Happy Hour · Restaurants · Seafood

A1 Bodega Cafe – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Karplop is my new #1 pandemic buddy. I love that she’s up for anything and most importantly, she only takes one photo of her food. Serious foodies spend so much time setting up the perfect shot that by the time they finish working, the food is cold. I just wanna eat my food as it was intended, hot and fresh. For this post, let’s listen to “Temperature” by Sean Paul.

We arrived at A1 Bodega Cafe in time for aperitivo hour. If you buy an alcoholic beverage, you get a complimentary tapa. Karplop and I started off with a Strawberry Pomegranate Negroni (2oz, $12).

The cocktail was strong and boozy. I enjoyed the strong scent of citrus. Karplop noticed A1 Cafe uses the big ice cubes for their cocktails, which results in a less watery beverage.

For our first round of tapas, we picked the Mortadella and Mussels Escabeche. When our server learned that Karplop and I were going to share the tapas, she mentioned the appetizers were bite size and thus too small to share. When she left, Karplop looked me dead in the eye and said flatly, “We are Asian. We can share anything.”

Karplop cut our little tapas in half. The mortadella was my favourite – the meat was served warm, topped with pea and pistachio pesto. I thought I could detect some pate. I want to try the full-size mortadella appetizer the next time I visit.

The mussels in the Mussels Escabeche were served cold. The smoked pimentos tasted both sweet and sour.

We shared an entree size of Mussels ($22). When I ordered this dish, I didn’t realize the mussels would already be de-shelled. The tomato sauce was creamy and spicy, with a noticeable amount of heat. Karplop liked the addition of fennel, which she thought cut nicely into the sauce. The focaccia bread was warm and crusty, the ideal vessel for scooping up that heavy tomato sauce.

We ran out of focaccia bread and Karplop didn’t want to waste the sauce, so we ordered the Portuguese Sweet Rolls ($4). The bread itself was sweet, while the top was warm, buttery and salty. I found the insides of the rolls too cold.

We asked for a recommendation for a wine that would pair with our pasta dish. Our server recommended the Volcans Pinot Noir ($11). For our complimentary tapas, we tried the Pide Chips and Confit Tomato.

The chip came with hummus and zaatar. The Pan Con Tomate was clean and simple, though the bread quickly became soggy. The next tapas I want to try is the deviled egg and smoked olives.

My favourite dish of the night was the Paccheri ($18). I enjoyed chewing on the thick noodles alongside the oily, meaty flavours from the Bolognese sauce. I also liked the heavy-handed layering of parmesan, so plentiful there was cheese stuck to every noodle. I enjoyed this pasta so much, I picked up two bags from their market to make at home.

I’m keen to return to try the flatbread, the mortadella, and of course, the paccheri pasta. I know L will like this place too. I checked out their draft beer list and spied Cabin Brewing Co, Eighty-Eight Brewing, Ol’ Beautiful, Zero Issue Brewing and Blindman Brewery.

Happy Hour · Restaurants · Seafood

Rodney’s Oyster House – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Out of an abundance of caution, L and I decided that this summer, we will not be visiting my family in British Columbia. So for our first dine-in restaurant experience since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, I picked Rodney’s Oyster House. For this post, let’s listen to “The Kids Aren’t Alright” by The Offspring.

I prefer Rodney’s in Calgary over the Yaletown and Gastown locations in Vancouver. The Calgary location has better ambience and service. Also, the shuckers at the Calgary location are more experienced. I’ve yet to eat an oyster with shell remnants.

Ambience

We noticed management implemented several safety measures. All the employees wore masks. The front door and washroom doors were propped open, enabling touchless entry. At each table, there was hand sanitizer and an option to download the menu onto your phone. The restaurant is spacious, so there was plenty of room in between tables.

sanitizer

From Thursday to Saturday, between 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., Rodney’s offers a wicked happy hour. On the day we visited, the shucker’s choice for Six Oysters and a Drink ($15) was Savage Blonde Oysters (PEI). We also ordered Beach Angels ($3.35, BC) and Marina Top Drawer ($3.35, BC).

Menu

I found all the ingredients at Rodney’s incredibly fresh, from the parsley and onions in the calamari to all the seafood we sampled. Right before we received our oysters, I saw an employee grating the horseradish.

East Coast

L and I liked that all the oysters were served cold. I don’t like eating raw oysters at room temperature, which seems to be the norm in Cabo. The Savage Blond oysters were salty, with a crunch that reminded me of celery.

The Beach Angels were creamy and robust in flavour. The Marina Top Drawer were sweet and briny but not as meaty as the Beach Angels. I would order the Beach Angels again.

Best wcoast

New on the menu are the Pan Fried Oysters ($12). The oysters were thin and flat, with a pleasant deep sea-like flavour.  The panko crust tasted like it was pan-fried in butter.

Fried Oysters

I enjoyed the delicate, crispy batter on the Rhode Island Calamari ($11). The squid was tender and silky. L preferred the tangy White Boy Ranch sauce over the tartar sauce that came with the fried oysters.

calamari

The best dish we tried was the Atlantic Haddock Tacos ($12). I’ve eaten a lot of fish tacos in my life, and Rodney’s is hands down the best. The haddock was generous in size, flaky and sweet. The batter was ultra light and the crispy shards melted on my tongue. The fish didn’t taste oily or greasy.

Tacos

I loved the composition of the taco. Instead of putting the toppings on the top, the chili lime and chipotle slaw was on the bottom.  This helped to retain the integrity of the batter and the heat from the fish. The contrast between the chilled coleslaw and hot fish was tantalizing. I liked how the flour tortilla was thin yet proportionally large enough to wrap around the sizeable piece of fish.

taco close up

Dining out takes a noticeable chunk of our budget but eating at Rodney’s reminds me why for us it’s worth it. After taking into consideration the effort to buy oysters and then having to clean, shuck and dress it, the savings isn’t worth it.

Food

When we dine out, I get to choose a little bit of this and some of that. I don’t know about you, but at my house, there isn’t a wide selection of dishes that I can eat at a moment’s notice. I also don’t own a deep fryer. I’m a decent home cook, but I can’t cook seafood nearly as perfectly as Rodney’s chefs. Of course, there’s the obvious. We don’t need to cook or clean up after our meal, which takes away from the experience.

close up fried oyster

The restaurant was full, but considering the food, service and ambience, there should be a lineup to get inside. We enjoyed our tacos so much I wanted to return the following week. However, that will have to wait. I have a date with L at Sukiyaki House and after that, I want to support Black-owned restaurants in Calgary. I was also given a generous gift certificate to Beirut Street Food, my favourite place for Lebanese food, that I want to share with L’s parents.

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I’ll miss traveling for the foreseeable future, but Rodney’s makes travel restrictions tolerable. For seafood, you can’t go wrong here. Rodney’s Oyster House gets two fat thumbs up and it makes it on my list of best restaurants in #YYC.

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

Bars/Lounges · Chinese · Restaurants

Comedy Night at The Tea House – COVID-19 edition

I love stand-up comedy. I’m always rewatching Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari and Ally Wong’s Netflix shows. When I learned that The Tea House features Comedy Night every Thursday, I was keen to check it out.

red lantern

Following my coronavirus music playlist, I’m going to pick another song that soothes my nerves. For this post, let’s listen by Violin Concerto No.2 “Allegro” by composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

I arrived earlier than my friend and scored some seats at the bar overlooking the stage. From 6:00 – 7:00 p.m., Wednesday to Saturday, the The Tea House offers $7 wines, and deals on select appetizers.

menu

I wanted to try the Half Roast Duck ($35). Considering how much duck we received, this dish is well-priced. I was surprised to see the portion was big enough for a meal for two. The duck itself was silky and tender. This is higher quality duck than I get at my local Chinese BBQ joint.

duck

The butter lettuce was so perfect looking I felt guilty eating it. I requested extra lettuce, as Chen and I didn’t want to fill up with the steamed rice. The rice itself was properly made – each grain was firm yet sticky.

duck lettuce

The condiments were top-notch. We received fresh basil, ginger-scallion peanut sauce and a lovely seasoning salt. I really liked the salt concoction, as it was subtle and accented the flavour of the duck. I would order this again.

duck again
I planned on returning to try more of the food because I posted this review. However, I thought I’d post this early to spread the word about supporting local businesses through these tough economic times.

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If you can afford to, consider buying a gift certificate at your local eatery. I bought a $50 gift certificate for The Teahouse and I received two complimentary tickets for any upcoming comedy night. I plan on picking up a couple more gift certificates at Cotto Italian Kitchen, Sukiyaki House, and Pure Kitchen Asian Kitchen & Bar. Are there any restaurants you would like to support?

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PS – Thanks Chen for the meal, company and photos. Can’t wait for your next visit to Calgary. I’ll take you to one of Hitting the Sauce’s favourite restaurants.

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

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Happy Hour · Italian · Restaurants

Happy hour at Pubblico Italian Kitchen – COVID-19 edition

On Tuesday, it was L and my first date anniversary. I wanted to have drinks at Bar Von Der Fels, but I couldn’t get us a table. I’ve joked before that I’m going to start making multiple reservations at Bar Von Der Fels and sell my spots to other customers. I bet I can make fat coin doing that. I suggested to L we try Pubblico Italian Kitchen. When L heard Pubblico has free parking, he was game.

menu

In light of these chaotic times, I’m going to continue playing music that relaxes me when I’m stressed out. For this post, let’s listen to Violin Sonata No.9 “Kreutzer” by composer Ludwig van Beethoven. My father pointed out this is a very emotional work and only the second movement could be described as relaxing.

As we drove along the street, I could see all the restaurant and shops were empty. Inside Pubblico, we were the only customers. However, by the time we left, three more parties arrived for dinner. I could overhear the other customers nervously joke about coronavirus.

wine

Pubblico offers a wicked happy hour. I’d go as far to say this restaurant offer one of the best deals in Marda Loop, Killarney and Richmond. I ordered a glass of the House White ($5). The white wine was crisp and non-offensive. L requested a pint of the Annex Forward Progress ($8.75).

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I wasn’t in the mood to eat, but L insisted we order at least a couple of plates. I was curious about the “Burrata Bar” as I love fresh cheese. I ordered the 18-month Prosciutto di Parma with MOB honey ($21.50).

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The crust was crunchy and chewy. The cheese itself was light and soft. The use of honey was very subtle. I didn’t find the prosciutto overly salty.

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L ordered the Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta ($4.00). We enjoyed the deep char on the outside and the soft centre of the sprout. The sauce was slightly sweet and garlicky. I’d order this again.

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I ordered a glass of the House Red ($5). I enjoyed the red wine even more than the white. The pours at Pubblico are generous too. I overheard our server Kaitlan mention to another table that the manager is passionate about bringing in wines that are unknown.

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L and I shared the Spaghetti Alla Carbonara ($11). The guanciale (pork cheek) was so frigging tasty. I loved how each piece of pork cheek crackled and popped with flavour. The noodles were firm and slick with a creamy, peppery sauce of egg and pecorino. When I commented on how much I enjoyed the pasta, our server mentioned I would like the specialty pastas even more, as the other pastas are made in-house.

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I’m keen to return again. I’d like to try some other wines and pastas. With free parking, friendly service and more than decent house wine, there’s a lot to like about Pubblico.

Puublico Italian House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Fusion · Happy Hour · Restaurants

Raw Bar – Happy Hour

Québécois and I have been friends ever since she and her husband moved next door to us in 2014.  On Friday night, she treated me to dinner at Raw Bar. I haven’t been to Raw Bar since Duncan Ly was the executive chef. For this post, let’s listen to “Date Night” by Father John Misty.

On Fridays, almost all the wines are half price. What a steal! I can’t think of any other restaurant in Calgary that offers half price wine on Friday. Select appetizers are half price until 6:00 p.m. and dollar oysters are served until 7:00 p.m.

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Our first bottle of the night was Sirius Bordeaux Blanc 2017 ($49, HH $24.50). When we first took a sip, we thought the wine was acidic. But after the wine had a chance to breathe, the flavour was more tropical and light. I enjoyed this bottle.

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We started with a round of oysters (HH $1.00). The oysters were small and briny. I ate one oyster that tasted bitter, so I spat it out. I didn’t get sick, so no hard feelings.

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Our server recommended the Fried Caulilini ($10, HH $5). Caulilini is a variety of cauliflower. The batter was doughy in some pieces.

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The Grilled Shishito peppers ($12, HH $6) were crunchy. I enjoyed the curry aioli and the crispy bits of puffed rice. Québécois took a bite of a pepper and announced it was too spicy. When I bragged that I can handle my spice, she dared me to eat her pepper. I popped the shishito in my mouth and immediately my face flushed red. When Québécois saw me chug my glass of water, she regretted telling me to eat it. I said no worries, as spicy food speeds up my metabolism.

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Québécois ordered a second bottle of wine – Michel Gassier Viognier France, 2018 ($46, HH $23). I really liked this bottle – the wine was dry with a floral aroma. I would order this bottle again.

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Even though I just returned from Cabo, I wanted to try the Ahi Tuna Tacos ($16, HH $8). The tuna was tasty but oversauced. I had to pour some of the liquid out of the hard taro root shell before eating it. I thought I could taste kimchi in the sauce, even thought the menu described the sauce as a chili glaze.

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My favourite dish was not on the happy hour menu –  Korean Beef Tartare ($16). The flavours of the chilled beef and sweetness from the Korean pear were spot on. I found the tartare refreshing and nicely seasoned. The rice chips were so addictingly delicious, Québécois asked for another serving for me. The chips remind me of a fresher, tastier version of shrimp crackers you get with roast chicken at a Chinese banquet dinner.

tartare

Québécois needed a sweet to finish the night. She ordered Homemade Bon Bons ($3.50). The chocolate was dark and the filling tasted like coconut.

bon bon

Québécois wanted to end the night with a glass of bubbles. She insisted on getting another bottle because it was about the same price as ordering two flutes. She picked Famiglia Zonin ($45, HH $22.50), a fizzy and easy to drink prosecco. By this time, we could barely finish our prosecco. Québécois asked our server to cork our bottle.

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If you haven’t been to Raw Bar, I’d recommend checking it out on a Friday night. Thank you Québécois for treating me to a merry night out with great wine and tasty bites. My treat next time.

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

Happy Hour · Restaurants · Seafood · Vancouver/Richmond

Vancouver – Fanny Bay & Oyster Bar

L asked me what I wanted to do on our free afternoon. Walk along the seawall! As we strolled over to English Bay, he complained that I walk too fast and said that I was going to blow out my hip. You don’t have to worry about me L, I have strong child bearing hips.

seawall

When we arrived at our destination, he wanted to rest on the bench. L mentioned he felt like oysters and if we left now, we could make it in time for happy hour. I could tell Old Man L was tired, so I sat and admired the water for a moment more before we turned around and headed over to Fanny Bay Oyster Bar & Shellfish Market . For this post, let’s listen to “Sweet About Me by Gabriella Cilmi.

Happy hour is daily from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Select wines are $7, house beer is $5, and featured oysters are $1.50 or $2.25. The west coast oyster was the Sun Seeker (Floating Bag – 18 months old, Okeover, BC) and the east coast oyster was Totten Virginia (Beach Grown – 3 years old, Totten Inlet, WA).

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I wish I got the name of our server – a young man that spun our plate of oysters around in a circle and said it reminded him of the Game of Thrones introduction. His energy and attentive service, paired with the sublimely fresh oysters, made this visit exceptional.

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I tried a glass of the Sauvignon Blanc (Open Estates, Okanagan) and for $7 it was fine. However, I preferred the sparkling Pinot Grigio ($10, Most Wanted, Hungary) as it was simple, light and refreshing.

plate 1

Each oyster was perfectly shucked – there was no grit or shell in it. When you pulled the oyster out of the shell, it made the sound a cork makes when you pull it out of a wine bottle. 

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L and I prefer west coast oysters, but we enjoyed the Totten Virginia ($2.25). The oyster tasted a bit like celery. Compared to the Summit Seeker, the east coast oyster was cleaner with a crunchier texture.

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The Sun Seeker ($1.50) was firm and sweet, with a salty finish. The center of the oyster was cool on my tongue. These were chubby, creamy oysters. I was ecstatic.

beauty

The oyster was so big, I had to use my oyster fork to pull it out of the shell. Holding the oyster on the fork reminded me of a poached egg. The flavor was so good, I didn’t feel the need for anything but a little lemon and horseradish. The fresh horseradish was feathery soft – it added a bit of heat and chew to the oyster. I ate as slowly as possibly to enjoy the flavor as long as possible.

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The oysters were so enjoyable, I would be happy to return for non-happy hour prices ($3.50 each, Shuckers’ Dozen $39). I plan on visiting my parents again in November. I’ll definitely come by again to get my oyster fix. Hitting the Sauce gives Fanny Bay Oyster Bar two fat thumbs up.

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Fanny Bay Oyster Bar & Shellfish Market Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

Klein & Harris

L won an award! To celebrate this special occasion, he took his parents and I to Klein & Harris Restaurant. For this post, let’s listen to “Whatta a Man by Salt ‘N’ Pepa.

Originally, L wanted to take his parents to Caesar’s Steakhouse. I convinced him to change the venue to Klein & Harris. He was initially worried his parents would be confused with a menu that wasn’t just meat and potatoes. Klein and Harris only uses Canadian produce, wines and spirits to create a ‘true North cuisine’.

prosecco

I first met Christina Mah – the co-owner of Klein & Harris – when she was the GM at Raw Bar. When she heard we were celebrating a special occasion, she sent over a complimentary round of prosecco with sumac and kiwi bitters. L’s teetotaler mother Loving Disapproval admired the pretty pink hue so much, she even took a sip. This is the sort of drink I adore – light, refreshing and bubbly.

mocktailWe arrived early enough to partake in happy hour drinks. L and his father Bobbino enjoyed an easy drinking beer – Philips Kolsh ($5.00). Loving Disapproval ordered a mocktail made with seasonal ingredients ($5.50). I found a new favourite white wine – Longhand Pinot Grigio 2017 ($9, HH $5). The regular price for a bottle is only $42, which is a wicked deal, particularly on Stephen Ave. The wine was pleasant, smooth and clean. I also tried a buttery, full-bodied glass of Chateau des Charmes Chardonnay 2017 Niagara on the Lake ($14.75, 7 ounce).

room

For appetizers, we ordered Diver Scallops ($20), Mushroom Ravioli ($16), and Grilled Humboldt Squid ($18). For our mains, we ordered Alberta Lamb Loin ($26), Duck Breast ($26), and the Wednesday’s Coastal Feature ($25). I only ordered three appetizers and three mains because L had to leave early to prepare for the ceremony and I’m trying to eat smaller portions. If you have a regular appetite, I would highly recommend that each person order an appetizer and main.

Loving Disapproval thinks she’s allergic to peppers. As a result, the chef prepared all the dishes without peppers, and instead, put it on the side for us to enjoy. We really appreciate the extra effort, as that was a lot of  work for the chef to accommodate one guest while still allowing the rest of us to taste the dish as it was originally intended.

scallop

The Diver scallops were cooked to perfection.  The outside was caramelized brown and the inside was silky smooth. These scallops were savoury from bacon and sweet from the apple nosh.

squid

The grilled Humboldt squid was overwhelmingly impressive.  Unless someone told me this was squid, I wouldn’t have known because the smooth, soft consistency was unlike any squid I have ever had.

mushroom

Loving Disapproval was enthralled with the mushroom ravioli. The filling was finely chopped, almost like a puree or a pate.  L is not a fan of mushrooms and he was impressed. The pasta itself was tender and delicate. The addition of the leeks, blistered tomatoes, greens and smoked Gouda made this dish quite substantial for an appetizer.

lamb

The lamb loin was pink and juicy in the middle.  Like the Humboldt squid, I’ve never tasted lamb with such a succulent texture. The sauce of green tomato and rosemary relish was really tasty and a wonderful compliment to the mild flavour of the lamb.

fish

L enjoyed the Coastal Feature, a white fish. He said it reminded him of Scandinavian cuisine. He liked the pickled potatoes, the freshness of the flavours, and the crispness of the fish and lettuce.

duck

My favourite entree was the duck breast. The meat was thick, soft and satiny. I’m familiar with Chinese BBQ duck, which is more gamey, dry and has a rougher texture. At home, I’ve made duck breast twice before and it was so rubbery, I had to throw it out.

This was an eye-opening experience for me. I am astonished that scallops, squid, duck, and lamb can taste like this.  I credit executive chef James Waters’ technique and skill. Truly, he is a master with meats and seafood.

I think Klein and Harris offers some of the best value in Calgary. That’s saying a lot because I find my go to restaurants in the city are well-priced. This gem makes it on my list of favourite restaurants in Calgary. Hitting the Sauce gives Klein & Harris two enthusiastic thumbs up.

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

Bars/Lounges · Burgers · Restaurants · Special Occasion · Steakhouse

Bar Modern – No Man’s Dinner #2

bar
Photo Credit: Loaf2go

For our second No Man’s Dinner meetup, our supper club met at Bar Modern on Stephen Ave. L was initially hesitant to join our club due to a past negative experience. In 2012, I dragged him to a food event. We learned years later that one of the guests we met was charged for child luring and sexual touching of a minor. C came to L’s defense and said she doesn’t blame him, as she too would be jaded if she accidentally met a pedophile. For this post, let’s listen to “Heebie Jeebies” by The Bosell Sisters.

Bar Modern offers a daily happy hour menu from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm. For six bucks, you can choose from house red or white wine, beer, highballs and some snacks. I detest house wine so I ordered a 5-ounce glass of Cabernet Sauvignon (Submission, Napa Valley $12.25). The wine was plummy and jammy, with a sweet vanilla aftertaste. I preferred my second glass of wine – a light and peppery Pinot Noir (Spy Valley, New Zealand $9.75).

wine

Our server Jordan gave us a rundown of the menu. His mouth-watering description of the Modern Smash Burger ($19) sold us. L liked the ratio of meat to produce. The double patty was crispy on the outside and the meat melted in your mouth. L described the burger as a sophisticated Big Mac but with top quality ingredients.

burger leighton

I’d recommend you add bacon ($2) and upgrade the fries to truffle ($2). The bacon was crisp and arrived still glistening. Every element in the burger was excellent. Even the slice of tomato was a treat – so sweet it tasted like it was plucked from a garden.

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Photo Credit: Loaf2go

I announced that L’s burger was one of the best I’ve tried in Calgary. Seashell said she is wary when people claim something they have eaten is the best, because what is that based on and how can you compare that to someone else’s experience? Someone at the table clarified that I said it was the best burger I had in Calgary. C said she needs to eat more burgers before she can decide. T was impressed the bun held up to all the juices and sauces in the burger. @pak_to_eating_yyc tried a bite of her boyfriend’s burger and wished she ordered that instead of the beef rib. All I know is that if we spent this much time talking about a god damn burger, it must be something special.

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C enjoyed her New York Striploin Steak frites ($34). She thought the striploin was nicely cooked and simply seasoned. I tried a piece of C’s meat and I could tell the difference between Modern Steak’s beef and what L normally buys on sale from Safeway. The flavor of the steak and the juiciness was superior. @kimrobynyyc ordered the 7 oz Flat Iron ($29) and she thought it was yummy.

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I ordered the Steak Tartare ($18). Lately, I’ve been on a steak tartare bender. The tartare  was both tender yet chewy. I forgot to give C a piece to try.

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C permitted Seashell to pick the next venue. I suggested that she pick whatever she liked – be it the Ship and Anchor or some other Calgary institution. She nodded and said she would need some time to think about it. I just hope Seashell picks a restaurant with a decent wine list. Otherwise I’ll be irritable and likely focus my negative energy on L.

tartar

Thanks to the members of No Man’s Dinner for the good company and fun. I’m looking forward to the next meet-up.

Modern Steak Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Cheap Eats · Pubs · Restaurants

Greta Bar – No Man’s Dinner #1

“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” – William Congreve

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When I applied to  No Mans Dinner – a supper club in Calgary –  I was informed that no female members are permitted. I pointed out that rule 5 stipulates no female guests, but there was no rule about female members.  Despite my outstanding qualifications, I was still rejected. Being the private person I am, I had to post this devastating blow on my Instagram feed.

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I joked to Loaf2go about having our own supper club – No Man’s Dinner. Loaf2go was also initially joking when she encouraged this, but after some back and forth and a coffee date, our new club was born.  Loaf2go designed the logo and created the rules. Please note –  despite our name, we are inclusive of all foodies, with one exception. No children.

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We picked Greta Bar for the first meetup. Even though it was -27 weather, the adult arcade bar was packed with customers.  You’ll either love or hate the music – a fun, nostalgic mix-up of 80’s and 90’s music.  I enjoyed listening to Bon Jovi, Spice Girls, New Kids on the Block and Biggie Smalls. For this post, let’s listen to Bon Jovi – Living’ On a Prayer.

 

Loaf2go texted me saying she would be a little late. I was in the same boat. Traffic was awful. She and her husband T arrived 3 minutes late. L and I were literally seconds behind.  Happyeatsyyc and Lizarooprai were already sitting at our table when we arrived.

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L was surprised there were so many men in our party, considering our club is called No Man’s Dinner. There was Iatehere, Pak_to_Eating_yyc’s boyfriend, Lizarooprai’s plus one, and the spouses of the Founder and President. I finally met HangryinYYC, my go to expert for dim sum in Calgary. I already knew ShellyKirks from my travels to Japan. The last to arrive was Jeanie.Mark. I found out she was late because she saw a car accident and she had to stay as a witness.

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For happy hour, house beers, wine and select cocktails were $5. Shop Fries, Greek Doughnuts, and Jamaican Patties were $5. The Greta Brown was tasty – with notes of espresso and chocolate. I preferred the brown over the Greta Blonde, the latter being a bit too yeasty for my taste.

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I enjoyed the Greek doughnuts ($6.50, HH $5) more than I thought I would. Each piece was warm and puffy, tasting a bit like a deluxe Tim Horton’s crueller Timbit. I didn’t find the addition of honey too sweet. I’d order this again.

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Loaf2go shared her Ginger Beef Baos ($13) with us. The sirloin beef is from Community Foods. I liked the squishiness of the homemade white buns. The beef was cut thin and lightly battered.

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The table’s favourite dish was another one of Loaf2go’s picks – the Currywurst Pretzel ($13). She said she knew it would be good because the sausage is from Empire Provision. The house-made curried ketchup had a hot kick to it.

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Shelly ordered the Jamaican Patties ($10, HH $5). The wagyu meat was also from Community Foods.  I enjoyed the heat in the curry ground beef. Shelly liked the turmeric pastry because of its thin, crispy shell. I liked the ratio of filling to crust.

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I ordered the Street Nuggets ($12) – buttermilk brine chicken with pickles and onions. I picked hot sauce, which was very hot. Loaf2go enjoyed the this dish more than I did. I prefer my nuggets with more a crunchy exterior.

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I also ordered the East Coast chip shop fries ($5.50, HH $4:00). The potatoes were made from fresh-cut Hutterite red skin  potatoes.  Everyone thought the fries were a tad overcooked.

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I tried some of Loaf2go’s Thai Mango Salad ($6.50). I could taste the fish sauce in the dressing. I wasn’t expecting to see a Thai salad that looked so authentic.

L and I were impressed that Greta was not afraid to use some heat. I thought it was cool that a bar that sells this range food of international dishes didn’t dumb down the spicy dishes. I wonder if the clientele appreciates the heat.

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Our next foodventure is going to be at Bar Modern, a new steakhouse on Stephen Ave for happy hour. If L is good, I might even splurge and buy him a steak dinner. Modern Steak serves beef from its prize-winning Black Angus Bull with Benchmark Angus. I’m pretty curious to see the difference between ranch specific Alberta beef and the sale stuff I buy from Safeway.

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

Happy Hour · Restaurants · Vietnamese

Pure Contemporary Vietnamese – All-you-can-eat wings

In my office, I’m usually the one who organizes after work get-togethers. This time around, I picked Pure Contemporary Vietnamese for Wings Wednesday. Horatio made a joke that we should call our party “West Wings”. I’m not political. Left wing, right wing, I just like to wing it. For this post, let’s listen to The West Wing theme song.

Here’s the lowdown. Everyone at the table must order a drink from Pure’s speciality menu and choose one of two options: pay a) 35 cents per wing or b) $10 for all-you-can-eat wings. If you have leftovers at the end of the meal, you’ll be charged $1 per wing. You are also limited to two hours from time of order.

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There’s something for everyone here: cocktails, draft beer, bottled beer, wines and non-alcoholic drinks.  I tried a glass of the 50th Parallel Gewurztraminer ($9.50), which was a bit too sweet for my taste. I preferred the Casa Petrone Pinot Grigio ($8.50). Disco Mary liked her Kimmy Caesar and Carol enjoyed her mojito. Zeplin was impressed with his showy, mint green milkshake topped with whipped cream. Everyone else at our table ordered draft beer.

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There are 15 different flavours to choose from. The most popular wings are: chili lime, nuoc cham, garlic butter, gochujiang, truffle parmesan, and chili tamarind. For the traditionalists, there’s Franks Hot, honey hot, teriyaki, honey garlic and salt and pepper.

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Pure’s version of salt and pepper reminds me of Chinese style salt and pepper squid. The wings were fried then dressed in chili flakes, wok fried peppers, onions and green onions. The wings were juicy, fat, crunchy morsels. The size of these babies are at least three times that of any other pub in Calgary.

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The taste of the freshly grated parmesan and black truffle salt was dominant. Delicious, but I couldn’t eat a whole plate on my own because the flavour and smell was pungent after a few.

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Everyone ordered a plate each and we all shared our wings. About my fifth wing in, I began to lose awareness of which flavour of wing I was devouring. I was so into mowing down that I lost tract.  I do remember our group’s favourite flavour was chili lime. The sauce was tangy and spicy.

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Andrew observed that our section of the table consumed more wings than the other side. I didn’t want to analyze how much we actually ate, but he was persistent and made me take the  photo below as evidence. Now I get to relive how much I over ate.

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Meets said these were the best wings she’s ever had and wants to come back.  I know my coworkers were surprised that I picked to have wings at a Vietnamese restaurant. After they ate here, they knew why. Pure serves up kick ass wings.

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My husband L enjoyed wing Wednesday so much, we returned on Saturday. L ordered the Open Face Beef Banh Mi ($13.75) on focaccia bread, with fries as the side. The wok tossed kalbi beef was tender and saucy. This is just a personal preference, but we would have preferred a plain baguette instead of the focaccia.  I felt like a simpler bread would have been a good foil to all the strong, flavourful sauces. I’m keen to try Pure’s traditional Vietnamese Baguette ($13.75), to see how it compares to my favourite banh mi spot – The Submarine.

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The Pot au Pho ($13.75) is big enough for two people. I was too full after devouring the entire bowl. The bowl is generously filled with slices of beef, flank, beef balls, crunchy bean sprouts, freshly sliced scallions and a few leaves of basil. The broth is rich and has more intense flavours than your typical pho joint. To date, Song Huong and Pure make my favourite pho in the city. I wanted to try Pho Da Bo for their sate beef with bone marrow.

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I’m keen to organize another wing event. Horatio wants to go to Leopold’s Tavern for cauliflower wings because he’s vegan. There’s a location in the Beltline and another location opening up in Bowness. I want to try Beagle 14 and Unicorn Pub, as I hear from @yycwings that the wings are stellar. Also, if you want to see some serious wing drama, check out the beef @betterthanyycwings has for @yycwings. Hopefully there won’t be any fowl play.

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