Bars/Lounges · Restaurants · Special Occasion · Steakhouse

Caesar’s Steakhouse

To celebrate Bobbino and Loving Disapproval’s 50th wedding anniversary, the kids took them out to Caesar’s Steakhouse. For this post, I’m going to play “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” by The Shirelles.

The restaurant is an indulgent time warp to a 70’s version of the Roman Empire. The chandeliers sparkle against the glass mirrors and gold drapes. The shiny red leather seats match the bright, bold carpets. My favourite fixture in the restaurant is the chef, who with over 25 years of experience, masters his art over a fiery grill. Mad props to this dude, he is Calgary’s finest steak wizard.

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Our maître d’ Joel knows his wine. If you are lucky enough to get him as your host, tell him what you are comfortable spending and he won’t steer you wrong. He helped me select two of three bottles ($110-120), all from Napa Valley. My favourite bottle was the Ridge 2016 Geyserville, as it paired best with the steaks and I enjoyed the ruby finish. Joel also picked out a Spanish wine by the glass which I enjoyed.

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We all ordered the ‘Emperor’s Feast’. The feast includes caramelized onion soup with house-made beef broth and a Parmesan crouton, a mixed green salad, cheese toast and garlic bread, and a twice baked stuffed potato.

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I heard much about the famous cheese bread. The heavy dusting of cheese was dry and salty.  L complained it reminded him of Kraft Parmesan.  It was complimentary bread so I didn’t care. I told him to choose the garlic bread next time.

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The caramelized onion soup had a touch of sweetness to the broth. Uncle Ben enjoyed his soup more than I did.

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If you order an entree, you can upgrade to a traditional Caesar salad for $9.00 per person. I watched as Joel whipped up the dressing from scratch. Holy moly, what an awesome salad. The lettuce was cold and crunchy. The sauce was garlicky and cheesy, with the brightness of fresh lemon juice and a hint of anchovy. The homemade croutons were light and added a crumbly texture. I would order this again.

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I asked Joel which cut of steak was his favourite. He asked me what I cared about in a steak. I said taste. He said in that case, go for the rib-eye. I ordered the 14 ounce rib-eye ($58) so I could share my steak with L and Uncle Ben. I asked for my steak to be cooked to a medium rare, even though my boss told me to order it medium rare, but closer to rare.

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Though my steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare, the meat was still hot. Joel mentioned that their beef never hits the freezer and the meat is climatized near the grill so it doesn’t bleed on the plate. I can honestly say this was the best steak I’ve consumed in my life.

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The flavour of the beef was rich, and the texture was ultra tender. Using a knife was optional. We learned from Joel that all the beef is cut in house from specially selected Sterling Silver and Prime Alberta Beef and cut to order. The top tiered beef is aged a minimum of 35 days.

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Turned and Loving Disapproval both ordered the 14 ounce rib-eye ($44). I overheard everyone said their meat was cooked to their specification. I gave about half of my steak to Uncle Ben, L and Dave. L doesn’t normally like rib-eye but he thought my steak was even better than his 14 ounce New York steak ($64). I thought all the steaks I tried were excellent. You can’t go wrong with any cut.

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I enjoyed L’s New York steak. The meat was firmer and more lean than the rib-eye, but the flavour was more beefy. L loved the char on the outside and said it was damn near perfection. I think there is something superior about  a steak charred on an open grill.

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Dave ordered the 20 ounce T-Bone steak ($64) rare. He gave me a bite and I thought his steak was yummy. He packed some of his T-bone home and gave a piece to his mother and dog. His mother told me it was still juicy when she tried it. His dog Sam apparently rolled his eyes to the back of his head in pleasure.

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Uncle Ben loves a nice rack, so he ordered the Rack of Lamb ($50). The herb roasted spring lamb was tender and lean, with a mild flavour. This is one of the best lambs I’ve tried.

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I called ahead of time and asked if the chef could make something special for Veggie Girl. I was informed that the restaurant offers a vegetarian appetizer and main, but there is no unique creation. I asked if the server could lie and tell her that it was made specifically for her. I got a giggle on the telephone, but when it came down to it, Veggie wasn’t lied to by Joel. Luckily, said she enjoyed every element of her meat free entree.

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For dessert, Bob and Loving Disapproval ordered the Cherry Jubilee. Joel also brought over a complimentary panna cotta. I was in a meatcoma at this point and I was too lazy to take a picture.

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Joel informed us that Caesar’s has worked with the same supplier for over four decades and as a result, they receive Alberta’s finest beef. I concur. Along with the master chef, the end product is beyond reproach. The smell, temperature, texture, and taste of the steaks is superb.

Price-wise, it is expensive but worth it. Expect to pay about $150 a person. We sat and enjoyed our meals over a three hour period. We were not rushed out and the GM even took the time to take numerous family photos by the entrance. If my father’s health permits, I’d love to bring my family to Caesar’s Steakhouse for an authentic Calgary experience.

Caesar's Steak House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Patio · Restaurants

Earls on Stephen Ave

Soup received a $150 gift certificate to Earls. She and her partner Ottawa invited me, L, Soccer Mom, and McCartney out for drinks and food. In light of recent news, let’s listen to “Regulate” by Warren G and Nate Dogg.

Our table was next to the patio. We got the best of both words – a view of Stephen Ave, fresh air and spacious, comfortable seating. I preferred to sit inside, as I feel that people who sit on patios on Stephen Ave get stared at by passersby.

I won’t drink house wine. I can’t do it. Two weeks ago in Kyoto, I ordered a bottle of house wine. It was so nasty that I couldn’t choke it down. Last week, I was at Bank and Baron and my colleagues were drinking happy hour house wine. I went against my better judgment and had a glass too. It was vile. At Earls, I ordered a 9 ounce glass of Quails Gate Pinot Noir ($20.25). I thought it was full-bodied and juicy for a pinot. Delicious. I’d come back to Earls just for a nice glass of wine.

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Ottawa requested input from us and ordered for the table: Calamari ($14.25), Pan Wings ($13.75), Warm Spinach Dip ($13.75), Green Dragon Roll ($13.25), Garlic Fries ($6), Street Chicken Tacos ($11.75), and Yam Fries ($7.50). She tried to order the Hawaiian Coconut Prawns but the restaurant was out.

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I was surprised I liked the chicken taco so much, because I don’t normally enjoy tacos. The flour tortilla was crisp and held up to the saucy mixture of tender, slow roasted chicken, cilantro, salsa and cabbage. The taste of cilantro was subtle. The combination tasted fresh yet decadent, most likely due to the jalapeño crema and white cheddar. I thought it was odd that Earls named these ‘street tacos’ because street tacos are simple and pretty basic.

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I liked the yam fries more than the garlic fries. I don’t normally like yam fries because I find the flavour taste fake. Earls make a batch that taste like it’s actually a yam and the fries were fat and crispy, just the way I like them.
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One of my favourite items was the Pan Wings. These aren’t on the menu but our server told us it’s her favourite because they are twice baked and spicy. The sauce was tangy and the skin was crisp. There was a lot of white meat on them bones. The celery was fresh too, sweet and crunchy.

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Bars/Lounges · Happy Hour · Patio · Restaurants · Special Occasion · Steakhouse

Murrieta’s West Coast Bar + Grill

My colleague Jo picked Murieta’s for her birthday lunch. For this post, let’s play something I listen to on the way to work to pump myself up for the day – Money, Money, Money by Abba.

The restaurant is beautiful. The large skylight filters in ample natural light, setting off the stonewalls. There’s a posh wine cabinet with a ladder at the back of the restaurant.

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Despite being a Monday in February, the restaurant was packed. Every single table was full, mostly of smug looking men in suits. Jo had to get back to work in an hour so we were impatient to order. Mindy saw her favourite server Vanessa and asked her if we could place our order with her instead of waiting for our designated server.

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I ordered the Cobb Salad ($16.00). Points for presentation. I liked how the herb dressing was lightly drizzled over the salad so I could enjoy the flavours of the individual components. The blue cheese was sharp and melted in my mouth. The farm egg was still soft in the middle, the yolk was bright orange.

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Mindy added a grilled chicken breast ($7.00) to her Cobb Salad. The salad was good enough on its own that you don’t need to add any additional protein. However, after after I saw Mindy’s salad, I wished I added a little something extra to mine as well.

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Jo and Gilchrist ordered a Steak Sandwich ($18.00). They requested medium and received well done steaks. Mindi told them to tell our server Stephanie. They were reluctant to but when Stephanie asked how the food was, I piped up and said the steaks were overdone. She asked if she could replace the two steaks. Since Jo had to get back to work in 15 minutes, she declined. Gilchrist also declined a new steak.

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Erika ordered the Tuna Poke Wrap ($18.00). The fries were very good. I ate Jo’s leftover fries when she had to leave.

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Legal ordered what I wanted – Lamb Meatball Spaghetti. This is what Miss Foodie eats when she dines here. Legal said it was delicious.

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Stephanie came over to inform Jo and Gilchrist that they would receive a complimentary dessert. Jo had to leave so Stephanie had her dessert packed up. We shared a delicious chocolate cake with cherry coulis.

On Fridays, Murrieta’s has live jazz. Stephanie suggested that we get there early in order to get a table, as it gets busy. When asked what was considered early, she said 8:30 p.m. Our table was impressed with the level of customer service at Murrieta’s. Stephanie was pleasant throughout our meal and handled our feedback like a pro. I’d be happy to revisit and try more of the food and wine.

Murrieta's West Coast Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Happy Hour · Restaurants · Special Occasion

Klein & Harris – Stephen Avenue

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I recently discovered one of Calgary’s secret gems – Klein & Harris on Stephen Ave. This place has it all. Excellent service, a beautiful space and elevated cuisine at incredible prices. My recent lunch with Jaime was so good that I cancelled my office lunch reservations at another downtown restaurant and booked with Klein/Harris instead. For this post, let’s listen to some groovy music I overheard while dining at this fine establishment.

Jaime ordered the Mushroom Ravioli ($16). Oh my goodness, this was so good that I am going to order next time. The pasta is made in-house daily. The stuffing of earthy mushrooms was buttery, flavourful and plentiful. The addition of the blistered tomatoes, green and shaved smoked gouda was heavenly. The pasta was thin and delicate like a won ton wrapper. Amazing. Jaime said the pasta was actually quite light, so she didn’t feel uncomfortably stuffed.

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Our excellent server – Amber – recommended the Apple and Walnut Salad ($12). She made it sound so good – quinoa, sunflower seed, hemp hearts and green tomatoes tossed in a buttermilk dressing. I’ll have to try that next time. I noticed several vegetarian dishes that looked delicious to me, a meat eater. The K/H Potato Salad with caramelized onion aioli and poached egg, crusted boursin cheese with crispy leeks, and the toast three ways. Sounds kinky!

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For my lunch, I ordered the One Punch Lunch. The feature was duck confit sandwich, a side, two butter tarts and a mocktail for only $16.00. This was a steal. My mocktail was almost like a dessert – bubbly, sweet with ginger, orange fruit and mint.

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I order the butternut squash soup as my side. I liked the addition of the jalapeno oil as it gave it a warm, spicy kick. I was surprised by the generous amount of shredded duck in my sandwich. The bun was soft, toasted and squishy. The juices from the sweet meat dripped down onto my plate.

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My next visit at dinner, I have my eye on the diver scallops, Alberta lamb loin and duck breast with duck leg. What can be better than duck on duck?

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I tried to book a table for 12 coworkers for happy hour but Klein and Harris was already reserved for a private dinner function. I’ll have to try again in January. If you haven’t been, you need to check this restaurant out.

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Hitting the Sauce gives Klein/Harris two fat thumbs up. I like it so much this restaurant is going on my list of favourite restaurants in Calgary.

Klein & Harris Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Brunch · Burgers · Happy Hour · Restaurants

Local Public Eatery – Stampede 2017 Series

For this post, I’m going country. Let’s go!

Don’t wantcha for the weekend, don’t wantcha for a night
I’m only interested if I can have you for life, yeah
Uh, I know I sound serious; and baby, I am
You’re a fine piece of real estate, and I’m gonna get me some land

It’s pretty square at my office year-round, but during Stampede the whole office loosens up. My colleague Aycaramba and I use up our extra lieu time to enjoy the merrier mood. On Thursday, Downtown Calgary hosted the first pancake flip of the Calgary Stampede. We ate pancakes with whip cream and berries, savoured each bite of our sausage and washed it all down with orange juice and Starbucks coffee.

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We went back to the office to work and headed out again for lunch. Aycaramba has never worked downtown. During Stampede, the whole core comes to life. We sailed by the patios at Milestones, Catch, The James Joyce, Original Joe’s, The Unicorn until we came to the Local Public Eatery. This spot is the best for Stampede vibes because it’s filled with locals and not tourists.

As we were not returning to work, we indulged in a couple of beers. I picked a refreshing, easy gulping beverage – Shock Top. This was a fruity wheat ale with a sweet aftertaste. For $5.50, it’s also a wicked deal on Stephen Ave.

The patio was packed and every time a server walked by with hot wings, I started to salivate. Aycaramba and I shared the Tuna Club Sandwich with truffle fries ($17, + $2 for upgrade). Our server was awesome and didn’t rush us out. She also split our food and bill. I wish I asked her name to give her props. She’s a petite brunette that was working the corner of the patio by the door.

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The tuna club was delicious. Packed between toasted bread was a cool piece of seared tuna, crispy smoked bacon, melted cheese and ample slices of avocado and tomatoes. I liked that each bite of my sandwich contained some tuna. The yam fries had this decadent truffle lemon mayonnaise with parmesan cheese. My half portion was perfect. I was left full but not stuffed.

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The crowd was fun and friendly. We chatted with the other people at our communal table. The oil and gas guy sitting next to Aycaramba picked her up and asked if she was free during Stampede to have a liquid lunch with him or (after he watched her expression) a coffee. I watched Oil & Gas drink from stemless wine glasses with a liquid that was filled to the top. I asked what he and his friends were drinking. Oil and Gas responded it was white wine. Puzzled, I asked why it was filled to the top. His friend said it was because they ordered doubles. Aycaramba!

For people-watching and food, Local is my new favourite hangout. I’m already planning on returning for lunch next week. Hitting the Sauce gives Local two fat thumbs up! Yahoo!

Local Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurants · Special Occasion

Workshop Kitchen + Culture

I’ve heard good things about Workshop Kitchen + Culture. My fine dining buddy Todd told me one of his best meals ever was at Workshop. For the Big Taste festival, my colleagues Legal and Crazy Girl joined me for Workshop $25.00 lunch special. From our office, we braved walking in the -20 weather to a completely packed restaurant. We had to wait in the Junction Theatre Grand lobby for a couple of minutes for our seats because other customers were dawdling.

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Our server Jennifer was personable, pleasant and a wealth of information. For example, I learned that at dinner, Workshop offers a “blind” three-course ($55) or five-course meal ($80). I envisioned being blindfolded while I ate.  Jennifer elaborated and said the “blind tasting” means you leave the menu in the hands of the chefs. From what I sampled, you’re in excellent hands. Jennifer also told me that alternatively, you can come with a big group and share a bunch of platters for a reasonable amount.

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Crazy Girl and I ordered a salad for our first course. I figured I ought to eat a salad, seeing as how I can’t remember the last time I ate a vegetable that wasn’t fried. Legal choose the soup of the day – a Moroccan and sausage creation. The soup was hearty like chilli and fragrant from the use of cumin.

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My salad was lovely. It tasted good and it felt healthy. The baby beets and pink apples were sweet, which contrasted with the tartness of the green apples. The assortment of fresh, frilly greens soaked up the light dressing of honey and goat cheese.

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The showstopper was our main of albacore tuna. The moment I had a bite, I had a hey ya moment. I received two thick slices of medium rare tuna. The rare part of the fish was silky and juicy. The outside was beautifully charred.

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The warm potato kimchi salad consisted of soft potatoes that I swirled around in the gochujang hollandaise sauce. The maple grilled bok choy was crunchy, and reminded us of a summer BBQ. The spice in the sauce and kimchi was subtle and restrained. I thought the use of kimchi was sophisticated. The micro-greens tasted like fresh peas.

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I ate as slowly as possible so I could saviour every single morsel. The entire dish was brilliant. So much, Workshop is now on my list of favourite restaurants for best lunch and best special occasion splurge.

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I’m not a dessert person but the Azaelia Milk Chocolate Ganache Tart had me swooning. The chocolate ganache and mascarpone was soft and gooey. Mixed with the hazelnut praline and sponge toffee, it was like a fresh, homemade version of Ferrero Rocher.

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This whole meal cost only $25. The main alone was worth $25.00 and that dessert, I’d easily pay $10.00. To put this value in perspective, I want to point out that my husband recently went to McDonald’s and bought a combo meal for $9.05 which made him and my dog sick all morning. 

To the chefs and staff behind Workshop, I salute you. Your milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.

Workshop Kitchen + Culture Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Indian · Vegetarian

Veg-In YYC

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A fellow staffer in my department recommended Veg-In YYC, a relatively new vegetarian take-out place near our office. The unit is small with a handful of spots for singles or pairs of two to eat. For a new place, the cafe sure has caught on with the locals. Whenever I walk by, there are two to three people waiting for their food.

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I asked for a recommendation, but the male employee working at the till couldn’t offer any suggestions and just shrugged his shoulders. After hemming and hawing, I picked the lunch special, a pakora naaco with rice and vegetables ($10.00).

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It took about ten minutes for the staff to assemble my order. You can tell everything is prepared and cooked with care. I was pleasantly surprised with the flavours of the vegetables, curry and potatoes. I don’t know how healthy the dish was, as quite a bit of it was deep-fried.

I plan to go back to try a burrito or something that isn’t fried. Most dishes are around the ten-dollar mark. For the quality and flavour, I’d say the food is worth it. If you haven’t already, check it out.

View my food journey on Zomato!

Veg-In YYC Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Japanese

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ

Office Dad is turning 50 years old this week! To celebrate his birthday, What’s Up Hamsup, Asian Persuasion and I took him out for lunch. This time around, What’s Up Hamsup didn’t bail on us (good office son!). We thought Office Dad would enjoy the BBQ experience at Gyu-Kaku. As well, Asian Persuasion and I have been wanting to check this place out since it opened.

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We each order the three BBQ meat item lunch special ($15.95), which came with a fresh salad, miso or seaweed soup,  and rice. The salad was fresh and crisp, the Asian vinaigrette was addictive.

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The seaweed in the soup was plentiful. The taste of the seaweed was subtle. What’s Up Hamsup thought it tasted like a Japanese seaweed salad, just in soup form.

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We opted to share all nine meats. For sauces, there were bottles of ponzu, sweet and spicy. I enjoyed the sweet sauce the most and the ponzu the least.

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For meats, we pretty much picked one of everything on the menu. We ordered: Bistro Hanger Steak Miso, Filet Mignon, Kalbi Chuck Short Rib Garlic, Angus Beef Ribs Sweet Soy, New York Steak Miso, Toro Beef Sweet Soy, Yaki-Shabu Beef Miso, Pork Belly White Soy, Spicy Pork, and Pork Toro White Soy. The only thing we didn’t try was the chicken, shrimp and more expensive cuts of meat.

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Everyone had a personal favourite. Surprisingly, I liked the Spicy Pork the most. I thought I would like the beef more but I preferred the texture and taste of the pork options.

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The group sitting next to us had this one guy lecturing his friends about Japanese cuisine. He went on and on about my favourite cafe, Redheads Japa Cafe. He told his friends that Redheads wasn’t open in the evenings. Redheads is open in the evenings, from Tuesday to Friday.  I wanted to correct him. I kept glancing over and his friends would look over too, as if they sensed my urgency to reveal the truth. I decided to mind my own business as I didn’t want to engage in a conversation with the guy.

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Office Dad took over most of the cooking. You can learn a lot about people when you BBQ with them. Man, I’ll tell you, Office Dad is bossy. He barked at me for flipping over a piece too early or late and viciously accused me of burning a few pieces. The only reason I tried to help was because he kept infecting the almost ready to eat meat with the raw meat with his tongs.

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The picture above is What’s Up Hamsup’s hand over the BBQ grill. As you can tell, his hands are much larger than Trump’s hands. I put Trump’s picture in as a comparison to What’s Up Hamsup.Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 8.03.25 AM

Just joking, that’s not very nice of me. Below is a more accurate picture. I don’t know why everyone  makes fun of Trump’s hands. He’s running for president, not as a pianist.

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Service was great. Our server was pleasant and patient explaining which meats were which because we kept forgetting. She refilled our teas often and replaced our grill for the smores ($2.50). I’m not a sweets person, but even I enjoyed this treat. You grill the marshmallow until its nice and warm, then mash it against Hershey’s chocolate and two graham crackers.

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The best part of the lunch was when our server learned it was Office Dad’s birthday when we paid the bill. We got up to leave only to see our server run over to say, “Don’t leave! We have a surprise.” We scampered back to our table. A whole bunch of employees came out, one holding a birthday sign, another bringing a dessert with a candle and yet another crowning Office Dad with a hat. We all sang happy birthday at the top of our lungs.

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I like Gyu-Kaku and I would return again. My husband would enjoy this place and I’ll let him do all BBQing. If you work downtown, definitely give it a try. The price for lunch is a bargain.

View my food journey on Zomato!

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fusion · Happy Hour · Vietnamese

Pure Contemporary Vietnamese Kitchen + Bar

Buzzy left our office to take another job. At her going away party, her boss Meeting said that while Buzzy says now that she’ll miss us, once she sees her first pay check, we’ll all be forgotten. Well, Buzzy got paid on Thursday and met us for lunch that day. His ominious premonition proved false.

Getting my co-workers to a destination, no matter how close, is an ordeal. Meetz and Little Red are like me, they walk fast and don’t get distracted. However, Buzzy, Crazy Girl, Randy,  Mindi and Queen Bee would stagger back and get lost around a corner or distracted by a fly. I resorted to playing tour guide to get our group to the restaurant in time. I did a head count out loud before we left the train. To keep the group herded together, I waved them along and pointed to “landmarks” to keep their attention. It was a bit like what I imagine it would be like to work on The City of Calgary’s new goat pilot.

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After what felt like eternity, we arrived on time (after I had bumped our reservations 15 minutes later as I could tell hear them dawdling in the hallway). We landed a semi private room, which was a positive as we are a loud, happy bunch. One thing you need to know about Pure Contemporary Vietnamese is that it was a former club and the changing techno coloured lights remain. You can see the rainbow of colours reflected in our food.

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Randy and Buzzy shared  a Char Sui Sesame Donut ($5). Our server Dani kindly asked the kitchen to cut it in half. They both raved about the saucy pork stuffing and the crispy sesame shell.

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A bunch of us ordered the Sate Pho ($11.75). The bowl was bigger than my head! The broth was spicy and rich. There was a ton of bouncy, perfectly cooked noodles and tender slices of beef. This pho is worth the drive from my house in Killarney. I ordered my pho without cilantro and instead, used up everyone else’s basil for my soup.

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Mindi ordered the Chicken and Spring Roll ($12.75). The picture below is awful and doesn’t do the dish justice. I was hungry and I didn’t feel like putting in the effort to take a better photo. Sorry.

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The pho is ridiculously delicious. The spiciness made me cough and choke and cry at times, but that’s cuz it went down the wrong pipe. Good thing I wasn’t on a date. It would likely be the last.

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Crazy Girl sat next to me and let me try her lemon grass vermicelli beef ($12.75). There was an ample amount of beef and onions. The noodles and all the vegetables were very tasty and fresh. A good option for those with a lighter appetite.

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Queen B ordered Chicken Wings ($8.75), which were huge, meaty and crunchy. She loved the seasoning and sauce, which she said was a nice change from the usual pub wings. Everyone at our table was jealous and wished they had ordered wings as well.

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Crazy Girl and Mindi have a birthday coming up. I’m going to book our lunch at Pure Contemporary Vietnamese. Pure can handle large groups and our server Dani was so patient with our table. She was even cool with us splitting the cheques, which I know is a pain in the fanny. I’m also going to bring my office family down here on Tuesday too, after our annual Stampede event on the grounds for happy hour. If you haven’t already, check this gem out.

View my food journey on Zomato!

Pure Contemporary Vietnamese Kitchen + Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Comfort food · Fusion · Patio · Vietnamese

Pure Vietnamese Kitchen + Bar

Chef Pham’s take on Vietnamese food reminds me of one of my favourite chefs in Calgary, Duncan Ly (formerly of Raw Bar/Yellow Door). Dishes are creative, flavours stand out, and he spins a playful take on Vietnamese food.
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Jaime and I got the chance to check out Pure Vietnamese this past Saturday. We started off with a glass of pinot gris ($8.00). The glasses were chilled, the wine cold and refreshing.

Kudos to our server Dani. She ensured that the food Jaime ordered was vegetarian, from the dipping sauce to the sauce in another dish.
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I started off with the Sate Surf and Turf ($9.00). I wasn’t sure what it was based on its description, but it’s a salad roll. Each piece was garnished with shrimp, stuffed with fresh herbs, noodles and a slice of beef. I liked the crunch from the shrimp, crispy onions and cucumbers. Filling, light and refreshing.
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Chef Pham sent us a salad on the house, the Papaya and Mango Salad ($10), with shrimp on the side for me. The grilled sate shrimp was spicy and sweet. I loved the edible flowers and the freshness of the julienne young papaya. The peanuts and rice crackers added another dimension to this lovely salad.

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Next up was one of our favourite dishes when Chef Pham was at Watercress, Kimchi Fried Rice ($11.75). At Pure Vietnamese, this version is saucier and heavier on the gochujiang. Beware, this is a spicy dish. A fried egg with a still soft center, scallions and a whack of sesame seeds completes this dish. Heaven.

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The vegetarian spring rolls ($6.75) were so delicious that I didn’t miss the meat. The filling of cabbage, mung bean, carrots and glass noodles was creamy, the wrapper crunchy though oily. I should have done what Leng Lui taught me – to press a napkin around it before eating the spring roll.

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Finally, we ate a side order of snap peas, mushrooms and onions ($8.00). Speckled with black and white toasted sesame seeds, this simple dish was properly cooked. The snap peas were sweet and crunchy.

My office manager loves Vietnamese food, and I’m going to recommend that she and the rest of my office family check out this gem. The food is delicious and reasonably priced. I also found the portion sizes more generous than Watercress. This is food to share with a group of people. I can’t wait to take my husband back so I can try some of the meat dishes, like the Claypot Chicken, Lobster Fried Rice, and pretty much everything on the menu.

Kudos to Chef Lam Pham for leaving his popular eatery, Watercress on 17th Ave, to start a new venture, Pure Vietnamese Kitchen + Bar. Growing up, I saw my mother start up and run her own businesses and the experience has forever traumatized me. The long hard hours, financial risk and need to persevere through it all is damn scary. I wish him all the success in his latest venture.

FYI – between 2-5pm, happy hour features appetizers at half off with the purchase of a drink. At that price, the food is practically free. Hitting the Sauce likes Pure Vietnamese Kitchen + Bar so much, she’s talking about herself in the third person that this new restaurant is making it on her list of the most favourite restaurants in Calgary.

View my food journey on Zomato!

Pure Contemporary Vietnamese Kitchen + Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato