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Milestones in Calgary - Worst Calamari Ever?

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

    1. 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

        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. 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

          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

            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

            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. 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

              Montanas and Milestone are from the same company??

              1. re: sleepycat

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

                1. re: GaryR

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

                  1. re: yen

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

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

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

                1. 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

                    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

                      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. 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

                      "Kobe beef meatloaf" says it all, really.

                      1. re: 23skidoo

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

                        1. re: Bavin

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

                          1. re: 23skidoo

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

                          2. re: Bavin

                            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

                              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

                              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. 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. 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. 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

                                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

                                  Sorry, I have no idea if they are related.

                                2. re: Lotti

                                  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.