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Wild Ginger - Calgary

Has anyone been to Wild Ginger yet?

I was opentable today and checked it out - seems expensive $30-50 range.
the website isn't up and running yet http://www.wildginger.ca/

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  1. Waaaayyyy overpriced. The atmosphere and darkened space make no sense in the bottom of a bright office tower. Not sure that Vickers has hit the mark on this one.

    1. 341 4th Ave SW- what building is this in? Did it replace something?

      11 Replies
      1. re: John Manzo

        It's an office tower right across the street from the Rosalynn Building...I should know this because I walk through it everyday! LOL I'll get back to you on it. Another bad sign was the stink of fish emanating from the front entrance (which is of course guarded by the token Vickers girls - scantily clad, cleavage, etc.). I don't think it replaced anything. When someone else is paying I'll be happy to go back.

        1. re: ureviewcalgary

          it's in calgary place isn't it? was the food any good?

          i kind of figured it might be a club sort of atmosphere by the description on opentable.com - i hope this isn't vancouver restaurant attitude sneaking in to calgary....that's one of things i enjoy most about living here, you can go out for a nice meal and find friendly people at the restaurants

          1. re: pants

            Calgary Place is on 6th Ave near the new courts, so that can't be it- also CP is on the north side of the street (even numbers).

            The only Vickers establishment I've been in, I am proud to say, was Zen 8 in 2000 when sushi was still exotic and overpriced in Calgary (anybody remember what a thing it was that we finally had a "fast food" sushi place the then-newly-renovated Chinook Centre?) and the old Ceili's for a CIFF volunteer event (with, I must admit, pretty good bar food).

            1. re: John Manzo

              my office is doing some signage for Calgary Place and i thought i saw wild ginger on the directory list...oops, maybe i am mistakeb. i'm still learning my way around this town :)

              yeah, we had some tasters from ceili's at taste of calgary last year and it was pretty good. their beer is seems a bit pricey though...

              1. re: pants

                Wait a sec, is this place in that renovated retail space on Barclay Mall? If it is, it is great to see SOMETHING going in there!

                1. re: pants

                  Yeah, it's Calgary Place. Used to be called Fracmaster Tower. 355-4 Ave SW. We walked by at lunch today. It's right across the street (South) of the Westin.

                  Not entirely sure what that building is called now.

                  1. re: taiphun

                    I'm so stupid, I was confusing Calgary Place with Calgary HOUSE, which is on 6th Ave. Not to be further confused with Calgary Place APARTMENTS. :-)

                    I know they did a big reno of the retail space in Calgary PLACE and it was envisioned to be like Eaton Centre and to add some life to Barclay- so a major resto is good news indeed.

                    1. re: John Manzo

                      SO not good. I went during its opening and despite the fact that I didn't even have to pay for my food, I still thought it was terrible. Do yourself a favor and don't go.

                      1. re: star33star

                        Completely agree with star33star. Decided to try out the new corporate credit card, and went by the bar waitress' recommendations. She described Wild Ginger like P.F. Chang's in the States, and said most tables of 2 get an appy, two main meat dishes, and a rice or noodle.

                        The Kung Pao Chicken came out before our appetizer, a Nudie Roll we asked to start with. The roll fell apart as I dipped it in the soy, and I'm very good with sushi & chopsticks. Roll tasted OK, 4 large pieces. We told the waitress about the cold chicken and she apologized and offered to take it off our bill or get a new one, so we got the new one. The beef dish was average, and the recommended lobster fried rice didn't taste of lobster at all. It came in a large white bowl, with no spoon so I asked for one. It was difficult to eat off the plates you get (small rectangular sushi style serving tray) so I asked for a bowl, because I'm Chinese and thats how we eat rice. She apologized for not having regular bowls, but got us small square edamame bowls which did the trick.

                        She was trying, but I overheard her apologizing to both tables next to us for one screw-up after another, it was comical. I asked for a dessert menu, but there was none. She did say they have this very good deep fried banana spring roll with coconut ice cream, so I ordered that. 5 minutes later she came back apologizing, saying she's not sure if they can make it and she'd have to ask the manager. 10 minutes later she came back and all was well. That was the best dish of the bunch.

                        In Summary:

                        Food: Like you're ordering appy's at Fuel (Earl's lounge). Except not as tasty. The food is like oversauced Chinese food, but not as fresh, and not fusion by any means. Dessert was great.

                        Service: Apology after apology, and we got a 2nd nudie roll served with our main dishes which we had to explain we had received already. I almost feel sorry for our server as it was pretty unorganized.

                        Atmosphere: Dark, red, trying to be trendy, but strange in that on one side you get the typical Vickers wine cellar in one corner, a view of the TD bank machine in the other, and bright windows looking out to the downtown street that are dying for curtains or stained glass. 95% of the clientele were businessmen. Usually thats a tip that the restaurant is no good - no women eat here.

                        Value: $122 for 2. 1 appy, 2 mains, 1 rice, 2 dessert, 1 coffee, 2 glasses of red.

                        Comment: Follows the same Vickers formula: flashy interiors, good wine list, hot waitresses, and bad overpriced food. If it weren't for expense accounts, this place would go broke in a few weeks. Wait, thats just like all of Vicker's other restaurants (Chophouse, Belgo...).

                        1. re: Vancity Vic

                          You only forgot to mention one thing...the "short" pour that all Vickers places seem famous for as well.

                          1. re: ureviewcalgary

                            Lol. Totally! And then the snotty attitude when you ask them to stop short pouring. My friend thought it was a 50/50 chance they'd spit in my beer when i asked them to fill my hoegaarden to the line, not settling for 50% foam in a glass. I figured it was worth the risk! :)

        2. BRUTAL, simply brutal is all I can say. Way overpriced. $6 for tea? Each of the rolls was at least $11 and there were only 4 pieces. Food wasn't even good, it was no better than the majority of other japanese restaurants in calgary. This doesn't even compare with the service which was also brutal. They brought my food out probably an hour or so after other people in my party had started receiving their food. My wife had to finish her lobster (not really) fried rice before I even received my food or else hers would have gotten cold. I had to tell them that my roll wasn't there and i told them to forget about it but they said "oh it's coming, we ordered it" and then it came out and I was sorely disappointed because it was not even tasty. When we got our bill they had a mistake saying that we did have an extra $8 bottle of beer and when we said no, they simply said, well we brought it out...so we paid it rather than causing a scene since we were there for a special occasion. Speaking of causing a scene, at 11:00 PM one of the employees turned on the lights (it's very dark in there) and proceeded to yell out throughout the whole restaurant "THE UGLY LIGHTS ARE ON, EVERYONE IS UGLY NOW!" Very professional. That's great considering we were there celebrating a special occasion. How brutal is that? I know there is a tight labour crunch in Calgary, but you must be able to find some good workers, for the money that they charge there, they should be able to pay some decent wages. We were also dinged with a 20% automatic gratuity charge. I'm not one to complain about gratuity since I would consider myself a pretty good tipper when it is warranted, often giving 50% of the bill as a tip, but with the service I received there that day, I would be hard pressed to say they deserved 10%.

          I would not recommend that anyone go there, it is too much for what you get, it's brutal service and the food is no good.

          1. Stupidly expensive. $30/person lunch (no drinks) still left me hungry. The "sharing" menu is very confusing (what is the difference between the appetizers and the mains?) and offers little selection. The food was tasty but the portions were tiny ($6 per skewer of satay chicken, and half the skewer was actually vegatables?). The atmosphere just doesn't work, is too dark, tabletops are cheap, and the lighting is just plain ugly. Service was crap too: 2/3 empty and yet had to wait 10+ minutes for the cliche'd boots-and-boobs waitress to get our bill.

            I will never go there again. For $30 lunch I can easily eat at Caesar's and many others and walk away feeling satisfied. Overall, a very crappy dining experience.

            1. The food is fantastically overpriced: $6 for tea (per person!), $6 for a single measly skewer of satay chicken, $11 for a roll of sushi with just 4 pieces, $16 for a tiny tiny dish of kung pow chicken. I don't mind paying for quality, but the food here is not even close. And WTF is with the dark, stark, decorating? Waitress: "the dishes are served in the order they are cooked, which some people find confusing" No shit Sherlock, I want my appetizers first followed by my mains.

              1. Do I dare hope that a Vickers establishment goes under?

                15 Replies
                1. re: Shazam

                  The good thing is that it it has absolutely no curb appeal as I have walked by it a couple of times and if one didn't no any better one would have any idea it was there.

                  1. re: Hart50

                    I actually think that's part of its schtick- "it's so exclusive!!!"

                    1. re: John Manzo

                      I heard that they recently got a new head chef, has anyone been back there?

                      1. re: whackamole

                        The closing party at CIFF (Sept 30) was at Wild Ginger, and I have to admit that the food was fantastic, all of it. I was very impressed.

                        1. re: John Manzo

                          JM, how does it compare to some of your preferred Chinatown spots?

                          I'm thinking about checking out Wild Ginger for dinner. Will I suffer from sticker shock?

                          1. re: maclock

                            It was a party, I didn't see the prices. But I've heard it's pricey.

                            I couldn't compare to authentic Chinese (or other Asian, since the menu is pan-Asian), but I must repeat the everything I had was delicious. Really impressive. Even the martinis :-)

                            1. re: John Manzo

                              Thanks again.

                              By the way, good call on Sukiyaki in the Eaton Centre food court. I got the spicy chicken noodle soup. It was great!

                  2. re: Shazam

                    Which places (past and present) are Vicker's? I'm interested in a list - it might explain a few things.

                    Bar-wise I know he was Cowboys, Coyote's, Ceili's and for restaurants Belgo and now this Wild Ginger. Is the Chicago Chophouse?

                    1. re: ethereal_girl

                      The chophouse is, as is Zen 8. For beverage establishments, i think you missed Tantra.

                          1. re: John Manzo

                            Ah yes... i always forget that big pit in the ground at 5th and 8th used to be something more than a future parking lot. I stand corrected :)

                            1. re: John Manzo

                              I was at Wild Ginger last night and I wasn't wild about it(pun intended). My Kirin Ichiban was nice and the server asked if I'd prefer a glass or bottle...I don't think I've had beer straight from the bottle since Uni days so it was nice she didn't just plonk the bottle in front of me. She then asked if any of us had been there before and only one had...she then says to her: "Ok so you can explain the sharing menu..." and disappears; leaving my dining companion to explain that the menu is set up so you pick different apps and mains and share, rather than dishes coming out individually plated. I didn't mind but I would have thought it was the servers job to explain such details...(it's mentioned on their website which I hadn't had a chance to read beforehand).

                              The chicken gyoza were good, although greasier than I expected (slipped out of my chopsticks) DH and others quite liked the Tuna tartar...and the edamame were as good as I've had at sushi places... they were served with a rather liberal amount of Sea salt...which on it's own would have been fine but added to the saltiness of a lot of the mains we shared and I was left with almost nothing but the taste of salt at the end of the night: the garlic snap peas for instance were cooked perfectly but almost ruined by the salty (not very garlicy) sauce they were covered in. Stand out dish was the Wok Salmon, it was done to moist and tender perfection and the sweet sauce was a nice change from the saltier dishes. Portions weren't huge...one gyoza each, 3-4 small pieces of Kung Pao Chicken each etc... the salmon was slightly larger at a "deck of cards" portion per person. We didn't get to the dessert menu (it wasn't offered!) but honestly I was happy just to leave.

                              Oh, and btw Zen 8 is making a comeback. There are signs next to Wild Ginger indicating that Zen 8 will be taking up the space where Gus's used to be.

                              1. re: maplesugar

                                Why were you happy just to leave? It doesn't sound like you had a bad experience.

                                Where's "Gus's"?

                                1. re: John Manzo

                                  There was 15 min between the plates being cleared and the server's return and I needed something to get rid of the salty taste... that left me a bit frustrated is all. We weren't offered dessert menus but had briefly discussed it after the plates were cleared and our companions had early meetings today so they wanted to get home...I might give it another chance but I wasn't thrilled all in all.

                                  Apparently Gus's was an "upscale Country Kitchen" (as described by our dining companion) that used to be in Calgary Place beside where Wild Ginger is now. So Zen 8 and Wild Ginger will soon be side by side.

                      1. I hope its not affiliated or part of the one that opened in Vancouver which is kinda like a Korean fusion type restaurant. It wasn't good but some good reviews of it on dinehere.ca I think its just me but I find Korean food not palatable :(

                        1. I've been to Wild Ginger for lunch a couple of times and although the food is quite good it is incredibly expensive for what one gets. I would go back but only if it was on an expense account.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Hart50

                            If it weren't for expense accounts, most of Vickers' restaurants would go under. Walk by Wild Ginger at lunch on any weekday and its pretty busy, with a 95% male clientele, and a salesman from some service company at every table wearing a corporate polo or black jacket.

                            Check the Penny Lane group's website if for some reason (there really is none) you would want to try another of his fine establishments. www.plegroup.ca