Exploring Yellowknife Food

Twin Pine Diner, open in the Arnica Inn

I have been a faithful patron of Wiseguy Foods since their second season in operation, just like I’m a faithful patron of any street food vendor. During my time visiting Chef Robin’s food trailer, I have listened to him talk passionately about opening his own restaurant. Well, that dream is coming true in the form of the Twin Pine Diner.

Full disclosure: I attended the media seating at the Twin Pine Diner in the Arnica Inn on Franklin, and had the opportunity to test six of Chef Robin’s dishes. He did not ask me to write this article. I’m writing it because I love food and especially food available in Yellowknife.

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First, lets talk about the details.

[box type=”alert”]Twin Pine Diner will officially open at 7am on Tuesday, July 28th, 2015.[/box]

Twin Pine Dinner will be open seven days a week to serve the motel clientele. They will be open Tuesday to Saturday from 7am to 9pm and Sunday and Monday from 7am to 2pm.

FYI, there will be all-day breakfast menu items.

Brunch—because I know you’re asking—will be available Saturday AND Sunday from 10am to 2pm.

Now lets talk about food inspiration.

I have always admired Chef Robin’s food and his talent to dream it all up. I’ve seen him prepare an elegant 4-course meal with grace and I’ve seen him prepare the crispiest comfort-food burger you’ll ever taste.

Twin Pine Diner combines the best of both worlds. Standard comfort food/diner fare, and dishes that exude a little more gourmet flair.

Robin emphatically claims that he is trying to create a place where the food is delicious and affordable. A place that you will come back to—over and over.

Lets get into the food.

As I mentioned, we tried only six dishes so there are most likely many more that a person will need to try.

1. Signature Caesar Salad

The Salad looked similar to that of any other Caesar Salad but has a couple twists that make it special.

Instead of bacon, this salad sports Chicharrón, deep-fried pork rinds. Instead of an anchovy-based dressing, Twin Pine uses an oyster-based dressing. Smoked capers top off this Caesar and really give it a kick.

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2. BLT—with all the bacon on it

When I say all the bacon, I mean ALL the bacon. Each sandwich has 8 to 10 slices of bacon on it. That is probably close to a 1/4lb of bacon per sandwich. It is good bacon too. Like, really good bacon. Very bacon-y.

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3. Triple Cooked Fries

I’ll be honest, I’m not much of a fry guy. I just don’t like them. The consensus at my table, however, was that these fries were great, and I did enjoy them. They were triple-cooked—boiled, blanched and fried. This cooking process ensures the fries are crispy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside.

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4. Not Your Traditional Scotch Egg

I had never eaten a Scotch egg before. After the first bite, it was as if I had just discovered something that had been missing all my life. Oh My Gosh was this ever delectable. The egg, soft-boiled to perfection, wrapped in a sausage rice mix, rolled in a coating and deep-fried. It has everything.

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5. Pulled Pork on a Waffle

This is where sweet meets the savoury. A homemade waffle with pulled pork and coleslaw from scratch all topped with a tiny bit of maple syrup. Much like the Pulled Pork Taco Waffle Wiseguy Foods offered in 2014.

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6. Fried Chicken and Mashed Potatoes

I’m a fan of the Jerry Lee—Robin’s fried chicken sandwich that he sells at the Food Trailer—and this is similar. The chicken is baked and braised in chicken stock and then deep-fried. This chicken is crispy. It is topped with a slight hot sauce to give it a bit of zing. The chicken is placed on top of mashed potatoes—that are, I kid you not—made with equal portions butter and potatoes. Pound for pound. This was definitely a crowd pleaser. We could have scooped some of these potatoes in an ice cream cone and I would have been a happy man.

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Along with the food, the small, 20-seat, diner’s atmosphere is an eclectic mix of rock & roll, Yellowknife history and authentic diner staple food. It is a funky, cool, work in progress with giant chalk walls. I look forward to seeing how they are incorporated into the decor.

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Robin talked at length after our meal about the direction the diner is going. He reiterated that he never wants the diner to stop evolving. He always wants to keep it fresh, adjusting things along the way based on feedback from customers.

Robin also has big dreams for the culinary industry in Yellowknife. He hopes that establishments don’t see each other solely as competition, but also as comrades who will continuously challenge each other and help build the Yellowknife food scene.

Yellowknife is in for a treat with this diner—and as a fan of early morning breakfasts—I can assure you that I’ll be back.

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About the author

Kyle Thomas

Kyle grew up in Yellowknife and is a local entrepreneur, bread maker, and Yellowknife-ophile who is addicted to learning as much as he can about the community and sharing it with anyone who'll listen. In 2009 he developed YkOnline.ca. A website all about living, working and thriving in Yellowknife for residents, newcomers, and visitors.

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