A taste of Halifax at Edmonton's Blowers & Grafton

Halifax street food has come to Edmonton—or, such is the claim made by the owners behind Blowers & Grafton on Whyte Avenue. The restaurant is named after Halifax's Blowers and Grafton streets, which intersect in the Maritime province's downtown core.

Calorie-rich, cheesy, deep-fried food dominate the menu

The mini lobster rolls at Edmonton's Blowers & Grafton provided a good start to the meal. (Twyla Campbell)

Halifax street food has come to Edmonton—or, such is the claim made by the owners behind Blowers & Grafton on Whyte Avenue. 

The restaurant is named after Halifax's Blowers and Grafton streets, which intersect in the Maritime province's downtown core.

The area is known as "pizza corner" to locals, who congregate there for late-night eats and to enjoy the food trucks.

Bringing Halifax to Edmonton

The Edmonton restaurant does a respectable job of incorporating Atlantic and Haligonian​ paraphernalia into the room along with large black and white pictures of the city in days gone by.

As well, wall-mounted street signs of Blowers and Grafton remind you where you are in case you forget.

Brick walls and massive wooden beams make the modern pub feel warm and comfortable. No matter where you sit, at a high-top table, the long banquette, or at the shiny bar with cushy square-topped stools, Blowers & Grafton is a comfortable place to come in and set a spell.  

As far as food offerings go, apparently "Halifax street food" means calorie-rich, cheesy, deep-fried or battered food. If this is what you seek, welcome to nirvana.

Blowers & Grafton doesn't waste time with vegetables. You'll find them appearing as token toppings on sandwiches, and in one salad: a mix of seasonal heritage greens with red onions, tomatoes, candied walnuts and goat cheese tossed in a vinaigrette and topped with East Coast blueberries.

Otherwise, expect a buffet of brown food.

You shouldn't be surprised to see a donair on the menu, considering the stuffed pita sandwich was invented in Halifax in the 1970s.

The donair at the Edmonton restaurant is lovely and a good size. The pita is overloaded with the moulded spiced beef, tomatoes, onions, and generously doused in a slightly sweet donair sauce.

The regular pita is for $10 and the large at $13.

The Pictou County Combination Pizza uses the tomato-base brown sauce. (Twyla Campbell)

The donair meat and sauce are available on a pizza as well, but Blowers & Grafton's take on the Pictou County pizza won out.

The pizza became famous around New Glasgow, N.S., because of its unique sauce; a tomato-based brown sauce invented by a local family in the 1960s.

I was hard-pressed to discern what makes the sauce so special, being that the toppings muffled any presence of it. The crust was underwhelming and tasted more store-bought than homemade.

The restaurant provides other options like the Fisherman's Platter, which appeals to those overwhelmed by decision-making. The basket, as one might expect, comes with an assortment of fish, shellfish, mollusks, and fries.

A squirt of the grilled lemon will do wonders to liven up a fairly predictable experience: the fish is hot and lightly battered; the clams are thin and rubbery. The prawns and scallops, deep-fried like everything else in the basket, remained thankfully, plump and not overcooked.
The OG Caesar features a donair on a stick. (Twyla Campbell)

The mini lobster rolls were the fairest of the lot: big chunks of Atlantic lobster are mixed with mayo, lemon, dill and coleslaw and wedged in the crevasse of a buttery, grilled roll. Again, keep the lemon juice handy. It does wonders.

This dish could be an appetizer for three people, or a dish for one. Some people will complain of the $22 price tag but blame the lobster.

Perhaps the best value is in the $11 OG Caesar. The Clamato-based cocktail comes with a tower of warm donair meat pierced on a wooden skewer alongside a smaller pick of pepperoni and a pepperoncini pepper. With this, you get a drink and a snack all in one.

Overall, Blowers & Grafton is great for people watching, for enjoying a craft brew from one of the beer taps and for those who don't have to (or want to) worry about calories.

You'll find them at 10550 82 Ave. NW.