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One night in Calgary - where should we go?

T.O. Diner Mar 11, 2011 02:12 PM

For context: love tasting menues and good wine, not price sensitive, but demand good value for the money. No food allergies/restrictions. Dinner will be on a Sunday. Bring it on, Calgarians!!!

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  1. John Manzo RE: T.O. Diner Mar 11, 2011 06:07 PM

    Any particular neighbourhood? If you're downtown there are some good suggestions in response to "css" with pretty much the same q yesterday but s/he specified in the area of the Hyatt.

    3 Replies
    1. re: John Manzo
      T.O. Diner RE: John Manzo Mar 12, 2011 11:55 AM

      I saw that one, but we're not limited in area (have a car), so was hoping for a wider range of responses.

      1. re: T.O. Diner
        John Manzo RE: T.O. Diner Mar 12, 2011 02:33 PM

        Well I'd suggest Alloy. Outstanding wine selection and creative menu. On a Saturday (ie not during our insane downtown exodus weekday rush hour) it's an easy drive down Macleod to 42nd Ave SE, turn left, stumble on an amazing mid-century modern office reno that's like something out of LA (in a good way). http://www.alloydining.com/

        1. re: John Manzo
          pasaker RE: John Manzo Mar 12, 2011 06:44 PM

          I agree with John, you should hit up Alloy! That place is packed most of the time and even when you look up Alloy on OpenTable, you'll notice that most of their reservations are fully booked in the evening. Wouldn't you think that's a good sign for a restaurant when it's hard to get a reservation? :)

    2. m
      Merry113 RE: T.O. Diner Mar 12, 2011 12:21 PM

      We really enjoyed the tasting menu at Chef's Table in Kensington when we were there. It's been a while but I haven't heard any dissenting reviews since then.

      1. a
        alley RE: T.O. Diner Mar 13, 2011 01:13 PM

        The Ranche and River Cafe are both unique experiences, great settings. The Ranche for game. Wine selection is better at River Cafe, and you can arrange a tasting menu - I had an excellent tasting menu with wine pairing there.

        I also like Alloy a lot.

        6 Replies
        1. re: alley
          jrabbit2727 RE: alley Mar 14, 2011 12:48 PM

          As a translplanted Torontotonian now in Calgary I beg to differ with the suggetions of Alloy and River Cafe.
          Alloy is very pretty and the service is very good. But both my and my husband's meal there was so/so. Overcooked meat and seafood and uninspired menu. Have several friends living here who say the same thing. Pretty but not substantial.
          As for River Cafe. The food is very good. But the ambiance stinks! Have taken many out of town guests from TO and NYC here and they all said the same thing.....why does a nice restaurant have such a run/down tacky log cabin feel to it? Now I'm sure its nice to sit outside in the summer time when its warm enough here to do so. But otherwise you are stuck inside and its just not the kind of atmosphere you want for that kind of food.
          My suggestion would be Notable in the North West. Like Aloy its a bit of a drive and not in the chic part of town. But the space is funky and cool in a dress up or wear nice jeans kind of atmosphere and the food and service has been excellent every time we've gone. Last time my husband had the tasting menu with wine pairings to match and was really impressed. My only caveat with this resto is that its really hot right now so call WAY in advance for a reservation on a Saturday night otherwise you'll be out of luck.

          1. re: jrabbit2727
            23skidoo RE: jrabbit2727 Mar 14, 2011 04:46 PM

            You make River Cafe sound like mother tucker's. It's really not tacky! It's on an island, surrounded by a park, so I think rustic architecture with large windows is appropriate. Maybe try another meal there during daylight hours?

            Also, even if you don't like the building, the service is some of the best in the city.

            1. re: 23skidoo
              jrabbit2727 RE: 23skidoo Mar 15, 2011 08:17 AM

              You are right....Mother Tuckers it isn't....I'll for sure give you that. And yes the service is very good. But still....the vibe in the restaurant due to the design just doesn't do it for me at all. Not tacky so much as sorely lacking in ambiance. Which makes it not a fun place to lounge over a meal for me.
              I do however really like their sister resto Boxwood. Modern rustic feel that I think is a really lovely sleek design that compliments the food beautifully.

              1. re: jrabbit2727
                clouie RE: jrabbit2727 Mar 17, 2011 08:49 PM

                I also think the use of the word "tacky" to describe River Cafe is a bit much. I think it's a lovely restaurant.

            2. re: jrabbit2727
              alley RE: jrabbit2727 Mar 17, 2011 03:32 PM

              Tacky? On a nice spring or even better warm early autumn evening, I can't think of another place in Calgary that I would rather dine at than River Cafe. I've taken friends and business colleagues there from New York, Toronto, Montreal, Paris, Reykjavik and Tokyo and they were all more than happy. They were delighted by the quality of the food in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. This is what I look for when I think of a great night out in Calgary.

              Alloy on a good night in the kitchen is a great night out. River Cafe on a beautiful evening outside, can be exceptional. I had one colleague from New York tell me after a chef's tasting there on a perfect autumn evening that it was one of the best restaurants that he had been to anywhere - and this is an exec who has thoroughly exercised his expense accounts over the years.

              1. re: jrabbit2727
                The Gut RE: jrabbit2727 Mar 19, 2011 10:14 PM

                The building is a city of Calgary utility building that used to have a couple of snack bars the washrooms, the canoe/equipment rental office and storage. It was boarded up for quite a few years with only the lower level washrooms in the back being re-opened a few years before the River Cafe moved in.

            3. f
              foodkarma RE: T.O. Diner Mar 14, 2011 11:09 PM

              While I do like the short rib at Alloy, Charcut has my vote.

              2 Replies
              1. re: foodkarma
                aktivistin RE: foodkarma Mar 19, 2011 08:09 AM

                Seconding Charcut. Sit at the bar overlooking the kitchen. And the lamb--! Love the lamb. The chefs are great to chat with and are passionate about their ingredients. (I'm a preserving fanatic so I asked them a lot of questions about their preserves).

                1. re: aktivistin
                  foodkarma RE: aktivistin Mar 19, 2011 11:45 AM

                  I love the raclette cheese with brioche, the beet and goat cheese salad, the prime rib, the chicken, and the duck poutine.... so yummy.

                  Also agreed about the passionate kitchen team. Was very impressed to see the exec chef and owner Connie Desousa walk around the dining room introducing herself and asking how the guests are. I'm rooting for her on Top Chef Canada.

              2. t
                tybaltsdad RE: T.O. Diner Mar 18, 2011 02:17 PM

                i would go to mercato on 4th st. and 23rd ave. s.w. 12 blocks from dt. ask to sit at the kitchen bar and enjoy! it is a truly special dining experience that is unlike anything you've ever tried before. it is a blend of old and new done with great consideration. the wine list is italian only but offers all wine styles. share an appetizer, pasta and main with a side. take your time and enjoy one of the only original restaurants in calgary.

                4 Replies
                1. re: tybaltsdad
                  hsk RE: tybaltsdad Mar 18, 2011 10:01 PM

                  Mercato is NOT good value in my opinion, overpriced for what you get. I vote for Notable, really good food and not very expensive. I have had no problems walking in (for 2) but maybe it depends when you go.

                  1. re: hsk
                    tybaltsdad RE: hsk Mar 19, 2011 05:02 AM

                    Oh yeah!! I forgot that recommending a place that serves teriyaki salmon, hamburgers and roast chicken, in an atmosphere that is just like earls, is somewhere well loved by all you boring calgarians! Mercato is great value as they actually try to individualize themselves in the global market. Notable was created to sell the same products to a bloated municipal market.

                    1. re: tybaltsdad
                      Shazam RE: tybaltsdad Mar 19, 2011 12:28 PM

                      The fare at Notable was better than Earl's by a fair distance.

                      I've always liked Mercato though. But it is somewhat expensive.

                      1. re: tybaltsdad
                        maplesugar RE: tybaltsdad Mar 19, 2011 09:49 PM

                        I have to agree with Shazam and hsk. I've never found Mercato to be inexpensive. The Market feels like Lina's but with less depth and a substantial markup. The dining area... I found rather loud and felt more like people were there to be seen rather than dine. The food was alright but not memorable. My pick for Italian in the city is Il Sogno.

                  2. j
                    jsfoodchat RE: T.O. Diner Mar 18, 2011 07:39 PM

                    Alloy is very comsompolitan and I always enjoy it. They also have very excellent service.
                    I really like River Cafe and would NOT call it "Tacky" but I think if I had to pick ONE I would pick NoTable - it is pretty great. I love watching the kitchen. You will DEFINATELY want a reservation as the "walk in" concept is a very long wait.

                    1. sharonanne RE: T.O. Diner Mar 20, 2011 07:49 AM


                      1. j
                        jsfoodchat RE: T.O. Diner Mar 20, 2011 07:11 PM

                        I re-read the original post and would like to suggest Belvedre. The reason this came up was "tasting menu" and "value". We had the 5 course tasting menu last month and it was "build your own". So my husband and I EACH got to select 5 dishes from the menu. So we tasted 10 of our top selections. It was FANTASTIC. We had wine pairings too and it was over the top great - especially since the entire bill was less than $300 including TIP. (5 course tasting and pairings for 2 people).

                        1. t
                          T.O. Diner RE: T.O. Diner Mar 28, 2011 06:34 PM

                          First off, thanks for all of the suggestions. As my sister's request (she lives in Silver Springs) we ended up going to Bear's Den. I have to say, although I was initially not terribly excited, we ended up having a really terrific meal (though neither particularly great value nor a tasting menu, it had really fabulous bison and all in all I was really pleased). Phenomenal BC wine list (as a wine lover from Ontario, we don't get nearly enough good BC wine here, so that was a treat), service was really good, room was stuffy, but I'm happy to look past that. I have to say, it was a surprisingly terrific meal. Really.

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