Dessert · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion · Vegetarian

Ten Foot Henry – Birthday Dinner

Beep Beep insisted on treating L and I out for my birthday dinner. I’ve been wanting to check out Ten Foot Henry ever since Zoomhahaa recommended it to me. L has been twice for work-related events. I always threaten to tag along and get my own table close enough to annoy him. For this post, let’s listen to Divinyls “I Touch Myself”.

Before we left for dinner, L surprised us with a bottle of Pol Roger Vintage 2009. Our neighbour Mr. Sirsky had brought a bottle of Pol Roger (non-vintage) to share with us on New Year’s Eve. Mr. Sirsky told us to try the vintage version. I have to try both back to back for a proper comparison. What’s the difference between vintage and non-vintage? Vintage is made with grapes of one year’s harvest. Non-vintage champagne is a blend of different years’ harvest. Another interesting fact – Pol Rogers is one of the few family owned luxury champagne firms.

The crowd at Ten Foot Henry is young, thin and attractive. The room is dimly lit, filled with plants and cool cartoon wall drawings. The noise level is loud, not so much from the music but from the customers.

Our server Stephanie was lovely. This is an odd comment but she has a very positive vibe. She also provided good food and wine recommendations. I noticed that the excellent service we received was a team effort. Whenever I or Beep Beep would get up, our napkin would be refolded and our drinks attentively topped off. It has been a while since I experienced service at this level.

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L ordered a Last Best beer and Beep Beep and I shared half a bottle of Vinho Verde ($37). The first dish to arrive were the Tomatoes ($15). We were instructed to mash-up the tomatoes, fresh feta, and herb together and then spoon it on top of the grilled bread. That herb in the dish turned out to be cilantro, my arch nemesis. The feta melted with the tomatoes and reminded me of cream cheese.

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Zoomhaha told me to get the Marinated Beets ($13). I liked the combination of avocado and the crunchy, buttery pistachios. The beets were firm but still tender. L loved the taste of citrus and heat. The grapefruit added a refreshing twist to this dish. Again, there was cilantro, but it was easy enough to pick out.

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The Jerk Spice Cauliflower ($16) was my favourite of the three vegetable dishes. The cauliflower was roasted and had that charbroiled taste. The root chips were crunchy and sweet. L thought he could taste a bit of miso in the pineapple mayonnaise.

L was surprised he enjoyed the vegetable dishes as much as he did. I was impressed with the range of flavours and textures. I enjoyed the unusual combination of ingredients. I thought the vegetable dishes were well-thought out and interesting.

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I enjoyed the Spaghetti ($18). The noodles were covered in a bright lemony pesto. I could taste little crunchy bits in the sauce. As the pasta is rich,  I’d recommend sharing it.

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The star of the show was the Seared Pickerel ($25). The fish was fluffy, light and tender. The skin was crispy and crackly. The lovely white sauce paired well with the brussel sprout leaves. The addition of pickled grapes added an element of dryness. I’d go as far to say this is one of the best fish dishes I’ve eaten.

I mentioned to Beep Beep that all the vegetable dishes were good, but nothing could hold a candle to the pickerel. She responded that there is only so far you can go with vegetables.

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Ten Foot desserts should not be missed. We shared the Coconut Cake and Butterscotch Pudding.  Beep Beep asked Stephanie to put a candle in the cake for me.

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The coconut cake was light – similar to Angel food cake. I liked the sweet, creamy frosting with toasted coconut flakes. The cake was delicious, but it wasn’t nearly as spectacular as the butterscotch pudding. The taste of butterscotch was like an intensely flavoured creme brulee. The pudding was cool and custardy, topped with sponge toffee. I liked the flakes of salt, which balanced the sweetness of the dessert.

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Thank you Beep Beep for a wonderful birthday dinner. I’m looking forward to my next visit. Even L is on board. I give Ten Foot Henry two fat thumbs up and it makes it on my list of favourite restaurants in Calgary.

Burgers · Dessert · Fusion · Japanese · Restaurants

Gorilla Whale

After a particularly mundane Monday, I was keen to get out and try a new restaurant. I saw on Instagram that Gorilla Whale was opening to the public for the very first time. I’m not one for visiting a restaurant on its opening day, but I had a good feeling about this place.

The space is cool and casual, with lots of natural light streaming in through the windows. Gorilla Whale plays a rad, rock and roll playlist. We were treated to Duran Duran (Hungry like the Wolf), The Breeders (Cannonball), Blondie (Atomic Blonde), Vaughan Mason and Crew (Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll). For this post, let’s listen toOne Way or Another by Blondie.

L ordered a sleeve of Bright Young Things (Dandy Brewery, $5) and I tried the Gorilla Whale Ginger Beer ($6.50), a collaboration between Village Brewery and the restaurant. This is my type of drink! The rice lager was light, refreshing and sweet,  like the kombucha I get at the Little French Market on 17th Ave. Except at Gorilla Monkey, the taste of ginger is more subtle. I would order this beer again.

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We started off with Milk Bread with Togarashi (red pepper flakes) Bone Marrow Butter ($6). The bread was dry, light, and crumbly, a good vessel for the rich, salty butter. It was messy too. By the time we finished our crusty loaf, our table was covered in fine crumbs.

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L and I shared one order of the chicken thighs ($6) and halloumi cheese skewers ($6). I was surprised how well the dipping sauce of egg yolk and “house tare” paired with the cheese and chicken. I was skeptical at first because the dipping sauce isn’t exactly a looker. I looked up the definition of house tare on the good old Internet but was unsuccessful in learning its meaning. Whatever it is, it tastes good and made our skewers pop with flavour.

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The chunks of chicken thigh were juicy and nicely charred on the outside. The addition of chicken skin gave the meat an extra layer of flavour. The exterior of the halloumi cheese was like how toasted and caramelized a marshmallow gets over a campfire. When I return, I plan to order these skewers again, and I want to try the pork belly, shitake mushroom and oyster next.

Around this time, L knocked over his nearly full sleeve of beer. The liquid went right under the seat of our neighbor and splashed her arm. We both sat there in shocked silence for a few seconds. I even closed my eyes and then opened them, hoping it was just a dream. Then I was tempted to keep eating and pretend nothing happened. L apologized profusely and asked if he could pick up her tab to make up for the unwanted shower of Bright Young Things. She graciously declined. One of the owners came over and mopped up our table and brought over a new beer for L, even though he said he didn’t need/deserve it.  There was a guy at the very front of the restaurant by the window that thought it was hilarious. He was laughing hysterically. Glad you enjoyed the show buddy. So happy we could amuse you.

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L and I shared the Chicken Karaage Burger with greens ($16). The only thing Japanese about the burger was the karrage. This was a legit tasting karaage. The skin was brittle, light and crackled into tiny shards in my mouth. The chicken was seasoned and succulent. The bun and toppings were not Japanese’ish at all. The sharpness of the cheddar cheese, the still hot, crispy piece of bacon and tangy coleslaw worked well with the karaage. The salad was simple but fresh – micro greens dressed in a sweet vinaigrette.

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Everyone in the restaurant was ordering ramen. I ordered the duck confit ramen ($16). The broth was quite salty. I couldn’t really taste anything but the broth. I think it was just my bowl because I saw everyone else drinking all the liquid from their bowls. The yolk and egg white was a tad too raw for me. I did enjoy the sprouted peanuts in my bowl, as the taste reminded me of fresh peas. The presentation was lovely.

I’m looking forward to returning to try more skewers and that awesome karrage burger. Gorilla Whale serves up Japanese’ish food, but they take their own liberties that I haven’t seen in other restaurants. If you don’t come here expecting the usual Japanese fusion or anything “authentic”, you will leave happy. Gorilla Whale is completely different from Carino Reserva, Redheads, Ke Charcoal, or Shokunin. I personally dig what Gorilla Whale is serving.

The value is excellent. For more food than we needed and two beers (well, three technically), the bill was only $65.00.

Gorilla Whale Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Brunch · Burgers · Dessert · Happy Hour · Restaurants · Seafood

Cactus Club – Yelp Elite Event

I write reviews on Yelp solely to get invited to their ‘elite’ parties. Most recently, I attended a Taste of Cactus Club. Holy smokes – their management team (Elim, Jim, Curtis and Kurt) can throw down. We were so spoiled, I felt like a rock star. For this post, I think Guns N’ Roses ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ would be most appropriate.

 

When I arrived, I was handed a flute of Blue Mountain Brut that was refilled continuously throughout the night. Our two tables were on the patio section. I lucked out and sat with social Yelpers Stephanie M, Jen L, Nadia, Jen 2 and Diane. Bottles of chilled sparkling and mineral water sat in champagne buckets nearby and were used to replenish our water glasses as we feasted the night away.

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Elim gave us an orientation for the night as we opened our goodie bags. We all received a $50 gift Cactus Club certificate, a Cactus bandana, custom-made chocolates flavoured after each of their desserts and a choose your own adventure booklet that we used to for our ‘Taste of Cactus’ event.

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I opened my book to read my first food adventure. “No good story ever started with a salad, and this is going to be a great one. So, tell us, when having a cocktail, do you prefer a sophisticated slush, or is your cocktail refreshing and on the rocks?” Stephanie M influenced my choice by telling me how much she loves gin. I picked option two – a summer sipper on the rocks.

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The “Summer Smash” cocktail consisted of gin, cucumber, Thai basil, lime and soda. This is the sort of drink that goes down way too easy. Light, refreshing and herbal. I was off to a great start! The slush – a Frose- looked really good too – a blend of rose wine, strawberries, elderflower, vodka and lemon. I want to try it next time.

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For our appetizer, I was given the option of a tuna tataki or a tuna stack. I wanted something creamy so I chose the tuna stack, which consisted of ocean wise albacore, citrus vinaigrette, nori, sesame, avocado and wonton chips. I requested no cilantro. This was a tasty and healthy way to start off our meal. I made sure to mix the dressing and all the ingredients up well before stacking it on my crunchy wonton chips.

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For our entrees, we were asked if a) is it beer and bar foods all day every day b) If you say you’re a meat and potatoes kind of person c) Do you prefer delicious food that’s fresh and healthy? I asked myself, “Who am I”? I thought of how tight my clothes were becoming and picked c. Thankfully, it was indeed delicious. If all vegetarian food tasted like Cactus Club’s ‘Modern Bowl’, I’d become one.

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The modern bowl was a colourful array of ingredients – tabbouleh, grilled avocado, pineapple salsa, roasted cauliflower and broccoli, tomatoes, cucumber, fancy greens, jasmine rice, and the most magically delicious ingredient – miso carrot ginger sauce. You mix up all the ingredients to get a filling and tasty dish. The pineapple salsa elevated this dish by adding a tropical, sophisticated flavour profile. You can also get salmon or chicken instead of avocado. My bowl was paired a glass of Adobe Reserva Sauvignon Blanc.

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I liked the modern bowl even more than the double-crossed pineapple hoisin short rib dish, which Jen L and Nadine gave me to try. The short rib was slow cooked for five hours, the pineapple ginger glaze and shiitake mushrooms gave it that extra edge over all other short ribs I’ve consumed.

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Cactus Club’s marketing maven – Elim – couldn’t finish her chicken tacos and fries. Even though I was so full, both Jen L and I couldn’t resist finishing of Elim’s sea salted fries. These fries put McDonald’s to shame. This was a perfect balance of crispy exterior and a soft mealy potato texture in the inside.

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My new friends and I turned to the last chapter of our food adventure. “Now for the million dollar decision… dessert. Which movie title best describes you? “Confessions of a Chocoholic” or “Life of Pi(e)?”.

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Turns out it’s a crime to have to choose between desserts, so they treated us to a little taste of both. My favourite of the two was the caramel chocolate mousse. I enjoyed the sweet, warm foam and the crunchy toffee. The key lime pie was good too, tart from their use of 25 key limes in every pie.

I arrived at 4:30 p.m. and I left around 8:00 p.m. I was having such a good time I didn’t even realize how long I was there. I dig the energy and vibe at Cactus. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun. I’m looking forward to using my gift certificate to try their other lifestyle dishes, like the rain coast greens, the ceviche and the modern bowl again because it was that good. Hitting the Sauce gives Cactus Club Cafe two fat thumbs up.

Cactus Club Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bakery · Brunch · Dessert · Restaurants

Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe

My last day in Vancouver. Naomi chose Thierry so we could enjoy our breakfast in the sun. We managed to get a table by the front of the business. There was a Chow Chow dog tied up near our table. Tourists walking by assumed it was my dog (because the breed is originally from China?) and after petting it, told me my dog was a cutie. I just nodded and accepted their compliments as graciously as I could.

I love Thierry for their pastries. Naomi ordered a pain au chocolat ($3.95), a pear danish ($2.95), croissant au jambon, two americanos ($2.75) and a cappuccino ($3.25).

I love Naomi. She is one of my closest friends and her alpha female traits have served her well in life. However, when someone argues with her, she goes full on mortal combat. There was a mix-up at the counter when Naomi ordered all her pastries and at one point I was worried she’d bring out her nunchucks. Thankfully, all it took was her receipt as proof to clear up the confusion.

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I ordered a cappuccino and a ham and cheese croissant ($4.99). I think the sweets, like the cakes and danishes are the best items to try at Thierry. My croissant was flaky and the cheese tasted like it was gruyère. The ham was thickly sliced, folded over and it tasted like it was good quality. My cappuccino was alright. The foam was nice and light, but I prefer my espresso to be stronger and heavier on the creama and less milky. I think Mercato in Calgary makes the best cappuccino.

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If you’re in the hood, I would make this a destination for dessert and an after dinner drink. There’s also gorgeous macarons, chocolates and treats you can purchase which make for great gifts.

Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brunch · Cheap Eats · Comfort food · Curry · Dessert · Happy Hour · Japanese · Sandwiches

Redheads Cafe

Redheads is always tweaking its dishes or trying out something new. On my last visit, I learned that Sapporo is now on tap.  A new rice burger (not yet on the menu) has become my new favourite, beef and gobo. I still haven’t tried the Japagetti or five-course meal set, but I’ll get there eventually.

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The beef and gobo (burdock root) rice sandwich is something special. The beef is sweet and nicely seasoned. Gobo has this marvellous mild, earthy taste and crunchy texture. The rice was perfectly cooked, warm and topped with fresh spinach leaves. The nori is fresh and crisp.

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Recently, L and I have tried the Tofu Asian Salad ($6.99). What a great price for such a stunning salad. I particularly enjoyed the strands of seaweed and nori. The tofu was nicely cut and fresh-tasting. Just a tip, you probably don’t need to use all the dressing, as the sesame dressing is quite rich.

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One of my other go-to dishes is the miso-tonkatsu ramen ($9.99). I’ve been telling my friends Asian Persuasion and What’s Up Hamsup to try Redhead’s version. They want to but every time they visit, they can’t help themselves and order the tonkatsu curry. The soup is steaming hot. The broth is rich and the noodles are chewy. The pork crispy and fatty. I love the assortment of sprouts, the milky egg and all the garnishes.

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Redheads is best known for their Japa Curry, the Katsu ($10.99) or the Karaage Curry ($10.99). The katsu is well-marbled and crispy. The beef curry is thick, rich and flavourful.

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Finally, L and I were lucky to try a special dessert, apple with caramel and strawberries. Sounds simple, but so good. The tart crispness of the  apple with the sweetness of the caramel sauce was old-school delicious. Check out the crazy knife skills.

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The best time to go is in the evenings, when the cafe is quieter. The prices are a steal and the food is so comforting in the chilly weather. Thank you Redheads, for being so consistently delicious.

View my food journey on Zomato!

Redheads Japa Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato