Bars/Lounges · Beer · Burgers · Cheap Eats · Happy Hour · Restaurants

Eat Crow Snack Bar

My brother Jacuzzi and I text each other when we are in a bad mood. He never takes my advice and he often ridicules my answers, but we usually end the conversation on good terms. My solution to him is to go out. I can’t think of a better place than Eat Crow Snack Bar to bring some cheer into your life.

Eat Crow has changed since my last visit. There’s now a handful of local beers, alongside their beers on tap – Lucky Lager and Lone Star. The music is at the optimal volume. The sound is loud enough to enjoy the beats but low enough to carry on a conversation. For this post, let’s listen to a song that was playing last night – “Get Money” by Junior M.A.F.I.A.

Unlike this song, you don’t need to get a lot of money to dine at Eat Crow, particularly so for happy hour. From opening until 5:30 p.m., wines are five dollars and snacks will set you back four bucks. Beers and cocktails are also on special. The regular menu is wallet-friendly, most dishes are six dollars and the most expensive item is twelve dollars.

I asked my server for a recommendation for the driest red wine. He suggested the grenache ($5), a choice I didn’t see on the online menu. I really liked this wine – it was a good, solid red that I would drink at home.

L enjoyed his Microburst Hazy IPA from Banded Peak (473ml, $9). I took a sip and found the IPA light, sweet and juicy.

The Chick Pea Fingers ($4) were delicious. The interior was soft and fluffy. The pesto sauce was bright with some nice spices and what I thought was garlic. I would order this again.

We each ordered a fun-size Crow Burger ($4). What the burger lacks in size it makes up for in flavour. The patty is seared on the outside so that it had this beautiful crunch to it. The beef is cooked to a medium, and the texture is so soft it caresses your tongue. The combination of the pickled zucchini and melted American cheese creates the ultimate flavour bomb. The flavour was so intense that as I ate, I wanted to suck back the juices.

We both tried the Crow Dog ($4). How good can a hot dog be? The Crow hot dog is mind-blowingly good. The weiner is juicy and salty, topped with a creamy sauce, caramelized onions and cheese. This is the ultimate umami pleaser. My favourite part of this dish was the light, crusty bread. The crackling sound the bread made when I bit into it was as satisfying as how it tasted. Heaven.


L wanted to try the Popcorn Shrimp ($12). I’m all for a cream sauce but I love Eat Crow’s pick – a chili lime dipping sauce. The sauce was bright and lively, with flavours that reminded me of Thai food, like coconut oil, cilantro and lime. The lighter sauce also highlighted the quality of the shrimp – there was a good crunch to it and it tasted a little like the the crab claws I would get at a Chinese banquet. There was a nice heat to this dish, the type of hot that sears your taste buds. We would order this again.

Around this time, I wanted to try another wine. I picked the Four Star Pinot Noir ($11). I found this wine sweet with a hint of vanilla. Our server asked me if I liked it. I said the previous wine was more to my taste and this one reminded me of vanilla. She looked so disappointed in my response that I wished I liked vanilla notes in wine.

My last dish was the Chili Dry-Rubbed Chicken Wings ($7.50). This was as good as I remembered in my last visit. The batter melts in your mouth. The chicken arrived so hot, I burned my fingers. Every time I touched the wings, I would be punished for my impatience.

This experience brightened our mood. The music was fun, service was excellent and the food was some of the best I’ve eaten in a long time. Make sure you make a reservation, because the secret is out and you won’t want to get turned away. I’m not the only one who thinks this is an awesome bar. I could hear two other tables exclaiming how fantastic the food is. Eat Crow makes it on Hitting the Sauce’s list of best restaurants in Calgary.

Pizza · Restaurants

Yum Yum BBQ & Pizza 3000 – Lovegastrogirl does it again!

Lovegastrogirl did it again! She out sauced the Sauce. I haven’t met my match. I met my mentor. In honour of Lovesgastrogirl, let’s play “Oops! I Did It Again” by Britney Spears.

Lovegastrogirl texted me and said she had lunch for me and L. After a brief, masked exchange at my doorstep, Lovegastrogirl told me to go inside and eat while I repetitively exclaimed, “Omigod. Oh wow! This is too much!”

I felt giddy as I opened up my presents. Everything was wrapped and sparkled with gold glitter. There was champagne, pizza, fried chicken, bath bombs, and soaps! I reluctantly put the champagne in the fridge, because as tempted as I was, I can’t drink and work. When I drink alcohol, I have the attention span of a fruit fly. I think that’s funny because when I’m sober, I have the memory of an elephant.

Lovegastrogirl brought us shallot and chili fried chicken from her favourite spot – Yum Yum BBQ. Each glorious box contained around five large pieces of chicken.

The sauce on the chili chicken was sticky and sweet. The thick, crunchy batter was well coated and crackled when you bit into it. This was my favourite of the two flavours.

L preferred the shallot over the chili flavour because the former showcased the freshness of the chicken. The glaze on the shallot chicken was subtly sweet. Neither versions were greasy or overly salty, and both tasted almost as good the next day.

I noticed the wings and drumsticks were larger and meatier than what you get at similar joints, like Wow Chicken and Olive Chicken. The meat was juicy and tender, white and unblemished. The quality of the meat reminded me of Cluck and Cleaver, but the texture was not as dense. To date, this one of the best fried Korean style chickens I’ve tried. The side of pickled daikon was nice because it helped cut into the ‘friedness’ of the food. 

L asked why Lovegastrogirl brought us pizza when she already gave us so much chicken. I responded that she’s just like that. She’s like my mother that way – she goes all out. For Pomp’s sake, I hope he has deep pockets.

Lovegastrogirl brought us a donair pizza from Pizza 3000. Iatehere, who is a bit of rebel, anti-influencer, raved about this pizza. He likes that you can get two donair pizzas for $25, and according to him, it is a far tastier option than other more expensive pizza shops. The exception is Annah Island pizza from Spiros. I know way too much about Iatehere’s pizza preferences.

The toppings were proportional to the dough, which was neither thick nor thin. The dominant ingredient was the sweet, creamy donair sauce. The flavour of the tomato and donair slices were secondary to the crust and white sauce. I enjoyed the crunch of the white onions.

L said the donair pizza was a step up from the pizzas we ate when we were students. I beg your pardon L. We still eat Delissio Deluxe Pizzeria, and only when it’s on sale. If you want a basic pie, you can’t go wrong with Pizza 3000.

Thank you Lovegastrogirl for brightening up my week. I can’t wait to drink the champs this weekend. I’m also looking forward to bringing you and Pomp dinner. I’m leaning to order something I haven’t tried before as well as some tried and true favourites. To be continued.

Chinese · Restaurants

Toi Shan – Chinese takeout

L’s parents wanted to treat us out for dinner. G-Mah had a hankering for Chinese food. I picked Toi Shan because of Iatehere‘s Instagram posts. He’s eaten at Toi Shan since the 80s, and he informed me that the food hasn’t changed. For this post, let’s listen to “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie” by Baccara.

Toi Shan offers free local delivery AND free food for orders over $35. Bobbino ordered a feast, so we met the requirement and received complimentary Grilled Pork Dumplings ($12.50).

Bobbino requested Salt and Pepper Fried Squid ($16.95) and Cantonese Chow Mein ($13.95). L wanted Ginger Fried Shredded Beef ($15.25). G-Mah asked for the Buddha Delight ($13.95) and the House Special Fried Rice ($10.25). Our food was delivered within 25 minutes, and everything arrived hot and fresh.

Photo credit: Iatehere

Toi Shan serves westernized Chinese food. Their style of cooking reminds me of my childhood restaurant in Vancouver – Ridge Garden. On the weekends, my parents would order the same dishes: almond chicken, ginger garlic ribs, assorted crispy chow mein, fried rice, a cashew vegetable dish and sweet and sour pork.

G-Mah raved about the ginger beef. She said the beef was soft and not gristly like some restaurants. I liked that the batter was still crisp despite swimming in a light, sweet sauce.

L and Bobbino loved the squid. Each piece was tender and crispy. Bobbino reminded me of my mother when I saw him nibbling on the spicy garnish of green onions, carrots, and onions. Boss Lady says all the flavour is in the little crispy remnants.

I liked the spicy notes in the mixed vegetable dish, but I noticed the smell of the bamboo shoots was overpowering. It was almost like the shoots were taken straight from the can, sauce and all. At home, I always rinse the shoots and then soak it for at least 20 minutes. The chef was generous with the more expensive ingredients, like the cashews and broccoli. I would order this dish again, but I would ask for no bamboo shoots.

Surprisingly, my favourite dish was the fried rice. I wasn’t expecting to like it because I find that most Chinese restaurants in Calgary make a mediocre fried rice. Toi Shan’s version is full of flavour, and filled with tasty bits of eggs, peas, chicken, pork and shrimp.

The filling in the pork dumplings tasted homemade and wholesome. The wrapper was smooth and glossy. I enjoyed the smoky, salty flavour of the toasted chili oil. I was also impressed that Toi Shan gives out white vinegar for the dumplings because you don’t see that at westernized Chinese restaurants.

The Cantonese chow mein was awesome. L’s liked how the noodles were extra crunchy. It looked like the entire block of chow mein was deep fried, then covered in a Chinese style “gravy”. I thought it worked – the noodles retained its crunch throughout and the gravy was so saucy.

The portions are big. We had two containers full of food for the next day. I’d say six dishes would easily feed six people.

I like to open fortune cookies but I never eat them. I think I accidentally opened up Bobbino’s because I’ve never been successful in talking my way out of trouble. My second fortune cookie was more accurate, but I wonder if the saying applied to me or L. Overthinking is so unproductive.

G-Mah gave her enthusiastic approval – she enjoyed every dish and she liked how the takeout dishes were environmentally friendly. I’m happy I found a local Chinese restaurant that will accommodate my friends and family who prefer westernized Chinese food over the authentic stuff I like, such as beef tendon, chili oil fish and shrimp stuffed vegetables. Hitting the Sauce gives Toi Shan two fat thumbs up.

Bakery · Dessert · French · Restaurants

Le Picquenic and Peasant Cheese – Valentine’s Day

I told L I was taking care of our Valentine’s Day plans. He looked suspiciously skeptical and I knew he thought I was tricking him again. I swear, give your spouse a test the occasional time and he’ll never forget his lesson. I actually didn’t have any sinister plans. Quite the opposite. I felt that after 10 years of taking me out for Valentine’s Day, I could do something he liked. For this post, let’s listen to “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Franki Valli.

I ordered L a Valentine’s Tea Box ($34 per set) because I thought it would appeal to his British sensibilities. I was impressed with Le Picquenic special touches, like the card, ribbon, and flowers on the box.

The Kyoto cherry rose tea was lovely. The tea smelled sweet and fragrant. You could taste and smell the roses and what I thought was almond.

The cucumbers in my heart shaped sandwich were thinly sliced. I thought I could taste a hint of dill and perhaps cream cheese.

The egg salad was a classic high noon tea sandwich. The filling was creamy and eggy, pressed between two slices of soft white bread.

L enjoyed the turkey and cucumber croissant. He thought it was a delicate bite. I found the croissant sweet.

The prosciutto and brie canapé was tasty. There was a lot of prosciutto in one bite and I enjoyed the saltiness from the meat.

The blueberry scone was baked just the way I like it – a little dry and crumbly. I like that texture because the butter tastes creamier against a crustier surface. The jam added a smidge of sweetness to the savoury scone.

The cream puff was my favourite of the bunch. The whipped cream inside the pastry was puffy and cloud-like.

For dinner, I ordered a Valentine’s Cheese Platter ($50) from Peasant Cheese. For this occasion, Peasant Cheese added macarons and cannelé from the French bakery Yann Boutique. What a spread! The presentation, quality of cheeses and assortment of condiments and crackers is bar none. In the dozen or so times I’ve ordered from Peasant Cheese, I’ve always been impressed.

I’ve ordered the mixed cheese plates before and I usually get olives, pickles and other sour and tart accompaniments. This time around, we were treated to dried fruit like apricots, figs, and other candied treats. I loved the radish slices and pea shoots. I wrapped each radish slice with brie and ate it like a wrap.

There was so much food on this platter, we only managed to eat a third of it. We left the remaining amount to be snacked on in the following days. I know that recently, people are building their own cheese plates. Personally, I cannot make one as pretty as Peasant Cheese. Food also tastes better when you don’t make it. Hitting the Sauce gives Peasant Cheese two fat thumbs up.

Mexican · Restaurants

Con Mi Tacos

On Sunday, I noticed L wasn’t his usual self. I had a feeling it was related to Calgary’s cold snap and the fact we haven’t gone on our yearly jaunt to Mexico. I suggested we brighten his day by ordering tacos and drinking Pacifico. For this post, let’s listen to “El Herradero” by Lola Beltran.

My go-to restaurants for Mexican are Con Mi Taco and Moose and Poncho. Con Mi specializes in freshly made tacos and seafood. Moose and Poncho serves up authentic dishes that are richly flavoured and hearty. Both spots are equally awesome. We ordered from Con Mi because they serve L’s favourite taco – al pastor.

I was impressed with the Prawn and Scallop Ceviche ($16). The ceviche came with three pieces of homemade sesame tostada. The crunchiness of the chip reminded me of a Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisp, only nuttier and thinner. The shrimp was crunchy and plump. The scallops were succulent, silky morsels. The amount of lime was perfect, there was just enough acidity that it didn’t overwhelm the natural sweetness of the seafood.

The peanuts added a nice clean crunch and it reminded me of corn nibs. I thought the strong melon flavour of the cucumbers complemented the peanuts and seafood. L doesn’t like cucumbers and even he liked this combination.

We shared the Al Pastor Kit ($33), which comes with 2/3 pound of pineapple chili marinated pork, ten freshly ground hand-pressed corn tortillas, lime wedges, onions, pineapple, cilantro, salsa morita and vegan jalapeño aioli.

L’s face lit up when he bit into his taco. The texture of the pork was velvety with a smoky flavour. I loved the fragrance of the corn tortillas. L noticed I was eating everything even though there was cilantro in it. I actually like cilantro in Mexican food, it’s just in Asian food I find the herb obnoxiously strong. Con Mi finely minces the cilantro, so the flavour is more delicate.

I also liked that the onion and pineapple salsas were finely diced because it provided tiny pops of flavour and texture. There was so much sweet pineapple that each one of our tacos got a heaping amount. L noted that Con Mi is as generous with the seafood as with the sauces and garnishes. There’s no skimping in quality or quantity here.

My new favourite dessert is the Passion Fruit Cream Churro ($6). The churro itself was sweet and crunchy, and tasted a little like apple pie. The passion fruit cream was fragrant and perfumed with citrus. I would order this again.

When we feel comfortable dining in again, we want to try the deep fried shrimp, fish and soft shell crab tacos. In the meantime, we’ll probably stick to the options that are easier to reheat at home, like the birria, beef cheek and asada.

If you haven’t gone, I would recommend checking out both Con Mi and Moose and Poncho. Some Vitamin B (beer) and Vitamin T (taco) will surely cure you of the winter time blues.

Curry · Japanese · Restaurants · Tonkatsu

Katsuten – Tonkatsu

By Friday, I was getting extra squirrelly. I texted my brother Jacuzzi to ask him how he was dealing with B.C.’s pandemic restrictions. He said he loved staying in and he was happy playing video games with his wife.

L was already a step ahead of Jacuzzi. This ain’t his first rodeo. L suggested we order dinner from Katsuten, as it was conveniently located by our neighbourhood liquor store. For this post, let’s listen to “Ex’s and Oh’s” By Elle King.

Back in the day, Katsuten and Redheads Cafe were the only restaurants in Calgary that specialized in tonkatsu. Months after Katsuten opened, it was hard to get a table. With the pandemic and our cold snap, it was unusually quiet when L picked up our order.

I ordered the Tenderloin Katsuten ($16.50) and L picked the Loin Katsu with Curry ($15.99). Both entrees come with rice, salad and miso soup. I thought the portions were heartier than I remembered from past visits. Takeout from Katsuten travels well – everything was still hot and fresh.

Katsuten’s batter is different from Redheads, Koji Katsu and Shimizu Kitchen. Katsuten’s panko is made from white bread crumbs from Glamorgan Bakery, and the result is a fluffier, airier batter. Despite the fact our tonkatsu was deep-fried, it wasn’t greasy or heavy.

I tried a piece of L’s loin to compare to my tenderloin. My katsu is darker in colour and softer in texture. I was surprised that I actually preferred L’s loin, which is a thicker, leaner cut. The loin had this clean flavour profile that contrasted well with the richness of the batter. I noticed the curry wasn’t chunky like Redhead Cafe’s version, but runnier and more like a soup.

The shredded cabbage is refreshing. The yuzu dressing is tart and fragrant, with bright lemony notes. I also really liked the katsu sauce – much more subtle than the bottled stuff you can buy.

I’m pleased Calgarians have a variety of katsu restaurants, because each place has their unique take on tonkatsu. I would recommend all of them, each for something different. I love Koji’s supersized ebi katsu, Redheads Cafe’s chicken karrage curry, Shimizu’s ramen and tonkatsu combos, and Katsuten’s extra fluffy loin katsu. I’m sure right now, they could all use your business.

Beer · Burgers · Comfort food · Happy Hour · Restaurants

Jane Bond BBQ & Urban Shack Fried Chicken

I wouldn’t go as far as to call myself a political junkie, but I do follow municipal politics. The post below made me smile because it shows how good food can bring people together – no matter where they fall on the spectrum. Below is a picture of Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra and Craig Chandler sharing a meal at Jane Bond BBQ.

As the election heats up, may I can suggest all candidates running in the 2021 race spend some quality time eating at our local restaurants. For this post, let’s listen to “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles.

I ordered the Brisket BBQ Plate ($20), which includes half a pound of brisket, a side and coconut cornbread. I upgraded my side for the macaroni cheese (+$1). Jane Bond is having a special for their new shack style chicken. I ordered the 8 Piece Bird Attack (Regular $45, Featured $22.50), which includes boneless fried chicken (choice of five flavours), two dipping sauces, large creamy slaw, large fries, two Cajun corn cobbs and two pieces of coconut corn bread.

Pro tip – if you want both BBQ and fried chicken, you have to order each separately online. I went to Jane Bond’s website to order the BBQ and for the fried chicken, I clicked onto a subcategory on the website. Not a big deal, but a little confusing if you aren’t aware that Urban Shack Fried Chicken falls under the Jane Bond website.

The restaurant was busy when I went to pick up my order. There were about five customers inside waiting and two people outside in their cars. When I arrived, the staff were busy pumping out orders, so I was left standing there unsure as what to do. Here’s another pro tip. Walk to the front counter, catch an employee’s attention and tell them your name and what method you used to place your order.

After a 15-minute ride home, I thought it would be best to reheat the fries and chicken in the oven. I also microwaved the brisket, corn, and macaroni and cheese. Our fries crisped up nicely in the oven.

The beef brisket was soft, coated in a tangy, smoky sauce. There were some pieces that were well marbled with fat. I enjoyed the caramelized top part of the macaroni and cheese. Underneath the crust, the noodles were soft and saucy. The slaw was light and crisp. I found this salad necessary in between the heavy, rich bites of brisket and macaroni and cheese.

L really enjoyed the fries. The batter on it reminded me of the bulgogi fries at Wow Chicken. I love the corn bread. The texture was crumbly. The flavour was sweet and buttery, with a hint of smoke. The chicken was crunchy and the meat was tender. My favourite dipping sauce was the jerk sauce – it tasted like there was cinnamon in it. I enjoyed the heat and spice in the sauce. The corn was sweet and wet with butter and Cajun spices.

We ordered way too much food and we had ample leftovers for the next day. Below is a picture of all the food we didn’t end up eating. The cornbread was just as tasty in the morning. In fact, everything tasted good the next day.

My last pro tip of the post. I ordered ice tea, mistakenly thinking there was booze in it. I ended up ordering the regular ice tea (4 pack, $12). Get it! It taste like a mix between peach Snapple and SoCIAL LITE spiked lemon ice tea, but sweeter. Jane’s ice tea was a nice complement to our meal.

It’s my birthday week and I am looking forward to writing about our next food adventure. It’s a bit harder to celebrate with takeout because you have to make some allowances, such as the time and distance it takes to get your food and how certain foods are best eaten fresh. If you have any favourite spots ideal for takeout, let me know.

Japanese · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion

Sukiyaki House – Birthday Omakase

For L’s birthday, I took him to Sukiyaki House for “omakase”. In Japanese, omakase translates to “I’ll leave it up to you”, meaning you entrust the menu up to the creativity of the chef. I got to say, Chef Koji Kobayashi knocked this dinner out of the park. For this post, let’s play “I Feel Fine” by the Beatles.

L and I toasted to his birthday with a glass of Kamoshibito Kuheiji Human Junmai Daiginjo, 2011 (3 oz, $15). Judith informed us that Sukiyaki House was the first restaurant in Calgary to bring in this particular bottle.

Judith is a sake nerd. Known as the white Burgundy of sakes, she described this sake as “bougie”, with lots of umami and sweetness. As we took our first sip, she pointed out the notes of bruised apple and pear. I thought this sake was light and not overly sweet.

We started off our meal with a plate of Hamachi with Daikon and Ponzu. L liked the seasoning as he thought it complemented the light, sweet flavour of the fish. If you notice my pictures have improved, it’s because L took all the photos below.

Our second dish was the Duck Tempura with Shiso and Mozzarella. The ume jam was tart and plummy, which cut into the richness of the duck. I thought the garnish of nori and green onion was a nice pop of flavour against the warm, velvety cheese filling.

One of L’s favourite dishes of the night was the Rice Cracker with Deep Fried Salmon, Potato Salad and Yam Crisp. Shwing! The crunch of the batter against the soft creaminess of the potato salad was killer. The salmon itself was flavourful, made even richer with Koji’s special homemade teriyaki sauce. Koji’s sauce has this intensity that makes you stand up and notice.

At this point in our meal, I wanted to try another sake while L stuck to a pint of Asahi.  I ventured off and tried a glass of Yamagata Masamune Kimono Akaiwa Machi 1898 (30z, $11).

Judith informed us this sake is made from hamachi rice from the Akalwa region. The brewer uses a traditional method of sake brewing. Rather than having the lactic acid introduced in the fermentation process to cultivate yeast, the sake is allowed to naturally develop lactic acid on its own. This makes for a fuller, complex and richer sake. I enjoyed the melon flavour and the dry, light finish.

Our fourth course was the Matsutake Soup with Crab. The soup arrived boiling hot. The broth was clear and clean, which allowed the subtle flavours of the crab and mushrooms to shine. The wild BC pine mushrooms were thinly sliced, with a fragrance similar to sake. Drinking this soup felt so nourishing – simple but refine.

Next up, Judith showcased A4 Wagyu Nigiri. She torched it and then shaved a ton of black truffles. Real truffles taste so different from the truffle salt I buy. The flavour is gentle and earthy. The texture of the truffles was feathery and light. Seared, the wagyu gave off a mouthwatering smoky flavour. I loved the crunch of the salt. I thought this was an elegant bite.

Our sixth course was the Maple Smoked Anago. L doesn’t normally eat eel, but he loved Koji’s version. The seared aburi was soft, warm and deliciously smoky.

My favourite course was the Lemon Dengaku. Double shwing! Dengaku is similar to a cheesy seafood motoyaki but a billion times better. Half a lemon was filled with mussels, crab, scallops, asparagus, enoki, and matsutake mushrooms, then baked with a creamy, sweet miso sauce.

The flavour and freshness of the the seafood wowed me. The sauce had the perfect amount of saltiness in it. The lemon wasn’t overpowering – just enough to perfume each bite.

Koji created a beautiful platter of nigiri for us. This was an advanced sushi tasting. Each nigiri pairing was an adventure.

The bluefin chu toro was topped with sturgeon caviar. I liked how the salty pop of caviar mingled in with the fatty creaminess of the toro. The “Mother and Child” sockeye with ikura and chrysanthemum petals was another winning salty, creamy combination. The hamachi (yellowtail) was juicy. I found the lime zest with the kanpachi subtle. The cuttlefish had a pleasant crunchy texture. The bluefin tuna in the negitori with shredded kombu was soft and buttery.

Dessert was devastatingly charming. Not only was this the cutest creation, but the mochi had the nicest chew to it. As always, the fruit at Sukiyaki House was served at the optimal ripeness, just like in Japan.

Photo credit – Sukiyaki House

Koji, you truly are an artist. This was the best meal L and I have ever experienced. We are so lucky to have you in Calgary. L and I have an upcoming wedding anniversary to celebrate in December. We can only order takeout because we are staying with in-laws. We might just have to hit up Sukiyaki House for their new premium bento takeout box of spicy prawns, beef tataki, miso sablefish, a hosomaki, and a mini chirashi. Whatever takeout we end up picking up, we’ll make sure to support one of our favourite restaurants.

Dessert · Patio · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion

River Cafe – COVID-19 dine-in edition

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!

Photo Credit: Karplop

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.

Beer · Burgers · Patio · Pubs · Restaurants

Bitter Sisters Brewery – COVID-19 dine-in edition

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.