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Milestones in Calgary - Worst Calamari Ever?

ybnormal Mar 4, 2008 03:14 PM

I had been avoiding Milestones (Downtown) since they came to Calgary, but as luck would have it, someone was leaving work, and they chose Milestones for their final lunch.

Scanning their menu, looked like a lot of potential, but the execution didn't follow.

I've had mediocre meals in the past little while, but I hadn't been compelled to post about them (Gunkan Sushi being one of them). That changed after our lunch experience at Milestones.

We shared the "Crispy Calamari with Andouille Sausage" which is supposed to be "Thinly-sliced calamari steak topped with spicy sausage tomato caper salsa, preserved lemon aioli".

The calamari came out like thick-cut french fries, coated in some sort of cornmeal coating. It apparently got fried for a little too long, since the coating tasted burnt, and the squid was a bit on the chewy side. Worse, the coating and the squid together just tasted awful. We all had one piece and said that something was wrong. It couldn't be saved by the salsa (which had no sausage in it) or the aioli (which was OK).

We flagged the server down and got him to take it back and get it redone. Attempt two simply confirmed our fears. The calamari was now cooked to proper spec, and was now merely...non-descript. Absolutely no flavor. Cardinal sin. And the mouth-feel of the cornmeal coating was still bad. And still no sausage in the salsa. At $10 a pop, I just felt cheated. Nor did the server come back to check up on us.

This did nothing to get our hopes up for the rest of lunch. I had the Thai Chicken Tacos, which was OK. Grilled chicken skewers with Asian slaw on little naan bread, with a mango vinaigrette & peanut dipping sauces. Could have been much better, but it was at least way more edible than the calamari. Same feeling applied to the dishes everyone else was eating. We'll take our small blessings and get out while the getting was good...

Maybe it was just today or maybe it's just me, but I expected more. I prefer posting about good or interesting food experiences, but this particular experience was so bad (not only for me, but everyone at our table), I had to document it. It just raises my ire to have a upscale chain delivering bad food at high prices.

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  1. sharonanne RE: ybnormal Mar 4, 2008 06:09 PM

    I have had an amazing turkey sandwich on sourdough cranberry bread at Milestones.

    1. h
      hsk RE: ybnormal Mar 4, 2008 09:22 PM

      Dunno about high prices - unless it's changed in the past few months I found Milestones to be pretty inexpensive - $10 for a calamari app is not high priced, at least not downtown. I've only been about 3 times over the last 2 years but I've always found it to be pretty good.

      1 Reply
      1. re: hsk
        ybnormal RE: hsk Mar 5, 2008 07:37 AM

        In hindsight, $10 is not a bad price for calamari, but price wasn't the biggest aspect of my experience - the taste was...

        I know I'm bashing Milestones, and there are probably a lot of supporters - like I said it was my first time there and it looked good, but a bad dish will always leave a bad first impression (at least for me). Oh well, c'est la vie. I'll chalk it up to the everchanging personnel in Calgary's kitchens...

      2. m
        miss_bennet RE: ybnormal Mar 4, 2008 10:10 PM

        I went to one in Victoria (Millstream) recently and I thought the Thai Chicken Tacos were great. Then again, I got them to bring out cilantro and extra lime.

        I also got their "Roasted Garlic Caesar Salad." That was actually one of the better Ceasar salads I've had, since almost every restaurant has it, and few do it well.

        But you know, different city, different employees.

        3 Replies
        1. re: miss_bennet
          djdragan RE: miss_bennet Mar 5, 2008 07:21 AM

          I've been to Milestones in Calgary a few times and have been generally happy with the food and prices.

          I went to Mile 1 Urban Tavern with a large group a few weeks ago. We ordered a bunch of appies including calamari. What they served would get my vote for worst calamari I have had in Calgary. Frozen rings thrown in the deep fryer, very salty, and very chewy.

          1. re: djdragan
            blond_america RE: djdragan Dec 2, 2008 07:02 AM

            Totally in agreement with you about the worst calamari ever. Then again i shouldn't have expected much from an "urban tavern".

          2. re: miss_bennet
            pants RE: miss_bennet Mar 5, 2008 09:11 AM

            coming from vancouver(land of milestones) it tastes fairly similar here. i've never had the calamari - there food in general isn't usually bad but i think i've been there too many times over the years and can taste it before i order - we only go there for brunch if Avenue diner is too lined up - unfortunately they've cut their brunch menu down to nothing, it used to be much better.

          3. livetocook RE: ybnormal Mar 5, 2008 02:12 PM

            Thanks for the review. Although I'm in Edmonton and hubby and I frequent Milestone's 4 or 5 times a year we have never ordered the calamari. But, that is definately something we would order if we were getting an app. Most of the time we've had pretty good food there. But, like miss_bennet said "But you know, different city, different employees."

            Now Montanas (same company) that is another story....gahhhhh

            4 Replies
            1. re: livetocook
              sleepycat RE: livetocook Mar 5, 2008 02:31 PM

              Montanas and Milestone are from the same company??

              1. re: sleepycat
                GaryR RE: sleepycat Mar 5, 2008 02:54 PM

                Swiss Chalet, Harvey's, Milestone's, Montanas and Kelsey's are all part of the Cara Company.

                1. re: GaryR
                  yen RE: GaryR Mar 5, 2008 04:43 PM

                  Yup - the fine people that bring us our airplane meals also bring us these other establishments :)

                  1. re: yen
                    sleepycat RE: yen Mar 6, 2008 07:20 AM

                    Is that what they do with the leftovers from the resturants?... just kidding. I never knew these tid bits.

            2. Jetgirly RE: ybnormal Mar 15, 2008 02:01 AM

              They make a vegetarian Thai Noodle Salad which is excellent (especially with no mushrooms).

              1. sleepycat RE: ybnormal Mar 15, 2008 03:14 AM

                brewsters actually the worst calamari ever.. tiny dried bits of fried rubber bands

                1. 2
                  23skidoo RE: ybnormal Dec 2, 2008 10:48 AM

                  They also have the worst mojito in Calgary too. Whole mint leaves and lime cordial. It's like green kool-aid with rum.
                  Most of their food probably comes frozen, pre-seasoned and breaded from the Sysco truck. For what it is, it's too expensive.

                  (Murietta's has a nice mojito).

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: 23skidoo
                    pants RE: 23skidoo Dec 2, 2008 12:41 PM

                    every milestones tastes exactly the same, even in a different province - having lived in vancouver i ate there fairly often and even in calgary i can taste my meal before it arrives.

                    the only thing it had going for it in vancouver was their scrambled eggs, not sure what made them so good (probably butter) but since they've cut their brunch menu i can't even have that anymore. good thing i don't have to eat there very often.

                    Murrietta's has really great drinks and food.

                    1. re: pants
                      MeXx RE: pants Dec 3, 2008 07:15 AM

                      i remember the milestones out in toronto as being only good for drinks and desserts... at least the one down the street from me... the one out in scarborough faired better...

                  2. AriaDream RE: ybnormal Dec 2, 2008 05:32 PM

                    That's too bad! I had a really great brunch there recently, and I'm fond of their Kobe beef meatloaf and the yam frittes. I don't think much of the deserts though...

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: AriaDream
                      23skidoo RE: AriaDream Dec 2, 2008 09:47 PM

                      "Kobe beef meatloaf" says it all, really.

                      1. re: 23skidoo
                        Bavin RE: 23skidoo Dec 2, 2008 10:08 PM

                        Unlikely that it is real Kobe beef from Japan. Price would be ridiculous.

                        1. re: Bavin
                          23skidoo RE: Bavin Dec 3, 2008 11:04 AM

                          Plus putting ultra-premium beef in a meatloaf is hilarious.

                          1. re: 23skidoo
                            AriaDream RE: 23skidoo Dec 3, 2008 09:10 PM

                            I believe I saw someone do it on Top Chef. Although I don't think it went down too well. :)

                          2. re: Bavin
                            Tindall RE: Bavin Dec 13, 2008 11:16 AM

                            I tried to buy Kobe beef from my butcher (Master Meats up in the NW) and they told me that Kobe beef can't be exported because it's a 'National Treasure'. Apparently, once it's crossed with non-Kobe beef, then it can be exported.

                            1. re: Tindall
                              ricecake RE: Tindall Dec 7, 2009 08:35 AM

                              To be tru Kobe beef it must come from a region of Japan and must be from wagu cows. Wagu and cross bread Wagu can be found all over the world and can be of very high quality. As with all cows they have cuts that are suitable for grinding and slow cooking. When purchasing Wagu for a restaurants most chefs seek out prime cuts thus leaving tougher cuts of meat available and stocked for purchases. The shrinkage tends to be a little high on staight ground wagu so I like to blend it with some chuck steak but it does make very good meatloaf.

                            2. re: Bavin
                              electroleum RE: Bavin Feb 18, 2010 10:50 PM

                              It's probably "American Kobe", which is just the yankee ripoff version of the real stuff. As mentioned below, it's cross-bred with angus beef, and it's fed different grains than the Japanese Wagyu.

                        2. s
                          seemac70 RE: ybnormal Dec 15, 2008 04:34 PM

                          When at the airport...

                          Milestone's is an offshoot of the venerable CARA Operations group.

                          They make airplane food look good to me.

                          But hey, if you get a chain on a good day, it might not be too bad, right?

                          1. electroleum RE: ybnormal Feb 18, 2010 10:53 PM

                            Good to know that I should avoid this dish at Milestones. Calamari is def. one of my fave appys.

                            On the flipside, I think Globefish may possibly have the BEST Calamari. Can't really explain how it's done. It's not battered. It's almost like it's seared with some sort of seasoning. Whatever they do. it was good enough for my buddy and I to order a second dish of it...haha

                            1. l
                              Lotti RE: ybnormal Feb 24, 2010 11:48 AM

                              My vote for the worst Calamari ever goes to Amici Italian Grill just east of Sobeys on Country Hills Blvd. At least from your description you could tell it was squid that you had - at Amici what they sell as calamari looks and tastes more like kitchen string with a coating glued on.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Lotti
                                Jasz RE: Lotti Feb 24, 2010 05:36 PM

                                Do you know if it's any relation to the Amici that is on 37St/ 17 Ave SW and is now Amici Sushi (which I find hilarious)?

                                1. re: Jasz
                                  Lotti RE: Jasz Mar 5, 2010 07:04 AM

                                  Sorry, I have no idea if they are related.

                                2. re: Lotti
                                  maplesugar RE: Lotti Mar 5, 2010 09:42 AM

                                  We lived 5 min from Amici's for years. Never had anything from there that'd knock my socks off - I'd describe it as homestyle italian. Decent lasagna, etc but nothing earth shattering. Never tried the calimari however (had a kitech prep job during my undergrad that involved prepping calimari, can't touch the stuff now)... your description makes me think it comes straight from frozen.

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