Bars/Lounges · Beer · Brunch · Burgers · Happy Hour · Patio · Pizza · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion

Charbar – Rooftop Patio

It was my colleague’s Aycarama birthday on Wednesday. I wanted to book a table on a patio in the downtown core. My first choice was Charbar but I thought that there was no way I could get a table for eight. I called National and the hostess was rude and unhelpful. I contacted Cactus Club and the male hostess was snotty but a bit more helpful. Finally, I phoned Charbar and I was relieved to speak to someone who actually sounded like they wanted us to visit. The hostess told me she thought I had a good chance of getting a table if I came at 3:30pm. When I got to Charbar at 3:15 pm, the same hostess that was so lovely on the phone chatted pleasantly with us as our table was prepared upstairs. The service from there on continued to be excellent.

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Charbar offers happy hour from Monday to Friday between 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Pints of Steam Whistle, cava, rioja, vinho verde, and cave de rasteau rosé were only $5.00. The view was free but it is probably valued at five million.

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What I really liked about the happy hour menu was there was an actual selection to choose from (if you like wine). Also, those same wines can be found on the regular menu, meaning you aren’t given a cheap wine that is just served during happy hour.

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I told Aycarama to try the Rooftop Burger ($16) as I think it’s one of the best I’ve eaten. Made with Alberta beef, it’s a gooey mess of provolone cheese, sauce, ripe tomato, shredded lettuce, all squished between a soft brioche bun. I tried a potato wedge and while it was good, the regular fries served at the restaurant are better.

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I ordered the Napa cabbage salad sprouted lentils, mixed with avocado, crunchy seeds, mint and doused in citrus ($17). I should have ordered the smaller size and added chicken, but live and learn. I like this salad for all the different textures and because the mint in it is so refreshing. For a salad, it was a delicious as it could possibly be. However, I did stare at Aycarama’s burger the entire time she ate it, which was probably uncomfortable for her. She’s also a slow eater, so I was eyeing it for a good hour.

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My office mates and I really enjoyed our time at Charbar. The view is stunning, the service was spectacular and the food and wine was awesome. I have to bring my husband here for date night. This place is a gem. Hitting the Sauce gives Charbar two fat thumbs up and it makes it on my list of favourite places to eat in Calgary.

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

Bars/Lounges · Chinese · Happy Hour · Japanese · Korean · Restaurants · Special Occasion · Vietnamese

Foreign Concept – Birthday Dinner

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My actual birthday was on a Thursday but my husband L had to work late that night. Instead, I had my coworkers come over and we feasted on delicious food and wined the night away.

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My office mate Patricia brought over three boxes of empanadas, cheese, chicken and beef from the Empanada Queen. These heavenly critters made the party. The crowd favourite was the cheese version, the pastry was deep-fried and the cheese was warm and salty.

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On Friday night, L took me out to Foreign Concept. L and I are both fans of the owner and chef – Duncan Ly. We arrived at 7:00 p.m. to a packed restaurant. On the night I visited, the restaurant hummed like a well-oiled machine. From front to the back, every component from the initial greeting, coat check, and the delivery of the food and drinks was smoothly coordinated.

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I started off with a glass of Escapade Cava ($9) while L ordered a Philips Hop Circle ($7.00). Our server suggested we try Last Best Tokyo Drift ($8).

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This beer is awesome! Hoppy but still mellow and smooth. I also drank a glass of Chenin Blanc (Domaine de Vaufraget Vouvray) which was  sweet.

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One of my favourite dishes is the Yuzu cured salmon fresh roll ($12). Delicate and light, I like the different textures and tastes of the creamy avocado, crème fraiche, cashews, gochujang, radish and cucumber. The rice wrapper was soft. The salmon was a good bite-size. The ikuri was the highlight. When it popped in my mouth, it added the taste of the sea. I could have eaten the entire plate myself.

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L and I both enjoyed the Vietnamese style Scotch egg ($11.00), with green onions and chili thread. The sausage casing was juicy and crispy, cupping the warm, creamy yolk goodness inside. The greens were delicious.

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The miso baked sweet potato ($10) dish was more than a decent portion, which makes it ideal for sharing between two or more people.  I thought I could detect maple syrup. The Quebec cheese curds were yummy.

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L and I shared the Alberta trout cha ca la vong ($24). We don’t like trout, but Foreign Concept’s version converted us. The fish was thin and flat, crispy on the outside. The flesh itself was flaky. I enjoyed the delicateness of this dish, the flavours and lightness of the dill, persimmon, rice noodles and garlic. This was an excellent dish with well-balanced flavours.

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When we received our bill, we were given these plastic fish. Depending on how the fish curls in your palm, you can determine your fortune. A nice touch and a lighthearted way to end the meal.

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The music was loud, but in an upbeat, lively way. L and I felt like we were out on the town. You could still have a good conversation using a regular speaking tone. The vibrant ambience makes for a good first date place. Service was excellent.

I could see Duncan Ly and Jinhee Lee at the front of the kitchen, ensuring every dish that went out was perfect. I know you aren’t suppose to bug the chefs, especially when it was so busy… However, I was tipsy and forgot my manners and I asked for a photo. Duncan kindly obliged. Tee-hee. Hitting the Sauce gives Foreign Concept two fat thumbs up. This new restaurant makes it on my list of favourite restaurants in Calgary.

Foreign Concept Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Happy Hour · Steakhouse

Hy’s Steakhouse – Happy Hour

My colleagues wanted to get together after work for the holiday season. I suggested Hy’s as I’ve been wanting to try their happy hour menu for months. What’s the big dealio? Bubbles are 40% off, select wines for $8.00 and featured cocktails are 50% off. There’s also a tasty list of specially priced food, including one of the best steak sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. Also note that now until Christmas, you can drop off a Christmas toy for The Magic of Christmas, a charity that gives toys to children in need.

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I started with a Manhattan (2.5 oz, hh $7.50, regular $15.00). I savoured each chilled sip. This was a perfectly balanced martini, a blend of Jim Beam Black bourbon, Cinzano rosso, and Angostura bitters.

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I also indulged in two flutes of Domaine Chandon, Blanc de Noir,
Champagne Blend California NV (hh $8.00, regular $16.00). Oh my goodness. I loved these bubbles, which went straight to my head. My co-worker Patricia agreed, preferring the Domaine Chandon over the prosecco offered by the glass.

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Marvelous Mary ordered the fish tacos (hh, $13). She thought the tacos were juicy, spicy and conveniently bite-sized.

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Our legal representative that night opted for the Beef Sliders (hh, $5.oo each) plus a side of fries. Legal thought the sliders had lots of flavor and she loved the dressing on the bun.

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My friend Cindy loves a good burger, so she opted for the Prime Beef Burger (hh, $13.99). She added bacon, mushrooms, and chose a Caesar salad for her side. Everyone at our office except for me is sick, otherwise I would have tried to snag a bite of her burger. She said she was in burger heaven.

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I wished I order the fries myself. These were soft and pillowy on the inside, and crunchy munchy golden brown on the outside. Lightly salted, steaming hot, I could eat a huge pile of fries. I sneaked a few whenever Legal wasn’t looking. She’s skinny, so I figured I was doing her a favour, doing my part to keep her slim.

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Here’s what I ordered – a New York Steak Sandwich (hh $20, regular $29). I ordered my steak medium rare and it came as requested. The steak was so tender, I barely needed to use a knife. The flavor was phenomenal, my steak was squirting with the richness of its own juices. I ordered the baked potato, which was massive and generously topped with scoops of sour cream, bacon and chives. This was the best steak I’ve eaten. I want to come back to try the featured steaks for dinner (e.g. Neptune, Filet Mignon, Oscar).

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My colleagues each brought a kid’s gift for each other to open and then donate to The Magic of Christmas at Hy’s. Some gifts were ethnically charged. Jen, always one to get politically incorrect, bought Asian Persuasion Hello Kitty themed gifts. I bought Marvelous Mary a Monopoly game because I could picture her and her family playing the game (I stalk her family on Facebook). I didn’t get a gift to open because co-worker Meagan who picked my name didn’t show up. This happens to me every year I participate in Secret Santa. It’s okay, I’m use to the disappointment.

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When the bill came, I realized I left my wallet at work. Yikes, I ain’t no scrub! Enter appropriate music here. I booted it back to my office via CTrain and returned in time to pay and get a group photo in front of Hy’s Christmas tree. In my happy stupor, I lost my winter boot somewhere, somehow between the restaurant, Foreign Concept’s grand opening and my time on the Ctrain. I don’t know what I’m going to do with only one boot! Door stopper?

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Hy’s awesome happy hour is no secret. The entire lounge was filled with customers popping bottles and chomping on those delicious sliders, steak sandwiches and oysters. I like this place so much, I’m giving Hy’s two fat thumbs up and putting it on my list of favourite restaurants in Calgary. I can see why Hy’s gets such high ratings on Yelp. Service was excellent and the food was superb.  I’m keen to come again, perhaps on my birthday in January. If you want an experience and are willing to splurge, you need to check out Hy’s Steakhouse now. If you’re frugal (like me) but still want to see what the big dealio is about Hy’s, come by for happy hour. You won’t be disappointed.

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Hy's Steakhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Brunch · Cheap Eats · Comfort food · Curry · Dessert · Happy Hour · Japanese · Sandwiches

Redheads Cafe

Redheads is always tweaking its dishes or trying out something new. On my last visit, I learned that Sapporo is now on tap.  A new rice burger (not yet on the menu) has become my new favourite, beef and gobo. I still haven’t tried the Japagetti or five-course meal set, but I’ll get there eventually.

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The beef and gobo (burdock root) rice sandwich is something special. The beef is sweet and nicely seasoned. Gobo has this marvellous mild, earthy taste and crunchy texture. The rice was perfectly cooked, warm and topped with fresh spinach leaves. The nori is fresh and crisp.

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Recently, L and I have tried the Tofu Asian Salad ($6.99). What a great price for such a stunning salad. I particularly enjoyed the strands of seaweed and nori. The tofu was nicely cut and fresh-tasting. Just a tip, you probably don’t need to use all the dressing, as the sesame dressing is quite rich.

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One of my other go-to dishes is the miso-tonkatsu ramen ($9.99). I’ve been telling my friends Asian Persuasion and What’s Up Hamsup to try Redhead’s version. They want to but every time they visit, they can’t help themselves and order the tonkatsu curry. The soup is steaming hot. The broth is rich and the noodles are chewy. The pork crispy and fatty. I love the assortment of sprouts, the milky egg and all the garnishes.

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Redheads is best known for their Japa Curry, the Katsu ($10.99) or the Karaage Curry ($10.99). The katsu is well-marbled and crispy. The beef curry is thick, rich and flavourful.

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Finally, L and I were lucky to try a special dessert, apple with caramel and strawberries. Sounds simple, but so good. The tart crispness of the  apple with the sweetness of the caramel sauce was old-school delicious. Check out the crazy knife skills.

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The best time to go is in the evenings, when the cafe is quieter. The prices are a steal and the food is so comforting in the chilly weather. Thank you Redheads, for being so consistently delicious.

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Redheads Japa Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato