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May 1, 2008 02:22 PM

Muse Restaurant - Calgary

My wife and I had such a memorable experience at Muse in Kensington on Saturday night, that I just had to share. The service was excellent, friendly without being overly familiar, with the timing of every dish just spot on. Our server was knowledgeable about the wine menu and was easily able to suggest some excellent choices to accompany our meal. We were seated at a corner rounded table that afforded us a somewhat private space without feeling completely separated from the general atmosphere of the room. All of these were definite pluses, but the food itself was the undisputed star of the show (or perhaps more aptly the chef and kitchen staff were the true stars!).

We had chosen the 9 course tasting menu, and after our server ensured that we had no food allergies or foods we were disinclined towards in any way, we were presented with one delight after another. Neither of us has been able to narrow it down to just one favorite dish of the night. Heck, we can't even narrow it to a top five. Every dish was one we'd happily order again were it on the regular menu. What we had was:

- gourmet popcorn with butter, sea salt, cracked pepper and white truffle oil
- fresh oyster on the half shell with a dollop of horseradish
- cumin and corn soup finished with creme fraiche
- bread (which we likened more to baking powder biscuits) with Parmesan and parsley
- organic braised globe artichoke in vegetable/wine broth with roma tomatoes and finished with buffalo mozzarella
- BC striped shrimp with plum tomatoes and avocado drizzled with infused olive oil
- pan fried halibut with celeriac puree topped with sauted fiddleheads
- panco crusted sweetbreads and shimiji (sp?) mushrooms served with a vermouth and cream sauce
- seared foie gras on a Belgian waffle square with berry glazed pear chutney
- green tea marinated duck breast on a bed of lentils finished with fava beans
- strawberry granita
- grilled lamb tenderloin with sauteed king oyster mushrooms and Yukon Gold potato pancakes
- white chocolate whipped cream mousse with passion fruit jus, topped with dried strawberry chips, lemon cracker crumble, fresh raspberries and mint leaves

While the popcorn and bread are quite likely part of the service with every meal, we have done tasting menus at other restaurants where they have counted the amuse bouche and the palate cleanser as courses. We were therefore surprised when this was not the case at Muse. Also, we have often found tasting menu course sizes can be quite small. Again, this was not the case at Muse. Every course was of more than sufficient size that you never felt like you didn't get enough. The chef even came out for a brief visit before the dessert course and to ask our opinions of the various offerings. He offered to add in an additional course so we could enjoy a selection of cheeses and accompaniments before we moved on to dessert, which we sadly had to decline as we were already questioning our ability to find room for even a small dessert. We left feeling more than sated, completely thrilled with the experience, and fully intending to return before too much time passes. The only thing we're likely to change on our next visit is we'll try the 7 course tasting menu instead, and hopefully leave a little less stuffed but equally enthralled. We heartily recommend Muse!

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  1. Besides the decor, which I dislike , Muse has quietly been offering the best dining in the city for quite a while now. Thanks for your detailed post.

    1. We too had an excellent meal at Muse this past weekend. Service was great. Our server made one of the best martinis I've ever had (tanq 10, dirty, with a bella cerignola olive).

      We too loved the popcorn, which came out a few minutes after we sat down, before we ordered. At first the pungent truffle smell was a bit overwhelming, but the popcorn was absolutely delicious.

      I started with some oysters, that were served with a light lemon and horseradish liquid, and were absolutely lovely. A bit pricey, but totally yummy, cold and fresh.

      I had an artichoke dish as well - a trimmed artichoke heart that was so perfectly cooked - tender but al dente and not mushy (as they often are when I cook them) and served in a delicious tomato cream sauce topped with asiago. I have never served my artichokes with tomato (always garlic butter, vinaigrette, or hollandaise) and I must say it was a great complement. Perhaps the asiago was a bit strong though.

      I had an excellent lamb sirloin, served with barley risotto and a creamy mushroom sauce. Really good.

      Finished with a wonderful cheese plate - 3 kinds of cheese, candied walnuts (sooo yummy and sweet to go with the bleu) and an apricot compote.

      Everyone at the table raved about their dishes. We enjoyed a leisurely pace of service, with enough attention and chattiness (we were a very chatty group with all the wait staff) without unwelcome intrusions. Sous chef Xavier (I think) came out to talk with us.

      I agree - we definitely would recommend Muse. The bill for four of us including tip was $600, but that includes a round of cockails and 2 bottles of wine.

      1. Having read these reviews, I decided to take my wife to Muse for her birthday with a 6 course tasting menu and a wine pairing (which was excellent but a little overkill, should have stopped at 3 glasses lol). I have to say that for fine dining, this place ranks right up there. Probably the second best experience for myself after Ramsay's in London (imho better than River Cafe and Feenies). The service was pretty exceptional which is saying a lot as service seems to be a rarer commodity nowadays in Calgary. The chef even came out and talked to us for a bit which is always nice.

        Will definately be going back and trying their a la carte menu.

        1. Just returned from our dinner at Muse. If wishing the tasting menu, we were told you have to call 24 hours in advance, which we did not know about -- so a heads up for anyone wanting the tasting menu.

          So, we ordered our own tasting menu of 4 courses from the a la carte menu. I had:

          Lobster Bisque with Chili Oil and Scallion
          Soy Marinated Ahi Tuna, Garlic Resine, Black Sesame, Fresh Cilantro
          Noble Farm Roasted Duck Breast, Baby Vegetables, Sweet Potato and Ginger Puree, Orange Gastrique
          Compressed Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Ice Cream, Raspberry Paint

          Mr S:

          White Bean & Roasted Garlic Soup, Crispy Prosciutto
          One Year Aged Organic Risotto, ‘Hog Wild’ Wild Boar Lardons, Spring Peas & Tendrils
          Yukon Potato Lobster Lasagna, Seared Scallops, Sauce American, Black Tobikko

          The decor could use a bit of updating, and we weren't crazy about the bread -- which appeared to be scones witih roasted garlic; found them a bit heavy. But, the quality of food for the price point was amazing -- for example, the Lobster Lasagne was only $35.00. The risotto was amazing -- one of the best risottos we've ever had, on par at one of the top restaurants in Florence, Enoteca Pinchiorri. Staff were great and extremely knowledgeable -- friendly but not too familiar, plus the courses were paced perfectly. I think we have found a new favorite and will defnitely be back.