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Vero Bistro excellent addition to Kensington

I have never written anything on this site before but after an incredible dinner last night I just had to try to get the word out about a fabulous restaurant in Calgary's Kensington area. My husband and I heard about Vero Bistro Moderne through a mailout the restaurant did. We live in the area and were very excited about the "tapas + wine" concept. The restaurant is very small but the decor makes it almost feel like a high end night club, red and black.. enough about that though onto the food.... We both settled on ordering the set menu which consisted of a starter, main and dessert. The first plate consisted of 2 braised scallops on creamed parsnip (I think) with pesto, pinapple salsa and a yam chip on the top... Not at all rubbery or tough, the scallops were done to perfection. The flavours were so intense and there was such a variety of textures that it made me take a LOT of time to eat it as I didn't want to finish it...it was sooo good. If we thought the first plate was great, the second was all that and more. The main course was crusted rack of lamb topped with mushroom ragout, red onion and gorgonzola risotto and vegetables. The lamb was tasty, tender and cooked perfectly to med-rare as we'd requested. The risotto was rich without being over the top and complimented the lamb very well. The vegetables which are usually treated as an afterthought definitely weren't here: tempura courgette, roasted pepper, roasted tomato and steamed broccoli. Again, this dish had a large variety of texture and flavour. Dessert was creme caramel served with lemon sorbet, fresh berries and berry coulis. This dish was executed as impecably as the other two...enough said. We had such a great night. The server was very helpful, making sure all was well and pointing out the perfect wine to go with our lamb. I'm interested to hear about other people experiences at this restaurant. I would definitely recommend Vero Moderne and I'm hoping enough people find out about it that it stays around...not so many that I can't get a table mind you...

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  1. Thanks for the report! What were the price ranges like?

    1. Thanks, where in Kensignton is it located?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Hart50

        209 10 Street NW
        Same building as Fiasco
        Between Osteria De Medici and Tandoori Hut

      2. Hi...the prices were really good for the calibre of food in my opinion. The 3 course set dinner menu was $50. From what I can remember the ala carte menu had starters between $7-$15 and main course ran $20-$40. The prices were in the same ballpark as The River Cafe or Muse. I just can't say enough about the meal we had there. We've eaten in some very nice restaurants and this was one of the best meals I've ever had. It was flawless. Let me know if you go how it was!!

        1 Reply
        1. re: ChipChop

          Hi ChipChop,
          As a matter of interest, what restuarants would you compare Vero Bistro to?


        2. We had a really strange experience our first visit to Vero two weekends ago.

          We made a reservation for dinner for four at 7 p.m. on a Friday. There was no talk of there being different seatings or that we'd have to leave by a certain time.

          Food was very uneven. For example, my special appetizer crab cakes were divine! Large and full of flavour. My friend's "ginger beef" appetizer looked and tasted well, like you'd get from a Chinese takeout place to our surprise. We thought there would be a play or a twist on it - but there wasn't.

          My sea bass on lobster ravioli was really good; my partner's lamb was fine (nothing remarkable, but it was well executed) - but our friend's chicken (special of the day) was BLOODY.

          It alarms me when a kitchen can't cook chicken properly!

          The staff were extremely apologetic, comped the plate, cooked her a new order of chicken, and sent over a complimentary glass of white wine.

          But then, they cleared everyone's dinner plates - as I was still finishing mine. To add discomfort, the waitress asked if anyone wanted dessert as I continued to eat. When we said, no, trying to make it obvious that I was still eating, she then asked if anyone wanted coffee.

          It was very strange and we felt totally like we were being pushed out the door, even though there was no lineup or explanation that they wanted the table.

          In the end, the staff handed out "free dessert cards" to us - but they look like plain business cards with no writing or anything on them. So I'd like to go back and see if they're actually legit.

          Also for a place that seems to pride itself on wine and wine pairings, we were never given any suggestions to pair with anything we ordered or even when we were looking over the wine list. My friend enjoyed the free glass of white they sent over, and asked the waitress what it was. She said she'd return with the bottle because she couldn't remember the name - but never did.

          The space is vibrant but unfortunately incredibly loud. I think I'd compare it to Jaro Blue if only for the similar attempt at wine/tapas/upscale casual - but Jaro Blue is much more flawless and refined and comfortable.

          Food-wise, based on what I ate and not my friend's chicken, I would say it was solid but nothing particularly creative or "knock my socks off."

          I do want to go a second time to try out Vero's tapas/wine experience and give it another chance, but our first visit was definitely underwhelming.

          2 Replies
          1. re: alau2

            Went back to try their tapas menu last night. It was like a whole different place compared to our dinner experiment. Our server knew his wines, and we never felt rushed.

            Very nice list of tapas - and reasonably priced in CALGARY! to boot (average $8).... We had a great beef carpaccio, poached soft egg on spicy chorizo and black truffle slices with soft (goat?) cheese, aged balsamic reduction and crostini.

            Impressively, the vegetarian section of their tapas menu was almost as long as the one open to meat-eaters.

            (I think the tapas menu is available only on Friday and Sat nights after 9 pm)

            1. re: alau2

              Sorry, tapas menu is avail EVERY night after 9 p.m. Closed Mondays.

          2. we walked by this place last weekend - it looks dated, everything was a little late 90's for me, the furniture, the menu....i expected something more stylish out of a brand new wine bar in kensington...

            1 Reply
            1. re: pants

              We had dinner here. It was pretty bad. My meal consisted of shrimp balls for an appetizer which were awful: just like something churned out from a food court Chinese place. Then a seared duck breast for an entree, which was merely passable. Service was fine. The decor is garish. Surprisingly pricey given the quality of the food.

              Not recommended for dining. On the other hand, it is open late and is a good place to go for a snack and a drink after a show, if you're near Kensington anyways.

            2. Has anyone been here as of late? Have they improved their food since October? Thanks!

              3 Replies
                1. re: _foodlove_

                  I was there about 2 months ago. We were on a winebar crawl so just had 1 glass of wine and 1 app each, we had shrimp balls and sweet potato gnocchi and both were really good, better than the food at a charcuterie place nearby.

                  1. re: _foodlove_

                    I was there in January 2009 for the Tapas menu on a Saturday night and it was great! 3 friends and I shared a bottle of wine, 5 tapas and an "urban drink" for sharing and paid about $30 each. We had a great waitress who reccomended the wine, which was very nice. The tapas we had were: vegtable tempura, black truffle goat cheese, shrimp balls, smoked salmon flat bread and panko breaded prawns. They were all excellent. The only complaint I had was that the portion sizing on the goat cheese was too small to share between two people, let alone three. All other portion sizes were great. It seems like people have had good tapas experiences but not good dinner experiences. I will have to go for dinner and post.

                  2. I live in Kensington, so I've been twice. First time was for a dinner, back shortly after they opened, and it was good but did not wow me. The best thing was the risotto that came with the lamb - better than the lamb itself. Overall at that time thought it was pretty good but not quite good enough to become one of my regulars.

                    Ended up back again fairly recently when trying to get a place in Kensington without reservations on a Friday night, turned away from a couple of other places. Meal was FANTASTIC. We were before the tapas menu began but the server told us about a few of the tapas things and let us order them anyway. The salmon flatbread was great; best dish was a squash and maple gnocchi that was a lovely mix of flavours. Only thing that was meh was the chili ribs, seemed like something you could get a pub for less. Had great attentive service and definetly were not rushed out, in fact we stayed chatting and sipping wine for hours with no problem.

                    I will go again for sure, I believe the tapas menu can be had all day on Sundays and I'd like to try that.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Casta

                      I went to Vero last night for the Vine & Dine Event being held there. I had never been before and it was so good! We had 6 courses and everything was done perfectly. The course we had were:

                      1. lobster bisque topped with a crostini & creme fresh and a Big chuck of lobster meat on top.

                      2. Crab cake stuffed with a scallop. Nice fresh fish with a very light dollop of remaloude on top.

                      3. Sweet potato gnocchi with gorganzola and browned butter. I hate blue cheese but it was on the side so you could eat it or not. These were little bits of 'heaven', light and airy - not doughy at all.

                      4. Butternut squash risottio with braised pork shoulder - so creamy with fall-off-the-bone meat!

                      5. Lamb Chop encrusted with herbs served with pureed yukon golds. I despise lamb but this was very nice, and tender, not gamey at all.

                      6. Carrot cake with ginger ice cream.

                      Vine and Dine pairs each course with wine and discusses the reasoning etc.. The chef came out and mingled with us, answering questions. A fine evening all around. Apparently they have a Sunday dinner Prix Fixe for $39 and it changes each week. I might check that out soon.

                      My only minor, minor complaint is that the chairs are not very comfortable. They recline too much for eating, I felt I had to hunch forward all night. My shoulders were tense afterwards.