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Mar 11, 2011 02:12 PM

One night in Calgary - where should we go?

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. 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

      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

        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).

        1. re: John Manzo

          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. 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. 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

          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

            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

              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

                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

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

              2 Replies
              1. re: foodkarma

                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

                  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. 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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                        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.