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Sep 9, 2009 02:41 PM

"Experience" restaurants?--Calgary

I was recently invited, by former co-workers, to the Sultan's Tent, which I thought was fabulous, for the experience as much as the food. I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on any other places like that. I'm looking for something that's impressive to take company to, or places that are unique or exotic, and interesting for special occasions.

I think I know about most of the restaurants in Calgary, so I challenge you all to suggest places that offer something a little bit "different." Clearly, I'm not that difficult to impress, as I think what did it for me at the Sultan's Tent was the decor, and that you eat with your hands after having them washed by orange blossom water. I was also impressed (and so was my visiting friend) by Koreana because you get to cook on the table, just to give an example of how little it takes to impress me. :o)

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  1. Sushi Boat? Not the best sushi in town but the boats got my daughter and several of her friends to eat "weird food" when they were young.

    3 Replies
    1. re: sharonanne

      Is it a nice place? That might be something I could look into...

      1. re: Lainey1978

        The room is very nice. Good artwork with a sculpture/fountain thingy happening in the middle beside the chefs. The sushi is better if you order but the boats are cute.

        1. re: sharonanne

          I would second this. The boats are so cute! It's definitely a fun place to go.

    2. Perhaps Bolero or Gaucho would suit the bill--the atmosphere is similar to other restaurants, with a little bit of South American flair, but the real difference is how the food is presented.

      Here's a thread on Bolero:

      1 Reply
      1. re: aktivistin

        Yes, I was thinking after I posted this of those. I've been to Bolero, but never to Gaucho. I would like to go there.

      2. Ethiopian places are pretty special and unique, and fun too. There are several in Calgary.

        For me, watching the kitchen is always special, and one memorable one recently was at Farm, sitting at the counter. But there are lots of those opportunities at other restos too.

        3 Replies
        1. re: John Manzo

          Can you recommend a good Ethiopian place? That is something I would like to try, but when I look at reviews of Ethiopian places in Calgary they don't sound that great. Poor service seems to be a recurring trend in the reviews. What should I expect if I go to an Ethiopian restaurant?

          1. re: Lainey1978

            Slow (rather than bad) service has been a feature of every Ethiopian restaurant I've eaten in, in several countries, so I'm assuming it's a cultural thing. I recommend Marathon in Kensington and Fassil on 17 Ave SE. I've heard bad things about Blue Nile, and the last time I passed it Queen of Sheba looked closed. We usually go to Marathon and get one of their mixed house combinations, as you get to try lots of different things. It's not a place to go when you are absolutely starving and want food in front of you in 15 minutes, but it has been faster the last few times I've been - we were eating 30-40 minutes after sitting down rather than 40-60 minutes.

            1. re: Lainey1978

              On 10th Street in Kensington there is both Blue Nile and Marathon. Blue Nile is a way better value- you get about twice the food for half the price of Marathon. Also, almost all of the people eating there seem to be Ethiopian. BUT Blue Nile was closed a year or two ago for health code violations - you may want to check online to see if they've been closed again since. Marathon is half the food for twice the price and half the service. Furthermore, I didn't like the food as much. Salad on injera? Really?

          2. Open Sesame below bolero has pretty cool decor, and it's a build your own stir fry buffet, so there is a task / hands on element to the experience. + they have banana wontons to die for!

            Also you might consider Japanese Village (while the food isn't fabulous) the fire fry show is fun!

            1 Reply
            1. re: CookieGal

              Oh yeah, I've been to Open Sesame, but I only had an appetizer and their fabulous banana wontons! (Which my husband duplicated but made bigger, and even better, if you can believe it). I did take my husband to Japanese Village for his birthday once, but I wasn't impressed with the food, either. Thanks for the suggestions, though! I do want to go back to Open Sesame sometime and actually eat dinner. That is a good place to take guests, I think.

            2. Depends on how much of an "experience" you are looking for, but some ideas:

              Casbah - another Moroccan place, I like it even more than Sultan's tent.

              Dinner on the patio at River Cafe, or at The Ranche in Fish Creek - you forget that you are in the city.

              Ethiopian: my favourite is Fassil's, on 17Ave. Most nights full of Ethiopian families. Go hungry and be patient, especially on a busy night. Definitely not fancy.

              Dosa night (Wednesday night) at Southern Spice - stick to the dosas (expecially try a paper masala dosa) and the other South Indian snacks. Not too impressed with the rest of the menu tho, esp the non-veg. Not fancy, but you'll forget what country you're in.

              Dinner at the kitchen at Mercato, if you can get in. Or at the counter (for 2 or 3 people) at Fleur De Sel, or Petite.

              If you have a group together (6 or more), book the Harvest table at Farm.

              Dinner in the garden at Rouge when the garden is open.

              Or around the pool at Raw Bar.

              Capo or Rush for an impressive (and expensive) night out.

              Szechuan Restaurant on 16 Ave NW, if you like spicy, go with a group and be adventurous in your ordering.

              Dim Sum - see separate threads for recommendations.

              Go to Banff and the Grizzly House for hot stone and exotic meats, fondues. For special occasions, see if they have their tacky-but-fun private room available - you raise a flag when you want them to come in, or when you don't (I can't remember which is which, you might want to be careful).

              Or Laurier Lounge in Calgary for fondue - not as exotic, but fun.

              John can comment on how much of an experience Jaro Blue is for tapas.

              1 Reply
              1. re: alley

                Those sound good, especially Raw Bar (I hate paying for parking, though) and Fassil. I'll have to google Farm because I know nothing about it. Thanks!