HOME > Chowhound > Prairie Provinces >


Nice, Big, Meaty Dinner... But... (Calgary)

I need to take out some colleagues to thank them for a personal favour. I know they like big, meaty dinners. Bison? Caribou? Elephant? I would like to take them somewhere nice BUT wherever we go needs to have even just one vegetarian thing for me. I have recently been to Mercato and River Cafe, and I think that both places aren't "meaty" enough (although that's the price range I'd be looking at- certainly no cheaper). I would also really prefer if it was a place where main courses came with vegetables and starch, as I think they would be hesitant to order those seperately knowing that I'm paying. Help! The Coup and Buddha's Veggie won't cut it this time!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm going to sound like a broken record but...Bear's Den.

    1. When I am craving meat in Calgary - I go to Bolero. Its all you can eat of the best meat there is (waiters walk around with skewers of meat and carve it at your table), and it comes with a salad bar and a hot side buffet as well. You can get just the salad, or the salad and sides or all of the above. It is really, very good food, and a different experience. I'm sure your colleagues would be impressed.

      1. This is pretty subjective, but I prefer Gaucho's Brazilian BBQ (http://www.brazilianbbq.ca/) to Bolero's. Way smaller place, and not nearly as big of selection of salads/sides as Bolero's, but the meat is really good. Go on the weekends for the full selection (especially the lamb).

        Check out the web site for the food gallery - that may tell you whether or not there are enough Veg. options for you.

        I have a co-worker that is a gigantic meat-eater and this is where we go...

        Not the easiest place to find though...

        3 Replies
        1. re: ybnormal

          I will have to have to check that out the next time we visit Calgary! My only complaint about Bolero was that it was too big...

          1. re: ybnormal

            There's nothing at Gaucho's for a vegetarian.There's only things like macaroni salad, rice and (sad) green salad at the buffet.
            Even if you did just want to eat the buffet food, I don't think you can avoid paying for the carved meat like everyone else.

            1. re: 23skidoo

              Then that's a definite plus about Bolero - there is the option. And the vegetarian options were pretty good, if I recall. Tho I may have been too busy enjoying all that meat to really notice...

          2. Wouldn't Bolero and Gaucho's be lower than the price range the OP specified? And what are the vegetarian options?

            1 Reply
            1. re: sharonanne

              I agree with you. But it does cover the veggies/starch for the all-you-can-eat option.

              Believe it or not, on the website, it does say they have vegetarian options.

              As I reflect on this though, Jetgirly may want to check whether or not the rodizio is required for the entire table to order. So that may nix it...

              Bear's Den, as you suggested, might be a better option. Vintage is where I usually go for meat on someone else's dime... Never been to Ruth Chris', so I can't say much for that

            2. Went to Ruth's Chris this weekend. I felt a little disloyal because I was a visitor to Calgary and had perceived that if I went to RC (which is a chain, though a VERY high end one) that we wouldn't be eating Alberta beef. I was wrong.

              This restaurant might suit you as it is meaty in the extreme and you have your choice between source of your meat. Our table did some taste-testing and I loved the Alberta beef. Service was super. Sides were good. They went way out of their way to get me the cocktail I ordered (which was a favourite of mine from a Ruth's Chris in another city.)

              In fact, it looked to me as if RC might be reacting to the recession by being a little clever in offering a prix fixe menu that was really good value.

              1. My first thought is that you may want to re-think Mercato. They have that meat platter and it is the meat-iest thing! Its very good.

                My other suggestion would be to call Muse and do a tasting menu. The last time we were there, two of our dishes were chocolate braised bison and elk medallions.

                2 Replies
                1. re: danniek

                  I hate to be negative guy again but I don't think Muse is a great suggestion. If they didn't find River Cafe meat & potatoes-y enough, they will not enjoy Muse. And again, Muse often does not have a vegetarian main.

                  1. re: danniek

                    I second that suggestion on Mercato - best steak in the City, I think, and lots of veggie options.

                  2. Wellington's might be a good choice as well for a "meaty" dinner.. although I don't recall if they serve bison or caribou. They are a traditional steak house. I prefer them over Caesar's any day. The service is always impeccable. However, they are very old-school and the decor is very traditional as well. They offer items like table-side caesar salad, etc. The only other downside about Wellington's is that they are all the way down south by Willowpark.

                    1. The difficulty I'm having is finding somewhere that meets both criteria: Vege(and not pesce) main - that frankly isn't an afterthought like sad green salad but REAL food. Calgary doesn't have a lot of places that do both well. That being said I'd suggest:

                      The Ranche at Fish Creek Park. I love the building, food is excellent, and they definitely do meat... although not "hungry man" style portions, so I'd go heavier on the apps - lots of good options - and I'd think your colleagues will be sated. It's a bit(ok a lot) of a drive but worth it imho, and their current menu has a vege friendly gnocchi http://www.crmr.com/theranche/pdf/The...


                      Thomsons at the Hyatt, yes naysayers, I know it's a hotel restaurant but it's a good one, and their dinner menu certainly offers meat-centric options, as well as two mains for our dear OP. http://www.hyatt.com/hyatt/images/hot...

                      1. Have you considered Redwater Grille, I take my employees there for Christmas dinner for 3 years in a row. I let them make the resto choice too and price is not an issue, but we all seem to like it from the mechanics to their wives. I have never finished one of their meals, I am not vegan but a few wives are and also seem to really like the place.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: hclass

                          Good suggestion. Of course it is a chain restaurant, and I've had good meals and mediocre meals there, but it fits the requirements perfectly.

                        2. The Ranche, but I don't know if they do vegetarian, you'd have to call...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: hungryungry

                            their latest dinner menu indicates gnocchi is available (link above)

                          2. I have had a great Veg dish at the Ranch, and to answer and earlier question about Bolero The veg option is BBQ Pineapple and veggie skewers. The pineapple is divine!.. but the salad bar is pretty ho-hum

                            1. If they like meat...please please please take them to Gaucho's....skip Bolero.
                              I have tried both at least two times each.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: jojok

                                Please please read her requirements again! Much as I love it, there is nothing for a vegetarian to eat at Gaucho's.

                                1. re: 23skidoo

                                  They do have that bean and collard green :P

                                  mmm..the bean actually have shredded beef in it...i think.
                                  Well there is always the collard green.

                              2. My personal favorite and very meaty is Mercato. We have only been once but it was by far the best restaurant experience we have had in Calgary. Everything was perfect. Its not just a great restaurant for Calgary; it would stand up to just about anything in New York, or Montreal or I think anywhere. It's hard to impress this very jaded diner but they did it. Can't wait to go back.

                                12 Replies
                                1. re: Busted Flat in Marda Loop

                                  I'm from Edmonton and I think I've been to Mercato before. I recall more pasta items on the menu, not meat. Maybe I'm thinking of the wrong place?

                                  1. re: HamiltonLake

                                    They have a fabulous big chunk of beef, too. It is served like a grilled roast, if that makes sense, and will feed 2 or 3 people.

                                  2. re: Busted Flat in Marda Loop

                                    What are their prices like? There doesn't seem to be a menu available on their website.

                                    1. re: Jasz

                                      When they first opened I found their prices a bit high, but the market has caught up to them (considering the cost of eating at Earls, etc) and it is quality and value, IMHO

                                      1. re: sarah galvin

                                        Basically would we be able to do $25/person including tip but no alcohol and feel like we'd been well fed?

                                        1. re: Jasz

                                          I would say only if you're a vegetarian. The times I've been there we've shared the appetizer platter (I've just taken the veggies and cheese) and then I've had pasta as a main, along with two or three sides of shared vegetables. I don't think that would come in under $25, even sans appetizers.

                                          1. re: Jetgirly

                                            Maybe I'm overstating how much food we'd want. We sometimes get an appie or dessert, often just a main. What do the entrees run?

                                          2. re: Jasz

                                            My favourite place for $25 is the tasting plate at JaroBlue. They offer 3 tapas for that price. Or you can have a sharing platter for $20/person or $30/person and feel nicely fed. It would be tight at Mercato, unless you share a few things.

                                        2. re: Jasz

                                          I heared it's about $12 to $15 dollars per person depending on how many meats you select and it's unlimited. They just come around to your table and slice away. It sounds like the place for meat lovers.

                                          1. re: derfster

                                            They have a wonderful grilled piece of beef roast that would be nice for sharing.

                                            1. re: sarah galvin

                                              I had dinner at the Bear's Den this evening. It was very nice. Yes, the entrees are mainly meaty but very nice. We had the chateaubriand. It was a newer version of the old classic. Veggies were more modern with baby bok choy, white carrots, heirloom beets, white asparagus, seasoned riced potato and very nice beef. It has the old boys club ambience and very good service. Also, nice to be away from the busy-ness of the city. Our waiter gave us the grand tour including the kitchen and meeting the chef. Complimentary sauternes and 'amuse bouche' style dessert. They also have a 'bistro' section where you can drop in without reservation.

                                        3. Has anyone tried the Bear's Den? It would be great on meat but not sure about veggie.

                                          3 Replies
                                            1. re: sarah galvin

                                              My favorite place, which is why I put it out in the first post. We've been there for several special occasions. They do vegetarian meals to order. It says that on the menu cancowboy posted. I have never been to a place more willing to accomodate requests. It's an old school fine dining place in terms of good service not in terms of stuffy although I have to say one particular server is especially good and we've had her twice. The others are good too but, of course, we haven't been served by everyone.

                                              1. re: sharonanne

                                                Thanks for pointing that out sharonanne.
                                                I missed that in my reading of the menu - I must be getting too old. :-)

                                            2. I don't know about the rest of the posters, but I'm wondering when this dinner is and where Jetgirly decided to go. Enquiring minds want to know =)

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: maplesugar

                                                Their "services will be rendered" this Thursday and Friday, then I'll find a day for dinner that works well with their schedule.

                                              2. Although, I've never been there I was going to suggest Gaucho resturant. Heared so many good things about the restaurant. Looks like someone below recommended it too. Just came across an audio interview with the owner on AMA's site of all places. Let me know how it is.


                                                4 Replies
                                                  1. re: HamiltonLake

                                                    From page 4 of your link. "The pale-eyed woman lunges like a wild animal. A matron convulses and a young man trembles like a rumba dancer. " I couldn't get the audio to play the first time though so didn't know til I read the comments that I was in the right place. 2nd time through the audio worked thankfully.

                                                    I checked out Gaucho's site: http://www.brazilianbbq.ca/ and they don't list a single vegetarian main. The OP would have to make dinner out of salads, cassava fries and condiments.

                                                    ETA: Link to last year's Gaucho thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/504401
                                                    and the Bolero thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/402806 HTH :)

                                                    1. re: maplesugar

                                                      I started one of that link. And now having been to both places (twice for each place), no contest...Gaucho is the winner.

                                                      Basically...don't go to charcuteria if you are vegetarian...go there to eat meat...and Gaucho >>> Bolero.

                                                      1. re: jojok

                                                        What kind of meats do they offer compared to Bolero (eg. bacon wrapped sirloin, sausage, chicken wings) and do they have lamb (I did like Bolero's rack of lamb)?