Heading to the new centre of the universe mid-week for a long day of meetings, then want to have a good meal on my own before getting the red-eye back east. Have enjoyed Tribune, River Cafe, and the restaurant at the Arts Hotel on past trips. I put a bit of a premium on good wines by the glass and a bar where you can eat comfortable while doing a bit of people watching or reading. Any suggestions?
Well you have already gone to three good options.
Given the criteria you mentioned I would give Divino Wine and Cheese on Stephen Avenue beside Belvedere and across from the James Joyce Pub a go.
Decent offerings by the glass. Staff know their wine. If Brian is still bartending he is a nice guy to speak with. If they still have the reversed lobster and black truffle ravioli....ymmm
I like Brava Bistro - it has a nice bar for eating, reading, and people watching. I also think the wine list by the glass is pretty decent. And I have always loved the food. Their patio is also great for people watching - and the weather has been amazing (if not a bit too hot) so a meal and a glass of wine would be perfect out there.
Thank you for acknowledging Calgary as the new Centre of the Universe.
One of my favourite things is to eat at the counter overlooking the kitchen at Centini, though you'd be watching the dinner prep, not "people" exactly, but it's still awesome. You can also dine bar-side at Belvedere and as mentioned Brava Bistro.
How about the bar at Murietta's? I think the food is great there, and the setting is nice as well. There's the deck option, which overlooks 8th Ave - great for people watching.
Brava, Belvedere and Divino are also excellent options.