few weeks back, and Linnea brought on a great experience for roughly a dozen of us.

While not as well-known locally as some (they have only been in business a couple of years now), I wish them nothing but good things going forward!

Here’s a link to a fun blog on their website; where the restaurant’s contact info can also be found

Range Road

Okay, I admit its a bit higher end than a gentleman like myself usually patronizes (I keep to more of a Burger Baron budget), but how have I never heard of Range Road before?

Consistently rating on virtually every Edmonton foodie’s top-ten lists for years now, this establishment is a gem tucked away in an unassuming downtown neighborhood where you might not expect to find fine dining.

I went to RR with a group from Cadillac after the Edmonton Motorshow back in April, and was blown away by the food (and the staff!) as well as the concept – they use the Butchery (a room separated from the main dining area) for special event bookings.

Yes, I showed up in a Lincoln for a Cadillac dinner, don’t tell anybody 🙂

Great atmosphere and a good time, highly recommended for special occasions and gatherings. Check them out here for bookings and a more complete rundown:

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve

We are classy guys this time out, here at the Auto Section, wheeling around beautiful springtime Edmonton in a Lincoln Continental.

I’ve driven the company’s reworked classic a couple of times since it major reintroduction a couple of years back, and I never get tired of it. The fit, the finish, the materials used through the big beast and the general overall comfort – there isn’t much to dislike.

Except maybe the price, but we’ll get to that later.

A North American rival to popular richmobiles like BMWs 7 Series (or the latest generation E-Class from the dominant player in the market, Mercedes) the 2017 Continental brings every accoutrement and high-end touch that rich people like you and I be expecting when shopping for our limos.

This is the third opportunity I’ve had to experience the car, so I won’t rehash the whole schlemiel (here’s a longer piece  from the introduction of the Continental)

Suffice to say, it holds its own in terms of comfort, power and an overall fit and finish worthy of anything in the class.

The test car we used was a loaded Reserve trim sporting the optional 3.0L twin-turbo powerplant (the six-cylinder 3.0 adds $3000 to the bottom line) and the option packages that even cars playing the premium luxury game seem to require in order to truly deliver on their promise.

The truly excellent Revel Ultima audio system is a part of Luxury Package (as are premium LED headlamps), and I love it – this is top-flight audio reproduction right here; and the Technology Package is desirable for the active park assist and pre-collision safety suite.

For my money, though, it is the seats that make the Continental as desirable as it is. The driver’s perch in particular offers highly adjustable tailoring of the setup and seat bolstering (and of course a massage feature – test drive a Continental Reserve just to experience this, I tell ya).

The rear seat passengers don’t miss out on the massage feature in our test car, either, in fact the whole rear seat experience is overall mighty fine

On a more pedestrian note, I also benefitted more from the AWD system this time around, driving as I was in Alberta winter instead of the California sun.

Regardless of the conditions, the reinvigorated Continental rides well, shows off responsive and quick steering (and powerful acceleration, though there wasn’t much chance to appreciate the 400 horses of the three-litre six).

The upsides are pretty evident with the 2017 Continental: its comfort and overall roominess, the available tech and smooth drivetrain. This is just a wonderful car to drive, or be driven in. Plus, it sports the best-looking grille currently in the Lincoln lineup.

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Potential detractions are equally straightforward – this is a big car, with a big turning circle and overall footprint; and it is neither fuel-economical (the company rates it at 14.4L/100 km in the city with this engine, I got about mid-sixteens overall in winter conditions) – and while it competes, pricewise with similar vehicles from Audi, Merc and Lexus, I don’t think you’ll be shocked to learn that the final buy-in is correspondingly steep.

This one, starting from a jump-in point of $60,500 for the Reserve, rolled up to $75,050 with the addition of the aforementioned packages and engine, along with the standalone panoramic moonroof option.

Check out our Youtube video of the 2018 Continental!

2018 Crashed Ice in Edmonton

Well, that was pretty entertaining.

We took in Redbull’s Crashed Ice event on its Edmonton stop this past weekend, the last stop on a globe spanning tour that has seen this Ice Cross Downhill World Championships stop in cities from Finland to France to the US and Canada – in fact, the race was in La Sarre Quebec before bring the action to Edmonton, the final stop on the tour.

I confess I wasn’t familiar with the sport before we attended the Edmonton; but it isn’t too hard to get your brain around the concept, it’s a downhill skate race over a course that looks pretty extreme.

The skaters go off in heats of up to four, and rocket down an elaborate elevated course with a heavily iced surface, first one to the finish line wins. Sounds straightforward enough, right? But its easier said than done when you’re traveling at speeds of up to 80km/h.

No question this qualifies as an extreme sport, my friends, and I have nothing but respect for all the athletes who made it to the Edmonton final round.

(Incidentally, the overall winners were crowned here Saturday night, and American Amanda Trunzo took the honors in the women’s division, and Canada’s Scott Croxall won the men’s.

The full results can be seen here on Redbull’s Crashed Ice page

But it wasn’t just about the races themselves, this was a full-on, get-out-and-enjoy the spectacle in downtown E-town, where the streets around the Shaw center were closed off and people marched down Grierson hill to a site filled with a really decent crowd around the ice-cross track.

Adding another level of interest, this is the first year that Hyundai Motors has partnered with Redbull for the Crashed Ice show, the Korean manufacturer is using the extreme sport to showcase a couple of their more extreme vehicles – the newest generation of pumped-up Velosters.

The three door hatchbacks are being groomed for rally sport with the introductions of the 2019 Veloster Turbo and their halo hatch, the Veloster N

The Turbo was on display up at street level, showing off for the crowd with a sporty leatherclad interior and matte paint-job on it that looked pretty appealing.

This one boasts 201hp 195 lb.-ft. of torque (and I’m told it will be available with a manual transmission as well), but the monster Veloster, the N, was strictly on display at Crashed Ice.

Mirko Lahti of Finland, Alex Schrefels of the United States, Jesse Sauren of Finland and Joni Saarinen of Finland compete during the Junior Competition at the tenth and final stage of the ATSX Ice Cross Downhill World Championship at the Red Bull Crashed Ice in Edmonton, Canada on March 9, 2018.

Here it is up on a pedestal in front of one of the first drops on the ice course, looking sporty; and when it hits the streets and showrooms this car will really be bringing the performance.

A 2.0L turbocharged engine pushing 275 horses and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, riding on an electronically controlled suspension and offering a selection of driving modes tuned for track performance; with distinctive body sculpting and detailing to differentiate this top of the line model from the Turbo and other members of the Veloster lineup.

The N won’t be available until later in the year, so this is our first look at it, but we’ll be hoping to take a drive in this little monster when it arrives.

And on a less adrenalizing but perhaps more practical note, Hyundai had their newest urban-oriented utility vehicle on hand as well – here’s the 2018 Kona at their display in downtown Edmonton.

Now if you’re like me, gentle reader, you probably realize that while you may want the Veloster, the Kona is the one that makes a better case for purchase as all-round everyday vehicle for all seasons.

And that’s about it. Having seen this year’s Crashed Ice competition, I’m a fan; and having seen Edmonton’s support for the event and the good time had by everyone I met there I’d bet the event’s sponsors and promoters are fans of us too.

Check out the Youtube here:

 

 

 

Burger Baron Rules

An Edmonton Original

Okay, this here is one of my favourite places in the city for quality diner fare – Burger Baron!

This my lifelong favorite – the Double Mushroom with cheese.

It’s a chain (albeit, a small one) and you can find several locations here in town; but my go-to stop has always been the landmark 82 ave spot, just a little east of 75th street, in its iconic A-frame building.

I can remember my dad taking the family there starting back in… well, since just about as far back as I can remember (I was born in ’64, and apparently the first BB opened up in 1963). It was always a real treat, and I swear ta gawd, it still is!

So when you inevitably find yourself in Edmonton, seriously, go out of your way to get to the BB, and order the Double Mushroom with cheese. They’ve got other ones too, of course – you won’t go wrong with a Rudy’s special for example, but if you want my two bits worth, double mushroom avec cheese.

The ‘shrooms are fried on the spot, the beef is good quality and the bun is the crowning touch – a nice, fresh one toasted to perfection!

This is a proper drive-through or dine-in hamburger, right here my friends; and it isn’t overpriced and it isn’t pretentious and it isn’t cluttered.

 

Just look at this and you’ll know right away you want one.

I want another one right now; and here’s the thing: you patronize the Baron and you’re doing business with a really good, likeable hometown team that deserves your dollars and earns it, one burger at a time!

Can’t recommend them highly enough! Eat here. Check out their Yelp reviews.

Good Lovin’

Like all good, decent people, I’m a big pizza fan, and here’s place that deserves some word of mouth. Nice people, a good location with free parking in the strip-mall lot (which is a real plus the downtown area), and most importantly, very good pizza made well and with quality ingredients. Prices are reasonable as well.

Here’s a couple photos, including my go-to choice, the “Meatatarian”, but check out their full menu online here. Oh, and their FB page, too.

Customers can watch their pie being assembled at the order counter, and run through the nifty transport oven; then have it boxed up for takeaway or eat it on site – which is what I recommend. Nice ambience during the lunchtime rush, and bottles of olive oil on the table (both regular and spicy).

Relatively new to the Edmonton scene, Love Pizza now has two locations in our fine town. I’ve eaten at the downtown location a couple of times now (10196 109st in the Canterra strip plaza), and highly recommend them.

Viphalay Restaurant

Pad Thai at Viphalay, downtown.

I can’t think of any sort of rhyming punditry for the restaurant’s name (I almost went with ‘Viphalay A-OK’, but then I remembered the sophisticated audience I serve, here on the world’s finest website and realized no way would my readers tolerate that), so instead just have a look at this over on the right:

This is a lunch I had at Viphalay (the downtown one, they have two locations) with my classmates from MicroBusiness Training Center. It’s a wildly popular lunch spot downtown, specializing in Laotian/Thai influenced food, and it rocks!

I recommend the Pad Thai, but the selection of curries that a number of my Microbusiness alumni ordered also looked and smelled worthy of consideration.

The fare isn’t cheap, but it isn’t wildly high-priced, either (everybody’s entree came in at under $20, not including tip).

Reservations are a must, particularly for the lunch crowd, and it is a great spot in an interesting repurposed older house for a sit-down meal that doesn’t disappoint.

2018 Honda Accord Touring 1.5 litre

Some would have you believe that sedans are on their way out, as drivers opt for crossovers and utility vehicles in increasing numbers, but the sedan segment continues to offer some considerable alternatives for people who still enjoy a midsize four-door conveyor fit for the whole family.

The venerable ‘car’ shape has been stoked, refined, continually improved and benefitted with advancing technology; and in the flagship examples of every manufacturer, imbued with a heaping helping of high style to keep them in the minds of buyers.

Examples from Kia, Hyundai and Ford’s current generation Fusion display what can be done with the platform, but this year may be owned by Honda, who have never been afraid to remake a vehicle completely from generation to generation.

Honda has been doing wonderful things with styling the past couple of years, if you witness last year’s redesign of their best-selling Civic in all its configurations, and the same holds true for our subject this time out: the 2018 Accord.

Now, obviously styling is a matter of taste, but I love the look of the latest Civic and if you do too the Accord is candy, with its swept back, European-influenced lines.

This is the 10th generation of Honda’s flagship family sedan, a complete remake of the popular marque that sports new-look features inside and out.

I’m going to mention here the car we’re looking at is the sedan version, you can also get it as a coupe, and there are two engine options for gasoline-powered models.

Inside the Touring is a comfortably leather-upholstered cabin, with decent space overhead and from side to side, extra legroom has been carved out in the rear seat passengers as well.

It has a suitable comfortable and fully adjustable driver’s seat and some nice high-end touches, like a heated steering wheel and oh, look: buttons! Honda has done away with their previous interface, which I never really loved, to be honest with you – it was a mainly touchscreen interaction that was finicky to use. Give me good ol’ buttons any day, what with the tactile feedback ease-of-use and so forth.

Another feature I always enjoy is a heads up display, and this year’s Accord Touring brings a nice, bright large readout, hovering just above the hoodline (from the driver’s point of view). You can change the information display, but I settled on an easy-to-read speed display and the arrows of the turn-by-turn navigation system in the test car.

The engine in this test car is the smaller of two gasoline powerplants available: a 1.5L four-cylinder Earth Dreams i-Vtec that pushes out a surprising 192 horsepower.

I should also mention that the Accord can also be had with a 2.0L engine that will crank that up to 252 ponies (the larger engine comes with the Accord Sport 2.0 trim level, as well as the appropriately name Touring 2.0 trim. There is also a hybrid, using a combination of gas engine and electric motor – not unlike its major competitor, Toyota’s Camry, which we just recently featured on our delightful Youtube channel. Go ahead, click that. We improve a little each time

Anyway, getting back on topic, the 1.5L Touring trim yielded up good fuel economy on its own. I ran it mostly in Economy mode, primarily because I have to pay for my own gas, but it does have the Sport mode function, which will ramp up the performance noticeably; making the accelerator more responsive and holding the transmission in lower gears a little longer in order to pump the engine rpm.

Also interesting is that there are three transmissions available for the Accord lineup; mine used a CVT automatic, but the can be had with a six-speed manual or a new, ten-speed automatic gearbox (which you can only get with the Sport 2 and Touring 2).

Rather than blabber statistics and trim-walk stuff, I’ll just put up a pdf straight from Honda: Here y’go

Check it out if just for the rundown of active safety features and driver-assist technologies

Suffice it to say the newest Accord handles and performs well. The steering feels good, with the kind of feel of “weight” tuned into it that I like, and the handling is really enjoyable with the newly lowered body.

If you’re a sedan person (and yes, I remember what I said back at the beginning, people are increasingly opting for small crossovers and utility vehicles for their better ground clearance and available AWD systems) have a look at this car; and compare it point for point against the major competition, which I figure would be the Kia Optima, Ford’s Fusion or our old friend the Camry.

Even the price isn’t off the dial for a car as well padded as our tester, with a Canadian MSRP of $35,790

Please feel free to subscribe to our channel – we’ll have another Honda up pretty soon, a minivan this time – why at this rate we’ll soon be as popular as the Internet screaming head/conspiracy nuts or twentysomething fashion v-loggers! Haha, just kidding, we’ll never be that popular.

 

Pasta Brioni

I love this place, and have been coming here since it was called ‘Shecky’s’ way back in the day.

There it is, my friends: the Chicken Gigi

It’s Pasta Brioni now, but the menu and format are still very much the same – really good Italian food in nice yet unpretentious setting.

I’ve mostly been there for the lunch session (they are open evenings as well, for a more ‘fine dining’ experience) and every time I go I have but one thing on my mind: Chicken Gigi!

They’ve got other selections too, of course, sandwiches, salads – all of it good – but I consider the chicken-in-a-vodka sauce (with penne noodles) the establishment’s signature dish; and highly recommend it.

Excellent buns, too.

The Time I was Late for Dinner, the Depressed Guy, and the Name of the One-armed Man

I have never been good at remembering names.

This is a real social problem and constant source of embarrassing faux pas for me, as I meet new people all the time at my job, and encounter many faces that I see only annually at meetings and whatnot.

The old joke about forgetting people’s names as you’re still shaking their hand is absolutely true, for me anyway; and it’s not that I am antisocial (or maybe that’s exactly what it is, I dunno), but it takes me several encounters with a new person before their name sticks in my tiny, tiny brain.

And yet.

One time, ten years ago, I was riding my bike over to the home of my friends Dave and Sue.

Excellent friends, hosts, educators and entertainers, worldly and erudite people who, if I’m good, I will come back as in my next life. I never pass on an opportunity to have dinner with them at their home, and it’s always great.

(And I mean seriously  great– I have had a lot of excellent food in my time, believe me, but there is little that compares to being a guest in the home of Dave and Sue).

Nothing beats good company and good times, and I pedaled out half an hour early to ensure my prompt arrival.

The great thing about bicycle riding is you can take a lot of shortcuts, and I always liked the atmosphere around the University, so I cut through the campus to enjoy the fall colors and collegiate atmosphere of students.

Not far from the hospital, which is just off the campus, I rode through a crosswalk.

A man, young-ish and bespectacled, sat in a wheelchair in the middle of the road between the painted lines. I sped by him and noticed he wasn’t moving, or rolling, in the crosswalk, but I kept on going.

For about fifty meters, anyway, and then the feeling that something just wasn’t right about the whole scene gripped me.

I stopped and looked back at the wheelchair guy and he was still there in the middle of the road. His head was tilted to one side, eyes closed like he was sleeping. He wore glasses and a baseball hat, with a white-guy mullet-fro sticking out the back.

It turns out I am not as antisocial as I thought, because I couldn’t keep on going and leave this dude sitting in the middle of the street. The wheelchair was marked property of the U of A hospital on the back-support band; I noticed when I rode past the first time.

Maybe he was having some sort of medical trouble, or medication reaction, or after-effect of whatever had put him in the chair in the first place.

I had visions of reading about him in the paper the next day, when Local Diabetic Hit By Cement Truck As Callous Bystanders Look On would scream from the front page of the bottom-feeding local tabloid newspaper.

Not wanting that on my conscience, I rode back to the man in the crosswalk.

“Hello?” I said to him, as he slumped, eyes still closed and body unmoving, in the chair.

Taking stock of the situation more closely, he didn’t appear to be injured or crippled; in fact he looked pretty healthy.

It crossed my mind then that he might be some sort of joyriding yahoo, drunk or druggie or one of the many, many mental cases that swarm Edmonton streets; and I backed up a bit from the man in the chair in case he suddenly came to life screaming and swinging and stabbing and biting and yelling about little green men.

“Sir? Buddy? Everything okay?” I said, and reached out and jiggled one of the push-handles of the wheelchair. His eyes flew open and I stepped back again and repeated, “You alright, there, guy?”

He didn’t look at me, but sat with head supported in one hand and leaning his elbow on the chair armrest. “I will be”, he said without emotion “once a car hits me”.

It was then that I grocked that it was, indeed, some sort of mental situation. This is not the sort of thing I am good at dealing with, nor do I have any special interest in other people’s various demons, but at this point I was somewhat invested.

“Aw, look man”, I said to him, “nobody wants that”.

“Why not?” he said, clearly not a threatening guy at this point, but neither someone who would be easily helped. I looked at my watch, and still had a little extra time; but suddenly hated the idea of getting sucked into some stranger’s personal foible. I had no idea how to respond to this, but was suddenly inadvertently involved in this drama.

Now, my policy in dealing with people expressing emotional ‘episodes’ (whether this guy was in the grip of severe depression, withdrawal, or regret after whatever situation brought him to the hospital in the first place) is the same as my policy for dealing with hysterical, crying children when you encounter one in a mall:

Get Another Adult Involved, Immediately.

There weren’t a lot of people around, on the campus at seven o’clock at night, so Wheelchair Man and I remained there in the crosswalk until I spotted a portly, forty-ish guy crossing a parking lot not far away. I called out to him and he came over.

Our new player in this minor tragedy approached the two of us, myself and Wheelchair Man, in the middle of the crosswalk. He was wearing fat-guy shorts and a Tilley hat.

He was carrying over his shoulder a bulging satchel with what appeared to be a human arm sticking out of it.

I stepped toward him to be slightly out of earshot of Wheelchair Man, and said, “Hey, listen, thanks for stopping; but I think we have a bit of a ‘situation’ going on here. Do you maybe have a phone or something?” and that’s when I noticed our new participants’ right arm was missing at the shoulder.

It turned out he did, indeed have a phone (it was also in the satchel) and when I broke down the situation for him – wheelchair man feels suicidal can we get some sort of cop involved via 911 or whatever because I have a dinner appointment –he pulled it out, after we both made another attempt to get Wheelchair Man to become reasonable, to no avail.

We moved a few paces from the man in the chair so as to not alarm him, and the new participant pulled out his cel and started dialing (for some reason he knew the number of the U of A hospital off by heart, but I figured that may be something to do with his having only one arm, and a pretty lifelike looking prosthesis).

“My policy in dealing with people expressing emotional ‘episodes’  is the same as  for dealing with hysterical, crying children when you encounter one in a mall: Get Another Adult Involved, Immediately.”

The one-armed man completed the call to the hospital, they were indeed aware of the man and his recent departure from the premises, and were sending the campus police, and could we stay where we were.

I looked at my watch again, and sure, what the hell.

As we made the call, our friend in the chair took it on the lam, rolling off down the street in the hospital conveyance.

“I don’t want any help!” he cried, as he slowly got away, arms furiously pumping the wheels of his getaway device, “fuck off!”

The two of us watched this snail-paced escape transpire for a while, and Wheelchair Man rounded a corner near the transit center up the road and disappeared.

The man with one arm pulled his phone out again, and said to me “I’ll follow him, and keep the security guys informed”, and then he handed me his satchel “Hold this, it’s heavy. Be back in a minute!” and he took off after the guy in the chair.

Then they both disappeared around the corner, toward the bus station, leaving me holding the bag.

I waited, holding the satchel with the very lifelike prosthetic arm sticking out of it, for several minutes. I looked at my watch. I was now late for dinner at my friends’ home, but there was little I could do at this point; I certainly couldn’t leave.

He was right though, my new friend with one arm, the bag was heavy. I could see why he took the prosthesis off when he wasn’t using it; it must have been uncomfortable to wear for long periods.

Twenty minutes went by before a “campus police” car showed up. Both Wheelchair Man and the man whose false arm and satchel I was holding had long vanished from view.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever dealt with “campus police” before, but in my experience, they are f*cking idiots.

Little junior wannabe-policemen who couldn’t make it to the actual police force, so they ended up in a sort of glorified security guard position where they get to wear a uniform and act important and drive a car with lights on it; but basically just dimwitted ex-jock dipsticks who like to throw their weight around but lack the grey matter to be trusted with actual authority.

Thus is was that when a Campus Police car showed up, I tried to wave it down but they drove right past me to the entrance to the transit center where they spun the car around and then stopped, looking all around frantically.

I ran down the street toward them, calling out and waving the whole time.

When they finally noticed me, running toward them yelling and waving and carrying a satchel with what appeared to be a human arm sticking hand-first out of it, they rolled up their windows and sat peering out at me as I hurried up to the car.

“Hey!” I said, more than a little annoyed at this point; and they rolled down their window a slight crack, “are you by any chance looking for a disturbed man in a wheelchair?”

Suddenly they came alive, and they bobbed their heads in unison: Yes! Yes we are! Have you seen one?

I sent the spiritual descendants of Joseph Wambaugh off in the direction of the armless man and Wheelchair Man, and as they vanished around the corner I reflected on how late I now was for dinner with my friends, and the fact that I couldn’t leave the scene; burdened as I was with a guy’s prosthetic arm in a bag and maybe the need to give some sort of statement to a magistrate later, if things got any weirder.

On the bright side, though, things didn’t. After about another fifteen minutes, the man with one arm reappeared.

The campus cops had never found them, it turned out; but fortunately a real police car had come by after his following Wheelchair Man for many blocks, and the matter was turned over to them.

We had a good laugh about it afterward, neither of us having dealt with anything like this before; and I gave him back his bag and arm.

We shook hands (left-handed, obviously), and introduced ourselves.

His name was Frank.

©Wade Ozeroff 2012

 

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