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Feb 16, 2012 06:53 PM

The Big Taste 2012 (formerly Dine Out Calgary)

March 2 to 12 this year.
The website is live now:

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  1. Made our reservations last night! River Cafe, Brasserie Kensington and Wurst. Can't wait for The Big Taste.

    1. Thanks for the reminder. We got signed up with Muse, Blink and Bistro 2210. The later two I have not tried. So many good restos, not enough time!

      1. Has anyone tried anything great so far?
        I have a reservation for Chef's Table but haven't tried anything yet.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Beachy1

          I tried Blink on the weekend. I thought it was pretty good. I started with a twice baked cheddar souffle, trout (nice crispy skin) with risottio, and finished with a sticky toffee pudding. My friend had exactly the opposite; green salad, black trumpet mushroom gnocchi, and apple tart. We really had no complaints other than the gnocchi serving was very small. The service was nice, attentive but not too much.

          I had never been here before so it was great to try. I would definately go back again.

          I'm off to Bistro 2210 tonight, then Muse on Saturday. Muse looks like it's going to be killer! I will report back.

          Would love to hear about others experiences too.

          1. re: Beachy1

            Went for lunch at Home Tasting Room - I had never been there before.

            I enjoyed their lunch special for Big Taste - I especially liked the fresh cinnamon sugar donut in the to-go bag for the dessert. Service was terrific and I like the feel of the restaurant. Didn't try any wine though - had work to do! I'll have to try supper here sometime.

            I wanted to try Ox and Angela as well - we'll see how my week at work goes.

            1. re: Beachy1

              Tried out River Cafe on Monday, we've been quite a few times over the years but not recently. It was interesting that their 3 course was cream celeriac soup, carrot salad and duck (the interesting part was no desert - which is fine by me). The wine pairings were really good and the best value of the dinner, as the food portions of all 3 courses were incredibly small.
              It's a location and ambiance that can't be beat, and while the food was great there was nothing innovative or really got me excited. The service was poor, even though it wasn't even 25% full. I would recommend River Cafe for it's unique and stunning setting (with the snow outside and sitting next to the big fireplace, you can't get more romantic than that), but we wouldn't plan on going back with all the other incredible restaurants Calgary has to offer. Great to try on The Big Taste, I don't know that we would have gone back again otherwise.

              1. re: sebell

                I have been to River Cafe many, many times; booked in for this weekend for Big Taste, but now wondering: should I just cancel? This review isn't very positive! I don't want to waste my evening.

                1. re: shopwinedinefine

                  I wouldn't let one review stop you. Friends of mine went on Sunday and enjoyed it. They said the soup and boar were really great and ambience wonderful. They had mixed reviews about the rabbit. I didn't hear any other negative comments though. You never know...maybe an off night when sebell was there.

                  1. re: shopwinedinefine

                    I definitely think it's worth trying out still, I just thought compared to the other places we've tried for Big Taste River Cafe wasn't remarkable. I often find when it's slow that's when service lacks (seems the staff move slower and are almost bored), which was the case when we were there. The food was good, ambiance was amazing, just no 'wow'. Plus taste is so subjective, you may find it blows your socks off, go and enjoy!

                2. re: Beachy1

                  We went to Bistro 2210 for Big Taste last night. I'd never been before. I was surprised to see how many tables were jammed into a small space. It's a little awkward when your chair is touching someone else's at table beside!

                  We started with the crab croquettes and terrine. Both very nice. For a main, I had the prosciutto chicken breast, sauerkraut, potato gratin, chicken jus. The chicken was super small. I would guess less than 3oz. Mine was so overdone, I had to send it back. But the new one was perfectly done. I did not really enjoy sauerkraut with chicken. Just a person preference I guess. My SO enjoyed the braised lamb shank with couscous. Other than needing salt it was good. We finished with the Pots de Creme – vanilla custard, caramel, chantilly cream, pear compote. The pears were spicy and interesting. I saw no caramel in it at all and the chantilly cream was so sweet, I couldn't finish the dessert. The service was really good and the timing of the courses was spot on.

                  I would say it was average, not stellar. And far too 'crammed in' to sit comfortably. I am not sure I will be back soon. Maybe after I've made the rounds at all the other restos I need to try in YYC!

                3. So we were at Wurst last night, and overall really enjoyed it. We've been a few times before and were interested to see how they would execute The Big Taste. The duck salad to start was really great, balanced flavours and the duck (slightly smoked) really stood up it's flavour with the raspberry vinaigrette. The butchers plate was enormous for a main (this is a good thing, to me, when it's a butchers plate)! Great bratwurst, loads of sauerkraut, delicious roasted veg and potatoes, amazing braised bacon, and a glazed pork chop. The only disappointment was the black forest cake, found the cake too dry. Service was good (a few glitches) and the ambiance is always great. Overall amazing value and we left feeling quite impressed.

                  On to Brasserie Kensington tomorrow!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: sebell

                    I tried Brasserie Kensington a few days ago. The starter was consisted of thinly sliced rare duck on crostini, which was pretty good if you're a fan of duck, which I am. The main was braised beef short rib which was, in my opinion, cooked perfectly. The downside was the glob of some kind of herbed buttery substance (which might be foie gras) they put on it overwhelmed the taste of the meat. I think the main was my least favourite part of the meal, but that may just be because I don't like flavours that are too much. The dessert was fabulous. I've never had foie gras in dessert before, and was sceptical, but it was actually really enjoyable. Now for the downside; the service was lacking. This is coming from someone who normally dislikes intrusive or overeager servers. We were left with menus waiting for the server, even after we had said we were here for the Big Taste. And the waters were filled once the entire evening. The table beside us had a couple who waited a good 15 minutes before the server came over. Would I go here again? A hesitant maybe.

                    1. re: cn1822

                      Good review cn1822! It was foie gras on the short rib. I love bold, intense and rich flavours and so found the main dish outstanding. I've had a profiterole and foie gras desert before (at Le Pigeon in Portland), this was the clincher for me in going for the Brasserie Big Taste menu - I loved it here. Too bad about the service, we had great service, but were there early with the restaurant less then half full.

                  2. I happen to be coming down to Calgary this weekend, so I thought I would take advantage of this and have Rush booked for Sat night and Jacqueline Suzanne booked for Sunday night.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: anonymoose

                      Rush - Had fantastic, attentive service. Water was constantly refilled and we were offered as much fresh baked hot bread as we wanted. There were 5 courses in all. First course was a mushroom consomme with a duck-filled spring roll. The soup had a good strong mushroom taste, with maybe a touch too much salt but not so much that we stopped drinking it. The duck was delicious but the roll was soggy because it was served inside the soup. 2nd course was "breakfast" - a perfectly poached egg served on top of a small slice of toasted brioche, and with truffle, grana padano and brussel sprout leaves. 3rd course was fish - again, perfectly cooked sablefish with a tom yum soup and a couple of mussels. Delicious, but was a little awkward to eat because the fish was a fillet and we had to keep switching utensils around to properly eat everything. 4th course was a small elk sirloin with two confit elk and foie gras ravioli. The sirloin was nicely pink inside and the ravioli melted in your mouth. 5th course was dessert - a three layer chocolate mousse with a dollop of Mexican-spiced ice cream (cinnamon and chili), served with raspberry coulis and raspberry "fizz" (crumbles of sponge cookie). The mousse was very light and not too sweet. Great end to the meal. Rush was delicious, and well worth the cost for the experience, in my opinion. $55 for the meal only, $85 if you included the wine pairings.

                      Jacqueline Suzanne - Solid meal with good service (although there was this one person who was a bit wacky). I started with the portabella mushroom salad, which was greens with some slices of portabella on top. My friend had the butternut squash ravioli (2 pieces) which were good but finished quickly. For entree I had the lamb shank and it was so tender it fell off the bone. My friend had the prime rib which was so huge that it almost didn't fit on the plate. Hers also came with a Yorkshire pudding and both dishes had a small amount of vegetables. Dessert was a banana bread pudding. Good deal for $35 each.