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Feb 23, 2010 08:48 PM

Trying to find good beef in Edmonton


I have been living in Edmonton for 3 years now and I am sorry to say I have not managed to find one decent bit of beef in that entire time.
I know I was spoiled when I lived in the UK by having one of the best butchers in the country on my doorstep, but even when I lived in Toronto, I could find some fantastic Albertan Beef.

The biggest problem is that all the beef in Edmonton you buy seems to be just frozen, which ruins the texture and taste of the animal..just watch all those lovely juices (and flavours) disappear down the sink when you defrost it, to see what I mean. And as for that lovely smell of raw beef, naw, did get a whiff once, for about 0.001 second before that too disappeared down the drain!

Saying this, I do also know that everything is available in Edmonton, SOMEWHERE, it's the trying to find it that is the problem.
So, please, help this Expat to have a really good Sunday Roast once again.

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  1. Try Ben's Meats & Deli on Stony Plain Road. Talk to Dave the owner, ask for what you want and see if he procure it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: worldwidestuff

      If you are interested in buying in bulk then check these guys out. We have been buying a 1/4 cow from them for the last couple years, but yes, obviously it is frozen.

      I would second Ben's and add Care It deli, they carry Spring Creek Ranch, pretty pricey though (organic).

      1. re: cleopatra999

        Thanks, will pay them a visit this saturday..Unfortunately I can;t store even a quarter of a cow, at least not outside of winter time and they seem to be sold out until september...which shows how good they must be

    2. Having grown up in a ranching family, I am shaking my head over this post. aja thinks they were spoiled by the beef in Britain or Toronto. I don't there are many folks who would prefer the beef in either of those places to the beef here. In fact, I think frozen Alberta beef is still much better than anything that is cornfed (which much of the beef in Ontario is).

      It comes down to the breed of cattle ranched and the amount of time spent on the range (as opposed to feedlots). So as long as shoppers check hat the beef is from Western Canada it will most likely be far superior to anything from the UK or Ontario. Most butcher shops and most supermarkets feature lots and lots of fresh beef.

      If you are getting frozen and you think it is poor quality, I would suspect it may not be from Western Canada -- perhaps Argentina or U.S. and been frozen for a long time.

      As for the quest for a good Sunday roast, I would suggest Victoria Fancy Sausage or Bens. Hell, I think even Costco does a good job of butchering Alberta beef. I bought a standing rib roast there a few weeks ago and it was wonderful.

      3 Replies
      1. re: pengcast

        I will second Costco beef. It is all AAA, and I have never been disappointed whether buying in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec or the Maritimes.

        1. re: pengcast

          Actually, I meant that I have had Alberta Beef in Toronto that was excellent, not Ontarian Beef
          But may I ask you, have you ever been to England and tried the really good stuff there?
          And I don;t mean in a restaurant, I mean from a butcher?
          Sorry, are you saying your beef was grassfed? In England it is all grassfed, and i may be mistaken, but my understanding is the bulk of the world is grassfed,outside of North America, but I do stand to be corrected on that. Corn fed has things that grassfed do not and visa versa

          I didn;t actually mention it to start with, which is my fault, but all the beef I was talking about was from farmers markets and such like and not from the supermarkets.

          As for frozen not being as good as is a simple matter of physics....when liquid freezes, it expands...cells in a living body are made up out of liquid, so it expands and the cell wall breaks. When it thaws all the contents of that cell runs down the drain, and the texture of it has changed as well
          May I ask again, has all the beef you have ever eaten always been frozen?

          Victoria Fancy Sausage that does indeed look like the sort of place I am after...and it appears they butcher it themselves, now that is how it should be done...thanks very much for that

          1. re: aja1

            You say that all the beef at the farmers markets is frozen...strange, because I've been buying my beef at Strathcona Market for the last 10 years, and yes some is frozen but not all. Four Whistle, Trowlesworthy and Sunworks all have some fresh most if not all weeks.

        2. ACME Meats (9531 76 Ave) does a great job with those Sunday roasts as well.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Marianne S

            Ah, that was somewhere I had heard about when I first arrived but then lost it;s name..thanks

          2. What in earth are you talking about? Where are you shopping? I never buy frozen beef and fresh is everywhere except maybe the big box stores. This is a very confusing (confused?) post. For that matter I buy fresh bison, elk, chickn and pork.

            10 Replies
            1. re: foodiesnorth

              What do you mean...all the supermarket's meat has been frozen, and besides,they wrap them up in polystyrene which takes like 1,000 year to decompose, but worst still, they put a diaper under them, which sucks out what little juice and flavour they may have had...have you seen how pale the meat is!
              So Marianne, could you advise me of one single supermarket that does not sell meat that has not been frozen please, because I am confused now?

              1. re: aja1

                Are you quite sure that "all the supermarket's meat" has been frozen? I haven't normally experienced that when shopping at Safeway or Save-on, 2 of the larger chains.

                Agree about the styrofoam packaging though. But even the grocery stores often have a full service meat counter where they wrap your order in butcher paper if you want to avoid that issue.

                1. re: egon61

                  well if it has not been frozen, why does it look anemic and not have any flavour?
                  Besides, all the stores I have asked at tell me it;s frozen, one of them even told me they do not even cut up the meat, everything comes in ready packed!!

                  1. re: aja1

                    Wild Earth Grochery on 99th sells spring creek ranch beef.... pretty sure it's never been frozen... smokin iron farms usually has fresh beef from local suppliers as well. Wild Game supplies(not sure if they do small orders, its where we get all our beef for the restaurant I work at), Sherwood meats... lots of butcher shops around if you look............. even many threads on this very site..........................

                    1. re: aja1

                      Lots of grainfed lamb around in the world if you look for it, produces a more mild flavor(dependant on where its from.... opinions differ on this), though it is higher in fat and lower in % protein then grass-fed. Most people tend to prefer grass-fed, but there are some very nice grain-fed lamb producers that I personally prefer.

                      1. re: aja1

                        Perhaps this is really a semantics discussion -- chilled is not the same as frozen. And North American meat processors do tend to chill their unfrozen meat to a colder temperature than most EU countries. The same is true of milk and eggs. It is probably because it tends to get transported much longer distances here.

                        But to say that all supermarket meat has been frozen in just false.

                        1. re: pengcast

                          In the end, I tend to support local butchers who buy local meat from which I tend be relatively assured of it provenance. Buy from a butcher owner, talk to them, get the straight goods and avoid the styropacks. The rest of the thread is relevant only for those who insist on supporting the big guys.

                        2. re: aja1

                          In Alberta, frozen meat and previously frozen meat has to be labelled as such.

                          1. re: aja1

                            Maybe you are used to dry aged beef. In Alberta wet aging (in cryovac pacs) is pretty much the only aging process.

                            1. re: Bryn

                              Ben's occasionally has dry aged beef available. I think they have it about once a month - call to check availability.

                              Acme also has dry aged beef. Again, call ahead to make sure.

                              I am guessing this is the reason for the taste difference. The taste and texture difference between dry and wet aged beef is significant.

                    2. I have been reading the posts on this particular topic and I cannot help but respond. I have to agree with aja1. I'm sorry folks but I'm from Edmonton, and I will qualify that, I have lived here all my life but soon found out that when dining in other cities and countries I realized that Alberta beef just isn't that great. I too get defensive and want to protect the city I live in but when it comes to buying beef to grill at home or dining in a restaurant here, I am pretty much always disappointed.

                      I agree with aja1 that the beef is flavorless and neither my husband or I can figure than one out. How can our 'Alberta' beef be so flavorless and in addition to flavorless, of such poor quality whether it be the butcher's fault, the farmer/rancher's fault as to what the feed is, the aging of the beef, the grading of the beef (Alberta AAA - good grief) - I don't understand it myself?

                      As an example, we tentatively ordered filet mignon in a restaurant in the Hyatt in Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt) and I say tenatively because we didn't know what to expect from the quality even though it was a Hyatt. The meat was incredible, and we asked the waiter where they buy their beef? Surprise, it is imported from Australia and I have to say it put 'Alberta' beef to absolute shame.

                      Just my thoughts on the topic ... there will be many who don't agree.