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

Lulu Bar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bars/Lounges · Indian · Restaurants

Calcutta Cricket Club

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L texted me at work to inform me that he won an award. Awesome, a reason to go out and celebrate! I’ve been meaning to try Calcutta Cricket Club ever since I learned that food writer Gwendolyn Richards frequents this restaurant. We arrived on Monday at 5:46 p.m. Only the bar and a couple of high tables were available. We chose to sit at the bar.

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The restaurant is bright and airy. The air perfumed with curry. The décor is not what you would typically find in Calgary. This ain’t a cookie cutter chain restaurant. I like the cheetah at the bar and retro colours. I felt like I was on vacation. For this post, let’s listen to Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks.

Our bartender Eric was quick to point out we could still order off the happy hour menu. Appetizers are half off between 5:00 p.m. – 6: 00 p.m. daily. For happy hour beverages, there’s a feature cocktail ($8), wine (HH$8, reg $10) and draft beer (HH $5, reg $8). L started with a Unicorn Philips beer and I drank a glass of red wine.

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Based on Eric and Gwendolyn’s recommendations, we ordered the Chips and Curry (HH $5, reg $10), Chilli Chicken (HH $7.50, reg $13), Paneer and Honey (HH $4, reg $8), and a Kati Roll – Tandoori Spiced Chicken ($8) with an egg ($1.50).

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The chips were thick and long, the shell was crispy and held up to its delicious bath of fenugreek-cream curry. Best chips I’ve ever had. I couldn’t get enough of that curry. The combination was fantastic.

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The chilli chicken was fried and spicy, wet from a sweet chili sauce. The chicken had a pop of heat and the flavour reminded me of an Indian version of Chinese style ginger beef. Very nice.

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The kati roll made for a nice nibble. I could taste the tandoori in the chicken. The onions were still crunchy, which added a contrasting texture to the flaky hot bread. The green chilies were hot. The addition of the egg made the roll thicker and gave it more of a bite. I didn’t find the use of cilantro in the food overpowering like I normally do.

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The paneer and honey was clean and subtle compared to the other two dishes. I liked the taste of salt, honey and sprinkle of pistachios. Simple but delicious.

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Eric recommended the Crushable Gin & Tonic ($12), a mixture of British gin, mango, lemon and chili. I was pleased to see the bartenders make sure to completely fill the shot glass. I watched as Eric train a new staffer.  Eric told her to use rice in a container and practice feeling the rice slid up and over.  I was surprised when L said he didn’t mind sitting at the bar because he found it interesting to learn about Eric’s bartending techniques. L usually would rather wait for a table than sit at the bar, as he isn’t social after work.

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I read the negative reviews on Yelp and Zomato regarding Calcutta Cricket Club. I think some people may not get what Calcutta Cricket Club is all about. It’s not a place to visit to get stuffed for cheap. It’s not a spot to bring the whole family. It’s a restaurant I imagine expats in India would frequent. A spot to leisurely sip on quality cocktails and nibble on Indian food with a British twist. I dig Calcutta so much, I’m going to make this a regular stop for date night.

Calcutta Cricket Club Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Vegetarian

The Coup – Meat Eaters Rejoice

L and I wanted to go out for dinner but he wanted something “different”. I told him to call J-Thug and ask for a recommendation. I know the name “J-Thug” doesn’t connotate images of refinement or sophistication, but this dude knows his restaurants, women and booze (in that particular order). J-Thug told L to check out The Coup.

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In the past, when I’ve recommended The Coup to L, he would never go with me. He always says that his balls would shrivel up if he didn’t eat meat with his meal. I told him we should do an experiment and do some measurements before and after. He looked at me like I was nuts  (pun intended).

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L ordered a beer which he thought tasted too yeasty. I didn’t see any beers that I liked, so I opted to go sober. I wish The Coup would start serving Banded Peak beers…

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J-Thug told us to try the scallops. The “scallops” turned out to be king oyster mushrooms ($14). The mushrooms are tea-smoked and pan-fried. At the table, hot dashi broth is poured all over the mushrooms.

The entire dish is a winner. The mushrooms have a similar texture as scallops. We used up the grilled red fife sourdough crostini to sop up all the delicious broth. The salad of seaweed and radish was lovely, clean with a taste of the sea.

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We both ordered the falafel quesadillas ($16.5). I really dig the blend of vegetables, like the carrots, purple cabbage, pickles, bell peppers and olives. The sauces included a light touch of hummus, tahini and tzatziki. I enjoyed the crunch of the toasted sprouted tortilla and the creaminess of the goat feta. Overall, a nice balance of flavours and textures. The fat rosemary yam fries were baked, soft and sweet. The extra sauce of garlic aioli I ordered added a pungent richness to the yams.

Both L and I will be back, more so for the appetizers than the mains or salads. Thank you for your recommendation J-Thug, it was a ballsy pick.

The Coup Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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17th Ave · Curry · Thai

Khao San Thai Kitchen

Ms. Biz has taken me out for so many lunches that I can’t keep track. She speaks highly of Khao San Thai Kitchen so I told her I’d take her and Cruizing out for lunch. Of course Office Dad came too as we needed our office chaperone.

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Khao San Thai Kitchen is tastefully decorated. The colour scheme has lots of dark colours and rich decorative flourishes. Ms. Biz informed me that one of the owners, Sam, has a background in the hotel industry. His hospitality experience is evident in the professional service we received to the heavy silverware, teacups with saucers to the linen napkins.

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When we ordered, Office Dad asked if they could blend the green and red curries together. Aya Office Dad! The gentleman, who I think was the other owner, looked surprised at the request and said that no one has ever asked him that question but if that’s what he wants, he could do it. I protested and told Office Dad to not be a weirdo and just order like a normal person, off the menu. Office Dad laughed good-naturedly, and picked a curry with no modifications.

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We ordered four cups of jasmine tea ($8) and two bowls of the tofu ($5) and chicken ($6) Kha San Creamy Tom Yam soup. The soup was unbelievable. My taste buds were alive, awoken by the spicy, tart, salty and sour notes of the soup. I could taste the lime, lemongrass and the deep heat of the chilli. The soup was silky smooth. The tofu was still crispy, tasting like it was briefly deep-fried before being added to the soup.

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Surprisingly, one of my favourite dishes was the Chicken Cashew Nuts ($13.00). I find at Chinese restaurants, chicken and cashews taste one dimensional. Not at Khao San. The sauce was sweet and sticky, so good we ensured each drop was used mopped up in the rice. The chicken was battered and juicy. The cashews were roasted. The bell peppers and onions still retained a nice crunch.

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The Pork Green Curry ($13.00) was delightful. The pork slices were tender. I liked the lightness of the green curry and the use of zucchini and fresh Thai basil leaves.

The Beef Red Curry ($13.00) was also good. The beef was nicely sliced but could have been a bit more tender. The squash was soft and sweet while the bell peppers were crunchy. I appreciate that Khao San uses a variation of vegetables for all the dishes, so you aren’t eating the same ones in each dish. Sometimes I find at Asian restaurants use the same vegetables in all the dishes.

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I enjoyed the Pad Thai Koong ($15.00). There were plenty of prawns and a generous smattering of eggs, bean sprouts, roasted peanuts and tofu. Most importantly, the taste of tamarind was evident. No ketchup used here. While the pad thai was very good, I preferred the cashew chicken and the pork green curry even more.

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Finally, we ordered two servings of coconut ice cream ($12.00). The ice-cream was hard (that’s what she said), which we all preferred. I hate it when ice cream melts too quickly. Rich and creamy, the coconut flavour was strong and it tasted like it was homemade. Office Dad loved the addition of the peanuts, palm sprouts and a jelly-like topping. I like my ice cream plain. The portion was generous.
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Unlike Tuk Tuk, I found the food at Khao San vibrant and screaming with flavour. I didn’t even need the tray of spices, as it tasted great as served. None of the dishes were spicy, but the soup had a strong heat to it. Yes, the prices are a little higher than other Thai restaurants, but it’s worth it. I agree with Ms. Biz that it’s better to pay extra than to eat subpar food.

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This is the best Thai food I’ve ever eaten, but mind you, the only other places I have for comparison are in Vancouver and Calgary. I plan to take my husband here for date night to try the braised short ribs in massaman curry ($23), chicken cashew dish and of course, that soup. Ms. Biz says she and her husband come for dinner and order soup, an appetizer, two main dishes, cocktails and leave for under $100. That’s a great price for all that expertly prepared food and profesional service.

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If you haven’t checked out Kha San Thai Kitchen yet, I would highly recommend it. This 17th Avenue gem is making it on Hitting the Sauce’s list of favourite restaurants in Calgary.

 

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Khao San Thai Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

17th Ave · Beer · Cheap Eats · Patio · Pizza · Pubs

Ship & Anchor – Preconcert pit stop

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I find that people either love or hate the Ship & Anchor. Personally, I’m a fan of the Ship. The food is good pub grub and a bargain (in Calgary). No matter what you wear, I’ll bet you aren’t underdressed, unless perhaps you try to go in your birthday suit.

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That night, L bought us tickets to see the Foo Fighters. We met up with his two friends, recent immigrants from Labrador. The night before, I was so frustrated that I couldn’t eat solid foods due to stomach bug, I had a glass of wine. Guess what? Turns out though solids irk my health, a little booze is good for me. So while everyone was chowing down on delicious food, I indulged in a can of Sofia Blanc de Blancs, a sparkling wine by Francis Coppola Winery ($8.95). The can reminded me of Red Bull.

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I told L’s friends that the Ship Burger w/ the works ($10.95) or the Butter Chicken ($11.50) were solid picks. Zee ordered the butter chicken, and boy did it look good. I could smell the curry from across the table. The heaping portion of chicken and basalti rice came with naan bread too. I could see nice chunks of tomatoes, peas and onions. Z gave two thumbs up for the curry, which he said was hot, flavourful and spicy.

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The Ship burger with the works comes with super crispy bacon and oozes with cheddar cheese. The grass fed beef patty was thick and charbroiled. The Kaiser bun was proportional to the patty and toppings: tomatoes, pickles, onions and mushrooms. However, the mushrooms would have been better sandwiched next to the patty and produce versus against just the patty and bun, as it made the bread soggy. My advice to L’s friend M would be to eat faster, so the bun doesn’t have time to get soft.

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It was very interesting to post about food when you can’t eat it. The experience left me feeling angry and frustrated. However, little sips of my drink calmed my nerves down a bit. Hopefully I’ll be back to eating solids in no time. When I get better, I want to try NU Burger and Sushi Bar and the Redheads Bagel Cafe for their Japanese food.

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