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Jul 26, 2005 08:32 PM

Bears Den - Calgary

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I received a gift card in the mail for the Bears Den restaurant ( last month, which was good for a 30% discount on our bill, for July only. It was only a 15 minute drive away, so my wife and I went the past Sunday night. Had heard mixed reviews, but was intrigued by the concept. We don't go out particularly for beef/steak, but with 30% off, why not?

Driving on the way there, my wife said "If the restaurant is good, we can make this our early anniversary dinner. If not, we'll go to The Muse!".

The restaurant sort of looks like a bunker or pillbox on the outside (you'd figure for all the money they spent, they'd make it a bit nicer), but is very intimate and stately (re: dark) on the inside. Their claim to fame is the Grade AAAA Beef (and my wife loves beef).

No wine tonight, but I did have the Bellini for a drink, which was quite nice.

We started with Tempura Dusted Calamari with Cilantro Citrus Aioli sauce (upon our server's recommendation). It was excellent and huge. The Calamari was the perfect texture and just crunchy. Didn't realize it was going to be that big though!
We also had the Sweet Baby Spinach Leaves with Grapefruit filets, candied watermelon rind, wonton & beet ribbons and a vanilla muscat vinaigrette. Really enjoyed this salad, since it was so unusual - and the real vanilla beans in the vinaigrette were a pleasure.

My wife wanted the prime rib (medium rare of course), so she ordered the 12 oz cut (I was going to help her). The server recommended the Bears Den Trio for myself, which looked good, so I went with that. My wife's jaw dropped when the prime rib came out - no way was it 12 oz - it had to have been over 16 oz! Served with a stuffed potato and vegetables, the whole plate was covered! The prime rib was excellent, especially with the "White Lightning" horseradish - super-hot but really amazing stuff.

My Bears Den Trio was fantastic. A 6-oz beef tenderloin steak (medium rare) was the centerpiece - without a doubt one the best cuts of beef I've ever eaten (and I'm not that big of a beef fan). My wife was a huge fan of that as well! The trio also had two giant prawns - also very tasty. The surprise was the Red Spring Salmon Darne - a delicately poached salmon with an incredible hollandaise/Bernaise sauce. I am not sure if I have had a more perfect piece of salmon before. My wife went absolutely ga-ga over it. She looks at me and says "I want you to cook it like this!".

For dessert, we shared the Molten Chocolate Cake - a luxuriously chocolately dessert - my wife said she was so full, yet she still had to eat a third of this dessert...

Service was impeccable and our server a fantastic wealth of knowledge - my only complaint, if you could call it that, was the food almost came out too quick. Would have preferred to rest between courses a bit more. Otherwise we had a tremendous meal - the 30% made it all the better - $85 for the dinner.

My wife said "Ok - that was our anniversary dinner! Now let's go walk this off!"

The restaurant is probably not for everyone, especially if you don't want beef or would rather cook it at home - there is an otherwise limited selection of entrees. But, my wife and I had an enjoyable time, and would recommend it for a high-end beef experience, especially with the discount.

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  1. Where in Calgary is the Bears Den?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Kate

      It's actually outside the city limits in Bearspaw, on Crowchild.

    2. Every year instead of birthday presents, my BF and I take each other to a gourmet restaurant. Having tried Teatro, Rouge, Hy's, and the Belvedere, we felt very disappointed with Calgary's finest.

      Then last Monday we discovered The Bear's Den; finally, a place that knows how to show a food-adoring couple an incredible evening out! Our waitress was a star (which tends to be rare in Calgary these days), explaining to us everything from the various cuts of beef, to scotch, to the finer points of duck fat.

      The food blew my mind; it was so inspired and well-presented. Also, the prices were very low for the quality of ingredients and large portion sizes.

      Food review:

      Bear's Den Delicacy- Fine Game Meats:
      This was probably the most impressive (and fun) dish we had. It's like a tasting menu on three tiers. Slow-roasted rabbit, smoked duck, lamb carpaccio, venison salami, elk sausage.... there were many more fun nibbly bits but I can't recall them all!

      Fresh Arugula and Grape Tomatoes Salad: Sounds boring, but had a turkish/cumin flair that is absolutely addictive!

      Ribeye Steak - Centre Cut: My boyfriend had this. During the main course he sat in silence, chewing and sucking slowly with a glazed-over look in his eyes. I thought he was going to cry, but he did manage to get out a phrase, "this is the best steak I have ever had". No need for the sauce on this one! the sides were awesome too.

      Pan Seared Ahi Tuna: My main course was nothing copared to his steak! But it was beautifully done and I loved the chive cumin aoli. My only complain was that the coco-chili crust was so mild that I couldn't distinguish it.

      Apricot Creme Brulee: AMAZING! Comes with apricot reduction to sip on between bites, and apricot sorbet. So fresh and creamy.

      That is all. this is my new favourite restaurant, and one that is well worth the drive!

      1 Reply
      1. re: amber_ertw

        Yes Thank You Amber! I had no idea Bear's Den existed... and honestly the name probably wouldn't have enticed me to look into it any further. I was planning a date night with DH for one of the Dine Out Calgary restaurants... we just might have to head west instead of downtown :)

      2. Thank you so much for this review. Finally something good in the NW. Sending link to husband as a hint.

        3 Replies
        1. re: sharonanne

          Thanks, amber for that review too. We have heard a lot of good and bad things about Bear's Den and didn't know what to think, especially as it looks like a bunker. If the food is that good, we're going! Nice to know fine dining is avail. in the far northwest.

          1. re: sweeterpea

            Everything above is true!
            It is awesome!!!!
            Dean in Canada

            1. re: carlitguy

              I have to agree. My husband has taken me to Bear's Den twice for special occasions and it has been wonderful both times. We really enjoy it & always look for a reason to go back (though it keeps us from trying other places....oh well).

        2. We went last night for my birthday. What a great meal! The service couldn't possibly have been better. We asked about the Bear's Den Trio as described above as it wasn't on the menu and they made it for us!

          Our son had the spinach salad. He thought it was a slightly strange combination but could see how it would grow on you. I had the crab salad which was more about the cucumber cups than the crab but was ok. My husband had the prawn, I think in a creole sauce. They were huge and perfectly cooked.

          My husband and I both had the trio; salmon, tenderloin and 2 of those huge shrimp. Everything was perfectly cooked. Since we were sharing the steak I conceded to my husband's preference for medium rare rather than my usual rare but it was rare enough for me and he liked it too.They served the sauces on the side. A selection of bearnaise, demiglace and balsamic. The balsamic was a little sweet for me and the demiglace was spot on. The bearnaise was perfect. I spread it on everything! They gave us more when I used it all up.

          For dessert I had warm rice pudding which was very good with house made caramel sauce and plum sorbet. My husband had an intensely chocolately chocolate tart which suited him perfectly.

          The wine selection was good although they didn't have our first choice.

          The place reminds me of the old Owl's Nest. We're happy to have a place nearby to replace that for the times we feel like formal dining.

          1. Just got back from the Bears Den. Overall, very good. I must say the service lacked a bit at one point as our waiter was also responsible for a table of 14. I'm not sure if it was him or the kitchen but we had to wait at least 40 minutes for our entrees, which we weren't happy about.

            We started out with me ordering the Fresh Dungeness Crab Salad with Smoked Paprika Oil and Citrus Aoli -- the appetizers are huge. The crab salad was presented in hollowed-out cucumber pieces, and served with baby spinach. I think the spinach was an overkill and the salad would have been just fine presented in the cucumber. Also, the spinach didn't have a dressing on it, and was a bit "dry". Mr. S had the calamari and it was excellent, light as air, and tender. For sure if you like calamari, this is the appetizer to order.

            Might I add the bread basket had this fantastic muesli bread that is made in-house and also a very good white bread was included. Three butters were available: sun-dried tomato, dijon mustard, and sea salt. Our fave was the dijon mustard butter.

            For entree, I ordered the Crusted Sea Bass with Lobster Risotto, and my husband the Organic Chicken Supreme. The server was by now very busy with the table of 14. My entree had obviously been sitting a while, as the risotto was clumpy, and had that slight skin that occurs when it sits -- a bit of a disappointment. He offered to give me a new entree, but by that time I was just wanting to eat and didn't want to wait again. The flavor of the risotto was excellent, and the sea bass perfectly done. Husband thought that the chicken serving was a bit small, but very flavorful.

            Because of the wait for our entrees, we were given our choice of dessert on the house; this became the highlight of the evening -- Apricot Creme Brulee with White Chocolate, Apricot Sorbet and Apricot reduction. One word: Amazing. The dessert to order! Overall, our server was extremely knowledgeable but very approachable at the same time and efficient. I think he just got bogged down with the table of 14 and a couple of other tables, there should have been another person helping out.

            We would return again, probably to try some of their beef entrees.