On Wednesday, I met up with some people for half-price wings and bingo at Bottlescrew Bill’s. Whoever created the playlist that night has excellent taste – I enjoyed listening to the nostalgic tunes. So for this post, let’s listen to “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC.
I started with a pint of Banded Peak Mount Crushmore Pilsner ($7.62). A, B, and C ordered the daily special – Boiling Oar Kolsh($5). D is really into her beers, so she took longer than everyone else to select a beverage. Finally, she settled on Strawberry Ice Cream Pale Ale from Spectrum Beer Company. She left me some in the can to try. I thought it was yummy, the fun flavour reminded me of the beer at Fuggles and Warlock.
D was hemming and hawing over whether to order wings. At first, I thought she was a vegetarian, so I told her Bottlescrew Bill’s makes Cauliflower Wings ($8.47) too. However, it turns out she’s just ethical. C encouraged her to ask the server her pressing question. Are the wings free-range? It was her lucky night! Indeed, not only were the wings free-range, but it was also half price!
I’m trying to eat healthier, but I indulged in Salt and Pepper Wings ($8.47) when I heard the chickens grew up well-loved. The crunchy coating on the wings reminded me of Shake and Bake. The meat was plump, white and unbruised. I told D I’d eaten a lot of unethical wings in my day, and I could taste the happy lives these chickens lived.
I tried one of D’s hot wings. I loved the tangy smell of the vinegar. The spice level was mild and not too hot. I preferred the flavour of the hot sauce over the salt and pepper seasoning.
The hostess has excellent hearing and would mock the audience for being a poor sport. B and D are competitive, so they took on three cards each play. I went with one card and neglected the game halfway through to enjoy my wings.
I would come again – bingo, half-price free-range wings, cheap beer and Thunderstruck – could the night be any more perfect? Based on the group’s feedback, I’m going to propose our next event be held at Ducky’s, Rodney’s Oyster House, or the Tea House Comedy.
We grabbed a spot at the First Street Bar, just in time for the tail end of happy hour (4:00-6:00 p.m.). I ordered a glass of the Vinho Verde (HH $5, Regular $7, HH Bottle $25, Regular $35) and L chose the Snake Lake Pilsner (HH $5, Regular $7).
The Portuguese white wine was served ice cold. I found this wine bright with strong tropical notes. Other than First Street Market Bar, I don’t know anywhere else in the city where you can get a drinkable bottle of wine for only $35. Where was this place when I was in school?
At Pure Street Food I ordered the Bun Bo Sate ($12) and a Fire Chicken w/ Melted Cheese Sesame Donut ($6) for L. The broth was thick, rich and beefy. The slices of beef shank, brisket and beef rib were flavourful and tender. The noodles had a nice bounce to them.
I took a bite of the sesame donut. The flavour of the crispy sesame shell was prominent. L thought the fire chicken was delicious and not painfully spicy like he experienced in Korea.
L ordered four tacos ($6 each): Carnitas (confit pork) and Suadero (lime-marinated confit beef). Both the pork and beef tacos were tasty. I found the seasoning and quality of the meats delectable. I also liked how the flavour of the cilantro wasn’t overpowering. I mentioned to L that I wish he ordered some salsas ($3.50 each) to go with the tacos, as Moose and Poncho make some wicked dips. He said he didn’t see that option when he ordered and the staff never mentioned there were additional sauces he could have purchased. L thought the tacos didn’t need any more sauce than the one he was provided.
I was still hungry, so I ordered a Masala Dosa ($13) from Saffron Street. I remembered seeing Miss Foodie rave about this vendor. As always, she is correct. The crepe was light and delicate, fragrant with the smell of coconut. The potato filling was soft and creamy. I enjoyed alternating each crispy bite into the lentil stew, tomato and coconut chutney. I would order this again.
First Street Market reminds me of the food halls in Toronto, but more intimate and modern. I appreciate the concept – chef-driven, high-quality fast food paired with a bar offering inexpensive drinks. I look forward to my next visit! Hitting the Sauce gives First Street Market two phat thumbs up.
I wanted to try the Jerk Wings ($15.95) but I learned from our server that I needed to preorder, as the wings takes 45 minutes to prepare. Instead, I ordered a large Chicken Soup ($12.95) and a large Jerk Shrimp ($29.95). Loaf2go chose the Jerk Tofu Medley ($22.95), and her spouse T picked the Ackee & Saltfish ($24.95). He was intrigued after I told him this is the only dish Ashdoesfood eats when she dines at Simply Irie. Hangryinyyc and Sofresh shared Doubles ($7.95), a Spicy Beef Patty ($4.95), and a large Oxtail Stew ($29.95).
The chicken soup is a winner. My go-to for chicken pho soup is Pure Kitchen and Bar, but Simply Irie gives Chef Lam some friendly competition. The broth is thick and hearty. I enjoyed the generous chunks of tender chicken and the soft pieces of pumpkin, yam, and potatoes. The dumpling is simple and toothsome – a boiled dough that takes on the full flavour of the broth. The corn on the cob is sweet and crunchy. Loaf2go thought she could taste cloves in the broth. I found this soup nurturing and wholesome.
Dianathefoodie told me to try the jerk shrimp. She has excellent taste. The shrimp is sweet and meaty, unlike the flavourless frozen shrimp I buy at Safeway and Costco. The texture is soft and succulent, similar to BC spotted prawns. The red, orange, green and yellow bell peppers were firm and juicy, sautéed in a spicy jerk sauce.
I tried a piece of Loaf2go’s jerk tofu. She said she was impressed that the tofu was properly fried and seasoned. Simply Irie doesn’t skimp on the sides. I’m not normally a coleslaw fan, but this version is fresh, crunchy, and creamy. The rice and beans taste mellow and earthy. I noticed the water served to us was infused with lemon. I appreciate these little details because I think it shows the chef is thinking about the whole experience of eating a meal.
I took a bite of Hangryinyyc’s oxtail and it was even better than I remembered from my last visit. The meat fell off the bone, and each bite offered that perfect gelatinous texture. I found the sauce sweet and buttery. I tried T’s saltfish and it was tasty and unlike anything I’ve tried before. The saltiness of the fish was balanced by the mild flavour of the ackee.
T offered me two of his rum balls as no one else at the table likes the taste of alcohol. Holy moly – this is good stuff! The chocolate rum ball was warm and gooey, similar to chocolate lava cake. The vanilla rum ball was served cold, which I thought made the flavour of the rum and vanilla stand out. Out of the two, the vanilla dessert was my favourite.
On Monday evening, the restaurant was packed with a large party and it was kept bustling with a constant stream of takeout orders. Kudos to the chef who managed to pump out so many dishes, without sacrificing the quality. The temperature and freshness of all the dishes I tried was spot on. For the next No Man’s Dinner, we might check out a Chinese restaurant that offers offal and westernized Chinese food. Hangryyyc said it is just the two ends of the spectrum and none of the dishes in between! I’m game, we just need to find the right spot. If you have any suggestions, shoot me an email.
On Thursday, Bottlenick, L and I checked out Fonda Fora, a new contemporary Mexican restaurant inside The Westley Hotel. L and I were uncharacteristically late because I confused the Westley Hotel with the Westin Hotel. To celebrate the beginning of Stampede, let’s listen to Johnny Cash “Heart of Gold.”
For our first bottle, Bottlenick selected a rosé – Chateau Gassier Sables (Provence France, $45). I thought this was a nice rosé – light and dry.
We ordered the Salsa Tasting ($9), Guacamole & Tostadas ($15), Empanadas ($8), Tiradito de Huachinango ($17), Pescado Zarandeado ($37) and extra tortillas ($4).
Get the salsa tasting! Not only was it fun to try all the different salsas, but you can use the condiments with your other food. My favourite was the orange variation – it was rich and velvety like cream. I also liked the salsa with chili peppers and oil.
The guacamole was cold, creamy and delicious. The tostadas were enjoyable to eat because each chip was so thick and crunchy, and it tasted like it was freshly made.
The empanada was yummy. The crispy shell was filled with corn, chili peppers, tomatoes and onion, topped with some cool, smooth white cheese. The sauce was so delectable, we would use the tortillas to mop up the leftovers.
L and Bottlenick both noticed the red snapper had a strong fishy flavour to it, but in a good way. The onions tasted like fennel to me. This dish reminded me of a mix between sashimi and ceviche. I enjoyed the heat and spice in the orange sauce.
For our second bottle of wine, we picked the De Monde Cabernet Franc Fruiuli Grave Italy ($54). Oh baby, this wine reminds me of the cabernet franc I pick up at Tinhorn Creek and Burrowing Owl in BC. One major plus Fonda Fora offers is the wine list. I enjoyed the two bottles we tried and each was around the fifty-dollar range. The wines went well with the food and each bottle was something different than I could find at my local liquor store. My father recently sent me an article on restaurants and the markup on wines. I’ve got no issue paying for wine, as a restaurant has to make money, otherwise they would go out of business. By all means, markup the wines! But offer me something I can’t find at the Real Canadian Liquorstore. Fonda Fora does this in spades.
I was impressed with the mussels tostada. My gosh – the texture of each mussel was sublime – soft and fat – with a cool silkiness on the tongue. The white sauce was decadent. Bottlenick commented on the smoky flavour from the vinaigrette. L thought the pumpkin salsa was incredible. I would return just to each this dish again, because it was that good.
Our last dish was a whole grilled fish. The fish was moist and flaked apart easily. I liked that I could taste the natural, light juices of the fish. It’s easy to hide freshness when fish is battered or covered in heavy sauce. We also received a pretty bowl of herbs to eat with the fish. The fresh tortillas were thick and smelled like corn. I read Fonda Fora uses heirloom corn imported from small farmers in Mexico.
I shouldn’t have, but since I was feeling celebratory, I got carried away and ordered a pint of Cabin Morning Sun Saison (6%, $8.50). This beer was delicious – spicy and bubbly, but it wasn’t worth the hangover I received the next day. I can’t rock and roll like I used to. Those days are numbered. Post COVID, I’m going to be a moderate eater and drinker of delicious things.
I’ll return to Fonda Fora. The food is creative, fresh and different from the norm. Hitting the Sauce gives Fonda Fora two fat thumbs up.
On Friday, L and I stopped by the King Eddy for Stampede happy hour with Matt Masters. It felt so good to listen to live music again! If it wasn’t for the masks and the social distancing practices exhibited by the staff and clientele, I could have sworn I was back in Nashville.
From now until the end of Stampede, I’m spinning country music on my blog. For this post, let’s listen to “Change the Locks” by Lucinda Williams.
We ordered some drinks to enjoy while we watched the performance. I ordered a glass of Domaine Houchart rosé (5 oz, $11) and L chose a pint of Village Roadie ($7.25 HH). For food, we shared the Spicy Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Fries (half a bird, $32).
The batter on the skin was extra crunchy and slipped easily off the meat. The spices in the chicken are unique – I found the seasoning a little sweet, spicy and salty. I got a whiff of paprika or chili, which hit me in the back of the throat. The chicken itself was so tender and smooth, I could easily peel away the layers of white meat right off the bone.
We both agreed that the chef nailed every single item on this dish. These are some of the better fries in the city. The shell was golden brown and oily, so that the exterior shattered when I bit into it. The interior of the fry was still soft and mealy. The cabbage and carrot slaw was fresh tasting and vibrant. I was relieved as my pet peeve is eating slaw that tastes like it’s about to expire. This happens to me more often than not.
The gravy even tasted homemade. There was none of the artificial flavour you get from the powder mixes. Like the spices in the chicken, the gravy was well-seasoned, creamy and most importantly, served boiling hot. Since gravy is pretty much fat and flour, I think it has to be warm enough to only leave a thin coat over the fries when you dip the fries into the gravy.
King Eddy fried chicken is better than Hattie B’s in Nashville, and it has pretty much ruined Popeyes or any other fast-food joint for me. If you want to do some safe Stampeding this summer, drop by the King Eddy from July 9-17th. Check the website for hours of operation and the live music schedule.
Since the pandemic started, L has been working around the clock. Lately, he’s been looking more weary than usual. I wasn’t sure if his tiredness was work-related or because I’ve been extra cranky since I started Noom. Either way, I told him to pack an overnight bag because we were going to Canmore for the night. There’s nothing like a little mountain air to brighten one’s mood. For this post, let’s listen to “Slow Ride” by Foghat.
I’m not familiar with the food scene in Canmore. I’ve only eaten at Crazyweed, The Trough, Iron Goat and 514 Poutine. Since this was L’s getaway, I wanted to take him out for one of his favourite foods – pizza. I asked Miss Foodie and Lovegastrogirl where they would go. Both recommended Rocket Pie, a restaurant known for their Neapolitan style pizza, baked in a state-of-the-art stone fired oven.
Rocket Pie is located in a plaza-style shopping area. The restaurant itself is spacious and modern. L admired the textured wood wall while I appreciated the genuinely warm welcome from the staff. To start, L ordered a can of Misty Mountain Hops (Canmore Brewery, $8.50). I asked our server Tara about the wine list. She recommended the house wine (Remole Toscana, $10, 8oz) because it goes with everything. I’ve been on the hunt for an inexpensive red, and I think I found my unicorn. This is a solid wine – something I’d happily sip around my house. Look at this big pour! I knew immediately that Rocket Pie and I were going to be lifelong friends.
L complains that I never order enough food when we dine out, which is true. I purposely under order because I find I overeat if there’s extra food in front of me. This time I made sure L would have enough to eat. I ordered two pizzas and one calzone: Formaggi ($25), Diavola ($23), and the Fennel Sausage ($24). All pizzas come with complimentary chili oil. After tasting the oil, I immediately thought of Foodkarma as she’s the undisputed queen of chili oil. I think even she would be impressed with Rocket Pie’s version. The oil is moderately spicy and nutty. I could really taste the richness that comes from a proper toasting of the chili flakes. The chef needs to bottle this liquid gold and start selling it. He would make fat coin.
The Diavola pizza is the most recommended pizza on Google reviews. I thought the ingredients sounded simple, but the flavour profile was anything but basic. L said the Diavola was an excellent combination of quality cheeses, spicy sopressata and fresh tomato sauce. The salami was on point – each piece was so flavoursome. I loved how the pickled onions and chili flakes added a pleasant crunch and pop of heat.
L’s favourite pizza is the Formaggi. L loved the sweet, salty, and savoury notes from the blend of mozzarella, fontina, gorgonzola, pecorino ramno, parmigiana Reggiano and local honey. The crust is so lovely – crispy, thin and airy. The dough is light enough to let the blend of cheeses and honey shine, but substantive enough to carry the strong flavours. Chef and co-owner David Carruthers recommends adding prosciutto ($5) to the Formaggi. I’ll do that next time.
The Fennel Sausage Calzone is my favourite. This is the first time I tried a calzone that I enjoyed. Too often, calzones remind me of pizza pockets. The crust was different from the two pizzas we tried. The dough puffs up like a pastry and the crust was almost buttery in texture. The calzone was filled with mozzarella, ricotta cheese, fresh spinach, and house made fennel and sausage. The sausage tasted clean and bright – the meat wasn’t oily or heavy. I love the charring on the dough – the crust was blistered enough to give off a smoky flavour. The calzone is big enough for two people. Freaking fantastic and worth the calories.
What sets Rocket Pie from all the other pizzerias is the crust. David has created a master dough. This dough is perfection. This is the most delicious crust I have ever eaten. You need to try this pizza to taste what I’m saying. Some flavours can’t be described in words.
At the end of the night, we were stuffed as the inside of the calzone and blissfully happy. We took home half a calzone and a whole pizza, with two complimentary plastic containers of the chili oil. I also bought a bottle of the Remole Toscana ($20) to eat with our leftovers. We baked our pizzas the next day, and the food and wine were still awesome. This was further confirmation that the mountain air and time away didn’t unduly influence our taste buds.
Both L and I are planning our next stay in Canmore, and you can bet we will return and try some of the other pizzas. The food is worth the scenic hour-long drive from Calgary. There are options for vegetarians, and I read online that there is even a gluten-free pizza. I spied a highchair by the washroom, so this is a kid-friendly restaurant. Hitting the Sauce gives Rocket Pie two fat thumbs up.
I remembering hearing about Sammie Cafe when it first opened, shortly after the pandemic began. However, it wasn’t until I saw Dianathefoodie’s Instagram reel that I really took notice. The moment that sealed the deal for me was watching Diana’s mother balking at the price of her burger, yet begrudgingly crowning Sammie’s chicken sandwich the best she’s had in her life. For this post, let’s listen to “The Best” by Tina Turner.
L and I ordered what Diana’s mother recommended – Sammie’s Fried Chicken ($13) and a side order of the Sweet Potato Fritters ($7). When we returned home to eat, the food was still hot and fresh.
The chicken burger was excellent. The toasted brioche bun was soft and squishy. The chicken cutlet was juicy and it tasted like it was marinated. The exterior was lightly battered and crispy. L liked that there wasn’t an over abundance of breading. He doesn’t like Wow Chicken because he finds the chicken too greasy and all batter. I love a big crunchy batter, but I can appreciate the subtle and balanced flavours in Sammie’s burger.
I found the Seoul sauce and lemon dijon mayo light and tangy. L normally picks out pickles from his burgers, but even he was a fan of the achara pickled cucumbers. This made me sad because normally I get to eat his discarded pickles. Pro tip – grab a napkin because this is a messy burger. As we ate, the sauces and coleslaw would drip and drop onto our plates.
We both enjoyed the sweet potato fritters. Shaped like a Tim Horton’s Timbit, each ball was crispy on the outside, slightly sweet and soft in the center. I didn’t find the fritter greasy or heavy. The scallion aioli was addicting- I loved the pungency and notes of what I thought was garlic.
For a great chicken sandwich, Sammie and Alumni rank as our favourite spots. Judging from our quick peek inside, Sammie would be a great place to dine-in once it’s safe to do so. For now, we will stick to takeout and perhaps lunch on their spacious patio.
I got my shot! To celebrate, I picked one of the safest patios I know – Rooftop Bar Simmons. I like the restaurant’s reputation for transparency during COVID-19, and their safety protocols in place to protect customers. For this post, let’s listen to “Shots” by LMFAO, featuring Lil Jon.
The rooftop itself is large. I noticed that the tables were spaciously distanced. I brought my own blanket to keep cozy, but at six o’clock, it was still plenty warm.
Charcut and Charbar do an excellent job hiring staff. Our server Mark was fun and interesting. After I picked a bottle of wine ($70, Miguel Torres, La Causa País, Itata Valley, Chile, 2016), he poured me a little to swirl, smell and taste. I wasn’t feeling it. I told Mark that I didn’t want to sample the wine because I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. He said I was overthinking it and the whole purpose of trying the wine is to smell if the wine is off. That’s it, easy peasy.
I was so enamoured by the view of Bow River and the sun warming up my face, that I didn’t pay much attention to the wine. I found the wine easy drinking and non-offensive. With the good vibes and excellent service, I was already in the mood to celebrate. And everything tastes better with a view.
When Karplop arrived, I let her pick the pizza. She ordered the Fun Guy ($29), a New York style 16” inch round pizza. Thank goodness she took some pictures. As L has observed, I’m not known for my photography. I actually hate taking pictures, and it shows.
The crust was airy and light, and it held up to the heavy three cheese layer and pile of mushrooms. The mushrooms were plentiful and sliced thin. I liked the crisp texture of the mushrooms and the buttery flavour. Karplop enjoyed the saltiness of the pizza and the use of truffle oil. This was a super delicious pizza.
For a view, nice wine, excellent service and a quality pizza, you can’t go wrong here. I’d like to return with L, so he could see for himself the awesomeness that is the Rooftop Bar Simmons. If you know of any other rooftop gems, give me a shout.
Karplop and I were texting each other after work. She was craving pate and beef tartare and I wanted to go out and celebrate nothing in particular. The only restaurant open on a Tuesday night serving up pate and tartare was River Cafe. For this post, let’s listen to “Fancy Shoes” by The Walters.
As the weather was nice, we sat on the patio and enjoyed the view of the trees along the lagoon, set against the city skyline. Our server – Leah B – is at the top of her game. Everything she said or did seemed so effortlessly professional and personable. Exceptional service makes the difference between between a nice meal and a truly enjoyable dining experience.
Karplop and I toasted each other with a glass of Blue Mountain Brut ($14). I thought this sparkling wine was mellow and dry, with very soft bubbles.
We shared four Leslie Hardy oysters ($14). The oyster flesh was cool and smooth, with a little crunch at the end. I didn’t find the saltiness overwhelming like other east coast oysters. Karplop enjoyed the homemade hot sauce and I preferred the mignonette.
Leah recommended a glass of Sangiovese ($11) to pair with our appetizers. I approve of her suggestion – my wine was smooth and dry. I would order this wine again.
The Borderland Bison Tartare ($21) is swoon worthy. Karplop oohed and aahed over the vibrant colours of the flowers. What made this tartare stand out was the summery flavour of the compressed cucumber and bright, creamy mustard. The tartare came with three different types of crackers, each with its own unique texture. Standout dish!
I’ve tried the Chicken Liver Parfait ($19) a few months ago and I noticed this time, the brioche was drier in texture, which I prefer because it stands up to the thick, buttery pate. The pate looked like it was whipped, piled high on the brioche. Karplop enjoyed the combination of the fruit paired with the pate.
I was full but I didn’t want to deny Karplop her dessert. We shared the Peach Pavlova ($12). My favourite element of the dessert was the sorbet, which was sweet and creamy.
If there are anymore sunny days remaining, I recommend checking out River Cafe’s patio. There’s nothing better than sitting back and enjoying the last of the autumn colours in Prince’s Island Park. Hitting the Sauce gives River Cafe two fat thumbs up.
On Sunday, L and I were too tired to drive up to Hub Town Brewing as we had planned. Our ex-neighbours spoiled us the night before with homemade pizzas cooked on their new ceramic grill. Sirski’s secret recipe produced a crust that was crispy and light, with a unique flavour profile. We spent the night eating a total of five pizzas, each with a different combination of toppings and sauces.
For our Sunday day date, I wanted to try Bitter Sisters Brewery because of all the positive reviews I read. I can tell when online reviews are fake or genuine. You have to look for common themes and variation in writing style, as well as the reviewer’s history. For this post, let’s listen “We are Family” by Sister Sledge.
Finding parking isn’t an issue at Bitter Sisters – their private lot offers ample room. The patio and the interior of the restaurant is nicely decorated. You can tell the owners put money and thought into the build.
At the front door, there is a sign requesting customers sanitize before they enter the room. I also saw staff constantly cleaning and sanitizing tables after each party left.
L ordered a flight of beer ($10) and I requested a 16 oz of the Sassy Jack ($6.75). My saison was cool and bubbly. L liked how the peppery notes dissipated on his tongue in a matter of seconds.
On the menu, Sassy Jack is described as a beer that is designed to go down slowly. I’m glad L warned me the alcohol content in my beer was 7.2%. I took my time and sipped slowly, but the beer still wobbled me when I got up to leave.
L’s favourite beer was the Tropical Big Brother Butch Pale Ale. He liked the crisp and fruity notes. I tasted a slight bitterness that I found appealing.
The Fifi’s Dirty Blonde ale reminded L of a pilsner. When I tried the ale, it reminded me of the beers I drank in Prague. His last sampler was a pineapple sour from Bitter Sister’s rotating line.
I wasn’t starving so L and I shared the Nashville Fried Chicken ($17). Wowzers. Now this is a damn fine chicken sandwich. What made this burger sing was the compilation of all the ingredients.
The chicken was well marinaded, covered in a spicy crunchy batter. L appreciated how the burger wasn’t overly sauced and the proportions of bun to chicken to broccoli slaw was balanced. I would have preferred a little more of that tangy creamy chipotle aioli, just so I could sop it up with the fries.
Our server was considerate enough to check if we liked cilantro. We asked for a side of the noxious herb, so I wouldn’t have to eat it. L loved the addition of cilantro in his burger. We both thought the bun was excellent – it was chewy and soft.
The fries were golden white, crispy on the outside with a fluffy interior. The portion was generous. These fries reminded me a cross between New York Fries and the Belgium frites from the Fritz European Fry House in Vancouver.
I can’t believe this place hasn’t been on our radar before. Bitter Sisters deserves much more hype. At these prices, the food is a steal. The beers are tasty and go up against any of Alberta’s well-known breweries. Service was excellent and because of the obvious sanitation rules in place, we felt safe eating here.
L and I are looking forward to our next trip. He wants to try the Viet style club ($17) and I want to sample the Steak and Fries ($20). Check them out before patio season ends. Hitting the Sauce gives Bitter Sisters two fat thumbs up.