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

Comfort food · Restaurants

Le Matin

My colleague Rascal and I recently toured around a part of Calgary. After checking out several projects, we stopped by Le Matin in Silver Springs. For this blog posting, I’m picking Donna Summer’s “She Works Hard for the Money” because I hum this song whenever I’m having a bad day.

Rascal’s sister eats here after church with her friend. The cafe is small and from outward appearances, looks more like a coffee shop than a cafe that makes hearty sandwiches and delicious lunch specials.

I ordered a Clubhouse ($10.50). I was surprised the sandwich didn’t come with a side of soup or chips, but when my dish arrived, I understood why. This is a huge MF sandwich! Each half sandwich contained three thick slices of bread, a ton of ham and good quality bacon. You don’t see sandwiches like this anymore.

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Rascal ordered the lunch special – Crispy Chicken with Rice ($13). Again, this was a large portion. Lots of chunks of batter white chicken. I wished Rascal offered to let me try a tiny piece, but he didn’t. So much for comradery. I asked him if he wanted half of my sandwich. He said no.  His chicken entree looked and smelled appetizing and Rascal confirmed it was a tasty dish.

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The cafe was filled with locals that seem familiar with the friendly owner running the front. Other popular dishes include wraps, soups and specialty drinks.

Cafe Le Matin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fast Food · Hawaiian · Japanese · poke · Restaurants

Kona Poke

Asian Persuasion and Lil Strawberriee saw Kona Poke’s pictures on Instagram. Located in the Plus 15, it helps if you bring along someone familiar with the office maze. Office Dad easily navigated us to Kona Poke but when he saw the line-up, he ditched us for Vic’s HK Café in Chinatown.

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We waited at least 30 minutes in the line-up. There was one staffer who cheerfully apologized for the wait and he would take an extra couple minutes to chitchat and talk to the customers about the Kona experience. After waiting so long, it was nice to get that extra special care.

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Build your own poke bowl is easy to do with Kona’s 1-2-3 steps. Step one – pick a size. A regular contains two scoops of seafood for $10.50 and a large offers three scoops for $13.50. If you have a big appetite, get the large. The regular size was perfect for a light lunch.

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Step two – pick a base. Choose from sushi rice, brown rice, field greens and tortilla chips. Kona was out of sushi rice so I asked for brown rice and field greens. The brown rice was very warm but by the time I got back to my cubicle, it cooled down. Initially, I was disappointed not to get sushi rice, but it turns out the brown rice is my favourite. Nutty and firm, it adds a nice chew and contrast to the softness of the fish.

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Step three – pick your sides. Cucumber, jalapeños, sweet onions, red cabbage, and for extra avocado ($1.50), crab ($1.50) and crab n cado ($2.00). I picked cucumber, sweet onions and red cabbage. I was informed that the crab was a bit like a crab salad.

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Step four – pick any two scoops of albacore tuna, salmon, octopus or ahi tuna. An extra scoop will set you back $2.00. Kona was out of ahi tuna, but I could still get tuna and salmon. Next time, I’d add an extra scoop of seafood, just because I’d like a piece of fish in every bite.

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Step five – add your sauce. Options include: Kona ponzu, maple miso, lava and spicy mayo. I asked what was in the lava but it was pretty loud and all I got was awesome. I added the Kona ponzu, lava and spicy mayo.

Step six – stack it up with crunchy peas, ginger, sesame seeds, furkikae, green onion, wasabi and masago. Unfortunately, Kona was out of crunch peas. I added everything but ginger.

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I mixed up all the ingredients and quickly devoured my delicious bowl of goodies. The ingredients and sauces melded well together. For $11, I thought Kona offered good value for fresh, healthy, personalized fast food.  In the future, I’d love to see fresh seaweed salad as a topping. As this was Kona’s first week, I completely understand that they ran out of ingredients. I’m a fan and plan on bringing more of my office mates to try the ahi tuna poke. Next on our foodie list – Poke and Vitality Tap.

Kona Poke 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

Bars/Lounges · Special Occasion

Nash Restaurant – Lunch

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My friend Veronica and I were shopping at Espy when she suggested we eat at Nash Restaurant for lunch. I was game, though I had a hankering for Spolumbos. We were greeted by a friendly hostess and we chose to dine at the bar section. We started off meal with two glasses of Sauvignon Blanc ($13).

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Veronica and I shared the special appetizer of the day – homemade ravioli with egg yolk, peas and mushrooms ($13). This was one of the best dishes I’ve tried in my life.

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The butter sauce, cheese and creamy egg yolk was so decadent. The ravioli was al dente and done right. One of my favourite ingredients were the peas. I love sweet peas so much, I could contently eat a big bowl for my meal.

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Veronica and I shared the Pacific Halibut and Heritage Breed Pork Hot Dog ($17). This similar to the  Japa hotdog you can get in Vancouver but with far superior ingredients. This dog was finger-licking good, drizzled in an addicting crack-like brown mayo sauce. When I bit into the sausage, I got sprayed with its juices. You need a shield to eat this baby. Veronica liked the fries but I found them a bit dry.

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I was really happy with my meal at Nash. I plan to return to check out more of the other dishes they have to offer. If you see the special ravioli appetizer featured again, you have to try it. Seriously, best dish I’ve tried #yyc for 2016.

 

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Nash Restaurant & Off Cut Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vietnamese

Lunch Today – HK Style Pho

I have to make a disclaimer about Lunch Today as my friend Leng Lui is a pho snob. Her partner is Vietnamese and she often goes for *authentic* pho. I’ll be honest and say I’m not sure I ever ate *authentic* pho. I only care if it taste good. Office Daddy takes me to his favourite downtown pho joint, Lunch Today. While I know it is not *authentic* pho, I love it for what it is – a clean broth I can drink that isn’t laden with salt and filled with oodles of noodles and meat.

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This time around, I ordered what Office Daddy always picks – Chicken Pho. The chicken is all white and tenderized, which makes for pleasant chomping and slurping. I’m informed that the owner slow cooks pork bones for the soup and will add less salt upon request.

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The pork spring rolls are tasty, always hot from the fryer. The perfect bite size, the filling is flavourful enough there is no need for any dipping sauce.

I like that I can drink all the soup and not get bloated or the dry mouth MSG feeling. There is no basil or floating chili spices and other ingredients you find at other Vietnamese restaurants. For ten bucks, I’m full and feeling like I just ate at my Paw Paw’s (Chinese grandmother) house.

There aren’t too many options for inexpensive Vietnamese in the downtown core. If you want to try a Chinese take on Vietnamese pho, check out Lunch Today. The food isn’t traditional but it fills a void in an area not prone to inexpensive hot, filling eats.

Lunch Today Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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