Dessert · Patio · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion

River Cafe – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Karplop and I were texting each other after work. She was craving pate and beef tartare and I wanted to go out and celebrate nothing in particular. The only restaurant open on a Tuesday night serving up pate and tartare was River Cafe. For this post, let’s listen to “Fancy Shoes” by The Walters.

As the weather was nice, we sat on the patio and enjoyed the view of the trees along the lagoon, set against the city skyline. Our server – Leah B – is at the top of her game. Everything she said or did seemed so effortlessly professional and personable. Exceptional service makes the difference between between a nice meal and a truly enjoyable dining experience.

Karplop and I toasted each other with a glass of Blue Mountain Brut ($14). I thought this sparkling wine was mellow and dry, with very soft bubbles.

We shared four Leslie Hardy oysters ($14). The oyster flesh was cool and smooth, with a little crunch at the end. I didn’t find the saltiness overwhelming like other east coast oysters. Karplop enjoyed the homemade hot sauce and I preferred the mignonette.

Leah recommended a glass of Sangiovese ($11) to pair with our appetizers. I approve of her suggestion – my wine was smooth and dry. I would order this wine again.

The Borderland Bison Tartare ($21) is swoon worthy. Karplop oohed and aahed over the vibrant colours of the flowers. What made this tartare stand out was the summery flavour of the compressed cucumber and bright, creamy mustard. The tartare came with three different types of crackers, each with its own unique texture. Standout dish!

Photo Credit: Karplop

I’ve tried the Chicken Liver Parfait ($19) a few months ago and I noticed this time, the brioche was drier in texture, which I prefer because it stands up to the thick, buttery pate. The pate looked like it was whipped, piled high on the brioche. Karplop enjoyed the combination of the fruit paired with the pate.

I was full but I didn’t want to deny Karplop her dessert. We shared the Peach Pavlova ($12). My favourite element of the dessert was the sorbet, which was sweet and creamy.

If there are anymore sunny days remaining, I recommend checking out River Cafe’s patio. There’s nothing better than sitting back and enjoying the last of the autumn colours in Prince’s Island Park. Hitting the Sauce gives River Cafe two fat thumbs up.

Brunch · Restaurants · Special Occasion

Deane House – Stampede 2017 Series

I saw on Facebook that Deane House was celebrating the Stampede festivities in their garden, complete with live music and an oyster station. When we arrived at 7:00 p.m., there was no live music, only some western stuff playing through the speakers. By the time we left at 8:00 p.m., there still wasn’t any live music. Well, that don’t impress me much!

L ordered a Big Rock beer ($7) and I ordered a glass of Blue Mountain sparkling wine ($13). We received complimentary red fife sourdough bread with cultured butter and Vancouver Island Fleur de Sel. We sat at the edge of the patio, which overlooked the river.
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I looked up the menu beforehand and wanted to try the grilled asparagus with fried oysters ($14) and the ricotta agnolotti ($16). However, both items were not on the menu at the restaurant. Instead, we ordered the Bison tartare ($17) and the charcuterie ($32).
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L declared the bison tartare was the best he’s ever tried. He must have liked it as he kept talking about the tartare the next day. The temperature of the bison was cool with textural pops from the pickled mustard seeds, dotted with a flavourful nettle aioli. The potato chips were light and a delicate vessel for the creamy tartare. I would order this again.

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The charcuterie offered a good selection of treats, like duck rillette, mortadella, lamb sausage, blue cheese, homemade preserves and pickled blueberries, beans and pickles. L’s favourite pick was the lamb sausage that was served warm and had a subtle kick to it. I liked the sharp, creamy blue cheese and the dainty homemade nut and fruit crackers.
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Service was warm and professional. Our server suggested we return for brunch. I think I might on a  Sunday, when corkage is free. A nice touch when we left – we could see a plane flying the Canada flag overhead. If you want to do something relaxing and different for Stampede, I’d suggest you visit Deane House.

Deane House 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

Bars/Lounges · Burgers · Happy Hour · Patio · Pizza · Restaurants

Spot On Kitchen – Kid-friendly Pub

I met my in-laws at Spot on Kitchen for happy hour on Friday. My sister-in-law Turned loves this place because of the high-chairs, colouring sheets and range of toys to amuse her toddler Jack. The covered patio is nice – it gets lot of light and the deck is decorated with Japanese maple trees and planter baskets.

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My sister-in-law Turned tied up her dog Sam outside the patio. Sam, who I like to call Sam the Scam because of his cunning ways, wedged himself under the patio wall and crawled inside. Turned tried to squeeze Sam out, but got tired and said Sam could stay. Our server apologetically informed her dogs are not allowed on the patio. Can you guess what I`m going to play for this post? Baha Men – Who let the dogs out.

Turned untied Sam’s leash and had her partner Dave lifted him over the wall. I just sat there silently judging, thankful it wasn’t my dog that misbehaved. Turned should bring Sam to Vin Room’s dog-friendly patio.

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Happy hour runs from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm. Drink specials include $4.00 glasses of wine, $6 pints (which isn’t advertised) and $4.00 nibbles. I enjoyed my pint of Belgian Moon as it was bubbly and the wedge of orange was fresh and juicy. I hate it when I get flat beer and dried up garnishes.

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We ordered boneless chicken bites, kettle chip style nachos with pulled pork and onions and fries. We ordered avocado on the chips too but I think the kitchen forgot to put it on. I prefer kettle chips over tortilla chips any day. The potato chips make for a lighter dish and the delicate flavour of chips didn’t overpower the ingredients, so I could taste more of the toppings. This whole dish was only six bucks. Four dollars for the kettle chips and a dollar for every additional topping.

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The chicken bites were better than I expected. The chicken was tender and it was served hot, with the same sauce options as the wings. The chicken bites tasted like wings but without the crispy skin (which is the best part). For four dollars, it was a good deal.

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Spot On Kitchen & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

17th Ave · Bars/Lounges · Beer · Patio · Restaurants · Special Occasion

Pigeonhole – La Vien en rose

On Friday evening, L and dropped by Pigeonhole for some wine and cheese. I wasn’t aware that Pigeonhole offers 50% off all bottles of rosé from Monday to Friday, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm till close. I asked L if he would share a bottle with me. He said that rosé was too feminine for him but he would do it for me.

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I asked our server if she could recommend a wine that wasn’t sweet or dry. She picked two bottles for me to try – Raventos La Rosa 2015 (Pinot Noir/Garnacha/Xarel-lo, Penedes, Spain, $64) and Broc Cellars Love Rose 2016 (Valdiguie/Zinfandel, North Coast, California, $70). The La Rosa was an easy sipping, mild-mannered rosé. I preferred the Love Rose as I found it more interesting.

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I like Pigeonhole’s playlist. I wish I had asked our server who was the artist. The closest thing I could compare it to is Sophie Milman but without any lyrics. L and I sat by the patio, which meant we were afforded the street view and breeze, but sat in the comfort of the inside chairs. Let’s listen to La Vie En Rose so you can better imagine my dining experience.

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We picked three cheeses – one hard, one blue and one soft ($25). Oh my! The brie was creamy and mild, best with the apple butter, as the honey overpowered the cheese. The apple butter was more apple than butter, the texture was like pudding.

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The honey was incredible. I think we liked it more than the cheeses. The honey paired best with the blue and hard cheese. I didn’t think I would like the papadum, but it turned out to be the perfect vessel for the cheeses and home-made preserves because it lent a blank slate.

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We ordered two plates – Springs Peas with Foie Gras ($15) and Fava Beans ($11). The spring peas tasted like an early crop – it was light and fresh. The grapefruit wasn’t overpowering and binded all the ingredients together. The compressed foie gras had a clean taste and melted on your tongue. The pistachios lent a savoury crunch.

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I’m glad we ordered the fava beans as the sourdough bread helped to soaked up all that alcohol. L liked the addition of strawberries and said it was a nice summer dish.

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I’ve been to Pigeonhole three times and each time I’ve been impressed with the food and service. I’m keen to try the caviar and champagne soon. For date night, I can’t think of a better place to set the stage for romance. Pigeonhole makes it on Hitting the Sauce’s list of favourite places to eat in Calgary.

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