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A couple of weekends ago we headed to Edmonton for a visit with Mark’s parents, who moved back to their old home back in late April.  It got some getting used to not having both sets of parents in the same city, but thankfully Edmonton isn’t too far away and I can still get my visits in with the delightful – yet sadly, aging – Rocky, who I affectionately refer to as the “in-law dog”.

Despite having visited Edmonton countless times throughout my youth, the only place I ever really went to regularly was West Edmonton Mall.  Basically, if anyone ever asked me, “what’s there to do in Edmonton besides go to the mall?” I’d given them a giant shrug and then slink away in shame.  So for this visit, we decided that we had to find something new and possibly exciting to do besides sit around and eat copious amounts of food (because no visit with any parents is ever complete without eating of pants-tightening proportions).  I suppose going for Sunday brunch still fits in to the “sit around and eat copious amounts of food” category, but at least it’s in a place we haven’t been to, right?

Hotel Selkirk, nestled in Fort Edmonton Park, is well-known for their regular Sunday brunches.  I love myself a good old fashioned Sunday brunch.  At $30 for adults, it’s a decent price considering that it includes admission to Fort Edmonton Park, which runs at around $18.  It’s a value pack no frugal Asian can refuse.

While walking to the hotel, we were guided by the enticing aroma of fried bacon.  Mmmmm… bacon.  Just follow the bacon scent – it never steers you wrong.  When we arrived for our 10:30 a.m. seating, the hotel lobby was abuzz with activity.  The brunch stations are actually set-up in the middle of the lobby; you’re immediately greeted by a host or hostess who takes you past all the food into the dining area to your table.  From there, it’s time to attack the brunch stations and check out what they offer.

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The trick to a successful Sunday brunch is to pace one-self by trying a little bit of everything.  I tend to gravitate more towards the sweet carbohydrate offerings, like pastries and french toast, and I can’t resist when there’s stacks of crispy fried bacon just waiting to be devoured.  I ate my fair share of bacon that morning, I’m not gonna lie.

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They have a nice area of cold and savoury offerings such as salads, cold cuts, fruits, and veggies, which is flanked by what I like to call Carbohydrate Mecca, aka the pastry and bread offerings.  From there, the hot food stations are set up with classic breakfast items like french toast, waffles (with fresh blueberry compote, the lightest and tastiest whip cream I think I’ve ever had, and maple syrup), bacon, sausages, and Eggs Benedict.  A little further afield are some more substantial savoury offerings, like fish, roasted Cornish hen with potatoes, and pasta.  They also had a chef-manned station set up where you could get a customised omelet.

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The dessert area is really something special.  They had a ton of options when it came to the sweet ending of the meal.  I mean, where does one even start?  I could have an entire brunch just eating one of each of these desserts.  It’s truly eye candy for the dessert lover.  In the end, I settled on the chocolate mousse and a slice of apple tart (which I think was a cheesecake).  We all remarked that the desserts we tried were just the right amount of sweet, which was perfect for Mark and his mom who aren’t particularly fond of overly sweet desserts.

Hotel Selkirk does an admirable job with their brunch offering.  All of the items tasted fresh, well-seasoned, and were promptly restocked, and there’s enough variety to suit many tastes.  We received excellent and friendly service from all of the staff; our coffees were regularly refreshed and used plates were cleared quickly.

I recommend calling ahead or booking a seating online.  You can choose from various seatings, starting from 10:00 a.m., with the last seating at 12:30 p.m.  They’ll have your name and party size registered at the front and you pay at the end of the meal.  I think walk-ins are also welcome, but it’s probably difficult to secure a table at peak times.  If brunch is not your thing, the dining room, called Johnson’s Cafe, operates like a regular restaurant during the week and they also offer a Wednesday afternoon High Tea.

Collectively as a group, we’ve been to many Sunday brunches and we came to the consensus that Hotel Selkirk’s was one of the best we’ve been to.  They do the simple things well, the price point is great compared to some of the pricier brunches we’ve been to, and it’s all done in a quaint and historical building.

We’ll definitely be going back for Sunday brunch action on subsequent weekend trips to Edmonton.  It’s a great family gathering, because no visit with any parents is ever complete without eating of pants-tightening proportions.  Now at least I can recommend something other than the mall to people who ask about Edmonton, too.

Hotel Selkirk / Johnson’s Cafe
1920 Fort Edmonton Park Rd Northwest
Edmonton, AB
Phone: (780) 496-7227
http://www.fortedmontonpark.ca/hotel-selkirk/johnsons-cafe/

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