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Aug 9, 2010 09:50 AM

Bistro Alma-Calgary

This restaurant is part of the newly-opened Hotel Alma, on the U of C campus. The good: the room itself is stylish in a "mod" kind of way. The mediocre: the food. I've been there twice now ( it's possible I've just had bad luck with the entrees). The first time I had soup and salad. Dishes/flatware very neat in a design-y sort of way; soup had a decent flavor but was pretty thin; salad was fine but unremarkable. Both portions tiny, which made the $12 cost seem high. And the meager slice of grilled bread that came with it seemed as if it had been grilled hours before. The second time I ate there I had the Vietnamese sub whose meat tasted a little musty. In addition to the mustiness was the overwhelming sweetness of the thing. A one-note pony (not counting the off taste). Maybe they realized that and offered a weird little side of manzanilla olive and gherkin pickles with it.
Little things about the menu signal a similar off-noteness or at least old-fashionedness, despite the stylish pretensions: e.g., the salad with "garden fresh" veggies. Shouldn't this just be assumed? It's the difference between "garden fresh" as a vague adjective and actually locally-sourced ingredients.
Someone told me the restaurant is run by Chartwells, the concern that caters most university functions. If true, it makes sense: the food has that corporate feel, lacking in "garden fresh" ideas and technique. I wonder if other chowhounds have eaten here and what they thought.

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  1. I had a horrible espresso there and gave up. I teach at the U (as many of you know) and could eat here every day. I don't. My pick hit is Vietnamese noodles in the Mac Hall food court. If I'm going to sit and dine I don't mind the grad lounge, and really that's about it for food at U of C. Very sad place for a foodie.

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