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Aug 10, 2007 08:42 AM

Guests coming into Calgary for a weekend

I've got a few friends coming into Calgary for a weekend, and I was working out a meal itinerary of sorts so that I could take them to some of my favourite places around the city (I just moved here about a month and a half ago).

Sadly, Capo will be closed during the time of their visit (the restaurant's on a pretty lengthy annual break); I really wanted to take them there, it's definitely one of the best restaurants I've been to in a very long time. Every dish has managed to impress there every time.

As such, I'm thinking of giong to Vintage for dinner, Diner Deluxe for brunch, and Pulcinella for lunch. The problem is the 2nd dinner - I want to take them somewhere that's Capo-quality, in that it's rare to have food of that caliber.

I'm leaning towards River Cafe because it was amazing the time that I went; very impressive. I haven't been to Rouge or Teatro, any thoughts if either is comparable enough to Capo to go there? I know, I'm a Capo nut.

On the topic of Teatro, I was veering away from upscale Italian since my loyalty to Capo would likely prevent me from enjoying any other place the same way. Having said that, is Teatro enough of a "blow-them-away" type of restaurant? Also, is Il Sogno open again yet, I've never been but I've heard it's good too. Again, my upscale Italian bias gets in the way of that ;)

Appreciate your thoughts!

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  1. dknight:

    As an "out of towner" myself I wholeheartedly agree with your suggestions and "bias" [smile].

    Too bad about Capo being closed for its holiday. It would have been my first selection.

    I have not been to Vintage nor Rouge so am unable to comment. I like Teatro but have enjoyed lunch more so than dinner.

    River Cafe would always be toward the top of my list when visiting Calgary. It is not in my opinion a "blow-them-away" type of restaurant but in my case that is a "good thing". You can obtain excellent well prepared food which depends upon fresh, largely local ingredients. Service is polished and professional without being intrusive. The wine list is excellent. The ambience is nice without being stuffy. You can be relaxed whether casually dressed or "suited up".

    Some other options I can recommend are Muse, Centini and Divino Wine and Cheese. I always go to the latter when in Calgary if for nothing more than wine up at their bar and their brilliant reversed ravioli with black truffles and lobster.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bob Mac

      Bob Mac - thanks for the heads up! I completely agree with you on River Cafe, and that's where I'm leaning heavily towards as time passes.

      I've been to Centini for lunch and I was impressed, but I'll reiterate my upscale Italian bias once more ;) Never been to Muse, and I've been to Divino but to be honest, I wasn't overly impressed. I actually enjoyed the ambience and food at Blink (right beside Divino) more, but I seem to be in the minority.

      Ever been to or heard anything about Il Sogno, especially recently in terms of the reasons for the renovations (new owner?) and how's it been since Giuseppe left and opened Capo? That's probably the closest contender to topple River Cafe, as well as Rouge if I can get a comment from someone saying that it's a 'Capo-like' experience.

    2. I've had too many good experiences here to count (for me, "good" extends to the fabulous espresso I had at the new, improved Caffe Beano today- see my blog for details about its renaissance- to the perfect later-season Creston cherries I had yesterday to more upscale things), but I can say that I've been "blown away" one or more times at Capo, Catch, Centini, Muse, River Cafe, and Brava Bistro. I have been pleased but not blown away at Divino and Teatro (the service at Teatro on my one visit was so slow as to be a kind of torture). When I think about upscale experiences here, the only one that I would absolutely not recommend is Osteria de Medici in Kensington. Pedestrian food, ridiculously overpriced, and rude snobby service.

      4 Replies
      1. re: John Manzo

        Lets hope you go on a good night, this city constantly lacks consistancy with service and food, the only 2 that I would recommend would be, are Capo and River Cafe possibly a 3rd, that being Rouge. Unfortunately some opinions on here about restaurants in Calgary are way more forgiving that they should actually be so if you go to any of these 3 you should enjoy your evening.

        1. re: buddah cabaret

          It's terrible to constantly lack consistency.

          You can only recommend two restos in a city with more than 4,000? Wow, sucks to be us. But, hey, thanks for your constructive criticism, I'll be less forgiving from now on.

          1. re: John Manzo

            Well I think you need to be less sensitive, the posting asked what restaurants they would take their friends who are coming for "a weekend" and the last time I checked weekends were only 2 days long, 3 days if it is a long weekend. To recommend 4000 restaurants would be a bit silly don't you think. OK if it makes you feel better I will add 2 more to the list Belvedere and Il Sogno. Oh and are the Creston cherries you are talking about the Lapin or Sweetheart variety

      2. I'd vouch for Rouge- Paul is amazing. It's particularly great if it's warm outside and you can get a table outside in the garden. And I'd add Saint Germain to that list, in the Hotel Arts.

        5 Replies
        1. re: crispychewy

          Sorry, been working too much. I second Rouge. It isnt Capo-ish, but it's different. The tasting menu is excellent. The food is great, but the atmosphere is "old house". If you've been to Edmonton, it's a lot like La Spiga, or Manor Cafe.

          For me, if it's atmosphere, i'd go to River. If it's food, i much prefer Rouge.

          1. re: yen

            Hmmm now I'm leaning towards Rouge! What dishes are the signature ones @ Rouge, and beyond that what are people's personal faves? Atmosphere is no biggie, food is first and foremost. I love River Cafe - the food there was amazing, but if people can say that Rouge tops River Cafe food-wise then I'm game.

            One caveat: not looking for much in the way of seafood; not to say it has to be super-meaty, but if the best dishes at Rouge were fish or some sort of lobster/crab/shellfish dish, then I may not go for it.

            What's the word on Muse and Brava Bistro - signature dishes/personal faves? I've been to Centini for lunch and was decently impressed, what would be the allure for the dinner menu?

            1. re: dknight

              I'm a big fan of Muse, although I haven't been there in several months.

              Here's a relatively recent thread that goes over Muse fairly well:

              My fave is the duck breast...

              1. re: ybnormal

                Thanks ybnormal, much appreciated. I lvoe duck breast, I think I'll check it out sometime.

                Also, still awaiting thoughts on Il Sogno - has it re-opened? How does it compare to Capo, especially after Giuseppe left and opened Capo? Signature dishes?

                Ditto for Brava - I'd like to try it out, but want to know what the good stuff is.

              2. re: dknight

                Sorry dk, im out of the country right now - makes it tough to respond in a timely manner.

                Anyway, Rouge isnt seafood per se - there are seafood options, but lots of meat and game. I think they use some lousy synonym for their food (Global cuisine or something like that), but the basic idea is they source some very freh stuff, combined with great ingredients for simple, not overdone presentation with nice clean flavours. I enjoyed it more than River C... it didnt have that "beat you over the head with our Canadian-ness" that i find RC often does.


          2. I would certainly concur that Rouge is very good. I would also throw Belvedere into the mix as I have recently had two superb lunches there.