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Fort McMurray Food Fight

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Here we visit two new establishments which feature food, beer, and no minors. Wood Buffalo Brewery vs. Original Joe’s. These two establishments form near bookends of Franklin Avenue and have generated much buzz since opening. Your McMurray Magazine’s Fort McMurray Food Fight couldn’t resist matching these two contenders.

{slider=Round 1: Overall Atmosphere & Service}

Wood Buffalo Brewery is bright, big, beautiful, and features a window onto part of the brewing process. This place looks amazing and the service was outstanding. The staff were knowledgeable about the menu, the beer, and the concept and very personable.

Original Joe’s, while smaller, is sharp and modern with a wall featuring black and white pictures of icons from around town. This establishment also looks amazing. The staff were friendly and knew the menu well.

Result: Both establishments were top of their class but Wood Buffalo Brewery’s knowledge of the establishment’s concept lets them takes this very close round.

{/slider} {slider=Round 2: In this case, this round is all about Beer} Wood Buffalo Brewery: On tap is a full spectrum of fresh locally made beers crafted in house. From a light lager to a creamy stout, these whimsically named beers are the talk of the town. I settled on the “Gold Digger Ale” which has a growing following.

Original Joe’s features Alberta’s own Big Rock beers crafted especially for the establishment. With great variety to sample, I settled on their blonde lager which was light and balanced and delicious.

Result: The quality of beers at both locations is enough to make your head spin. I’m pleased we now have two locations featuring great craft beers and this round is a draw. (If my editor wishes, this writer is willing to retry this round several times just to be sure.)

{/slider} {slider=Round 3: The Appetizer}

Wood Buffalo Brewery served us beef carpaccio. This dish of rare cooked Alberta beef tenderloin is garnished with pea sprouts, an aioli, and lovely tempura fried capers. This dish is pleasing to the eyes and even more pleasing to the palate.

At Original Joe’s, my wife and I chose their Queso Fundido, a spicy cheese dip with chorizo sausage served with crisped tortillas. While this dish may go well with a night of watching sports, we found the dish heavy and with oil separating out on the top it was too rich for our tastes.

Result: Wood Buffalo Brewery is the clear winner with a beef carpaccio that will have you coming back for more.

{/slider} {slider=Round 4: The Main Course}

At Wood Buffalo Brewery I had the macadamia crusted salmon served with jasmine scented rice and seasonal vegetables. The dish, promising in name, was served slightly over-cooked and dry. While the rice and vegetables were well executed, the macadamia nut crust was overpowered by the dish as a whole.

At Original Joe’s, I had the blackened salmon served with broccolini and a side salad. The salmon was moist and cooked perfectly with a subtle heat from the Cajun seasoning. The broccolini was bright and fresh and properly seasoned. For a northern city in a land-locked province, this fish dish was delicious.

Winner: Original Joe’s beats the slightly confusing salmon at Wood Buffalo Brewery.

Result: This match was tight and very difficult to call. The beef carpaccio at Wood Buffalo Brewery was absolutely stunning with their salmon leaving something to be desired. At Original Joe’s, their queso was heavy and oily but their salmon was lovely. The winner here is Wood Buffalo Brewery because their staff knowledge of the beers, menu, and understanding of the restaurant concept.


Pro-tip: Both restaurants are busy early and lined up by 5:00 p.m. If you can, get a seat away from the entrance as tobacco smoke creeps into both restaurants as the line up snakes out the doors.


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