I’ve been to MKT (Gateway Blvd and Whyte Ave) several times since it has opened up, and I’ve decided to do a little review of it.
Firstly, being in the old train station that once housed the Iron Horse (there’s a good throwback bar from the late 90’s and early 2000s!), you know that this is going to be a big, and cool, space. They have appointed it really nicely inside, and it looks great as soon as you walk in. Big picnic tables, some regular high table, booths, and comfy seats along the massive bar make MKT one of the more attractive pub/restaurants in Edmonton.
Secondly, this place is one of the best on Whyte in the summer, specifically because of their massive outdoor patio. We crave our outdoor time in this city, and MKT must have one of the biggest patios in the area. This can cause some serious wait times in the summer, mainly because nobody wants to be stuck inside when it is nice and sunny out there. I feel like with their enormous lot (I have no idea if they own it all the way to the sidewalk or not), they should expand their patio even further towards Whyte. And perhaps make use of some of the ample space along the side of the building, leading up to the main entrance.
Next, it is nice for a place along Whyte Avenue to actually have its own parking lot. This is the rarest of the rare in the popular part of Edmonton nightlife, and this is a benefit of the location. If the lot is full, there is also some street parking nearby that is free.
As for the food and drink. It is a mixed bag. The beer menu is very impressive, with long lists of beers from all over the planet. The best idea is to come on a Thursday, when it is $4 for any of their pints. I feel better about trying a new beer when I don’t have to pay $8 or more for it. Gives a chance to see what you might like, and not have to pay through the nose for it. In my visits, I have found the beer good, not flat, and the staff is generally fairly knowledgeable about their alcohol products. Meaning, they at least know what type of beer each one is, which can’t be said for every staff in the city. There are some weird things with the sizes of the beers, as sometimes you are ordering something smaller than you expected. I don’t usually pay attention to the size of the pint when I order a pint. I thought a pint was a size. But that confusion can be avoided by being a customer who actually reads the menu fully, unlike myself on many occasions.
For food, there is good and there is mediocre. It really is just pub grub, but with fancier names and higher price tags. I’m not really picky about the food I eat, but it is just okay here. The nachos are really tasty, especially when covered in pulled pork, and they are of a significant portion size. The burgers are decent, but nothing really makes them stand out. The burger you will have at MKT is essentially the same burger you will have at any other bar in the city. I really didn’t like the soft pretzels, and found the dipping sauces to be quite contrary to what my palate would ever like to try again (my opinion, of course). When I go to MKT, I will typically go after eating, maybe only getting a small snack or appetizer item to tide me over through a few beers.
I’ve read quite a few negative reviews about the service online, but I haven’t found it to be that bad. Of course, like most places, it could always be faster, but for a large and generally busy place, I have found it to be pretty good. I am not typically going there during the most peak times, and have never had to wait too long for a server to show up. When it gets busy and there is a wait for tables, they will take your phone number and call you when a table is ready, which is a little different, but they follow through, and if the wait seems long (like for a patio spot during the summer), it gives you a chance to check around to see if there is somewhere else you would like to go.
Overall, MKT isn’t a major dining experience by any stretch of the imagination. But if you are just going for drinks (especially on a Thursday!), it is a nice place to enjoy a few beers with friends. Just be careful going up the spiral staircase to the washrooms!