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Oct 29, 2012 12:18 PM

Colonial Vietnamese- YYC

Me and the Mrs. love to eat Vietnamese, so we thought we'd try a new place close to my office, and I left thinking: Are we seeing the beginning of the end for good, honest Vietnamese food at a decent price?

Colonial is located in Downtown Calgary at 7th Ave & Centre Street- in Art Central. This restaurant's space used to be occupied by "The Bistro at Art Central"- a nice retro-looking room that served up overpriced Bistro food and (very) pretentious service. Colonial serves up overpriced Vietnamese food with the decor and service more or less the same as before. I realize that a lot of us downtown folks are on expense accounts, or some may be looking to be seen at a hip, happening new place; but the prices and atmosphere here are so high they are mind-boggling.

What did we eat? We stuck with our Vietnamese favorites, so it would be easy to compare against our other fave places.

To start, Mrs. Fuji and I shared the signature Colonial Spring roll- a spring roll stuffed with shrimp, chicken, etc. This dish was gorgeously presented- the roll itself was sliced and arranged on the plate in a flower shape, and there was a real flower (a purple/yellow orchid-y looking one) on the plate as well. The taste of this (single) spring roll was good,with a light, flaky wrapper and a good blend of flavours, but it was so small it barely qualified as an appetizer, and the cost was $14- which worked out to $2 per bite. For mains, I had sate pho, and she had bun- both are available in chicken or beef, and both are $15. The flavour was good, but nothing was mind-blowing, which is what I would expect for a $15 bowl of soup!

The food is tasty- I have no issues with what we had- but I cannot see any logical reason to charge such high prices for this food, it is perplexing. This is downtown Calgary, and you can walk 3 blocks in any direction and eat same or better Vietnamese food at a much better price. As for the uppity atmosphere, I believe it has a place, but that place is not Vietnamese food.

Am I wrong to think this may be the beginning of a trend? Would appreciate viewpoints form others, especially those who have eaten here!

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  1. $15 for a bowl of pho??? Bwahaahahaha that's one of the most ridiculous Calgary price stores yet...

    1. Why would you think this is a trend? There are 200+ other Vietnamese places in Calgary, are you asking of they're all going to charge $15 for pho?

      Orchid? Is this connected to Orchid Room? That's high end but it's about the only "high end" vietnamese place that comes to mind in the entire city. Most places are still good value.

      1. Okay saw listing on urbanspoon and this is DEFINITELY connected to Orchid Room in Bankers Hall. They do pricy Vietnamese. This isn't at all a "trend" so I don't get the review about how overpriced Vietnamese is in Calgary when it's not overpriced at all, in fact it's probably the best city in Canada for good value Vietnamese. If this place pisses you off so much then there are cheap options a few footsteps away. You can go to Indochine in Toronto and pay $20 for a bowl of pho, so this isn't about Calgary at all or unique to it.

        I just hate to see all the posts in older threads here about how lame Calgary is like about how bad Mexican here when it's worse in every other city in Canada and now this about overpriced Vietnamese when we're basically the best city for it.

        3 Replies
        1. re: plateofshrimp

          I'll be in Calgary again tomorrow if the roads allow it-- J I'd wager this is an attempt at upmarket (ie put it on the corporate credit card) Vietnamese ... Depending on how DH is feeling I'll give it a try & report back.

          1. re: plateofshrimp

            But Mexican is bad here.

            Is Toronto actually worse? And Vancouver?

            I did find the Mexican place at Crossroads to be quite good.

            1. re: Shazam

              It's no better. I like the place in Crossroads too, best Mexican I've ever had not in the US.

          2. I have dined at this restaurant twice now and both times my husband and I had a wonderful experience! The atmosphere was warm, cozy and inviting which is extremely important to us when we go out to enjoy a meal. The service was personalized and unpretentious both times that we went. Our server made appropriate recommendations to accommodate my husbands dairy allergy, and there were many options available for him. I found that their price point was right in line with any other down town restaurant. The food quality was amazing and we both could taste that fresh ingredients were used and attention was given to not only flavour but beautiful presentation. I wouldn't consider it fair to compare this restaurant to any other hole in the wall vietnamese restaurant that offers a dirt cheap bowl of pho. I would rather pay extra to know I am eating quality 'real' food in a clean and comfortable atmosphere then to pay for msg and wonder about the cleanliness of the kitchen ...... which is usually the case in the cheaper, inferior "noodle spots".