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Noble in Calgary?

Tried this place last night. Told on the phone that they had no tables left to reserve, but that we could get one immediately if we just walked in. Arrived twenty minutes later to be told there's a half-hour wait. We were offered glasses of wine while we waited, always a nice touch.

In short, the food was strikingly underseasoned but otherwise well-prepared, albeit not very interesting, and not cheap. The room was pleasant but very noisy, and the server was good when we were lucky enough to interact with her, which was very infrequently. When the bill came we'd been charged for those glasses of wine we were offered while we waited half an hour for our table.

We won't be returning.

Oct 20, 2010
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

Pakistani Chausa Mangoes in YYC?

I was in Spicerack (across from Northland mall) this morning and I *think* they had a crate of those on the counter next to the cash register, but it might have been a different variety. You might want to give them a call.

Jul 28, 2010
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

Rouge YYC - S.Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants 2010

Judged solely on food, in my opinion Rush is clearly the best restaurant in Calgary, and is even a pretty good value given the quality of the food. River Cafe has decent food and a great location. Chef's Table has good food (and is located in a nice hotel).

Jun 13, 2010
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

Rouge YYC - S.Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants 2010

Jeez, I told Bruce to give me a call for restaurant recommendations when in town.

Rouge is mediocre. It would not place in my top 60 in Canada, much less North America, much less the world. This result utterly discredits that list.

Jun 10, 2010
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

YYC Yeee-Haaa!!!

The intersection of the set of Western-themed restaurants and the set of restaurants which serve decent food is the null set. Take the visitor to River Cafe, tell them the old west looked like a fisherman's cottage. Problem solved.

May 17, 2010
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

Grocery prices in cowtown

I have always found Superstore's produce to by far and away the freshest and most varied of any the chains present in Calgary. I also find the comments on their fish strange---seems to me, again, fresher and more varied than any of the other supermarkets. I go the one in the SW, perhaps it varies by store. They're also relatively cheap, have a good selection of Asian products, and have the best baguettes anywhere in Calgary (which is an indictment of Calgary bakeries. I'm looking at you, Manuel Latruwe.)

On the other hand, they're located on the outskirts of town, they're huge and crowded and generally a pain to visit, and they inflict all sorts of minor irritations, notably making you pack your own groceries. Unless you go at an obscure hour, expect to fight your way through the parking lot, wonder around looking for a cart (and remember to have a loony in hand for your cart), get your daily exercise hiking around the nine bajillion square foot store, and stand in line for twenty minutes to get the reward of packing your own groceries.

Mar 25, 2010
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

Wildwood closes

Bob---I have no more information than you do; just happened on the page while trying to decide where to go for brunch.

I didn't know Creative owns Original Joe's either. Odd the same people run both that cruddy chain and Bonterra.

Mar 08, 2010
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

Wildwood closes

Just noticed this:

fourth paragraph---ouch!

We used to like Wildwood but the menu seriously needed updating. It seems likely a new restaurant will take its place; hope it's good.

Mar 08, 2010
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

2 nights in Calgary - recommendations please

I would recommend Rush or Chef's Table if you're looking for tasting menus. In my opinion, these are the two best restaurants in Calgary. I can't imagine either would have a problem with substitutions, but it couldn't hurt to call first and find out (and forewarn the kitchen).

River Cafe has a pleasant location, but the food is a notch below those two. Rouge and Muse also have good but lesser food, but without great locations (Muse is a bit cheaper to compensate). Without meaning disrespect to other posters, I would specifically recommend against St Germain---there's a good reason they have free corkage and basically have to give their food away.

Oct 16, 2009
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

Osteria de Medici Calgary

Just a note that I had dinner here again the other day (not my choice, nor my cash): Dreadful at any price, and ridiculously awful at their stratospheric prices. Boring, unimaginative, simplistic, tasteless food. Cost more per person than the last time I ate at Rush. This is, taking price into account, without a doubt the worst restaurant in Calgary. Well, except the service was good in an obsequious way---if you're 173 years old[*] and just want to be served bland food by someone who will fawn over you, this is your place.

[*] Actual average age of diners the night I went.

Oct 08, 2009
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

London: solo upscale lunch suggestions?

L'Atelier and Maze are great suggestions, thanks.

Oct 08, 2009
ChrisA in U.K./Ireland

London: solo upscale lunch suggestions?

My partner and I will be visiting London (from Western Canada) for a few days; she is attending a conference and I am just going for fun. For several days she will be busy at the conference and I will need to eat alone for lunch. We have dinner reservations at Rasoi and at The Square, and I was hoping to be able to check out some of London's other fine restaurants for *relatively* inexpensive lunches.

Any particularly good spots for solo lunches? The criteria: should treat solo guests well, should not be too exposed a room (or should have a bar at which one can eat---I always feel a bit self-conscious when eating alone), preferably not too too expensive for lunch (say, 60 pounds or less), and hopefully reasonably close to our hotel in the Knightsbridge area. I prefer innovative to classic. Will only have "business casual" attire (including a jacket, but not a tie) with me, as opposed to a full-blown suit.

Thanks much for any suggestions.

Oct 07, 2009
ChrisA in U.K./Ireland

Trip report: Okanagan

Brief notes on a week of driving around the Okanagan and area in search of good eats:

Truffle Pigs, Field: see (negative) review previously posted. Thumbs down.

Eleven22, Golden: small unassuming restaurant with pleasant service and an atypical menu. My main was nasi goreng, which one doesn't often see on a bistro menu. Not great, but fine for the price. Thumbs up.

Restaurant at Predator Ridge Resort near Vernon: we stayed here four nights and wound up eating three meals here. Wonderful patio with great views. There is a pub menu and an upscale menu. The food off the upscale menu was not up to the prices, at least, the salmon I had was severely overcooked and underseasoned, with matching sides. The pub grub was fine, though, particularly the sweet potato fries. Thumbs conditionally up.

Grapevine at Gray Monk: we had a lunch and a dinner here. Another fantastic patio. Most of the food was very good, although I was again presented with a piece of salmon which had not been respected. Thumbs up.

Boa-Thong Thai, Vernon: had a lunch here. The lunch menu consists of a small selection of curries, stir fries, and noodle dishes meant as meals, as opposed to family style dining. Cheap, tasty, fast. Recommended.

Blue Heron Pub, Vernon: if you're staying at Predator Ridge nearby dining options are limited. Blue Heron is about ten minutes away. Yet another great patio right on the lake, run of the mill but perfectly acceptable pub grub. Good selection of local wines (try the "See Ya Later" pinot, which was very oddly for sale at this pub at a lower price than at the winery we later visited). Recommended.

Old Vines at Quail's Gate: had a very good lunch here. It seems repetitive to report that, yes, they have a great patio overlooking vines leading down to the lake. Notably pleasant service, perfectly prepared and well-presented food. Recommended.

The Pasta Factory, Penticton. Erm, this place was not our choice. I'm not certain what we ate was food. Not recommended.

Cellar Door Bistro at Sumac Ridge winery: the guidebook's comparison of the winery to a Motel 7 was apt, but nonetheless the grounds are well-kept, and this was the only winery restaurant we visited which offered wine flights with meals, which is a good way to sample. There is a patio which doesn't quite offer the views of those perched on lakes or mountains but is still better than anything that can be found back home in Calgary. The food was simple but fresh and delicious, and I really enjoyed their "Pinnacle" wines, particularly the sparkling and the white, which is doubly odd as I love B.C. wine country but not so much the wines, and I don't usually drink whites. Recommended.

Passa Tempo at Nk'Mip, Osoyoos: We had one way or the other not managed to eat here on past excursions and were greatly looking forward to our meal. The woman who turned out to be our waitress introduced herself to us by way of spilling water on my partner and apologizing without breaking stride by way of muttering "it's just water." The menu, for me, was a disaster: I have a very severe tomato aversion, and six of the nine entrees featured tomato. Of the remaining three, one was the obligatory vegetarian dish which didn't interest me, one was halibut, which I'd had for lunch, and therefore I was to eat rack of lamb, which I didn't really feel like that evening. I asked the waitress to ask the kitchen if they could suggest a substitution for the bean and tomato salad which came with the duck; she looked dismayed but obliged. Ten minutes later she came back and sternly informed me that "The chef DOES NOT MAKE SUBSTITUTIONS," glowering, accusatory, and unapologetic. Now, I get that at the height of tomato season chefs want to highlight tomatos, but if you're going dominate the menu with one item it seems completely unreasonable to not allow substitutions, particularly when the diner requests that the kitchen choose the substitution. The lamb, I grant, was fine---not inventive or the sort of meal I'll remember two years from now, but fine. But I didn't enjoy it. The waitress ignored us for the rest of the evening until she brought the bill, plunked it on the table, and said, "Please give me a tip," which took the form of the words, "I apologize again for the chef's arrogance, we have this problem all the time." I'd rather eat broken glass than ever set foot in this restaurant again.

The Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl: our favorite patio in the Okanagan, wraps around the winery, perched on a hill over vines leading down the valley to Osoyoos. Sensitive after the previous night's unpleasant experience, I explained to the waitress that I cannot eat tomatoes, and she almost fell over herself assuring me that the kitchen would of course accomodate my preferences and wondered if I would prefer if they wore gloves while preparing my meal to prevent cross-contamination. It turned out that the duck confit I started with ought to have featured tomatoes in the side salad (not mentioned on menu), but the kitchen substituted grilled stone fruits, which went perfectly. This was the single best dish I had on this trip. Everything this evening was just fantastic. Highly recommended.

And now, back in Calgary.

Aug 24, 2009
ChrisA in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Truffle Pigs: A Cautionary Tale

While it is true that the service disaster was off-putting, the relative objectivity brought by several days does not change my opinion of the food. It was comparable in ambition, execution, and presentation to, say, Earl's, or mildly upscale pubs. The dinner menu did look more interesting, but I can't image we'll ever give the place another chance.

Aug 20, 2009
ChrisA in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Truffle Pigs: A Cautionary Tale

After repeatedly hearing about Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., a foodie destination, we went out of our way to stop there for lunch yesterday. This was an error.

We called the day before to make reservations and were told they didn't take reservations, but there wouldn't be a wait if we arrived after 1:00. We arrived a bit after one and were told there would be AT LEAST a half hour wait (the waiter emphasized `at least' with a grave expression). OK, waiting list. So we explored for fifteen minutes and stopped back to check on our spot, to be told by the waiter that he'd been looking for us and had given our table away. More waiting. We were then told the other waitstaff didn't know there was a waiting list and had been seating people as they walked in. This seemed to amuse the waitress, who cheerily told us "you have to work hard for your lunch here!" Almost an hour after we arrived we were finally seated: gourmet treats at last.

Except the lunch menu consists of pub fare. We ordered the daily special of salmon chowder, which was a huge bowl of salmon-flavored heavy cream dotted with a few Campbell's--style bits of salmon and veggies. Pretty tasty but pedestrian bison burgers and medium rare but tough-as-nails skewered lamb completed the meal, all slathered in way too much barbeque sauce and served with mountains of thin french fries. Overall, it wasn't terrible---for pub food, and not even upscale pub food. But we were expecting substantially better, and I expect much better service than the amateur-hour show at Truffle Pigs even from a pub, much less an allegedly upscale restaurant with "truffle" in the name no less. Perhaps the place comes into its own for dinner, but don't bother making an effort to come for lunch. In fact, don't go even if you happen to passing through Field at lunchtime.

On the other hand, today we randomly stopped at a place called the Heather Mountain Lodge for lunch. Not expecting much from whatever happened to come up on the highway at about lunch, we were surprised to find a nice patio overlooking gardens, framed by the Rockies. The menu looked pretty generic and we ordered safe dishes they couldn't screw up much, but I regretted not ordering something more elaborate when I noticed a chef going out to the garden to pick greens and herbs for our meal (we were the only people there). The food was modern, properly seasoned, very well-presented, very fresh, and not very expensive. This is what we were expecting and certainly did not get at Truffle Pigs!

Aug 17, 2009
ChrisA in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

New Mex on 17th SW? (Cgy)

Let us all hope that this new restaurant is as awesome as that Mexican place on the corner of Memorial and Kensington.

Aug 16, 2009
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

Calling all Chowhounders that have eaten at Atlas Pizza in Calgary

I've never eaten at Atlas, but note that it is more or less impossible to make really good pizza at home. A proper pizza oven operates at about 1,000 degrees F, whereas your oven probably tops out at 500. A decent gas grill is likely to work better than your oven.

In one of Jeffrey Steingarten's books he discusses his attempt to jerryrig his oven so that he could cook pizza in it during its self-clean cycle. Warn the fire department first if you follow his lead.

Aug 06, 2009
ChrisA in Home Cooking

Rasoi, new Globefish open (Cgy)

Rasoi has become one of our favorite restaurants in Calgary. Went again on Wednesday night, finding the place about half full.

I had orange and lentil soup to start ($7). Subtle, nice flavors, elegant presentation. My partner had the tomato and chickpea salad ($8) which she enjoyed but I didn't try due my unfortunate tomato aversion.

For mains, I had the salmon, which consisted of a perfectly cooked filet with an Indian spice rub, wilted spinach, and a sort of lentil curry ($25). This dish was delicious, about the right portion size for an entree (which means: fairly small), well-plated, and very satisfying. My partner had the lamb ($30), some rib chops and shank with yellow lentils. Also very tasty, perfectly cooked, and pleasantly presented.

Rasoi is under-rated in my view. It isn't really Indian food, more Indian fusion, and fusion done right, adeptly combining traditional Indian flavors with untraditional ingredients and French methods. Since opening, they've substantially decreased the prices, the quality of the food has gone up, and they now have a half-decent wine list (we had the always reliable Heartland cab, which went great with the food). We hardly notice the service, which implies the service is really good. If you haven't been at all, or went when they first opened and haven't been back, go.

Jul 31, 2009
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

Off my list - Red Door Bistro

Is it the same people as Red Door (in which case we won't bother) or new management (in which case we might go if it occurs to them to put a menu on their website and it looks good).

Jul 21, 2009
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

Calgary/Emerald Lake Lodge

And really terrible, even evaluated as fast food.

Jul 14, 2009
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

Edmonton b-day dinner?

I am also a Calgarian and not particularly familiar with the Edmonton restaurant scene, but I can note we had an enjoyable meal at Wildflower Grill recently. Comparable to Muse in terms of type of food and quality (which, I should say, I think is not as good as Alloy but better than Brava). Much better than either of the two meals we've had at Hardware Grill.

Jun 30, 2009
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

Need a Restaurant Recommendation

The Living Room or Alloy, if not too expensive, would fit the requirements.

Jun 21, 2009
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

Calgary: Good place to buy cast iron cookware?

According to wiki, all LC cast iron pieces are made in France whereas some of their other lines are manufactured elsewhere. I don't think at which retail outlet you purchase a given piece matters.

Jun 18, 2009
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

"Best of New Orleans" in Okotoks

Anyone been? Is the food at least inoffensive?

May 30, 2009
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

Coq Au Vin....or Poulet Au Vin? Calgary

Relevant Jeffrey Steingarten piece:

Mar 10, 2009
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

"Value" fine dining in Calgary-Urgent


I like Alloy, but I think it is comparably expensive to several of the restaurants in the OP's "too expensive" list.

Mar 05, 2009
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

Avenue Magazine Food Awards

Seconded. Saigon Y2K may be the worst of the four hundred zillion generic Vietnamese joints in Calgary. I think it stays in business solely due to the bizarre dearth of restaurants near the university.

Mar 01, 2009
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

New Olives Restaurant in Calgary?

Not sure I understand all the rave reviews of this place. The room is certainly interesting, but noisy and crowded, a room for people who want to be seen rather than a room for people who want to eat. We arrived on time for our reservations and then waited 45 minutes at the bar for a table. Worse, we were essentially ignored during the wait. The food was mundane but properly prepared. The prices were very high given the modest food and poor service---entrees are in the 30s.

Nov 21, 2008
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

New Olives Restaurant in Calgary?


Nov 21, 2008
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces

Vero Bistro excellent addition to Kensington

We had dinner here. It was pretty bad. My meal consisted of shrimp balls for an appetizer which were awful: just like something churned out from a food court Chinese place. Then a seared duck breast for an entree, which was merely passable. Service was fine. The decor is garish. Surprisingly pricey given the quality of the food.

Not recommended for dining. On the other hand, it is open late and is a good place to go for a snack and a drink after a show, if you're near Kensington anyways.

Oct 15, 2008
ChrisA in Prairie Provinces