Burgers · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion · Steakhouse

Charbar – COVID dine-in edition

Aga visited me last Wednesday from Lethbridge. She told me that she’s been unlucky when it comes to dining out in her new city, particularly for Vietnamese or Chinese cuisine. I felt sorry for her and let her pick the restaurant for our dinner date. As this beautiful bout of summer weather always makes me feel frisky, let’s listen to “A Little Less Conversation” by Elvis Presley.

Aga picked Charbar in East Village. We were lucky to get a patio table, with a view of Bow River. Since COVID-19, the menu is more limited but it still has the old favourites, like the Charbar burger, steaks, and seafood.

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We both started off with a glass of Sacrifice Rosé ($11). We enjoyed our rosé – it was dry with a tartness that reminded me of raspberries.

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I contacted Miss Foodie the night before to ask for her recommendations. She suggested the cabbage salad, the burger, and the ceviche. The night after I ate at Charbar, I had a dream about Miss Foodie, a person I’ve never met.

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In my dream, Miss Foodie and I were living in a student residence and she just came back from a dinner. She put her leftover prawns in a pot on the stove but she had to leave after taking an urgent phone call. I didn’t bother to reheat the food and just ate it out of the pot.

I asked my friend Karplop if she thought I was weird for dreaming about eating Miss Foodie’s leftovers. Karplop laughed and said no, I was normal and I probably had that dream because Miss Foodie has been posting about BC spotted prawns on her Instagram account.

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Aga and I shared the Eggplant Milanese Chips ($14), Charred Napa Cabbage Salad ($18), Tableside Ceviche ($19), and the Double Stacked Gaucho Burger ($19). Aga was initially hesitant to try ceviche because she has never tried marinaded raw seafood but she figured she would put on a brave face since she was with me. Thankfully, she was a fan.

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Each piece of shrimp, mussel, clam, and baby squid was squeaky clean. The lime marinade was zesty and refreshing. I liked the addition of the toasted popcorn – it provided a fluffy crunch followed by a nice chew. My favourite piece of seafood was the squid – it was glossy white, with a satiny texture and tender to the tooth. The ceviche tasted even fresher than I’ve experienced in coastal cities, such as Cabo San Lucas.

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Our server recommended ordering the eggplant chips to go with ceviche. The chips went well with seafood as it provided a crunchy, salty vessel to the seafood.

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I’m not a salad person, but there are four restaurants in Calgary that make one worth eating – Pure Modern Asian Kitchen & Bar, Una Pizza + Wine, Cotto Italian Comfort Food, and Charbar. The charred cabbage tasted like the yakitori I ate in Japan. The avocado was creamy with a texture similar to chilled butter. Aga raved about the freshness of the mint and the bright citrus dressing. My favourite element of the salad is the lentils – it tasted like fresh peas but with the watery texture of raw bean sprouts.

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I’ve said repeatedly that Charbar makes one of the best burgers in the city. The double patties are well-seasoned and juicy. I didn’t find the burger as saucy as previous visits but I think I prefer it this way so I could taste more of flavour of the beef. Aga liked the avocado topping in the burger. I’m partial to the beef fat fries – the interior was soft and mealy and the exterior shell was ultra crunchy.

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I chatted with out server and asked him if he thought their customers adhere to the new safety precautions. He said staff keep a close eye on everything – from sanitation standards they had in place before COVID-19 to ensuring customers follow procedures when entering the restaurant. He mentioned that Shoppers Drug Mart offers free testing, so after his shift ends on Sunday, he gets tested and finds out the result before his first shift starts on Wednesday.

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Dining out has its risks, much like grocery shopping, working, and any social outing. Since the pandemic, I’ve been making an effort to pick restaurants that are upfront, fully transparent and put in precautionary measures to better protect everyone’s health and safety. Personally, I felt safe eating at Charbar. Hitting the Sauce gives Charbar two fat thumbs up.

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

Bars/Lounges · Restaurants · Special Occasion · Steakhouse

Hy’s Steakhouse – Lunch

For Cruising’s birthday lunch, I wanted to take her to Caesar’s Steak House. However, due to her busy work schedule, Hy’s Steakhouse was the more convenient choice. For this post, let’s listen to “I Want to Take You Higher” by Sly and The Family Stone.

As I had to work after lunch, I couldn’t order a glass of wine. Instead, I stared enviously at the carefree couple next to me who were two martinis into their lunch. Cruising wanted hot water but Ms. Biz and I told her to forgo cultural stereotypes for this lunch. Cruising and I ordered an Earl Grey tea ($4.99) and Ms. Biz requested a club soda with lemon ($3.50).

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To start, we shared an order of the Cheese Bread ($10.95). One order contains two slices, each cut into three pieces. As the cheese bread is so decadent, I felt like two pieces was almost too much for me.

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The bread was crunchy on the edges and soft in the middle. The layer of warm creamy cheese had a deliciously mild tang to it. I’d order this again.

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Cruising and Ms. Biz ordered the Sliced Calf Liver with Bacon and Onions ($23.99). I’ve never tried calf liver. Ms. Biz instructed me to eat the meat with the onion and bacon. The liver was crisp on the outside and velvety tender. The flavour was intense but there was no bitterness or gameness to it.

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I ordered the New York Steak Sandwich ($29.99). I upgraded my side to a double stuffed potato ($8.99). My steak was cooked as requested – medium rare. My steak was too salty and a tad tough. The double stuffed potato was light and fluffy with crispy edges, garnished with bacon bits, green onions and sour cream. So tasty and worth the extra charge.

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The lunch portions at Hy’s are so filling, both Ms. Biz and I took more than half our food home. L heated up my steak for his dinner. He said the steak was delicious but salty and  the potato was awesome.

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Service was professional and attentive. The staff worked efficiently to ensure customers receive their food in a timely matter. I’d recommend coming to Hy’s for their well priced lunch.

Hy's Steakhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Patio · Pubs · Restaurants

Southland Yard – Lobster BBQ

L and I attended Inn from the Cold’s 4th annual Lobster BBQ ($100) at Southland Yard. Inn from the Cold provides emergency shelter, affordable housing, and support services to help families in crisis retain and achieve housing-security and independence.  As she references Red Lobster in her song “Formationlet’s listen to Beyonce.

To begin the event, there was a cook off between competing chefs: Mike Frayne of Southland Bar and Table; Phil Andrews, Executive Chef of Delta Downtown; Joshua Dyer Sous Chef of Mariott Airport; and Eric Beaupre, Executive Chef of Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge. I felt like I had to wait forever to take the photo below because three of the four chefs were fidgeting and looking down. The chef on the far right was the only one good at posing.

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The three judges were Heather Morley, Executive Director of Inn from the Cold; Justin Labossiere, VP of Culinary at Vintage Group; and Daryl Kerr, Executive chef at Great Events Catering. I didn’t spend as much time taking their photo and you can tell.

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The chef’s platters were auctioned off. YYCFoodiePak and her gang tried to bid on a platter but they were outdone by the goodwill of other guests.  I noticed people shelled out more as the night went on. The first platter went for $70. The last platter sold for over $200.

Photo Credit: @YYCFoodiePak

The MC said tables would be selected to go up to the buffet. I saw that no one waited and everyone just got up. I told L I was going up too. He reluctantly followed only after the rest of my table agreed with me.

Photo Credit: @YYCFoodiePak

The buffet included rolls, Caesar salad, coleslaw, baked potato, potato salad, corn, steak and lobster. The corn was super sweet. I liked my potato – it was simple and tasty. The steak was a bit dry but who cares. We came for the lobster.

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I preferred the tail over the claw meat, as the former was sweeter. The lobster was pre-cracked, so it was easy to separate the meat from the shell. There was enough food that I saw several customers go up for a second lobster. L was a little weirded out that as the night went on and became cooler, the butter never solidified.

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I wanted to bring my leftover shells home to make lobster bisque, but even I have limits. Can you imagine how much lobster bisque you could make from the all the shells?

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Photo Credit: @YYCFoodiePak

I use to volunteer for Inn from the Cold’s Sunday evening dinner service. It’s a rewarding experience and something I’d recommend to try at least once. Want to help? You can volunteer or donate.

Southland Yard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

Bar Modern – No Man’s Dinner #2

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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

Fusion · Italian · Japanese · Restaurants

Carino Riserva – L’s birthday dinner

For L’s birthday dinner, he picked Carino Riserva. In past visits, I noticed that you must have a reservation or you won’t get into the restaurant. Despite being popular with locals and Japanese guests, I don’t think Carino gets the accolades in magazines and social media that it deserves.

I think that new restaurants get covered by food writers for one or two articles, but then it seems to be back to the same rotation of restaurants that show up in the ‘best restaurants’ category in Avenue Calgary.  I’m not knocking the restaurants, writers or the magazine. I’m just saying I don’t want to read about the same restaurants year after year. I have a good memory and the articles on the same restaurants gets redundant. Edit- I stand corrected. Avenue Magazine rated Carino best fusion restaurant. My bad! My memory isn’t as good as I thought.

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Last night, L and I had the best meal of 2018. For this post, let’s listen to one of L’s favourite bands – Thee Michelle Gun Elephant, GT400.

 

We sat by the window. I would recommend requesting this table if you have out-of-town guests. We enjoyed people watching and recognizing familiar faces walking the trendy streets of Mission.

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I appreciated our server’s food and wine recommendations. She also prevented us from ordering too much food. If you like your wine, but don’t want to pay a fortune, this is the place for you. I’ve never tried a wine I didn’t like at Carino. The owner Toshi was Teatro’s head sommelier for years. Wines by the glass range from $9-12.  I ordered a flute of prosecco ($9.00) and L stuck with Sapporo ($7.50).

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A feature appetizer was the pork gyoza ($7.50) with basil dipping sauce. The dumplings were plump with juicy meat. The wrapping was beautifully pinched and grilled to a crisp.

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Look at the fresh basil in the filling! L thought the gyoza showed the best of Italian and Japanese cuisine. Freaking fantastic. I would order this again.

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We shared a second appetizer – Steamed Clams and Mussel Hot Pot ($18) with Italian sausage and fries. The flame burning underneath the black cauldron added a mystique to the ambience of our table. The sausage was sweet and I could taste fennel. The broth was so tasty, we kept drinking it. I would buy this broth if I could- it was like a seafood bisque.

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The absolute star of the show was the Alberta Beef Tenderloin with Wagyu Meat Sauce and Aglio Et Olio ($35). I can’t believe pasta with so few ingredients can taste that good. The noodles were served piping hot and al dente. The flavour of the oil was incredible – it must speak to the quality of the olive oil and the chef’s cooking technique. I want to compare Carino’s version to Cotto Italian Comfort Food, the next time the latter restaurant has aglio et olio on their weekly pasta feature.

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L declared Carino’s steak the best he’s had in his life. The steak was charred on the outside and cooked to a medium rare in the middle. The beef was tender and juicy. The mix of arugula and bitter greens acted like a palate cleanser in between bites of steak. We both ate as slowly as we could to enjoy every morsel. I ordered a glass of Liberta ($11) to go with my steak.

This entire meal with three alcoholic drinks cost only $92 dollars! Just goes to show you don’t need to spend a fortune to have a fantastic meal in Calgary. In fact, the best meal we had all year. I’ve already booked Carino Riserva for my birthday dinner with L and Beep Beep.

Carino makes it on Hitting the Sauce’s Phat Picks – which is a list of my own favourite restaurants in the city. I’ll take my own advice and try to keep the list fresh by trying new restaurants. I’m the biggest culprit for revisiting the same old restaurant instead of trying something new. Next on my list – Big Catch’s new restaurant, OMO Teppan & Kitchen, Raj Palace, Han Maru, and Namsam Korean Cuisine.

Carino Riserva Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Happy Hour · Patio · Restaurants · Special Occasion · Steakhouse

Murrieta’s West Coast Bar + Grill

My colleague Jo picked Murieta’s for her birthday lunch. For this post, let’s play something I listen to on the way to work to pump myself up for the day – Money, Money, Money by Abba.

The restaurant is beautiful. The large skylight filters in ample natural light, setting off the stonewalls. There’s a posh wine cabinet with a ladder at the back of the restaurant.

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Despite being a Monday in February, the restaurant was packed. Every single table was full, mostly of smug looking men in suits. Jo had to get back to work in an hour so we were impatient to order. Mindy saw her favourite server Vanessa and asked her if we could place our order with her instead of waiting for our designated server.

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I ordered the Cobb Salad ($16.00). Points for presentation. I liked how the herb dressing was lightly drizzled over the salad so I could enjoy the flavours of the individual components. The blue cheese was sharp and melted in my mouth. The farm egg was still soft in the middle, the yolk was bright orange.

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Mindy added a grilled chicken breast ($7.00) to her Cobb Salad. The salad was good enough on its own that you don’t need to add any additional protein. However, after after I saw Mindy’s salad, I wished I added a little something extra to mine as well.

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Jo and Gilchrist ordered a Steak Sandwich ($18.00). They requested medium and received well done steaks. Mindi told them to tell our server Stephanie. They were reluctant to but when Stephanie asked how the food was, I piped up and said the steaks were overdone. She asked if she could replace the two steaks. Since Jo had to get back to work in 15 minutes, she declined. Gilchrist also declined a new steak.

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Erika ordered the Tuna Poke Wrap ($18.00). The fries were very good. I ate Jo’s leftover fries when she had to leave.

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Legal ordered what I wanted – Lamb Meatball Spaghetti. This is what Miss Foodie eats when she dines here. Legal said it was delicious.

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Stephanie came over to inform Jo and Gilchrist that they would receive a complimentary dessert. Jo had to leave so Stephanie had her dessert packed up. We shared a delicious chocolate cake with cherry coulis.

On Fridays, Murrieta’s has live jazz. Stephanie suggested that we get there early in order to get a table, as it gets busy. When asked what was considered early, she said 8:30 p.m. Our table was impressed with the level of customer service at Murrieta’s. Stephanie was pleasant throughout our meal and handled our feedback like a pro. I’d be happy to revisit and try more of the food and wine.

Murrieta's West Coast Bar & Grill 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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Bars/Lounges · Chain Restaurants · Special Occasion · Steakhouse

The Keg – Crowfoot Location

Veronica and Jughead asked L and I to join them for dinner at the Keg. I was keen to see them but I didn’t have much enthusiasm to eat the Keg. My past experiences at the University location left a lot to be desired. I’m glad I went, as I found the Crowfoot location far superior in terms of service, ambience and food.

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-9-07-11-amThe first table we were seated at had broken heat lamps. A server walking by jumped in and told us he would have a new table for us in a second, after he cleaned it. I was really impressed with our interaction with several of the servers we met throughout the night. Everyone was professional, friendly and pleasant. The HR department did a phenomenal job hiring their staff.

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The boys ordered beers while Veronica and I shared the Home Ranch Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah & Malbec – California by J. Lohr ($38, on tap). All wines on tap are served in a decanter, which I thought was cool.

Veronica ordered a whole bunch of appetizers. I enjoyed the sauce in the Escargot ($11). We all tasted curry notes except for Veronica, who is Indian (her ancestry is from India and she prefers the term ‘Indian’). She stated that the seasoning was not curry and we had weak tastebuds if we thought it did. I much preferred the complimentary warm sourdough bread we received over the buns that were shaped like a butt. The butt buns tasted generic, like something you would get at Safeway.

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Veronica always orders the Mushrooms Neptune Crab ($11). The mushrooms were covered in a heavy cream cheese sauce. Veronica gets annoyed when I take pictures of the food when we go out . That’s her finger-pointing at a mushroom she ate before I could snap a shot.

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My favourite appetizer at the Keg are the Scallops and Bacon ($12). The scallops were small but silky and sweet. My husband liked the cocktail sauce, which was tangy and tasted like there was some horseradish in it. The bacon was practically still sizzling when this arrived at our table.

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L ordered the 12 ounce Top Sirloin Steak ($33), Jughead ordered the Peppercorn New York Steak ($36) and Veronica ordered the Californian Greens ($12). I shared my husband’s steak and I thought it was cooked to the requested medium rare. The stuffed potato was a bit 90s but it tasted good.

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Veronica’s salad isn’t a looker but it was huge and tasted fresh. The plate was piled high with greens, tomatoes, black beans, mushrooms, avocado, and pine nuts. In the future, I would not hesitate to order a salad at the Keg.

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For myself, I ordered the French Onion Soup ($10). The broth was served warm, not hot. The cheese was soft and soggy.  I’ve tried frozen French onion soup from Costco that’s a whole lot better than Keg’s version.

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Veronica’s daughter dropped by with a friend after their movie and they shared a Brownie Sundae ($8). Kids aren’t allowed in the patio so we were moved into the dining room. Veronica and I ordered blueberry tea as our after dinner drink.

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Yes, I nitpick a couple of things I didn’t like, such as the French Onion soup and a butt shaped bun. However, the food was good and the service  at the Crowfoot location was flawless. Thanks Veronica and Jughead for a wonderful meal.

View my food journey on Zomato!

The Keg Steakhouse + Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Italian · Special Occasion · Steakhouse

Mercato -29th (wink ;-) Birthday Dinner

I’ve been wanting to try Mercato for years. I was hesitant to book a table because everyone I knew kept telling me that Mercato was very pricey. I’m usually leery of expensive restaurants because with higher prices come greater and perhaps (my) unrealistic expectations. After consulting with my ex-neighbour, a wine distributer and overall man with excellent taste, I decided to book my birthday dinner at Mercato. I went with my childhood bestie, Beep Beep, as my husband had to work late that night.

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Our server that night was Mike. A long time professional server at Mercato, he impressed us with his recommendations of wine and his thoughtful suggestions for food. Throughout the night, we sipped on lovely glasses of white, then red and then tasted some dessert wines. I wish I wrote down the names of the glasses we tried but I couldn’t catch the pronunciation of the wines we sampled. If we were at a pub, I would do what I normally do, point at the menu and say, “That one?”.

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We ordered the Caprese Salad ($23), Gnocchi ($17), and Bistecca ($49). The portions were big enough that we took home some of the steak and gnocchi for my husband. Of the bunch, my favourite dish was the gnocchi.

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The caprese salad was worth the price. I really enjoyed the mixture of toasted pine nuts, various tomatoes, and the smokiness of the eggplant. The fresh buffalo mozzarella and olive oil was killer. The temperature of all the ingredients was perfect. Cool but not too chilled.

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The 20-ounce steak was cooked to a medium rare. The meat was juicy and tender. I did find the steak to be a fatty cut. Beep Beep and I liked the addition of citrus we got from squeezing the grilled lemons all over the steak and arugula. We didn’t find the steak or any of the other dishes over-salted like other reviewers on Zomato and Yelp. I noticed the salt for our steak was served on the side.

The potato gnocchi was out of this world good. I tried gnocchi before but it never tasted like pillows of perfection. The shaved Reggiano and Romano was plentiful and added a luxuriousness to every bite.

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Beep Beep insisted on ordering tiramisu. The dessert was large, not too sweet, and light. I would have preferred a more boozier version, but hey, I am HittingtheSauce. Lately though, I’ve been thinking about changing my blog’s name to HittingtheSack. Old age will do that to you.

I’m also glad Mercato finally put up their menu with prices on their website. I won’t set foot inside a restaurant until I know if I can afford it. Yes, Mercato is spendy but the food was delicious, the portions ample, and the service was excellent. If I had an expense account or didn’t care about having a retirement plan, I would eat here every week. Thank you bbf, for taking one restaurant off my bucket list.

View my food journey on Zomato!

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