Burgers · Patio · Restaurants · Sandwiches

Sammie Cafe

I remembering hearing about Sammie Cafe when it first opened, shortly after the pandemic began. However, it wasn’t until I saw Dianathefoodie’s Instagram reel that I really took notice. The moment that sealed the deal for me was watching Diana’s mother balking at the price of her burger, yet begrudgingly crowning Sammie’s chicken sandwich the best she’s had in her life. For this post, let’s listen to “The Best” by Tina Turner.

L and I ordered what Diana’s mother recommended – Sammie’s Fried Chicken ($13) and a side order of the Sweet Potato Fritters ($7). When we returned home to eat, the food was still hot and fresh. 

The chicken burger was excellent. The toasted brioche bun was soft and squishy. The chicken cutlet was juicy and it tasted like it was marinated. The exterior was lightly battered and crispy. L liked that there wasn’t an over abundance of breading. He doesn’t like Wow Chicken because he finds the chicken too greasy and all batter. I love a big crunchy batter, but I can appreciate the subtle and balanced flavours in Sammie’s burger.

Photo credit: L

I found the Seoul sauce and lemon dijon mayo light and tangy. L normally picks out pickles from his burgers, but even he was a fan of the achara pickled cucumbers. This made me sad because normally I get to eat his discarded pickles. Pro tip – grab a napkin because this is a messy burger. As we ate, the sauces and coleslaw would drip and drop onto our plates.

We both enjoyed the sweet potato fritters. Shaped like a Tim Horton’s Timbit, each ball was crispy on the outside, slightly sweet and soft in the center. I didn’t find the fritter greasy or heavy. The scallion aioli was addicting- I loved the pungency and notes of what I thought was garlic.

Photo credit: L

For a great chicken sandwich, Sammie and Alumni rank as our favourite spots. Judging from our quick peek inside, Sammie would be a great place to dine-in once it’s safe to do so. For now, we will stick to takeout and perhaps lunch on their spacious patio.

Fast Food · Fusion · Hawaiian · poke · Restaurants · Seafood

Pacific Poke – COVID-19 edition

On Tuesday, I wanted a break from cooking. I was yearning for something different, like Ethiopian from Yegna Restaurant on International Avenue. However, a little voice inside my head asked me, “Is it wise to travel so far? What would Dr. Hinshaw say?” I pictured Dr. Hinshaw’s kind face and I could hear her soft-spoken voice telling me to order delivery or pick up food from a restaurant closer to home. I guess I’m feeling pretty lonely if I’m having imaginary conversations with my medical hero. For this post, let’s listen to “Still D.R.E.” by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.

I was still craving something out of the ordinary, so I called Pacific Poke  for pick up. L and I both ordered a large build your own poke bowl ($16), which included three proteins and four toppings. When I carried the food back into the house, I was surprised by the weight of the bowls. Pacific Poke doesn’t skimp on the portions.

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We both chose traditional sushi rice, ahi tuna, wild salmon and crab. L topped his bowl with a double order of seaweed salad, sesame miso hummus, ginger jicama, avocado nori (+$1.50) and masago (+$1.50). I picked a double order of seaweed salad, cucumber kimchi, ginger jicama, and masago (+$1.50).

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Posted without permission from Pacific Poke.

Pacific Poke serves sustainable seafood. The cubed salmon was a bright orange colour, richly flavoured and smooth in texture. The crab was creamy and when I poked at the mixture, it came apart in fluffy strands. The ahi tuna was firm and fresh. L and I were both impressed with the fish. The masago was worth the extra charge – the fish roe provided a salty pop of the sea.

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L and I thought we could detect a spicy heat in the house ponzu sauce. The amount of sauce was just enough to bind all the toppings to the seafood and rice. The white rice was firm, slightly warm, with a pronounced hint of vinegar. We were both surprised the rice was so good, considering Pacific Poke isn’t a traditional Japanese restaurant. I’m curious to see if the brown rice is as well-made as the sushi rice.

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I liked all the toppings I picked. The seaweed was crunchy and tangy. The jicama tasted like a Korean pear and added a sweet, refreshing crunch. I took a bite of L’s avocado nori and hummus. The avocado was smooth and tart, the seasoning reminded me of guacamole. I think the hummus he chose would have paired well with the more non-traditional ingredients, like quinoa, corn salsa, chicken or vegetarian proteins. One issue with making your own bowl is that unless you know what you are doing, some of your choices may not pair as well as Pacific Poke’s chef inspired bowls.

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I haven’t tried all the poke restaurants in Calgary, but so far Pacific Poke is my favourite. The quality is superb and the ratio of protein to rice to topping is proportional. When we return, I’d like to try a dish off the chef inspired menu, such as The Main or The Cali. Hitting the Sauce gives Pacific Poke two fat thumbs up.

Pacific Poke 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.

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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.

red

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.

pasta

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

Italian · Patio · Pizza · Restaurants

Annabelle’s Kitchen

On Friday, L received good news. To celebrate, we went out for dinner. I couldn’t get reservations to my top picks: Shokunin, Bar Von Der Fels or Carino. L suggested three restaurants. None of his options offered a wine list that appealed to me. I countered with Tavernetta, but L didn’t want to drive that far. I scrolled through Instagram and saw a photo from Annabelle’s Kitchen, a modern Italian restaurant in Marda Loop.

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L was indifferent but I was insistent. I stressed that Annabelle’s Kitchen is only five minutes away, and we could go to Village Ice Cream for dessert. For this post, let’s listen to “Compromise” by Molly Kate Kestner.

Annabelle’s Kitchen doesn’t take reservations. Another group that was initially behind me ran up ahead and got the last table. It wasn’t cold, so we opted to sit outside on the patio.

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Our server Taylor provided solid wine pairing recommendations for our meal. She recommended a white wine – ($10, Brigaldar, il Soave, Veneto Italy) to go with the Ravioli ($16). The wine was light and lively on the tongue. I preferred the wine with the pasta, rather than just own its own.

You could taste the individual ingredients in the pasta – the lemon, the smooth mildness of the ricotta and the subtle pop from the garden peas and basil pesto. I thought this dish tasted almost healthy – there wasn’t an over abundance of salt, olive oil, butter or cream.

For our Sausage Pizza ($20), Taylor recommended a red wine (Mati Barbera, Piedmont, Italy $11). L ordered a Sour Cherry from Banded Peak ($8.50).

The Italian sausage had a nice chew to it. L liked the creaminess of the goat cheese. I enjoyed the heat from the pepper flakes and chili oil. The crust was perfectly baked and it reminded me of Azzurri Pizzeria.  Crunchy on the bottom but not burnt.

For dessert, L wanted a salted caramel waffle cone from Village Ice Cream. I didn’t want any but L insisted I try some of his ice cream. He kept offering me tastes and I nibbled away until he complained that I ate half his cone. Here’s a pro tip for you. If you don’t want me to eat your ice cream, don’t ask me to.

We will be back – to Annabelle’s Kitchen for pizza and Village for ice cream. If you haven’t been to either businesses, I recommend checking them out.

Annabelle's Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Pizza · Pubs · Restaurants · Wings

Merchants

L’s colleague Enlightened and his partner The Good Wife met us for drinks in Marda Loop. L and I tried to get into Marda Loop Brewery, but we couldn’t get a table. We had a beer instead at Mad Rose Pub. However, the hockey game was on and it was killing my buzz, so we left for Merchants.

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Just as we were leaving, Enlightened saw a customer wearing a kippah. Enlightened walked over to say hi and to give his card. He said that whenever he sees someone in Calgary wearing a kippah, he introduces himself because that’s what people in his culture do.

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The music at Merchants always reminds me of an updated version of early 90’s club music. For this post, let’s listen to Robin S – Show me Love.

Enlightened suggested I do the ordering but specified he was very hungry and wanted to eat. Enlightened is forthright. You always know where you stand with him. If he’s wondering how much money you make, he’ll ask you. If you answer in a generality, he will ask why you aren’t being specific. When you try to establish personal boundaries, he seeks to enlighten you on your error.

Whenever I eat at Merchants, I always order the Truffle Mushroom Pizza ($22). I like the combination of pesto, prosciutto, mushrooms, arugula and truffle oil. I personally would have liked a bit more mozzarella because I found proportionally, there was too much crust. Enlightened noticed the bottom of the crust was burnt but he still ate it. I didn’t notice the crust was burnt.

Enlightened liked the Merchant Wings ($15) but said for the price, he would have liked a few more. The wings reminded me of Newcastle Pub’s version which are only 35 cents on Wednesdays.

Enlightened thought the Calamari ($15) was the best dish of the night. I didn’t like how the squid itself was wet and slippery underneath the batter. I prefer the calamari at Opa and Newcastle Pub.

Our server recommended the Black Truffle Fries ($10). I had already eaten dinner so nibbling on fries with truffle mayonnaise was the perfect treat for me.

I like Merchants. The service is always good and I like the energy. The Good Wife wants to meet up again, next time at Original Joe’s. I already looked up the menu and saw a wine I can drink, so I’m game.

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

Beer · Happy Hour · Pizza · Restaurants

Merchants Restaurant

For my belated birthday, K-Dog insisted on taking me out for drinks. She picked Merchants in Marda Loop. The restaurant was busy, filled with customers in our age group and older. The music was loud, energetic and reminded me of the 2018 equivalent of 90’s techno. For this post, let’s listen to Haddaway’s What is love?

K-Dog enjoys the Red Rooster Merlot, so I followed suit and ordered a 9-ounce glass ($14). Ah, BC wine! So glad Alberta has stopped the wine ban. This wine was a mouthful of dark berry notes.

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I wasn’t hungry but K-Dog insisted on ordering some appetizers. We shared the Truffle Mushroom Pizza ($22). The crust was thin and crunchy. I couldn’t detect the pesto so much because the truffle oil overpowered the other ingredients. I enjoyed the meaty mushrooms and soft layer of the mozzarella. The prosciutto added a nice saltiness to it.

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Service was pleasant. Our sever made sure we were topped off with wine and after K-Dog paid the bill, she let us gab on without giving us the get out of here vibe. K-Dog told me that on Saturdays, Merchant offers a prime rib dinner ($23) that is delicious. I plan to organize a little get together here with K-Dog and some of our friends to celebrate her new job.

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An interesting tidbit. I saw on Zomato an observation from a customer about the crowd and lack thereof hot ladies. My husband loves watching Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturdays. I prefer watching foodies go at it. For some weird reason, it gives me immense enjoyment. I’m kinda sick that way.

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