Bars/Lounges · Beer · Fusion · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion

Nights & Weekends – Pop-Up Restaurant and Bar

It’s my birthday week! L picked me up from the airport and told me I had one hour to get ready for our dinner reservation. His colleague M emailed him an article about a pop-up restaurant – Nights & Weekends. What interested L was that co-chefs Bern Glatz and Nick Berenyi collectively worked at Ten Foot Henry, Anju, Mercato, Bar Von Der Fels, and Una Pizza + Wine. He figured since we like all those restaurants, we would enjoy Nights & Weekends. As always, L is correct.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, Nights & Weekends takes over the space at Shiki Menya. The restaurant is dimly lit, with the exception of the glow of the pink neon sign. The tunes are rocking and the vibe is intimate.

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Initially, I was skeptical when the bartender informed us they only sell four wines – bubbles, rosé, white and red ($12 glass, $48 bottle). After sampling three of the four wines, I realized you don’t need a large selection if each bottle is well chosen. Kudos to Katie, an employee from Vine Arts who selects all the wine for Nights & Weekends.

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L ordered a pint of Asahi ($7) while I requested a glass of French bubbles ($12). I found the bubbles tight and clean tasting.

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We ordered two servings of the Tamago ($4). The egg was cool and soft. As I slurped the egg back, it felt like I was eating an oyster. I enjoyed the restrained use of black sesame and chili oil. However, L’s portion received all the scallions. Luck of the draw.

egg close upThe Waygu Beef Tartare ($14) is a winner. L appreciated how the focus of dish was the meat rather than competing flavour of secondary ingredients. The beef tasted supremely fresh. I didn’t even want to use the potato chip because it would take away from the flavour of the waygu. As I chewed, I savoured the texture of the beef.  Oh so good.

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The bartender recommended I try the Russine (2017) rosé with the wagyu tartare. He described this wine as a winter rosé. I was reluctant to try it because too often, I find rosé tart, sweet or fake tasting. He didn’t steer me wrong. The wine was heavy for a rosé and a little dry.  I would order this again.

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The Poached Tiger Prawn ($10) was the star of the night. This sandwich was off the hook. The kewpie sauce was light and just enough to bind and coat all the ingredients together. The pea shoots helped to cut into the mayo. The tobiko added a pop of the sea.

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The prawns were plentiful and sweet. With each bite, proportionally, there was more shrimp than bun. We liked how the bun was squishy and mushable against the crunchy prawns.

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The Handmade Pasta ($18) was unique. What I liked was the firmness and bite of the noodles. The combination of the cheese, guancialle (cured meat), dashi, gachujang (Korean red chili paste), mushrooms and nori reminded me a little of Kraft cheese, but in a good way.

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I drank one more glass of wine because I was having so much fun and I didn’t want to leave. The Maggiorina Vino Rosso (2018) was interesting. The wine hit my tongue hard but then mellowed out.

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In my opinion, this little pop-up restaurant competes with the best restaurants I’ve tried in this city and elsewhere. I love it so much, Nights & Weekends is making it on my list of favourite restaurants in Calgary. Hitting the Sauce gives Nights & Weekends two fat thumbs up.

Nights and Weekends Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Fusion · Happy Hour · Restaurants

Raw Bar – Happy Hour

Québécois and I have been friends ever since she and her husband moved next door to us in 2014.  On Friday night, she treated me to dinner at Raw Bar. I haven’t been to Raw Bar since Duncan Ly was the executive chef. For this post, let’s listen to “Date Night” by Father John Misty.

On Fridays, almost all the wines are half price. What a steal! I can’t think of any other restaurant in Calgary that offers half price wine on Friday. Select appetizers are half price until 6:00 p.m. and dollar oysters are served until 7:00 p.m.

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Our first bottle of the night was Sirius Bordeaux Blanc 2017 ($49, HH $24.50). When we first took a sip, we thought the wine was acidic. But after the wine had a chance to breathe, the flavour was more tropical and light. I enjoyed this bottle.

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We started with a round of oysters (HH $1.00). The oysters were small and briny. I ate one oyster that tasted bitter, so I spat it out. I didn’t get sick, so no hard feelings.

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Our server recommended the Fried Caulilini ($10, HH $5). Caulilini is a variety of cauliflower. The batter was doughy in some pieces.

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The Grilled Shishito peppers ($12, HH $6) were crunchy. I enjoyed the curry aioli and the crispy bits of puffed rice. Québécois took a bite of a pepper and announced it was too spicy. When I bragged that I can handle my spice, she dared me to eat her pepper. I popped the shishito in my mouth and immediately my face flushed red. When Québécois saw me chug my glass of water, she regretted telling me to eat it. I said no worries, as spicy food speeds up my metabolism.

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Québécois ordered a second bottle of wine – Michel Gassier Viognier France, 2018 ($46, HH $23). I really liked this bottle – the wine was dry with a floral aroma. I would order this bottle again.

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Even though I just returned from Cabo, I wanted to try the Ahi Tuna Tacos ($16, HH $8). The tuna was tasty but oversauced. I had to pour some of the liquid out of the hard taro root shell before eating it. I thought I could taste kimchi in the sauce, even thought the menu described the sauce as a chili glaze.

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My favourite dish was not on the happy hour menu –  Korean Beef Tartare ($16). The flavours of the chilled beef and sweetness from the Korean pear were spot on. I found the tartare refreshing and nicely seasoned. The rice chips were so addictingly delicious, Québécois asked for another serving for me. The chips remind me of a fresher, tastier version of shrimp crackers you get with roast chicken at a Chinese banquet dinner.

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Québécois needed a sweet to finish the night. She ordered Homemade Bon Bons ($3.50). The chocolate was dark and the filling tasted like coconut.

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Québécois wanted to end the night with a glass of bubbles. She insisted on getting another bottle because it was about the same price as ordering two flutes. She picked Famiglia Zonin ($45, HH $22.50), a fizzy and easy to drink prosecco. By this time, we could barely finish our prosecco. Québécois asked our server to cork our bottle.

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If you haven’t been to Raw Bar, I’d recommend checking it out on a Friday night. Thank you Québécois for treating me to a merry night out with great wine and tasty bites. My treat next time.

Raw Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Restaurants · Special Occasion · Steakhouse

Hy’s Steakhouse – Lunch

For Cruising’s birthday lunch, I wanted to take her to Caesar’s Steak House. However, due to her busy work schedule, Hy’s Steakhouse was the more convenient choice. For this post, let’s listen to “I Want to Take You Higher” by Sly and The Family Stone.

As I had to work after lunch, I couldn’t order a glass of wine. Instead, I stared enviously at the carefree couple next to me who were two martinis into their lunch. Cruising wanted hot water but Ms. Biz and I told her to forgo cultural stereotypes for this lunch. Cruising and I ordered an Earl Grey tea ($4.99) and Ms. Biz requested a club soda with lemon ($3.50).

menu

To start, we shared an order of the Cheese Bread ($10.95). One order contains two slices, each cut into three pieces. As the cheese bread is so decadent, I felt like two pieces was almost too much for me.

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The bread was crunchy on the edges and soft in the middle. The layer of warm creamy cheese had a deliciously mild tang to it. I’d order this again.

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Cruising and Ms. Biz ordered the Sliced Calf Liver with Bacon and Onions ($23.99). I’ve never tried calf liver. Ms. Biz instructed me to eat the meat with the onion and bacon. The liver was crisp on the outside and velvety tender. The flavour was intense but there was no bitterness or gameness to it.

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I ordered the New York Steak Sandwich ($29.99). I upgraded my side to a double stuffed potato ($8.99). My steak was cooked as requested – medium rare. My steak was too salty and a tad tough. The double stuffed potato was light and fluffy with crispy edges, garnished with bacon bits, green onions and sour cream. So tasty and worth the extra charge.

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The lunch portions at Hy’s are so filling, both Ms. Biz and I took more than half our food home. L heated up my steak for his dinner. He said the steak was delicious but salty and  the potato was awesome.

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Service was professional and attentive. The staff worked efficiently to ensure customers receive their food in a timely matter. I’d recommend coming to Hy’s for their well priced lunch.

Hy's Steakhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Restaurants · Special Occasion · Steakhouse

Caesar’s Steakhouse

To celebrate Bobbino and G-Mah’s 50th wedding anniversary, the kids took them out to Caesar’s Steakhouse. For this post, I’m going to play “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” by The Shirelles.

The restaurant is an indulgent time warp to a 70’s version of the Roman Empire. The chandeliers sparkle against the glass mirrors and gold drapes. The shiny red leather seats match the bright, bold carpets. My favourite fixture in the restaurant is the chef, who with over 25 years of experience, masters his art over a fiery grill. Mad props to this dude, he is Calgary’s finest steak wizard.

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Our maître d’ Joel knows his wine. If you are lucky enough to get him as your host, tell him what you are comfortable spending and he won’t steer you wrong. He helped me select two of three bottles ($110-120), all from Napa Valley. My favourite bottle was the Ridge 2016 Geyserville, as it paired best with the steaks and I enjoyed the ruby finish. Joel also picked out a Spanish wine by the glass which I enjoyed.

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We all ordered the ‘Emperor’s Feast’. The feast includes caramelized onion soup with house-made beef broth and a Parmesan crouton, a mixed green salad, cheese toast and garlic bread, and a twice baked stuffed potato.

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I heard much about the famous cheese bread. The heavy dusting of cheese was dry and salty.  L complained it reminded him of Kraft Parmesan.  It was complimentary bread so I didn’t care. I told him to choose the garlic bread next time.

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The caramelized onion soup had a touch of sweetness to the broth. Uncle Ben enjoyed his soup more than I did.

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If you order an entree, you can upgrade to a traditional Caesar salad for $9.00 per person. I watched as Joel whipped up the dressing from scratch. Holy moly, what an awesome salad. The lettuce was cold and crunchy. The sauce was garlicky and cheesy, with the brightness of fresh lemon juice and a hint of anchovy. The homemade croutons were light and added a crumbly texture. I would order this again.

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I asked Joel which cut of steak was his favourite. He asked me what I cared about in a steak. I said taste. He said in that case, go for the rib-eye. I ordered the 14 ounce rib-eye ($58) so I could share my steak with L and Uncle Ben. I asked for my steak to be cooked to a medium rare, even though my boss told me to order it medium rare, but closer to rare.

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Though my steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare, the meat was still hot. Joel mentioned that their beef never hits the freezer and the meat is climatized near the grill so it doesn’t bleed on the plate. I can honestly say this was the best steak I’ve consumed in my life.

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The flavour of the beef was rich, and the texture was ultra tender. Using a knife was optional. We learned from Joel that all the beef is cut in house from specially selected Sterling Silver and Prime Alberta Beef and cut to order. The top tiered beef is aged a minimum of 35 days.

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Turned and G-Mah both ordered the 14 ounce rib-eye ($44). I overheard everyone said their meat was cooked to their specification. I gave about half of my steak to Uncle Ben, L and Dave. L doesn’t normally like rib-eye but he thought my steak was even better than his 14 ounce New York steak ($64). I thought all the steaks I tried were excellent. You can’t go wrong with any cut.

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I enjoyed L’s New York steak. The meat was firmer and more lean than the rib-eye, but the flavour was beefier. L loved the char on the outside and said it was damn near perfection. I think there is something superior about  a steak charred on an open grill.

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Dave ordered the 20 ounce T-Bone steak ($64) rare. He gave me a bite and I thought his steak was yummy. He packed some of his T-bone home and gave a piece to his mother and dog. His mother told me it was still juicy when she tried it. His dog Sam apparently rolled his eyes to the back of his head in pleasure.

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Uncle Ben loves a nice rack, so he ordered the Rack of Lamb ($50). The herb roasted spring lamb was tender and lean, with a mild flavour. This is one of the best lambs I’ve tried.

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I called ahead of time and asked if the chef could make something special for Veggie Girl. I was informed that the restaurant offers a vegetarian appetizer and main, but there is no unique creation. I asked if the server could lie and tell her that it was made specifically for her. I got a giggle on the telephone, but when it came down to it, Veggie wasn’t lied to by Joel. Luckily, said she enjoyed every element of her meat free entree.

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For dessert, Bob and G-Mah ordered the Cherry Jubilee. Joel also brought over a complimentary panna cotta. I was in a meatcoma at this point and I was too lazy to take a picture.

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Joel informed us that Caesar’s has worked with the same supplier for over four decades and as a result, they receive Alberta’s finest beef. I concur. Along with the master chef, the end product is beyond reproach. The smell, temperature, texture, and taste of the steaks is superb.

Price-wise, it is expensive but worth it. Expect to pay about $150 a person. We sat and enjoyed our meals over a three hour period. We were not rushed out and the GM even took the time to take numerous family photos by the entrance. If my father’s health permits, I’d love to bring my family to Caesar’s Steakhouse for an authentic Calgary experience.

Caesar's Steak House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Restaurants · Seafood · Steakhouse

Bar Von Der Fels

In the past two weeks, I’ve visited Bar Von Der Fels twice. I can’t help myself. The wine is divine and I’m a creature of habit. I really should branch out and try new restaurants, but Bar Von Der Fels hasn’t let me down yet. For this post, let’s listen to “I’m a Lady by Santigold.

L and I scored the best seats in the room, the table by the window. I sampled three bottles before I found a white wine I appreciated – La Croix Gratiot ($16). I found this wine fresh, light and crisp, with no lingering aftertaste. L tried OT and Bar Von Der Fel’s collaboration sour ($8) as well as a double IPA ($8).

L and I always order the House Made Bread and Homemade Cheese ($7). The toasted sesame seeds and salt balanced the softness of the bread and the fresh, mild cheese. I love the olive oil – it has a notable grassy flavour.

L and I shared the Raw Kingfish ($21) with hakurei turnip, yuzukoshi and crisp lettuce leaves. Our server told us their fish couldn’t get any fresher, it arrived that morning alive and well. The mayonnaise tied all the ingredients together. I could detect a sparkle of heat from a spice – I’m guessing cayenne.

My new favourite item on the menu is the Charcoal Grilled Broccoli ($15). The broccoli was crunchy with a heavenly smokey flavour. The sambal sauce and lime with the crispy shallots added an element of brightness and zing.

I like the slow pace in which our dishes were brought out. When we were pondering what else to get, our server brought over complimentary Alberta turnips with the silkiest, most wholesome tasting butter. The green end of the turnip had a spicy heat. I thought the simplicity of the turnips helped to showcase the quality of the butter.

L wanted dessert so I picked the Honey Semifreddo ($9). Holy dessert Batman! You’ll be hard pressed to find a better dessert than this. The white chocolate contained crunchy rice puffs, and the combination melted in my mouth. The strawberries were jam packed with sweetness. The dessert was large enough for a light meal.

Thank you Bar Von Der Fels for being such a consistent star in Calgary’s culinary scene. We look forward to our next visit.

Bar Von Der Fels Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Patio · Pubs · Restaurants

Southland Yard – Lobster BBQ

L and I attended Inn from the Cold’s 4th annual Lobster BBQ ($100) at Southland Yard. Inn from the Cold provides emergency shelter, affordable housing, and support services to help families in crisis retain and achieve housing-security and independence.  As she references Red Lobster in her song “Formationlet’s listen to Beyonce.

To begin the event, there was a cook off between competing chefs: Mike Frayne of Southland Bar and Table; Phil Andrews, Executive Chef of Delta Downtown; Joshua Dyer Sous Chef of Mariott Airport; and Eric Beaupre, Executive Chef of Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge. I felt like I had to wait forever to take the photo below because three of the four chefs were fidgeting and looking down. The chef on the far right was the only one good at posing.

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The three judges were Heather Morley, Executive Director of Inn from the Cold; Justin Labossiere, VP of Culinary at Vintage Group; and Daryl Kerr, Executive chef at Great Events Catering. I didn’t spend as much time taking their photo and you can tell.

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The chef’s platters were auctioned off. YYCFoodiePak and her gang tried to bid on a platter but they were outdone by the goodwill of other guests.  I noticed people shelled out more as the night went on. The first platter went for $70. The last platter sold for over $200.

Photo Credit: @YYCFoodiePak

The MC said tables would be selected to go up to the buffet. I saw that no one waited and everyone just got up. I told L I was going up too. He reluctantly followed only after the rest of my table agreed with me.

Photo Credit: @YYCFoodiePak

The buffet included rolls, Caesar salad, coleslaw, baked potato, potato salad, corn, steak and lobster. The corn was super sweet. I liked my potato – it was simple and tasty. The steak was a bit dry but who cares. We came for the lobster.

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I preferred the tail over the claw meat, as the former was sweeter. The lobster was pre-cracked, so it was easy to separate the meat from the shell. There was enough food that I saw several customers go up for a second lobster. L was a little weirded out that as the night went on and became cooler, the butter never solidified.

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I wanted to bring my leftover shells home to make lobster bisque, but even I have limits. Can you imagine how much lobster bisque you could make from the all the shells?

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Photo Credit: @YYCFoodiePak

I use to volunteer for Inn from the Cold’s Sunday evening dinner service. It’s a rewarding experience and something I’d recommend to try at least once. Want to help? You can volunteer or donate.

Southland Yard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Burgers · Happy Hour · Patio · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion

Klein & Harris

L won an award! To celebrate this special occasion, he took his parents and I to Klein & Harris Restaurant. For this post, let’s listen to “Whatta a Man by Salt ‘N’ Pepa.

Originally, L wanted to take his parents to Caesar’s Steakhouse. I convinced him to change the venue to Klein & Harris. He was initially worried his parents would be confused with a menu that wasn’t just meat and potatoes. Klein and Harris only uses Canadian produce, wines and spirits to create a ‘true North cuisine’.

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I first met Christina Mah – the co-owner of Klein & Harris – when she was the GM at Raw Bar. When she heard we were celebrating a special occasion, she sent over a complimentary round of prosecco with sumac and kiwi bitters. L’s teetotaler mother G-Mah admired the pretty pink hue so much, she even took a sip. This is the sort of drink I adore – light, refreshing and bubbly.

mocktailWe arrived early enough to partake in happy hour drinks. L and his father Bobbino enjoyed an easy drinking beer – Philips Kolsh ($5.00). G-Mah ordered a mocktail made with seasonal ingredients ($5.50). I found a new favourite white wine – Longhand Pinot Grigio 2017 ($9, HH $5). The regular price for a bottle is only $42, which is a wicked deal, particularly on Stephen Ave. The wine was pleasant, smooth and clean. I also tried a buttery, full-bodied glass of Chateau des Charmes Chardonnay 2017 Niagara on the Lake ($14.75, 7 ounce).

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For appetizers, we ordered Diver Scallops ($20), Mushroom Ravioli ($16), and Grilled Humboldt Squid ($18). For our mains, we ordered Alberta Lamb Loin ($26), Duck Breast ($26), and the Wednesday’s Coastal Feature ($25). I only ordered three appetizers and three mains because L had to leave early to prepare for the ceremony and I’m trying to eat smaller portions. If you have a regular appetite, I would highly recommend that each person order an appetizer and main.

G-Mah thinks she’s allergic to peppers. As a result, the chef prepared all the dishes without peppers, and instead, put it on the side for us to enjoy. We really appreciate the extra effort, as that was a lot of  work for the chef to accommodate one guest while still allowing the rest of us to taste the dish as it was originally intended.

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The Diver scallops were cooked to perfection.  The outside was caramelized brown and the inside was silky smooth. These scallops were savoury from bacon and sweet from the apple nosh.

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The grilled Humboldt squid was overwhelmingly impressive.  Unless someone told me this was squid, I wouldn’t have known because the smooth, soft consistency was unlike any squid I have ever had.

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G-Mah was enthralled with the mushroom ravioli. The filling was finely chopped, almost like a puree or a pate.  L is not a fan of mushrooms and he was impressed. The pasta itself was tender and delicate. The addition of the leeks, blistered tomatoes, greens and smoked Gouda made this dish quite substantial for an appetizer.

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The lamb loin was pink and juicy in the middle.  Like the Humboldt squid, I’ve never tasted lamb with such a succulent texture. The sauce of green tomato and rosemary relish was really tasty and a wonderful compliment to the mild flavour of the lamb.

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L enjoyed the Coastal Feature, a white fish. He said it reminded him of Scandinavian cuisine. He liked the pickled potatoes, the freshness of the flavours, and the crispness of the fish and lettuce.

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My favourite entree was the duck breast. The meat was thick, soft and satiny. I’m familiar with Chinese BBQ duck, which is more gamey, dry and has a rougher texture. At home, I’ve made duck breast twice before and it was so rubbery, I had to throw it out.

This was an eye-opening experience for me. I am astonished that scallops, squid, duck, and lamb can taste like this.  I credit executive chef James Waters’ technique and skill. Truly, he is a master with meats and seafood.

I think Klein and Harris offers some of the best value in Calgary. That’s saying a lot because I find my go to restaurants in the city are well-priced. This gem makes it on my list of favourite restaurants in Calgary. Hitting the Sauce gives Klein & Harris two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Klein & Harris Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

17th Ave · Bars/Lounges · Fusion · Hawaiian · Restaurants

Lulu Bar

I met Jaime and Invisible Sandi at Frenchie Wine Bar. Invisible Sandi’s husband Boudoir stopped by for a drink. When we finished our wine, we all walked over to Lulu Bar for dinner. For this post, let’s listen to a song Lulu Bar played that totally made my day.

Lulu Bar took over the old Local 510 spot. If you ever frequented the previous establishment, you’ll recognize the bones of the former bar. The space feels open and bright.  With the warm breeze blowing into the room I felt like vacationing somewhere sunny.

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After I ordered wine from our server, I realized how annoying I am. Based on her facial response, I have to tone my specification down. I blame Bar Von Der Fels as they encourage me to be picky until I find a glass I love. I enjoyed the glass of French chardonnay she picked for me. I didn’t find it oaky or buttery.

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We ordered a small bowl of Sambal Popcorn ($3.50). The seasoning was so tangy and spicy it made me sneeze. I covered my mouth with my hand but a piece of the popcorn flew out onto my hair. I tried to discreetly pick it off, but the kernel was stuck on pretty good.

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Boudoir ordered the Hot Dog Baos ($9), his favourite dish of the night. He said the hot dog reminded him of a sweet pepperoni bun. Invisible Sandi didn’t say much about the food, maybe because she was too busy amusing everyone with her whimsical quips.

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Jaime and I enjoyed our Fried Miso Cured Egg ($4). I liked the heat from the tamarind chili jam. The batter on the egg and crunch of the cucumber relish made this appetizing dish pop.

Boudoir thought his Fried Coconut Squid ($13) was underseasoned. I didn’t taste any heat or salt, just the sweetness of the pineapple sauce. I thought the squid itself was tender and better quality than I’m accustomed to.

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Jaime said the Snow Peas and Tendrils ($10) was a dish that her parents would make at home. The pods were crunchy with a satisfying snap. The flavour profile was nice – a hint of sesame, fresh horseradish and the smoky char of the peas. I’d order this again.

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I usually find yams and sweet potatoes overly sweet. Lulu’s version was a winner. The fresh mint, yuzu cashew cream and salt flakes balanced the sweetness of the Crispy Roasted Sweet Potatoes ($10).

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My favourite dish was the Steamed Lobster Dumplings ($16). These dumplings made me finally understand the phrase ‘Asian sensation’. The lobster filling was luxurious, slippery from its bath of fresh basil, chili, soy sauce and tobiko. I’d order this again and I wouldn’t want to share.veg dump.jpg

Jaime was too full so I ate two of her vegetarian dumplings ($13). Compared to the lobster dumplings, the vegetarian version was squishier and simpler. If you’re a vegetarian, this is probably as good as it’s going to get for you.

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We shared the Baked Kuna ($11). Jaime enjoyed the macadamia nuts and the warm dark chocolate.  I liked the process of drizzling the chocolate over the cake, even though I know the kitchen staff would have done a better job with the presentation.

Thanks Jaime for treating me out to a fun filled night. I plan to return to Lulu with L. I know he would love the vibe and the lobster dumplings.

Lulu Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Burgers · Restaurants · Special Occasion · Steakhouse

Bar Modern – No Man’s Dinner #2

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Photo Credit: Loaf2go

For our second No Man’s Dinner meetup, our supper club met at Bar Modern on Stephen Ave. L was initially hesitant to join our club due to a past negative experience. In 2012, I dragged him to a food event. We learned years later that one of the guests we met was charged for child luring and sexual touching of a minor. C came to L’s defense and said she doesn’t blame him, as she too would be jaded if she accidentally met a pedophile. For this post, let’s listen to “Heebie Jeebies” by The Bosell Sisters.

Bar Modern offers a daily happy hour menu from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm. For six bucks, you can choose from house red or white wine, beer, highballs and some snacks. I detest house wine so I ordered a 5-ounce glass of Cabernet Sauvignon (Submission, Napa Valley $12.25). The wine was plummy and jammy, with a sweet vanilla aftertaste. I preferred my second glass of wine – a light and peppery Pinot Noir (Spy Valley, New Zealand $9.75).

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Our server Jordan gave us a rundown of the menu. His mouth-watering description of the Modern Smash Burger ($19) sold us. L liked the ratio of meat to produce. The double patty was crispy on the outside and the meat melted in your mouth. L described the burger as a sophisticated Big Mac but with top quality ingredients.

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I’d recommend you add bacon ($2) and upgrade the fries to truffle ($2). The bacon was crisp and arrived still glistening. Every element in the burger was excellent. Even the slice of tomato was a treat – so sweet it tasted like it was plucked from a garden.

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Photo Credit: Loaf2go

I announced that L’s burger was one of the best I’ve tried in Calgary. Seashell said she is wary when people claim something they have eaten is the best, because what is that based on and how can you compare that to someone else’s experience? Someone at the table clarified that I said it was the best burger I had in Calgary. C said she needs to eat more burgers before she can decide. T was impressed the bun held up to all the juices and sauces in the burger. @pak_to_eating_yyc tried a bite of her boyfriend’s burger and wished she ordered that instead of the beef rib. All I know is that if we spent this much time talking about a god damn burger, it must be something special.

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C enjoyed her New York Striploin Steak frites ($34). She thought the striploin was nicely cooked and simply seasoned. I tried a piece of C’s meat and I could tell the difference between Modern Steak’s beef and what L normally buys on sale from Safeway. The flavor of the steak and the juiciness was superior. @kimrobynyyc ordered the 7 oz Flat Iron ($29) and she thought it was yummy.

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I ordered the Steak Tartare ($18). Lately, I’ve been on a steak tartare bender. The tartare  was both tender yet chewy. I forgot to give C a piece to try.

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C permitted Seashell to pick the next venue. I suggested that she pick whatever she liked – be it the Ship and Anchor or some other Calgary institution. She nodded and said she would need some time to think about it. I just hope Seashell picks a restaurant with a decent wine list. Otherwise I’ll be irritable and likely focus my negative energy on L.

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Thanks to the members of No Man’s Dinner for the good company and fun. I’m looking forward to the next meet-up.

Modern Steak Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Pizza · Pubs · Restaurants

Blackbird Public Urban Bar

We met L’s colleague Tent and his wife Canoe for drinks in Auburn Bay. As we are traveling to Croatia together for a conference, Tent thought it would be a good idea to meet up before our trip. For this post, let’s listen to Blackbird by The Beatles.

I chose Blackbird Public Urban Bar because on Thursdays, wine is half-price. L and I were early, so I ordered a bottle of Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon ($48.50/HH $24.50). L ordered a pint of Goose Island IPA ($7.5). I learned after Canoe arrived that she drinks red but prefers white wine. I told Canoe that I heard Croatia has some nice white wines.  She suggested that we go to a winery while we are there. What an excellent idea!

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I could tell that I was going to enjoy traveling with Canoe because she makes good food choices. She ordered the Pig Fat Popcorn ($4). The seasoning was a blend of what tasted like hot chili powder and grana padano. The popcorn was warm and fresh, so addicting I couldn’t stop eating it.

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L and I shared a large Fried Chicken Pizza ($24). The crust was thick and doughy. The pizza had ample cheese, large slices of pineapple, small chunks of fried chicken and jalapenos. I didn’t care for the pineapple. L disagreed and said the combination was a good mix of savoury, sweet and spicy.

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Canoe ordered the Ahi Tuna Sushi Bowl ($18), similar to chirashi but with chunks of vegetables and a sauce that looked like honey mustard. Canoe enjoyed her bowl and said it was like eating a sushi roll. She thought the sushi rice was okay but not as good as Kinjo. She offered me a bite but since I just met her, I declined and instead ogled her food.

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Tent ordered a small Fried Chicken Pizza ($15). He ate about half of the pie and left the crust. Canoe mentioned she wanted to bring back lace from Croatia. Tent was very interested until he realized they were talking about different usages of lace. Canoe wanted the type you put on furniture, like a doily.

I’m getting excited for our upcoming trip. A few places I wanted to dine at include Konoba Bonaca, Barba, Buza Bar, Fish Bar El Pulpo and Pink Shrimp. Some of the excursions I’m interested include a day trip to Bosnia, island hopping, Lokrum Island, wineries and a Game of Throne tour. As Tent and Canoe are athletic, I’m going to suggest they check out chasing waterfalls, biking and kayaking.

Blackbird Public Urban Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato