Quick Week-End Visit & Dining in Calgary
My wife and I headed down to Calgary last week-end so she could venture to a craft oriented exhibition at the Convention Centre.
We walked down to Stephen's Avenue toward the noon hour hoping that we would be able to pick up something to eat and drink at Divino. Unfortunately it was Saturday and they were closed.
We ended up at Murietta's more out of default than anything else as apart from the "diner" between Divino and Saltlik, not much else apart from Milestones and the like seemed open.
We ate in the main dining room under the natural light provided by the open ceiling. It was very nice as on previous visits we had either eaten in their darker lounge or out on the balcony.
My wife had an enormous spinach salad with sliced strawberries and a pasta dish. There was too much of the former to finish off but it was quite good. The pasta I did not try. It came with a basil cream sauce.
I opted for the Pacific halibut. I requested that it be cooked, "underdone". I love halibut but and particularly appreciate it when it flakes easily and the flesh is just past opaque so that it remains has a moist, almost melt in one's mouth quality. I definitely do not want it dry or similar to "fish and chips" texture.
Our waiter who was personable but a tad nervous came back later indicating that the chef could not undercook the fish and that they cooked it to the degree of "doneness" based upon the recommendation of their supplier [?] Oh well, that is what one gets for having ordered fish in a chop house.
The fish ended up being good, albeit more cooked that I prefer served over a bed of beluga lentils.
I enjoyed the atmosphere but we were just about the only clientele. Their wine list is good with more "by the glass" options than I am used to seeing. We enjoyed an Australian riesling with our meals. A Pike's Riesling from the Polish Hill region of the Clare Valley. Very good.
That night we went to Capo for their early sitting. We arrived about 5:30 p.m. with the understanding that the restaurant required the table for 8:00 p.m.
I understand the "two sitting" policy for the week-ends and have no difficulty with it particularly when they are very "up front" with it when one calls for reservations. However, although as it turned out we had plenty of time we could not help but feel rushed. The food came out pronto and we had the impression that they were anxious to get us done. Maybe they think the first sitting are there to eat and get to the theatre whereas the "diners" will come as part of the second wave.
We ordererd our appetizers and a bottle of prosecco. When we ordered our mains [pheasant in both cases] I mentioned I would like some some red wine and was advised by our server that we were in luck as their wine steward was working that evening and he would send him over.
Well, some time passed and when I reminded our waiter he did go off and another gentleman returned with two glasses of red wine that he placed on our table without so much as a good evening or having previously confirmed what we were or not interested in. As he began to leave I asked what we were going to drink, he replied, "a chianti" and again as he was about to continue on I inquired "which chianti" and he knew the producer.
Again just found it curious. I would have thought he would have come with the wine list and discussed the selection. We probably would have had a bottle but perhaps because of the prosecco which we started with, he assumed we would only want a glass.
As per usual, the pasta courses were nothing short of outstanding. The pheasant was ok but as my wife commented later, the pasta is superb along with all of the extra touches, cutlery, glassware, plating, little covered pots with the accompanying veg but sometimes the fish or meat mains are not as interesting.
They were very busy. Even noted Rob Feenie at another table.
Left a little disappointed, not because it was not good but more because it had been some time since our last visit and we...at least I...was looking so forward to it. I guess you cannot hit a "home run" every time.
Capo translated is chef, in the case of this place it's all about the chef; he is completely inflexible and a number of savy Calgary diners wouldn't go there anymore as they're fed up with being rushed and the attitude from the kitchen and the staff who seem to think they're doing you a favour by serving you. Hopefully the wine list has improved since the last time I was there. It will be a frosty day in July until I go back there (then again the weather in Calgary is very odd). I'd take Il Sogno anytime over Capo, food is just as good with a much better attitude toward service, probably the reason why capo left to start Capo.
In no way am I condoning the wine service that Bob Mac received, but I would just like to express that my last experience at Capo was completely contrary to what caeater experienced. Table for two, reservation, late seating on a Thursday. We, being of the same opinion as Bob Mac's wife, split two appetizers and two pastas, and a dessert (+coffee) instead of ordering entrees. No wine. No entrees. Service was a bit perfunctory, but still professional and efficient. Got better as we went. Allowed us to stay well past closing, chatting, drinking water and coffee, while they cleaned up. We insisted on leaving several times, but they insisted that we stay - saying that had to be there anyway for a while, and they would let us know when we had overstayed our welcome. The food was excellent. In no way did I feel rushed, and while i may not qualify as a "Savvy" Calgary diner, I would go back.
Your experience is what I remember from my earlier visit to Capo and previous meals at Il Sogno. That perhaps explains why I found the service disconcerting on this occasion.
Had not intended it to be a "hatchet job" and hope that is not the impression I left.
I'll be back for the appetizer and pasta courses. I just won't go for the "first seating"
re: Bob Mac
You definitely did not leave the impression of it being a hatchet job. I felt you wrote fairly. I just wished to express my experiences - while caeater provided an interesting look from the other side, I only wished to balance it out for a fair perspective on the restaurant as a whole. It isnt surprising to me that service can be rough there - but I just wanted others to understand it is also possible to have a great experience there as well. Go for the later seating, order the best items on the menu, interact with your server. Seems like the recipe for a better experience at this establishment.
DH was at Murietta's friday and was floored by the by-the-glass prices, apparently house red goes for $10/glass these days. I dunno what he had but I have difficulty with the concept that the least expensive red is really that pricey...or maybe I need to get out more.
About Capo - I think I'd have been rather upset if someone just decided what I was going to drink and to be so flip and just offer up "a chianti" when asked what was in the glass? geesh he must have some brass ones.