Restaurants

U of C – Private Event Campus Dining

My husband L organized a weeklong conference. In the past two weeks, I only see him if I attend one of his events. In light of the Stampede, let’s listen to country music.

On Sunday, I dropped by L’s hoedown at the University of Calgary. The catering staff recommended he move his outdoor venue inside due to a severe thunderstorm warning. I’m glad L made the decision to not risk it, as it did end up storming.

Before dinner started, Chest Pump walked by me, already indulging in Fiasco gelato. His colleagues reprimanded him and said that it was too early to eat dessert. Chest Pump smirked and retorted that it was a palate cleanser. I said that a palate cleanser is meant for in between courses. He thought for a nano-second and responded that there was no rule for how long it had to be in between courses. I can’t argue with that logic.

When it was our turn to go to the buffet, Chest Pump mentioned he had food restrictions. Specifically, he avoids flour and wheat. When he grabbed a gluten-free bun, I mentioned that I’ve never eaten gluten-free bread because I heard it is more calorie dense and not that tasty. He agreed and decided to ditch his bun in an empty container, right next to a container full of regular buns. Chest Pump said he doubted anyone would eat it anyway. I disagreed but I said nothing.

I went back to the buffet to check to see if someone did pick up the cast off bun. It was gone! I told Chest Pump that I felt sorry for the person who accidentally ate his gluten-free bun. Chest Pump was remorseless and said he didn’t feel sorry for that person, as they would experience how he feels all the time.

The pulled pork was tasty, the coleslaw fresh, and the company cheerful and fun. The U of C crew did a great job setting up inside on such short notice, as well as solving issues that come up during the event. Hitting the Sauce gives L and U of C catering team two thumbs up. Yahoo!

Restaurants · Seafood

Gibsons – Smitty’s Oyster House

In August, my friend N rented a house in Gibsons. We arrived on a sunny Friday to acres of private waterfront property, a six-bedroom house with spacious entertainment areas and a hot tub looking out into the ocean.

view.jpg

N and her entourage brought groceries with the intent of cooking, but everyone was too preoccupied with partying to actually prepare any meals. When I stepped in, I was micro-managed by RHWONJ. RHWONJ forgot to tell me her cooking instructions and then later complained to me that I was didn’t do something she never told me to do. By Sunday morning, L and I wanted to get out and explore the town. For this post, let’s listen to Charles Barkley – Crazy.

N drove L and I into the waterfront shopping district. The three of us
walked into Beachcomber Coffee Company and enjoyed expertly made americanos. N and I stocked up at Sunshine Coast Olive Oil while L stood patiently outside. We strolled around the main shopping streets and enjoyed a live music performance. I peeked inside The Healing Hut because I wanted to see what a cannabis dispensary looked like inside. I know these places are common in Vancouver, but they are not in Calgary (pre- October 17, 2018). The store is bare bones. There’s a display by the till and other foreign objects.

smitty.jpg

By noon, we decided to have lunch at Smitty’s Oyster House. The restaurant doesn’t fill up the tables inside the restaurant. Instead, most customers wait in line to sit in a large communal table on the pier.

salad.jpg

We ordered fresh oysters on the half shell ($3 each), salmon cakes
($12), Smitty’s salad ($9), Pan Fried Oysters ($18) and Fish Fritters Cod ($16). The food and wine was reasonably priced. Most glasses of wine ranged from $8-$13.

oysters.jpg

The highlight of the meal were the raw oysters from New Zealand. Creamy, bright and sweet, I couldn’t believe these oysters were flown in from somewhere so far away. If I had known the oysters would be that good, I would have skipped my entrée and just consumed oysters. L agreed. I’ve never enjoyed an oyster more than I did here.

chips.jpg

The fish fritters were tender and the batter was puffy and light. I personally prefer a harder, more brittle batter.  The malt balsamic drizzled on top of the fritters was too strong for my liking. The portion was too big for L to eat on his own.

oysters booked.jpg

The fried oysters had a hard, thin batter. There was a layer of wet batter against the fried exterior. The oyster itself was smallish and cooked so the meat was still tender.

per

N had to leave to go back to her other guests. L and I lingered and ordered more drinks. L even chatted up the older couple sitting next to us, a social rarity.

ribs.jpg

We walked around some more and L suggested we eat again, this time at Smoke on the Water BBQ Shack. I wasn’t hungry but I was eager to kill more time. We shared the Smoked Port Back Ribs ($19) – a half rack of ribs, with slaw, beans and fries. The ribs were hard, perhaps because they weren’t that warm. I thought the BBQ sauce was a tad simple. Maybe I’m just spoiled with the great BBQ I get back in Alberta. In any case, if you happen to make a stop off in Gibsons, I’d recommend Smitty’s for their oysters and island eats.

Smitty's Oyster House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Korean · Kyoto · Restaurants

Kyoto – Nikuya no Daidokoro

L and I found one of our best meals by accident. Initially, I found a yakitori bar in Pontocho by Kamogawa River. We entered the restaurant and a server confirmed there were two seats available. By the entrance, there was a table of salary men smoking. L was so irritated by the smoke he didn’t even bow and say sorry in Japanese to the hostess before abruptly leaving. L told me we would find somewhere better. I didn’t believe him and I threw a bitch fit (BF) a la White Chicks. After walking around for 15 minutes, I told L to follow the couple ahead of us. For this post, let’s listen to Bitch by Meredith Brooks.

I could sense this couple knew where they were going. I felt that they knew we were following them when we entered the elevator and didn’t press any button. They looked nervously at each other and then the gentleman turned around to say something to me in Japanese. When the doors opened, we discovered we were at an all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ Restaurant – Nikuya no Daidokoro.

menu

For about $27 US, we could eat an array of chicken, pork, one type of beef, vegetables and a huge salad bar with soup and dessert. For an extra $3 US, we enjoyed unlimited draft beer. The quality of the meats and vegetables were very good. Far superior to the Korean buffets in Vancouver and Calgary.

meat before fired

L ordered all the meats and took care of grilling all the food. We didn’t stink too bad of meat after we left, because the fan did a great job of sucking up all the smoke.

meat

We tried most of the meats on the menu. The only one I didn’t like was Pope’s Nose, as it was too fatty and hard. The wiener was particularly delicious – once you crunched through the casing, it popped with sausage juice.

weiner

I ate several plates of banchan – Korean side dishes. Soybean sprouts, cold spinach, watercress tofu salad, cabbage and soybean paste, and edamame. I put the edamame on the BBQ and then sprinkled it with salt. I realized that everyone else eats them cold when the servers and other customers would give me a double take.

edanmae

There aren’t a whole lot of vegetables and fruits readily available in Kyoto, at least not in our area. So I filled up on vegetables. I grilled peppers, mushrooms, onions, cabbage, eggplant and shiso peppers. There were also a ton of sauces and salts to choose from.

charred veg

I felt remorse for my BF earlier so I tried to pay for supper. L wouldn’t let me which made me feel even worse. I liked this place so much, I insisted on taking him out later on in the week and splurging for the wagyu beef. When we returned on a Saturday night without reservations, our server informed us that they were booked up for the next two hours. I must have looked crestfallen because the server looked at me pityingly.  In any case, L and I will be back next year.

outside

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Cabos San Lucas · Cheap Eats · Pubs · Restaurants

Paddy’s Barbecue + Brewery

This winter weather is getting to me. Sensing my mood, L suggested we go out for dinner. I told him to pick a place. He drove past Marda Loop, Mission, Mount Royal and then pulled in front of to Paddy’s Barbecue & Brewery in Manchester Industrial Park. For this post, let’s listen to I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) by The Proclaimers.

With the heavy snowfall and the start of The Big Taste, we didn’t expect the brewery to be packed. When we entered at 6:30 p.m., there was a large private party, families with kids and people on dates. There was a lone stool available. L stood while I sat.

video.jpg

We shared a flight ($7) of beer: Alberta Smash, Stout, Azaccca Wheat, and Hopped Lager. The Cascadian was dark and bitter. I preferred the NE IPA, which was light and tasted like grapefruit. The Juniper Saison was an easy drinking floral beer. L finished the Black Lager because I found it bitter. I thought it was neat that the brew dates for each beer was shown on the black board.

sampler.jpg

The food and drink are self-serve. You go up to the bar for the beer and the kitchen for food. There was a man working there who seem to be in charge of the brewery. He kept his eye out for a table and the second a group vacated, he brought us over to sit down.

meats.jpg

We ordered the Half Feast ($30), which included half a pound of brisket, half a pound of ribs, a quarter of a chicken and three sides. You can pick between: kale Caesar, fries, potato salad, slaw, baked beans and cheesy mac. The food was so good I stopped tasting our second flight of beers.

second round.jpg

Of the three meats, the chicken was my favourite. The meat was flavourful and juicy. The ribs were tender with a hint of smoke. The brisket was moist and a good platform for the sauces. Our neighbor raved about the Peach Mango Heat. I preferred the Caroline Style BBQ because of the mustard tang. L preferred the Memphis style BBQ and the one with a hint of curry that I forgot to write down.

meats 1

The mac and cheese was cheesy with some bite left in the noodle. The fries were the real type, not frozen, so it had that waxy, firm texture. Our neighbour’s potato salad and kale salad looked so appetizing, I want to order it next.

busy.jpg

Paddy’s Barbecue & Brewery has nailed the food down. This is the sort of place you have to visit the States to find. Just good, honest BBQ at a bargain price. I hope the restaurant plans to expand, because once word gets out, it’s going to be even busier.

Beer · Happy Hour · Patio · Pubs

Hayden Block Smoke & Whisky

I’ve heard good things about the food at Hayden Block Smoke & Whisky. So on a sunny Friday evening, L and I decided to drop by for dinner. We parked on the street right next to Original Joe’s. Who should walk by but his colleague Bottlenick!  He was on his way home, carrying two thoughtfully chosen bottles of wine. For his wife Candy, he selected a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. He opted for an Italian Pinot Noir. I know if L ever thought to pick me up a bottle of wine, it would either red or white and on sale that week at the Highlander. That’s just how we roll.

screen-shot-2016-09-17-at-5-19-24-pm

Bottlenick asked me if L and I were going to Original Joe’s. I couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic, serious or condescending. We would have invited him for drinks at Hayden’s, but it was pretty apparent that he had a hot date with Candy. And with a name like Candy, you know the date’s going to be sweet.

screen-shot-2016-09-17-at-5-19-16-pm

L and I ordered pints of Banded Peak ($7.50), but we were positive that we were served a different beer. Oh well. We shared a half pound of pork ribs ($10), brisket ($11), beans, coleslaw and two pieces of cornbread ($2.00).

screen-shot-2016-09-17-at-5-19-32-pm

The ribs were tender and juicy. I could taste the smoky flavour and I liked the dry rub spices on the top. I didn’t feel like there was a need to put sauce on the top.

screen-shot-2016-09-17-at-5-20-13-pm

The brisket was a little dry and delicious. There was a trim line of fat that balanced the leanness of the soft meat. Again, I didn’t bother to sauce it up.

screen-shot-2016-09-17-at-5-20-06-pm

The cornbread was yummy, far better than Booker’s or Palominos. Cake-like, moist, warm and sweet, it was a steal for only $1.00.

screen-shot-2016-09-17-at-5-19-42-pm

Sometimes I like to include a link to a song to go with the post. In this case, I’d like to say….

screen-shot-2016-09-17-at-5-19-52-pm

Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart,
The more you eat, the more you fart!
The more you fart, the happier/better you feel
So let’s eat beans with every meal!

Hayden’s version are worth farting for. The baked beans were soft with chunks of meat.

screen-shot-2016-09-17-at-5-19-58-pm

The broccoli salad was fresh and crunchy. Personally, I’d pass on ordering the salad in the future. I didn’t like the dressing.

The prices are very reasonable for the quality and taste. Of all the other BBQ joints in Calgary, Hayden is my favourite. If you haven’t yet, check it out. Hayden offers specials all week and BBQ meat is half off after 10:00 p.m.

View my food journey on Zomato!

Hayden Block Smoke & Whisky Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beer · Burgers · Seafood

Bookers BBQ and Crab Shack

Dr. B just returned from one of his epic trips. We usually get together two to three times a year.  As I know he has a penchant for pubs, I picked Bookers BBQ and Crab Shack for lunch. Booker’s has street parking for Dr. B and it’s close to my workplace.

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 7.13.39 AM

The interior of the restaurant is pretty cool. The building is old, the room is dark with super high ceilings. I could smell the smoke coming from the kitchen, and it lingered on my hair hours after lunch. Ah, I bet my fellow yogees just loved standing next to me that evening, inhaling my BBQ infused sweat. Yummy.

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 7.13.32 AM

Dr. B is a light and healthy eater, so I did the ordering. I didn’t want to be stuck eating a salad. We shared a Beef Brisket Sandwich ($12.95) and a plate of the Brisket Burnt Ends ($10.95). The beef brisket was covered in a  Kansas City BBQ sauce. I found the sauce delightful.

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 7.13.24 AM

I would recommend the brisket sandwich. The smooth, clean texture of the bun went really well with the thick, juicy slices of beef. The crispy onions were a nice textural touch. I also liked the deep-fried pickle that came on top of the bun.

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 7.13.15 AM

The beef tips were another winner. Dr. B noted that this dish was not the type thing you would make at home. The square-like meat was pillowy soft. Dr. B said some pieces were too fatty for him, but that’s what I think made it taste so good. If you prefer lean cuts of meat, don’t order the brisket sandwich or the beef tips. I know this comment is going to gross my vegetarian friend Jaime out… but it must be said. I love the taste of hot squishy fat as it squirts on your tongue.

The cornbread was a good portion, crumbly and sweet. The jalapeño macaroni and cheese came bubbling away in a hot pan. I didn’t find it spicy and it was light despite the cheese sauce. I liked the oven baked crumbs on the top of the perfectly al dente noodles. While a lot of reviewers on Zomato love the sides at Bookers, I prefer the meat. The meat here trumps all.

I want to book an event with my coworkers at Bookers. The venue is neat and different from the usual places on Stephen Avenue. I can’t compare the food to Palomino, our usual hangout, because the food at Bookers, though also BBQ, is different.

View my food journey on Zomato!

Bookers BBQ Grill & Crab Shack Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Burgers · Pubs

Palomino Smokehouse

If my brothers visit me in Calgary, I would take them to the Palomino. There aren’t many places in Vancouver that serve up so many meatalicious dishes in a delightful western style saloon.

palominobeers

My coworkers and I started off with a round of beers. I usually stick to Mill Street Organic ($7) while my friends prefer to drink Thirsty Beaver ($7). Palomino also makes a wicked Caesar, with a big crunchy pickle and a slice of bacon.

wings

My friends ordered the Carolina BBQ Wings ($12) which can be ordered battered or grilled. They also shared a huge plate of garlic fries ($7.00), which were better than the same fries that came with my burger. While my fries were small, cold little end bits, the fries on the appetizer plate were longer and fresh out of the fryer.

My buddy also ordered Smoked and Rub Ribs ($12) and BBQ Nachos ($17). All the appetizers looked good and received rave reviews around the table. I declined as I wanted to focus on my favourite dish, the Palomino Cheeseburger ($14).

nachos

The fresh ground chuck patty was large, thick and juicy. The produce was chilled, the bun grilled. Each bite was a contrasting mixture of soft meat, crisp bacon, warm apple smoked cheese, tomato, pickles and lettuce.

garlic fries

I ordered a side of soup and garlic fries with aioli. I would dip my fries in aiola and then stick the raw pieces of garlic on it. My breath was so bad, even my dog wouldn’t come near me when I returned home. Just the sandwich and fries let me stuffed until the next morning. The Bacon and Chicken soup was creamy, rich and heavy in the meat department.

I’ve eaten most of all the items at the Palomino: brisket; chicken; ribs; pulled pork; salads; appetizers; and catfish. I have to say that my favourite dishes include garlic fries, poutine, wings, and of course, the cheeseburgers.

Service 99 out of a 100 times is fantastic. The most recent visit was not the usual standard. The server had a special talent for complaining that made me want to stick pins into my head rather than listen to her. After a day of work, all I want to do is chill out. However, her good looks saved her from a corresponding tip, as my single and looking friend enthusiastically wanted to tip well.

Palomino Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

View my food journey on Zomato!