Today we were feeling particularly sluggish and our fridge was leaving little to be desired in the grocery department so we went for a little walk in search of sustenance. Normally when we walk down Whyte Ave here in Edmonton, we don’t really look down the side streets… until a couple weeks ago. On this little detour, we took note of a few little restaurants that looked like somewhere we’d like to eat and tonight on our walk, we ended up back at one of those little places for a bite to eat.
The place: The Next Act
The address: 8224 104 Street Edmonton, AB
The style: Pub/Diner
The cost: About $10-$15 per menu item.
The atmosphere at The Next Act resembled that of a bowling alley with a rather interesting retro style. I always like an eatery that supports local art by decorating with the works of local artists and the option to purchase and The Next Act is one of these places! I actually spotted a few that, if I’d had a full bank account, I might like to hang in my own home. The vibe was super relaxed and the music was modern and a bit funky which made for an upbeat feel. One thing that we thought was a bit odd was the 50’s (black and white) dramas on the TV’s around the place – not that the television programming is why you go to a restaurant! I suppose it added just another unique twist to the place.
Anyway, on to the matter at hand – the food! The Next Act prides itself on providing some vegetarian and gluten-sensitive options for those that need it but they haven’t made it their sole priority. The food style is pub/diner with a focus on fresh and delicious!
Paul and I usually try to eat pretty healthy (despite what last night’s indulgence would have made you believe) but I couldn’t resist the fish ‘n’ chips – it’s been so long since I feasted on fish! The fish was battered in a Big Rock Grasshopper beer batter, which was delightfully tasty and nicely crispy while the fish was impeccably cooked. I annihilated the fish in no time flat (Paul can attest to this). The chips were clearly home-made and it didn’t take me long to wolf those down either; they were a pretty good combination of crisp and soft and nicely seasoned with good ol’ fashioned sea salt. The whole thing came accompanied by a zesty tartar sauce which was good on both the fish and the fries. Gotta love a double-duty dip!
Paul went slightly more healthy than the fried food that I ordered and got The Act burger with a side of their spicy roasted vegetable and white bean soup (a vegan option). The menu describes the burger as a “housemade patty w/ all the groceries”. No exaggeration there and nothing left out either; the burger was lean, juicy and OBVIOUSLY home-made. We think they even went the extra mile to cook the onions before they put them in the patty. The patty had a good char on it to give it that delicious barbecue flavour that makes any burger taste better. Topping that patty were some surprisingly fresh “groceries”. (I say surprisingly because we haven’t been overly thrilled with the quality of vegetables in grocery stores up here in Edmonton.) The groceries included lettuce, tomato and pickle – a classic combination. All of that was sitting on a nice bun which Paul described as a “giant butter pan bun” and I can only assume that meant it was great! The soup that he opted to have with his burger was a pretty good sized portion and was full of flavour. The base was definitely started with the trifecta of flavour (sautéed carrots, celery, and onion) and a tomato broth, roasted veggies, a few white beans and some herbs (including a mystery herb – perhaps dill) were added to create what proved to be a yummy soup.
After all that, we were hoping to try the Gluten Free Brownie Muffin – allured by the idea that it was both a brownie and a muffin at the same time – but alas, they were out due to a looming shift in the menu. As the place started to become packed (there were people waiting at the door for a table), we squared up on the bill and left without desert but still feeling quite satisfied.
Overall, I think we enjoyed The Next Act and would return but next time probably for snacks (the pulled pork nachos at the next table over looked amazing!) and likely with some friends to more
thoroughly enjoy the social vibe of the place. It seems like the kind of place you’d meet up with friends and have a few beers before heading to whatever sporting event or concert was on that night. Speaking of beer, the selection was good and the prices looked reasonable.
Visit The Next Act’s website to see their food, drink, and brunch menus and for hours and location. We recommend you give this place a try next time you’re in the area – it was a refreshing break from the chained pubs or fancier restaurants that line Whyte Ave. If you go, let us know what you thought by leaving a comment below.
*One other thing I noted is that they have a “Sunday Family Dinner” every Sunday for $15 per person with specials on Steamwhistle. I’m pretty sure the idea is to give the student community a place to gather and feel at home with a good meal once a week. There were no details as to what was served but if tonight’s meal was any indication, I think we can safely assume it would be something homey and comforting.