Monday, May 16, 2011

Soda Jerks-a confusing concept of being modern and retro

My boyfriend and I decided to go out for lunch yesterday. I still had a Good News coupon for the Noodlemaker, so we decided to go there. It was a good thing I read the coupon closely because it said to make reservations. Upon calling, I found out the restaurant wasn't open-they are closed Sundays. With that idea shot, I remember reading an article in the Edmonton Journal about a new restaurant serving up delicious burgers and 31 different flavours of sodas. Without hesitation, my boyfriend and I headed to Soda Jerks.

I am not sure when this restaurant opened on the city. It is located right by the Best Buy in the Westpointe Centre, just off of 100 avenue and 175 street. I don't drive by the part of the city too often, but I believe it is relatively new as their main sign above the door is still vinyl, fastened with gromits.  Upon entering the restaurant, it takes on the atmosphere of the former vendor (East Side Mario's and Ric's Grill, according to a reader). I had imagined this restaurant to be a retro-feel sort of diner, 50's or 60's type diner. Instead, it was a diner with a modern twist with barely any residue of retro-ness. The focal point of the restaurant was definitely the display of sodas. Right when you walk into the restaurant, there is a wall-display of 31 different types of sodas your left, ranging from Jones, Boylan to Fentimans. 
The display of sodas: an astonishing array of them.
Walk over the corner to your right, on your left is a continuation of more sodas. My boyfriend and I were seated in the dining part of the restaurant, which was made up of comfy booths. The dark interior of the booths, accompanied by the wood panelling on the side of the walls gave the restaurant a modern feel. 
My interesting botanical soda pop.

Now to the important part: the food! Upon first glance at the menu, I have to be honest that it didn't sound anything special to me. The food being served was pretty basic; the usual burgers (they call them sandwiches on the menu), salads, build your own (sandwiches). For drinks, I ordered the Fentimans Dandelion & Burdock soda, while my boyfriend ordered Jones Bubble Gum flavoured soda. I enjoyed my unique botanical soda-it tasted much like Jagermeister, minus the alcohol. My boyfriend's soda was good, but it was a bit too artificial tasting for me. I couldn't decide what to get, but I know I didn't want beef again as I had a huge steak the other day. I decided to order The Original burger, which consisted of housemade beef patty (I got turkey instead) topped with corned beef, havarti, mixed greens, tomato, red onion, sauerkraut and roasted garlic mayo; served on a sesame seed bun. My boyfriend opted for the Cowboy burger which consisted of housemade beef patty topped with cheddar cheese, chili, smoked bacon, an onion ring and coleslaw; served on a sesame seed bun.
My Original Burger.

The Cowboy Burger.

I have a tendency to ramble on about my food experiences so I'll just cut to the chase on this one: my boyfriend and I were disappointed with the food. Not that it wasn't tasty, but it just didn't taste like anything special to us. My turkey burger didn't have any turkey taste to it and none of the flavours in the burger really stood out. Though my boyfriend didn't mind his, he agreed that no particular flavour in the burger stood out. The prices were overpriced, too. $3 for a Jones soda... We can get Jones soda half that price (well, a little less than half) at any speciality grocery store. With that being said, we felt like the restaurant conveyed a confusing concept of retro-modern, without any retro feeling at all, except for the sodas. The restaurant seems like it is trying to portray a retro experience in a modern way. With nothing special to the menu and without a clear concept to focus on, I'm not sure how long this restaurant will last. 

Verdict: not-so-scrumptious!


  1. The restaurants that occupied the space before Soda Jerks were East Side Mario's and more recently, Ric's Grill. It's not the greatest location, but I've been meaning to check it out. After reading this however, I may take a pass.

  2. I went there a couple of months ago and I pretty much echo your thoughts on the food and ambience (or lackthereof).

    That location is a black hole for restaurants. I frequent some of the retail stores in that area, but it is a prime example of a poorly designed retail area (way too much parking space).

  3. Anonymous reader--thank you for indicating the former occupants of this restaurant!

  4. Buddha Pest--glad to know someone feels the same way. And you are quite right about the location. It is off to the side in an enormous parking lot, so the restaurant is probably overlooked most of the time.

  5. Wasn't Soda Jerks formerly in St. Albert and host to an unofficial weekly classic car show? Assuming I'm thinking of the right place, maybe this new location will catch on among the car guys who used to hang out at the old St. Albert location.

    Sounds like it's not really worth checking out, though.

  6. Does anyone know why there is no longer one in St. Albert? The atmosphere there was awesome: like an old diner.

  7. Soad jerks in st albert is not open any more since people did not frequent it in the winter. It was a blast from sping to fall but the lack of winter sales & high rent they lost money all winter & had to close. I know quite a few people that have tried the new place place & it is no where near the same & was dissatisfied with the lack of old school decor & the food.

  8. The original owner of the SodaJerks in St. albert did very well with it. He owned the building anf the land so rent was not an issue for him. When he sold it the new owner neglected it. He let the young staff run the place and he was never there. It went down hill fast with that approach. We lived within a walking distance and used to go often, especially to the bike and car nights. But with the new owner and the service and quality going down the toilet we stopped going. I am pretty sure alot of people felt the same way an that is probably why they closed. I was excited to hear there was one in edmonton but ery dissapointed it was not the same 50s style resturant.

  9. It is reopening in St. Albert - this weekend, I understand.