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Dine Out Calgary

Hi everyone,
I couldn't find another post for this so I thought I'd ask, any suggestions for which restaurants are a must?


My cousin from Vancouver is in town and he wants to eat something good. No real preference just a suggestion of what restaurant we should take advantage of right now would be great.

Thanks and sorry if it's a repost.

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  1. Dinner at Rush for only 35 dollars? Interesting! For the price that would be my pick. :)

    1. $35 for the River Cafe's menu seems good - but then I like Short Ribs, butternut squash and bread pudding :-)

      Hope it warms up before hiking over the bridge though...

      1 Reply
      1. re: ybnormal

        Went to Big Fish for lunch today. Ordered their Dine Out Calgary menu. $25.

        Smoked salmon on greens, steelhead trout burger (saskatoon BBQ sauce!) and orange creme caramel.


        Excellent meal.

      2. I was so disappointed not to see any vegetarian menus. Other cities I've been to have always had AT LEAST a handful of vegetarian choices. Big thumbs down!

        1. I wouldn't go to any restaurants which are usually very expensive, chances are the staff will be disgruntled and cranky: the cooks won't like cooking cheap food and lots of it, and the servers are used to being tipped on much higher bills.

          10 Replies
          1. re: hungryungry

            oh, i dunno. with oil prices tanking, I think most servers will just be happy to have people back in their restaurant...

            1. re: hungryungry

              that was my experience at the similar event in vancouver - it was always bad. i say if you don't want to embrace the concept of the event, don't get involved.

              tribune in calgary was part of the event a couple years ago and we had a fabulous experience - excellent food, no skimping on service or portions - too bad they aren't involved anymore.

              did Blink last year - the service was fine but you could tell the food had be prepared well in advance - it was decent for the price but would have been that much better freshly made.

              1. re: hungryungry

                That just saddens and angers me to no end. I guess that's the state of our service in Alberta.

                I was in Manhattan during their Dine Out week and we went to Bar Boulud which is the cheapest restaurant in Daniel's line and it was unbelievable what we got for a three course $35 lunch. The service was miles above anything in Calgary (and we've been to many "high-end" places) and sad to admit even better than Gordon Ramsay's home restaurant in Chelsea. The food was prepared to perfection and that same 3 course would have easily sold for $80 here in Calgary.

                And by exceptional service we had (keep in mind this was also lunch service):
                1. Utensils replaced after every course
                2. Each course was explained when it arrived
                3. Attentive servers that were not intrusive
                4. Water glasses never got below half
                5. Whenever you got out of your chair to go to the bathroom a server would stealthily neatly fold up your napkin on the table
                6. Before the desert course they would wipe all the crumbs off the table
                7. If the tablecloth had any liquid stains on it from dinner, they would lay a clean smaller table cloth over the spills
                8. Even though the 3 course menu was fixed, they happily did alterations to it as my wife could not have any gluten

                After this exceptional lunch meal, I found out from others that Cafe Boulud is supposed to be quite a bit better than Bar Boulud. How that is possible I have no idea. And the place was packed as well but I saw that every other table got the same high quality service.

                We are off to Rush tonight for their Dine Out and we'll have to see how it compares....

                1. re: slingshotz

                  We went to Rush last night to do Dine Out...we all quickly changed our mind and went with the chef's tasting menu ($95). 2 of us also did the wine pairing. A lot more money than we originally had intended to spend, but the experience and food were well worth it. All your points Slingshotz were hit there and I didn't see a difference in how any of the tables were treated - no matter what menu they went with.

                  I was so impressed I've already made a reservation for my birthday in 2 months.

                  1. re: cmanten

                    That's great to hear at least someone here is making a step in the right direction. I'm looking forward to tonight!

                    1. re: cmanten

                      We decided on Rush as well and had a very nice experience. I agree that as I was reading down slingshotz list, Rush pretty much hit all the points. I'm glad I went. As for the service in Alberta it's really due to the fact that are a shortage of workers (still), even if it's a recession so the quality of service tends to go down. I've never really considered any of Calgary's restaurant to be world class or exceptional because I don't think we have the right kind of city feel for it (if that makes sense).

                      1. re: cn1822

                        I know what you mean about Calgary... I think Rush is really having a go at that kind of excellence though. I hope it lasts. I'm taking my mom there for her birthday.

                        1. re: AriaDream

                          A little late for a follow up but I have to say that my faith in the Calgary service has been partially restored by the fantastic time we had at Rush. It was service about as good and attentive as Manhattan and that house sparkling water, divine!

                          They even customized their dine out menu to my wife who is gluten intolerant. Nice to see that they didn't let the cheaper menu affect the service between tables. The main dish was so good that I even forgot about drinking my wine. Will definitely be going back.

                    2. re: slingshotz

                      That's impressive to see they keep their service standards incredibly high even at the lower end places. I dined at Daniel's last time I was in New York and it was pretty much the highlight of my entire life.

                      1. re: wonderflosity

                        I'm glad to hear that some of you have had good experiences, I've worked in quite a few restaurants here in Calgary, and either they begrugingly participated, or some of them didn't participate at all. I haven't personally had a good experience yet, but I'm going to Laurier Lounge on Sunday so here's to hoping!

                  2. I was at Rasoi in Marda Loop on Wednesday. The Dine Out menu was pretty decent and the service was very good. There was also a vegetarian option as well.

                    My personal two cents on service and such during dine out week, I think it is stupid for restaurant to provide poor service and food. I was at the River Cafe a few years back for dine out week. The service and the quality of the food that night was absolutely brutal. I know River Cafe makes good food, but I never had the desire to go back ever since that one experience.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ilikebigmactoo

                      I was at Rasoi this evening. The service was fantastic - we had an attentive, friendly server who knew the (small) menu and wine list very well. I wasn't crazy about the food, though.

                      My date had the goat cheese tart with micro greens to start, and I had the pani puri. I really liked the goat cheese tart with its rich filling, and the flavorful chaat vinaigrette on the greens. I just wish the tart was larger than 4 bites. However, the pani puri filling was cold and bland and the only detectable flavours to me were vinegar and onion. The best part of that appetizer was the dab of raita on the side of the plate.

                      My main course was the chicken marinated in garam masala, with roasted vegetables and fingerling potatoes. It came with some creamy tomato masala sauce. Everything was very well cooked, and the roasted squash was especially nice, but I really couldn't taste much spice. I couldn't taste the marinade in the chicken, even though, again, it was perfectly cooked.

                      For her main course, my date ordered the pan roasted salmon on spinach and black daal. This dish was much more flavorful than the chicken, with some subtle but delicious spice on the salmon, cumin-scented daal, and a simple/rustic bed of wilted spinach sauteed in garlic. I believe there was also some turmeric oil on the plate, which was an interesting but completely flavourless way of adding some colour to the dish.

                      I ordered the halva in milky rose water with pistachios for desert, and my date had the house-made sorbet on coffee ground "soil". The halva was just fantastic, with a minty and not too creamy or sweet broth. The coffee soil (really rough-chopped espresso beans) was a touch salty which proved to be a great accompaniment to the small scoops of sorbet.

                      Even though we had a lovely evening, I'm not sure I'll go back. The subtle-to nonexistant hinds of indian flavours were a real tease, and the first course was completely forgettable.

                    2. I had a nice lunch at Wildwood Pub. Beautiful squash and carrot pureed soup, seafood canniloni and a taster plate of 3 wonderful desserts. All for $20. There was a first course salad option and a main course bison salad option rather than pasta.

                      1. Tried out Belgo, birthday gathering. Read on the boards that it was just oil money keeping things afloat and after looking at the menu, I had to agree. Myself, Belgo would not be my choice, but alas birthday boy wanted to try it out. So off we went and service wasn't bad, but portions on the other hand lacked. Being accustomed to Summerlicious and Winterlicious in Toronto, I had an idea how these things went. Everyone but me had the Dine Out Calgary menu, thinking it was a good bargain (most weren't accustomed to higher-end dining, yet of course this place isn't). Instead, I had the moules et frites or mussels and fries, which was the better decision. Dine Out menu was:

                        -French onion soup
                        -Duck confeit linguini or chicken something
                        -Creme brulee


                        Starter and dessert weren't bad according to the diners, but the linguini was where it lacked. I'm generally not a fan of chicken, especially when dining out, but the better choice between the two would've been the chicken. Pretty much everyone sans two diners had the duck confeit, thinking that the duck would be better (myself included if I were to have gone that route). When the main course came, there was barely a hint of duck and the portion was quite small (as expected, but was very ridiculously small). When my mussels and fries came, everyone starred in amazement and disappointment for not ordering something like that. There was at least 20 mussels in the pot and having had a late lunch, I barely finished and gladly shared the fries and mussels with others as I didn't have to look at their eyes to know they wanted more food. It probably didn't bode well that I had commented on being completely full and somewhat satisfied with my food and decision in front of the birthday boy lol :)

                        1. I went all out for this week's Dine Out Calgary specials!

                          Blowfish, Sky 360 and River Cafe

                          Red Water Grille South, Catch Oyster Bar and Rush

                          Blowfish: the rice was too hard, it seemed like it was undercooked. The portion sizes were small - with so many good Japanese restaurants around, I'm not sure I will ever return.

                          Sky 360: the view was amazing and the food was better than expected. For a touristy spot, it was decent.

                          River Cafe: They overbooked and we waited more than half an hour for our table. Once seated though, the service was efficient and friendly, and all of us ordered the special brunch menu. I love the dessert! (shortcake with berries)

                          Red Water Grillie: it was like a typical Earl's and Joey's minus the mini skirts waitresses. The food was good, but nothing to write home about. We would return for a business function, it seems like it'll have crowd appeal.

                          Catch Oyster Bar: Fantastic! The tuna pasta was one of the best I have ever tried. It was flavorful and still had nice texture to it. The apple dessert was cute.

                          Rush: My favorite experience of all the restaurants I've been to this week. Similar to everyone's impression, it was a class up from other Calgary restaurants. Will return.

                          1. Hi fellow foodies
                            We tried Kensington Riverside Inn on Friday for dinner. The Dine Out menu with wine pairings for $85 was - 'amuse bouche' starter of a sushi like fish, crab bisque, herb encrusted beef tenderloin and panna cotta for dessert. The original chestnut pudding was sub'd because of an 'error' in the kitchen. A nice way of someone screwed up. Everything was was excellent. The service was good but a little bit slow. We sat without any wine for about 15 minutes to start. But after that it was fine. We ordered a bottle of wine as well so the waiter took this to mean that we didn't want the wine pairings (we wanted both), and were charged $65 for the Dine Out menu alone. A little steep for Dine Out I thought.

                            I would probably eat there again if I was looking for a VERY quiet hush-hush sort of place. It's quite small.

                            1. Went to River Cafe for Dine Out brunch this past Sunday. I'd been to River Cafe before a couple of times many years ago (not for Dine Out) but was never impressed. So I had hoped maybe this experience might change my mind. Since brunch was only $15, I thought it was worth a shot and I didn't have much to lose if it didn't turn out to my liking. In any case, things didn't get off to a good start. Even though we had reservations, there were about half our late at seating us. It then took another 20 odd minutes for the drinks to show up after we had ordered. I had a maple rosemary sparkling lemonade. I couldn't taste any rosemary nor maple.

                              The food itself took FOREVER (about 45 to 50 mins) to arrive (I couldn't understand why as about 75% of the restaurant had ordered the same item - Dine Out menu was a set menu and didn't offer any choices for each couse). When the food arrived, you could clearly see that the items had been made ahead of time except for the poached egg. The waitress informed us at the time of order that the wild boar flank steak would be served med-rare. However, when it showed up, it was more like med-well. The potato cake looked like it was made in advance and was mixed with something yellow and stringy.. (I couldn't really identify what it was). The plate was drizzled with some yellowish oil (I assumed it was infused with something but it didn't taste like anything) so I didn't understand the purpose of the oil on the plate. With most of the items being prepared in advance, I had not idea why it took the kitchen so long to prepare these set dishes. It seemed like all they had to do was poach an egg and plate the items.

                              River Cafe is supposedly one of the fine dining restaurants in Calgary. But this brunch performance did nothing to suggest that it is a restaurant that lives up to that reputation. The service was decent.. but the food was totally underwhelming. I would much prefer to go to places like Diner Deluxe for brunch. I know the lineups at DD are long.. (it's not like the wait was any shorter at River Cafe even with reservations) but at least a DD, they serve fresh and high quality brunch food.

                              1. Good news, I've had my first good Dine out experience. We went to Laurier Lounce and split a poutine to start (just couldn't pass it up) and then each had the fondue dine out menu (Cheese, beef, and chocolate).

                                For four courses for $30 (the poutine was ten), I wouldn't expect anything to knock my socks off, but the food was good, well executed, plates were clean and served just at the right pace.
                                As usual, the poutine was a bit salty, but satisfied the craving. We split a bottle of Blanche de Chamblis with it, which was good, but in retrospect maybe something else would have stood up to the salt a bit better.

                                As usual, the sheese fondue was not seasoned, but we asked for a salt shaker and then it was great. The beer was a great match this time.

                                The beef fondue was also just good, the broth was great, but the beef wasn't sliced against the grain and it was tough. What was great was how you have to linger over it, take your time, and basically just enjoy the company. I forgot how intimate fondue can be. And our server was just attentive enough, casual and friendly.

                                They gave us a moment to pause before dessert, which was good because we were getting full, it's heavy stuff! When we asked if we could see the wine menu again, and asked if she could recommend something nice and deserty, she siad she knew just what we needed. She came back five minutes later with our fondue and fruit, and a complimentary sparkling moscato for each of us.

                                All in all, we had a terrific night, and free stuff ALWAYS helps!