Restaurants

Briggs Kitchen + Bar

I attended my first work event! Our office treated us to a three-course lunch at Briggs Kitchen + Bar. I was excited as the Executive sent me the menu beforehand so that I could do my research. Let’s listen to “Taking Care of Business” by Bachman Turner Overdrive for this post. 

The hostess had to separate us into two tables due to the large size of our group. I was lucky to snag a seat in front of 47, who regaled me with interesting stories of what it was like at her past firm. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any exciting first-hand experiences, so I just told her the stories the media reported about my old workplace. From what I read, consuming alcohol at work and expensing things with people with whom you’ve never met are big no-nos.

I chose the lobster poutine for my appetizer, Kuterra Salmon for my main, and the dark chocolate semifreddo for dessert. My lobster poutine was so decadent that even I couldn’t finish the whole portion. The thin-cut Kennebec fries were saturated in lobster cream and soft white cheese curds. I loved the generous pieces of sweet, juicy lobster. Forty-seven noted the rich flavour of the browned butter. I tried a couple of bites of her green salad, dressed in a crisp, tart vinaigrette. Her salad was good, but nothing beats lobster poutine.

I was even more impressed with my salmon. The restaurant itself was busy, and our group consisted of 19 guests. Despite the backlog of orders, my salmon came out perfectly cooked. The fish was tender and soft, with a delicious fatty favour. The milky green Thai curry gently infused the fish and firm pieces of bok choy with the flavour of coconut milk, lime and fish sauce. I enjoyed the salmon even more than the poutine. Unfortunately, I had to get back to work, so I asked for my dessert to go. I didn’t try it and ended up giving it away, as I was already almost dizzy from the high-calorie meal.

This lunch was my first visit to Briggs since 2017. I’m happy to report I enjoyed the set menu, attentive service, and fun company. Big thanks to the Executive for organizing the event and the ELT for taking us all out to welcome new and longtime employees.

Restaurants

Gut Oggau Wine Tasting – Vine Arts

Lately, one of my favourite things to do is to learn about wines from Erik, one of the owners of JUICEimports. On Sunday, he hosted a wine tasting ($30) to try all the Gut Oggau wines in stock and some unique gems from their cellar. Let’s listen to “Strawberry Wine” by Deana Carter for this post.

Our class started with a glass of sparkling organic cider from the Okanagan. The cider was fresh and bright. I bought a bottle for my neighbour, who recently became my dog’s godmother.

Located south of Vienna, Erik informed us Gut Oggau was one of the first wineries he ever signed. He fell in love with the uniqueness and personality of the wines. He considers the husband and wife team – Stephanie and Eduard – some of the most thoughtful winemakers dedicated to the land and their employees. For example, the owners pay their six full-time workers year-round rather than seasonally, so the employees can experience how the wines sleep in the winter and wake in the spring. As a result, the prices of their wines reflect this philosophy.

Erik mentioned that Theodora (2020, $50) was the winery’s entry-level wine. Yikes, I would never want to host a dinner party for Stephanie and Eduard. The cloudy yellow hue reminded me of chicken stock. My friend Bubbles said she could taste citrus.

We learned two interesting facts. First, Gut Oggau produces its wines without any sulphur, and second, sulphur doesn’t cause headaches. People get headaches from wine due to the alcohol or a reaction to the tannins. I wanted to pipe up and add that people also get headaches from excess drinking, but I read the room and decided to keep my thoughts private.

Photo Credit: @miss_minds

Next up was the Timotheus (2018, $79). Erik said in all of Alberta, and there are only 24 bottles of Timotheus. The vines are planted in complex soil, such as slate, sand, gravel and limestone. The texture and flavour sent shivers down my spine as the liquid tingled on my tongue. Erik described this wine as having intense character, with umami notes of white truffle.

The Mechthild ($158) we tried was sold out, which was fine with me as this wine was beyond my budget. Erik noted that the vines produced a low yield but produced the cleanest and highest quality grapes using a crazy, archaic process called a tree press. The person sitting in front of me described the colour as sunshine gold, with a gorgeous glow. I was jealous that I didn’t come up with that description myself.

My favourite wine was Winifred ($48). At first, I didn’t realize this wine was a rose. The texture was silky, with an aftertaste of fresh strawberries. My friend Bubbles said the gentle tartness reminded her of crab apples. I enjoyed this wine so much that I bought it for my next girls’ night with Kournikova, Quebecoise, and Betty.

The last wine we tried was the Athanasius (2020, $51). We learned this was the most planted grape in the winery. The vines are 38 to 40 years old. Erik described this wine as fresh and intense, aged in old Austrian oak. We marvelled at the dark, ruby red colour and the high viscosity. Erik mentioned the flesh of the grapes is red, which is rare as most red wines are made with white-coloured fruit.
I could tell these wines spoke to Erik, who said each wine tasted alive, soft and supple. This wine tasting was dirt-cheap, particularly for these wines. Erik himself rarely gets to try these bottles, so it was a luxurious treat for everyone. I enjoyed every wine I tried, though I got the impression from Erik’s physical and verbal reaction from drinking each wine that I didn’t fully grasp the greatness of these wines. Though I was out of my element, I was fine with it. I’m more comfortable with pearls being cast upon me than being a pig at a trough. I’ve recently signed up at Grand Cru Wine Society in the hopes of learning more about wine and food pairings.

17th Ave · Japanese · Restaurants

Lonely Mouth

On Saturday night, Québécoise and I checked out Lonely Mouth on 17th Ave. Since her in-laws were babysitting her girls, she was ready to rock and roll. The earliest reservation I could get was at 7:30 p.m., so we shared a bottle of wine at my place beforehand. I figured this girls’ night was the perfect excuse to try one of the bottles I’ve been saving from Vine Arts.

It felt nice to dress up again. I was so excited that for this occasion, I even donned my half-inch heels. However, this was probably one of the worst ideas I’ve had in a long time. With this in mind, let’s listen to “Fancy Shoes” by The Walters for this post. 

Lonely Mouth is located in the old Ox and Angela spot, near UNA. The room is narrow and dimly lit, filled with a young demographic, primarily women in their twenties and early thirties. I was one of the more matronly patrons in the restaurant. 

We started with a pretty pink cocktail – the Majira’s Ruin ($15). This dainty drink was an herby, sweet blend of gin, nigori sake, sparkling sake and a maraschino cherry. While I enjoyed the cocktail, I preferred the wine Québécoise picked out – Domaine Ventoura Chablis ($37, half a litre). My Cod, I love her taste in wine. She described the wine as clean and icy, and mentioned her husband always orders Chablis with sushi. He is a man of excellent taste!

The first dish of the night was my favourite – the Sashimi Platter ($26). I only ordered this because I saw Miss Foodie raving about the sashimi, and I know she gets this every time she visitsQuébécoise liked how the sashimi was presented on a bed of ice and that there were two types of soy sauce. The white soy sauce was for the two kinds of tuna and scallops, and the dark soy sauce was for the salmon. Québécoise exclaimed the white soy sauce was so light and paired beautifully with the scallop. The scallop was ample and silky, mild and sweet. She liked how the soy sauce wasn’t too strong and didn’t overpower the fresh, creamy flavour of the tuna.

Québécoise noted that there was no toughness between the grains of flesh in king salmon. She also thought the size of the slices was perfect – neither too thick nor thin, which allowed one to get the full flavour experience out of each cut. The red tuna was leaner than the pink tuna, the latter being my favourite as I prefer the fattier, meltier types of fish. Without a doubt, I would get the sashimi again.

My second favourite dish was the Bluefin Tuna Tartare ($19). Holy mackerel, this dish has a lot going on.

The udon crackers were light, filled with bubbly air pockets. The crackly texture and taste reminded me of Chinese shrimp chips, which contrasted with the smoothness of the tartare. The creamy mixture of tuna, avocado and miso emulsion reminded Québécoise of mayonnaise. I would get the tuna tartare again.

Québécoise’s favourite dish was the Okonomiyaki Brussels Sprouts ($13). She thought this dish was original. She raved about the crisp fried seaweed, the parmesan cheese, and the crispy leaves of the Brussels sprouts. 

We liked the Pickled Cucumbers ($6.50). The cucumbers gave off a floral scent. Québécoise noticed how cucumbers were scored with knife marks, which she thought helped saturate each crevice with its distinct, sour and salty tang.

We also tried a Negi Toro Roll ($7). I couldn’t taste the toro filling over the dominant flavour of the seaweed. Québécoise mentioned the rice was cool in temperature. 

Québécoise loved the Sweet Potato Donuts ($7), with miso caramel and sesame gelato. I tried a bite and thought the donuts were a bit overcooked. She liked how the dessert wasn’t greasy or stupidly sweet. She detected a spice that we learned from our server was shichimi togarashi.

We enjoyed our meal and planned to take our husbands here for a double date. On the way to our Uber, I tripped over a step. Boom! Let me tell you, the saying that the bigger you are, the harder you fall is true! I told Québécoise it was a good thing I’m not a leg model. Otherwise, I would be out of commission. She retorted that I could still model for Band-Aid. Hitting the Sauce gives her inability to walk in heels two phat thumbs down. 

Hawaiian · Restaurants · Vegas

Lefty J’s Island Favourites – Las Vegas

For our first breakfast in Vegas, I picked a place recommended by Strictly Dumpling. Like most of Mikey Chen’s recommendations that appealed to me, Lefty J’s Restaurant is located off the main strip. Let’s listen to “Gone Away” by Offspring for this post. Jacuzzi complained that Offspring is so 90’s, but hey, that’s the era we grew up in.

Our Uber driver told us to avoid the “bums” around the strip mall. We didn’t see any, but we appreciated his concern for our safety. I told Jacuzzi to make sure he tipped our driver. We arrived when Lefty J’s Island Favourites opened at 10 a.m., but there was still a group from Singapore ahead of us who ordered a huge feast. We ordered what Strictly Dumpling recommended – the Five Meat Platter ($25.99). The owner told us our food would take twenty minutes.

Strictly Dumpling – aka Mikey Chan

While we anxiously waited for our food, Jacuzzi mentioned he appreciated the air con and the fun, vibrant decor. He noticed the artistic touches, like the flags and paintings. These niceties were all fine and dandy, but I was here strictly for the food. So when I saw a picture of Strictly Dumpling on the counter, I knew we were in good hands.

Twenty minutes later, our platter was ready. What a bounty of gluttony! All the meats were so hot that I burned my greedy little fingers eating too quickly. Our BBQ platter included two big scoops of rice sprinkled with furikake and a small container of macaroni salad.

Oh, my Ford. The fried chicken was marvellous. The batter was crunchy and sweet, encasing some toothsome meat. The kalbi ribs were thick-cut, chewy and fatty, with a nice char. We sat in happy silence, shovelling the food into our mouths. We only talked when I asked Jacuzzi which meat was his favourite. He preferred the fried chicken.

We were also a fan of the chicken teriyaki. You could tell the chicken was marinaded beforehand, then glazed with a sweet, buttery sauce. Jacuzzi liked it so much that he even ate the chicken skin that I removed from my portion.

The katsu cutlet was a large portion, sliced into long, strip-like pieces. The katsu sauce tasted like it was homemade, addicting with its complex, tangy kick. The beef teriyaki looked like it was pounded into a thin layer before being caramelized on the grill. I ate most of the beef as Jacuzzi was getting too full—what a lightweight.

I loved mixing the bites of meat with rice and julienned cabbage, as the crunchy greens helped to cut into the fatty, rich flavours. The side of macaroni was refreshing, slippery, creamy and cold. By the time we polished off the platter, we were both in a food coma.

We chatted with the owner while we waited for our Uber. She’s a sweet woman and reminds me of my Auntie Joyce. She said we should check out Strictly Dumpling’s other recommendation – all-you-can-eat sushi at Umami. But, unfortunately, that will have to be for another trip, as I wanted to check out Strictly Dumpling’s favourite udon restaurant – Cafe Sanuka. In any case, if you are in Vegas, I highly recommend checking out Lefty J’s. Hitting the Sauce gives Lefty J’s two phat thumbs up.

Burgers · Fast Food · Restaurants · Vegas

Bobby’s Burgers – Las Vegas

For our sibling getaway, Jacuzzi picked Las Vegas. I thought this was an odd choice because he refuses to dress up and doesn’t drink alcohol. I won’t gamble, and I hate buffets. The one thing we have in common is our love for food. For this review and the following Vegas posts, I’ll be playing The Offspring, as it was likely the only band Jacuzzi and I would have both listened to when we were teenagers.

I had planned to take Jacuzzi to a seafood joint off the strip the first night. However, we hit a slight snag in our travels and missed our reservation. Since we were famished and wanted to make it to the LA Comedy Club in time, we ordered burgers from Bobby’s Burgers at Caesar’s Palace.

I wasn’t expecting much, but the Bacon Crunch Burger ($14.99) was delicious. Jacuzzi was excited because the center of the patty was cooked to a beautiful pink. The beef was thick and hot, generously wrapped with crunchy bacon slices and potato chips. The cheese and sauce mingled in with the juices of the patty. Jacuzzi said this was a far better burger than Gordon Ramsey Burger.

I preferred his Bacon Crunch over my Palace Classic burger ($13.99) because the latter had too much iceberg lettuce and tomatoes, which chilled and watered down the flavour of the beef. Proportionally, the meat and cheese to produce were off. I would come again but stick to the Bacon Crunch burger.

Jacuzzi enjoyed his dark chocolate milkshake, which he thought tasted like vanilla. I took a sip and it tasted like a Wendy’s chocolate malt, but quadruple the price. He closed his eyes and exclaimed the shake was thick with the right amount of creaminess. I thought it was fine, but nothing special. The whipped cream tasted like it was canned.

The cashier recommended the onion rings over the fries. She said their onion rings were unique, in that the onions were sliced into nice, big pieces. However, the temperature of the rings was lukewarm, and the batter was borderline limp. In addition, I thought the onion rings were under-seasoned. Even the side of the ranch couldn’t save this side.

The important thing was we made it to the comedy club in time. Jacuzzi and I thoroughly enjoyed the performances of all the stand-up comedians. I told him the next day would be better foodwise, as we were checking out Strictly Dumpling’s picks.

Restaurants

Vine Arts – Domaine des Marnes Blanches Wine Tasting

I’m getting tired of my usual rotation of wines. I also want to find some mind-blowing wines for my upcoming dinner parties. I’ve been looking to increase my wine exposure and stumbled across a post through Vine Arts and Juice Imports about an upcoming Domaine des Marnes Blanches wine tasting event ($30). I snagged the last two tickets and brought my friend Bubbles. Let’s listen to “Ma Rue Fera Echo” by Doux si Doux for this post.

Erik Mercier featured 2020 wines of Domaine des Marnes Blanches from the alpine region of Jura, France. For this tasting, the cost of our tickets went to pay for the bottles we drank. Mercier said this was an inexpensive way for everyone to try wines that would usually be outside of their everyday wine budget. Also, since he exported these wines, it allowed him to share what he loves about the region and winery.

We learned that Jura is the rainiest region in France. The winery produces organic wines using a natural wild fermented process that creates lively, vibrant wines.

The first wine we tried was the Trousseau, a bright, fresh and juicy red wine. The colour was a light, bright red. Mercier described the flavour as a glossy berry with superb viscosity and a creaminess from the bacteria. He recommended drinking this wine while it was young. This bottle wouldn’t last a week in my household.

Next was the Pinot Noir. As Mercier took a sip, he shook his head in amazement and exclaimed, “Dang! This is a good wine!” He informed us this wine is similar to a Burgundy. He went into detail about the grape and the vines, but I lost focus because I started feeling a little tipsy and I stopped taking notes.

One of my favourite wines is the Chardonnay Les Molates. According to Mercier, this is the most planted vine at the winery. He stated Marnes Blanches uses the whole stems and clusters of grapes in the fermentation process, which acts as a channel to filter the juice. As a result, the lattice creates a clean, fresh juice that retains its acidity.

I loved how the chardonnay danced on my tongue. Mercier mentioned this wine drinks like a classic burgundy, but at half price. He said this wine was stupidly good, with surreal value. I bought a bottle to share with Wonderland and Double 07.

My second favourite wine was the Savagnin En Jensillard. I almost passed out from the heady smell of this wine. What a pretty, intense aroma! If I could bottle up infatuation, it would taste like the Savagnin En Jensillard. Mercier said this wine would pair with a Szechuan dish or spicy Thai food. I also bought this bottle for my upcoming dinner party.

Next up was the Chardonnay Les Molates. Mercier noted this variety was indigenous to Jura. A founder grape, the vine flowers early and ripens late while retaining its acidity. The result is a freshness similar to jasmine and stone fruit.

Our second last wine was the Chardonnay Sous Voille. This wine smelled like a sherry or port. Mercier mentioned this it was hard to describe, and often people are put off if they can’t put into words the flavour of the wine.

The last wine we tried was the Vin de Paille, a sweet, dry wine. He mentioned that some of his guests claim they don’t like sweet wines, but will drink soda and junk food.

Many of the wines we tried were available in quantities of three or five. I asked Mercier if they only had three bottles to sell and five customers who want them, who gets them? He responded it was first come, first serve. I would not describe myself as an aggressive person, but at that moment, I decided to jump up and sprint across the room, much like a quarterback or wide receiver. The heart wants what it wants, and I desired those wines.

I am going to make these Vine Arts events a regular part of my schedule. I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than learning about delicious wines taught by a passionate and non-pretentious wine guide. Hitting the Sauce gives Mercier two phat thumbs up.

Chinese · Dim Sum · Restaurants

Golden Sands – Dim Sum Heaven

On Sunday morning, Beep Beep and I went shopping at Calgary Farmers’ Market. We picked up a cappuccino and chai latte from Analog and walked around the market. After I finished showing her around my favourite vendors, she told me there was a shop she wanted to check out. I was curious where she wanted to go, as she didn’t say a peep when I gave her my tour. Let’s listen to “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye for this post.

“Where is this place?” I asked. She spun around and said, “Right here.” I looked around and noticed several displays of crystals. It took me a couple of seconds to realize that this is where she was most interested in shopping. I must have stood around for half an hour while she cradled different rocks in her palm, feeling their energy. I overheard her talking to the staff about a green crystal that grew within another crystal. I felt like L, but without his patience. While waiting for her to pick a suitable rock, I called Golden Sands and made a reservation for 11:30 a.m. 

Getting a table here during peak hours is stressful. There was a long line-up when we arrived at the restaurant. The host was surrounded by customers, who were constantly badgering him for a table. I bugged him several times because I was worried we would be overlooked due to my inability to speak Cantonese or Mandarin. The host was polite and professional, and I have to say, adept at calming the angry. This was a tough crowd. Beep Beep could sense my anxiety rising with each passing minute. I started to wish she brought in her healing crystal. She passed me a menu to distract me. When I apologized to her for waiting at a crowded entrance, she said not to worry, and she knew the food would be good because it was so busy. I’m telling you, getting into a club in Vegas is easier than eating at Golden Sands. I even considered slipping the host a twenty-dollar bill, but I figured the other customers would eat me alive. Half an hour later, when the host gave us a table, I was so happy I wanted to hug him. I imagine that social display of affection during COVID would have gotten me kicked out of the restaurant. 

We ordered the Steamed Scallop w/ Black Truffle ($8.88), Deep-Fried Minced Pork Dumplings ($6.50), Pan Fried Turnip Cake ($6.50), Special Seafood Rice Crepe ($7.50), and Lemongrass Pork Chop ($9.88). I tried to order the Crystal Noodles with Beef Brisket & Tendon and Salty Fish with Scallop, Tofu and Eggplant Hot Pot. However, the kitchen was out of beef brisket, and the hot pot was only available at dinner. 

The wait was worth it. The steamed scallop dumpling arrived piping hot. The shrimp was large and crunchy. The scallop was silky smooth and sweet. The truffle wasn’t overpowering. Beep Beep mentioned that she’s never seen this dish in Vancouver. I told her the chef is from Vancouver, which is why Golden Sands is better than what we expect in Calgary. I hate to say this but Vancouver/Richmond has a much higher standard when it comes to Chinese cuisine.

The best dish was the seafood rice crepe. The rice crepe was similar to a wrapperless shrimp spring roll. The shrimp center was filled with a large cylinder of toothsome, bouncy shrimp. The noodle itself was glossy and silky, hot and gooey. Beep Beep mentioned she thought the seafood rice roll was unique and tasted fresh.  I would order this again.

The lemongrass pork chop was covered in a salty, pungent orange sauce. The batter was soft, puffy and sticky. I found the meat fatty and chewy. I liked the addition of the onions and seaweed-like garnish.

The turnip cake was lightly fried. The cake itself was soft and fluffy, and the texture was smooth. I would have preferred if the radish cake was served at a warmer temperature. No biggie, as I still enjoyed it.

Beep Beep enjoyed the minced pork dumplings. The pork filling was saucy and hot. She liked that the dumplings were shaped and coloured like a carrot. I found the dough sweet, and still sizzling from the fryer.

Service at Golden Sands is excellent and far better than what I experience in Vancouver or Richmond. I found everyone friendly and helpful, despite how busy it was. I plan to go back for dinner to try the other dishes Miss Foodie recommended. Hitting the Sauce gives Golden Sands two fat thumbs up.

Indian · Restaurants

The Curryer

For dinner on Saturday, I wanted to take Beep Beep somewhere I’d never been before. I remembered Miss Foodie recommended The Curryer, a Pakistani restaurant in the Beltline. As she is my number one go-to for restaurant picks, I knew we wouldn’t be steered wrong. For this post, let’s listen to “You Drive Me Wild” by The Runaways.

You have to order and pay for your food at the front counter before sitting down. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember which drink Miss Foodie recommended, so I just ordered what the owner suggested – the Anar Twist ($5.95). For food, I choose the Aloo Mutter Samosa ($2.50), Chicken Samosa ($3), Beef Korma ($15.95), Chicken Biryani ($15.95), and Kachumber Salad ($3.95).

Our drinks were fizzy and sweet, filled with pomegranate seeds and a jelly-like lychee slush. Since I’m sensitive to sugar, I would ask for half the amount of syrup the next time I visit.

Of the two samosas we tried, I preferred the aloo mutter, as I found the filling delightfully soft and savoury. I noticed the wrapper on the aloo mutter was crunchier and poofier than the chicken samosa.

The beef korma was excellent. The texture of the beef was tender and velvety, similar to Chinese-style brisket. The creamy sauce had a deep, smooth depth to it. I warned Beep Beep to avoid the drizzle of hot oil in the curry, as she’s sensitive to spicy foods. I would get the korma again.

The naan was fantastic! I loved the big blistered air pockets. The only other place in the city with flatbread this good is Yemeni Village. The Curryer’s bread is flaky and almost papery compared to Yemini’s softer, chewier bread.

The naan is so good that I would skip the rice and double up on the bread. There’s nothing better than fresh, crisp naan and a stellar curry.

The chicken biryani tasted like the chef just made it. The plump chicken pieces were slow-roasted, which made the meat pop easily off the bone. The long grains of the basmati was fluffy, aromatic, and liberally spiced. The owner recommended mixing the cucumber salad into the biryani, as it added a crunchy, refreshing element to the dish. I enjoyed the combination of the creaminess from the mint chutney and yogurt raita with the chicken and rice.

The Curryer is located only two blocks from my office. I enjoyed the food so much that on Monday, I told everyone I saw to check out The Curryer. When I told The Voice about the generous portions, he mentioned the prices sound more reasonable than what he paid at Saffron at First Street Market with his counterpart, Sophia. After I showed GC my pictures and described the naan and beef korma, he said he would check it out, even though he’s avoiding carbs. In my meeting with V, I told her she needs to try The Curryer. She asked me if that was the place GC’s been talking about. I said yes, but he hasn’t been there yet. I know L will be excited, as we haven’t been happy with the consistency of the food at our usual haunts. Hitting the Sauce gives The Curryer two enthusiastic phat thumbs up.

Restaurants

Park by Sidewalk Citizen

Beep Beep came to visit me on the weekend. Not much has changed since we were teenagers, except now Beep Beep obsesses over which private school she wants her kid in and all I talk about are fonts. Let’s listen to “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen for this post.

We went to Major Tom for a cocktail on Friday evening, then Ubered over to Park by Sidewalk Citizen. I’ve wanted to check this restaurant out ever since Bottlenick recommended the food and wine. Avenue Calgary voted Park as one of the ten best restaurants in Calgary 2022.

The restaurant itself is gorgeous, reminding me of an art gallery. Our table was by the door, which got a little drafty at times. We tried two red wines that night. My favourite was a German pinot noir (Dr. Die $14). I thought this wine was quite bold, which surprised me as I find most pinots weak in flavour and body. I know that Park gets some of its wines from JUICEimports, a wine importer that I think was associated with the old Von Der Fels.

The Charbroiled Lamb Skewer ($5) was nicely seasoned and juicy. However, I would have liked the skewer more if it was hotter.

Next, we both enjoyed the Hummous ($10). The hummus was thick and creamy, with a unique flavour. The marinated mushrooms were cold and chewy, with a texture that reminded me of eggplant. I would order this again. 

The Baked Feta ($15) arrived with the cheese blistered and smokey. I liked the pita that came with the feta over the pita that accompanied the hummus, as the latter arrived warm and crisp.

We weren’t hungry, but we wanted to try the Beef Bavette ($31). The beef was sliced into warm, juicy pieces. I thought this beef was perfectly seasoned. 

The breakfast at Park looks particularly good to me – I noticed shakshuka and a cured salmon plate on the menu. L’s not a brunch person, but perhaps I can convince my friend @bex.oxo to come with me. 

Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion · Steakhouse

Ranchmen’s Club

Wonderland and Double 07 invited us to The Ranchmen’s Club for dinner. Since I first met Wonderland, she has consistently praised the executive chef, sommelier and staff at Ranchmen’s, so I was curious and excited to go. For this post, let’s listen to the James Bond theme song.

We met in the lobby and then moved into the Samson Lounge for a cocktail. When I sat down by the fireplace, the first thing I noticed was the deer mount. The room itself has a heritage vibe, like the Lougheed House, located across the street. Wonderland told me she often drops by the lounge to play bridge or to read a book.

Double 07 ordered a round of French Cowboys. I found this cocktail delightfully tart and refreshing. I loved how the bubbles fizzled on my tongue. Before I knew it, Double 07 told us it was time to go for dinner in the Mary Dover room, and we could bring our cocktails inside. Before finishing his sentence, I had already gulped my drink down. L has been trying to break that bad habit of mine since we met. Good luck with that, L.

I wasn’t expecting to dine in a private room, making the dining experience more intimate. We started with small cubes of cheddar cheese and French bread. The bread innards were silky, and the crust was chewy and flaky. Wonderland received gluten-free bread, as the staff are familiar with her dietary restrictions. Wonderland mentioned the cheddar was either two or three years old. L liked the intense, nutty flavour. I enjoyed the cheese, but I would have been content with the bread and butter because the bread was that good.

Double 07 picked out fantastic champagne. Wowee! The bubbles were tiny, with a soft, mellow flavour. I thought this champagne was really something special.

I ordered what the maître d’ recommended – the Caesar Salad, AAA Tenderloin Steak, and the Crab Hasselback Potatoes.

L and Double 07 picked Foie Gras and the Roast Duck Breast, and Wonderland ordered Oysters and the Rack of Lamb.

The lettuce in my salad was crisp and cold, with none of the bitterness I usually find in romaine leaves. I enjoyed the saltiness and softness of the whole sardines and the balanced flavour of the dressing. I thought Ranchmen’s makes a better Caesar than Caesar’s Steakhouse, which was previously my gold standard.

The red wine Double 07 picked out was phenomenal. The smell was so beautiful. I could sniff this wine all night long. The wine was smoky, smooth, with no sweetness to it. I was glad I was sitting down, or I would have been swooning from sheer ecstasy.

The knife crackling through the salty, charbroiled steak sent shivers down my spine. The texture of the meat was so luxuriously tender that I almost wept from the sheer bliss. I’m not exaggerating. I was quiet the entire time I ate, just marvelling at the pairing of the wine with the beef and the sweetness of the tomatoes and the crunch of the pickled onions. I grow my tomatoes, and even when I pick them at the optimal ripeness, they don’t taste this good.


I requested the bearnaise sauce as Wonderland recommended, but I didn’t have to choose, as I received the peppercorn Armagnac and the bearnaise sauce for my steak. The peppercorn and bearnaise added this rich, hot layer of flavour that coated the beef. The Hasselback potatoes were buttery and soft, topped with generous amounts of sweet, flaky crab.

Double 07 picked a 13-year-old dessert wine. The fragrance of the wine was earthy, like a garden in the morning. I’ve never smelled anything like this.

L picked the Spiced Meringue for dessert. The chef split L’s portion in half so I could sample it. I tasted a little clove in the spices. I thought the sour cherry granite nicely balanced the sweetness of the walnut nougatine. I loved the crumbly bits that melted in my mouth. My favourite component of the dessert was the rich smoothness of the birch creameaux.

This meal was something I could never prepare at home. I wouldn’t even know where to get these ingredients, let alone find the wines. What was different about this meal was that I didn’t get tunnel vision like I usually do. There wasn’t one dish that overshadowed another item. Every component worked well together, so I enjoyed the entire progression of the meal.

When I thanked our generous hosts for such an extravagant meal, I mentioned I didn’t know what to do when they came to our place for the next get-together. Wonderland genuinely stated that this was not a competition. I said that was good because there was no way I could ever top the chef’s talent or the sommelier’s skill. I’ll have to think of something special for when Wonderland and Double 07 come over for dinner. Perhaps I’ll have to enlist some professional help.

I ate my breakfast and mid-morning snack the next day. I usually enjoy my chicken and green onion congee and local boiled eggs with cracked pepper and salt. However, the morning after such as epic feast, I have to say my food did not taste as good as it usually does. Hopefully, my tastebuds will revert to their old self, or I will have to do some real soul searching. Thank you, Double 07 and Wonderland, for the excellent company and hospitality.