Good News, Edmonton: Café Linnea Now Serves Dinner!
The city’s favourite brunch restaurant is officially open for evening business.
Café Linnea opened to much anticipation last summer with the promise of a purely brunch-focused menu intended to test Edmontonian’s expectations of the beloved daytime meal. The savoury sister to the culinary juggernaut Duchess Bake Shop, Café Linnea was originally conceived by head chef Kelsey Johnson and Duchess co-owner Garner Beggs as a Scandinavian- and French-inspired menu focused on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. When Johnson initially approached Beggs about opening a savoury restaurant, coming up with a unique dining experience for patrons was top of her mind. “I love eggs Benedict. I love fried eggs and bacon and toast, but I can get that at most places,” says Johnson. “I started to think about what the dishes would look like if I myself was going to sit down for breakfast and eat something special.”
What came out of the initial menu planning was a restaurant concept that married traditional European dishes and preparations with fresh produce and proteins provided by local small-scale producers. As the restaurant continues in its evolution, the mission statement of serving dishes that are painstakingly and expertly prepared from farm to table will remain front and centre to its identity.
Ten months since serving their first brunch goers, Johnson and the team at Café Linnea have rolled out a new dinner menu and expanded the restaurant’s hours to provide patrons with an entirely different dining experience. Dishes that include succulent pork croquettes, a daily in-house preparation of paté, and seasonal herb roasted vegetables served with buckwheat risotto are as much a product of the work of the kitchen staff as the team of producers who deliver ingredients to the restaurant each week. “Working in restaurants throughout the city over the last eight years has allowed me to meet and build relationships with so many great growers and producers,” says Johnson, who has worked in some of the city’s most beloved spots, including Characters Fine Dining, Culina Highlands, a five year tenure with Duchess Bake Shop, and opening support for Woodwork and North 53. “So much of what we prepare is inspired by what the producers grow and bring to us.”
The new late night hours allows for a new appreciation of the restaurant’s decor and design features as well. The rich leather banquets, warm wood tones, and cozy lighting seem as at home in the evening as during the early morning brunch rush. The large central skylight—a design feature that Johnson herself demanded be installed—filters the dim light of summer evenings across the expansive space, creating an intimate dining experience that isn’t replicated anywhere else in the city.
Café Linnea does things a little bit differently in all aspects of how they operate. The restaurant has lead the city in the no-tipping trend, rather basing their pricing off the cost of the ingredients and focusing on paying their staff a fair living wage. This also comes with the added bonus of removing the uncomfortable after meal math done by patrons. Unlike its brunch service, Café Linnea is currently taking reservations for half of its tables during dinner hours, with the other half available for walk-in service and curious passersby.
Since opening for dinner, new projects have continued to pop up for Johnson and the team behind Café Linnea. It was just announced that the restaurant has purchased a small plot of land outside of the city where Johnson and some of the staff will grow produce to serve on the menu. The two-acre farm located in Sturgeon County is currently home to a variety of seedlings of peas, squash, cucumbers, beets, carrots, and edible flowers and herbs. Johnson, an avid gardener is looking forward to having the opportunity to try her hand at being a part of every process of crafting the dishes. “It’s a total experiment, but it’s also a way for me to get away from work for a little bit. I’m in the kitchen from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. almost every day, so it’s great to have an excuse if we’re quiet to be able to leave and go dig in the dirt for a bit.”
10932 119 Street, Edmonton