Restaurant Review: Carver's Steakhouse

>> Friday, November 20, 2015

Last week we had to opportunity to visit Carver’s Steakhouse at the Sheraton Cavalier to sample their new menu. It’s not often I make it out to the NE and sometimes making it’s easy to forget how many great establishments there are in that area. Well for those of you that are looking for something different or for a special evening out, check out Carver’s!

Atmosphere: Upscale dining in a modern steakhouse setting with lush décor and cozy finishes.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $40+

Food & Wine: We started the evening off with some amazing house made bread. I find a lot of restaurants no longer offer this and it’s a shame because I think it’s a great way to kick start any meal. The bread at Carver’s was so good and had so many options (brioche, pretzel, focaccia, cheese bun) that I couldn’t stop eating it!

Normally we tend to stick to one appetizer; however the people at Carver’s were so generous that they encouraged us to sample various dishes to gain a better feel for their cuisine. Firstly we had the Crab Cake made with chunks of Dungeness crab topped with lots of panko bread crumbs and served with a meyer lemon mayo, black truffle shavings and a fricasse fennel crisp slaw. I really enjoyed that they opted to pan sear and not deep fry the crab cake. This kept the appetizer quite light and makes for a healthier option. With this course we were served the Bellavista Franciacorta Cuvee’ Brut. The sweetness of the sparkling wine really highlighted the flavour of the crab and nothing goes better with seafood then a bit of bubbles.

Next came the Potato Gnocchi elegantly plated with mushrooms, confit tomatoes and crispy prosciutto de parma. There was a lot of flavour on this plate and brilliant textural contrasts. I loved the light crisp on the outside of the gnocchi with it still being tender and soft on the inside. The fact that they served the gnocchi with a light sauce and lots of vegetables really made the dish a standout for me compared to many others I’ve had which are often covered in creamy sauces or heaps of butter.

To round out our appetizers was the Carver’s House Salad made with fresh spring mix, cucumbers, cashews, tomatoes, snow goat cheese and topped with a marmalade vinaigrette. I thoroughly enjoyed the vinaigrette; I need to somehow get my hands on this recipe. The tanginess of the dressing paired perfectly with the bitterness of the greens and crunchy cashews. We were served the Cedar Creek Platinum Series Chardonnay and Meyer Family Pinot Noir to accompany these two dishes due to the nuttiness of the salad and the earthy mushrooms in the gnocchi.

The hubby decided to try the 14 oz Bone in Rib Eye, which was perfectly cooked to a medium rare and the kitchen added in a couple Jumbo Prawns to spice things up in addition to their typical mashed potatoes (which are divine). I was quite impressed with the sear on the steak, perfectly cooked all around with a pink center, just right for medium rare. The recommended wine for this course was the Marques de Murrieta Rioja. The robustness of the wine holds up well again the steak and allows the flavours of the meat to bring out the berry notes in the wine.

I myself tried the Sea Bass, which was a nice contrast to the steak. The fish was served with a trio of cauliflowers, apple wood smoked potato croquettes, baby root vegetables and coconut cream sauce. Similar to the rest of the dishes, it was extremely light. The cook on the fish was perfect, with each layer remaining flaky and moist. I really enjoyed the creaminess of that sauce, made again with a light hand preventing it from overwhelming the fish. I also thought it went very nicely with the Chardonnay from before and it also complimented the Lemon Butter Asparagus side that we had. The sommelier also suggested the Francois Litchtle Gewürztraminer as a pairing. Although sweeter, it plays nicely with the creamy sauce and the flavours of the root vegetables.

Before dessert arrived, we were treated to a Bourbon tasting involving various ages of bourbon along with different flavouring techniques. The first was the Basil Hayden’s flavoured with citrus peel. The second was the Booker’s Kentucky Straight with smoked pecans and the third being the Knob Creek Single Barrel with smoked coffee beans. I’m not a huge fan of bourbon, but since my husband is, I let him take the reins on this one. His favorite was the Knob Creek, which is aged in barrel for 9 years and definitely a lot smoother than the other two. However, for wine drinkers, we might tend to veer towards the Basil Hayden’s due to the fact that it’s less robust and oaky.

To end our amazing meal was the Chocolate soufflé with crème anglaise. It takes 20 minutes to prep but definitely well worth the wait (plus it gave us some time to digest). I don’t often find soufflés on menus anymore and always order them when I get the chance because they truly are a testament to the quality of the kitchen. Being an extremely tough dish to create, the soufflé also needs to be served immediately meaning it’s always made fresh to order. This soufflé was top standard. They were able to achieve a perfect puff on top which held throughout and the flavours were on point. I personally didn’t even need the crème anglaise, but didn’t complain either. You can never go wrong with a creamy custard sauce. Overall, I thought it was a delightful end to an outstanding meal.

My Picks: Potato Gnocchi, Sea Bass, Chocolate Soufflé

Overall: We thoroughly enjoyed our evening at Carver’s. The food was amazing, the wine was heavenly and the service was fantastic. I’ll definitely have to remind myself of all the great establishments up in the NE of our city. Not to mention the hidden gems like Carver’s.

Carver’s Steakhouse
2620 32 Ave NE (located in the Sheraton Cavalier)
Calgary, AB
(403) 250-6327

Carver's Steakhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Restaurant Review: Pigeonhole

>> Thursday, November 5, 2015

Air Canada has recently released their Best New Restaurants list for 2015 and I was excited to hear that Pigeonhole from Calgary made it on the prestigious list. Opening up earlier this year, Pigeonhole is a great new restaurant addition to 17th Ave perfect for those who love tapa styled dishes coupled with some great wine!

Atmosphere: Modern dining area coupled with an old school flare reminiscent of a grand British tea room.

Food & Wine: With so many amazing dishes on the menu it was hard to pick and choose what we wanted to try. Luckily some of my friends had already been and insisted that we order the Nori Crumpets. It looks like a simple dish however the flavours truly blow you away. The butter is the star due to the blast of shrimp flavour when you bite in to it. The dish is decadent without being overwhelming and was probably one of my favorites that night.

We also order the Chicken Liver Mousse served with blueberry and toasted sourdough. The mousse itself was creamy and smooth with a rich depth of flavour. The blueberry was a great accompaniment. It was a really good portion size as well and would be perfect for sharing.

A light and fresh plate was the Sustainable BC Tuna Crudo with lots of whipped yogurt, cucumber and crunchy puffed rice. It was a well-rounded dish, the crunchy puffed rice complimenting the soft tuna and the tangy yogurt with refreshing cucumber. I would highly recommend this to someone looking for a healthier alternative.

Next we also tried the Charred Cabbage and Ricotta Dumplings. Both dishes that sound intriguing but not what you’d expect. The cabbage had a nice smoky flavour from the charring and I really enjoyed the jalapeno cream that was served with it. It’s a simple dish that was definitely elevated. The ricotta dumplings themselves were soft and chewy like little pillows. I the flavours of the chilis and crème fraiche and thought it was a well executed dish.

We couldn’t leave without having dessert and since we couldn’t decide between the Banana Pecan Trifle or the Warm Madelines, decided to order both. The trifle was delightful served in an old English teacup with layers of calvados (), crème fraiche and pecan shortbread with lots of caramel drizzled on top. I didn’t think it was overly too sweet and enjoyed the crunch from the shortbread since most trifles can be more like a pudding in texture. I really enjoyed the combination of the flavours and would definitely order it again. The madelines were brown butter flavoured that day. They were perfect, served fresh and made to order. You really can’t go wrong with fluffy madelines especially when they taste extra buttery.

I suggest you try the dessert with a nice white wine such as the Tantalus Riesling! But if that's not your style, they've also got a nice wine list available if you're looking for something different, be sure to ask the server for their recommendations.

My Picks: Nori Crumpets, Tuna Crudo, Banana Pecan Trifle

Overall: The food served at Pigeonhole makes it one of my new favorites in town and I’m glad I’m not the only one that thinks so. Congrats to them for being one of Air Canada enRoute’s Best New Restaurants and I can’t wait to see what they cook up next, but please never remove the nori crumpets!

306 17th Avenue SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 452.4694

Pigeonhole Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Sticky Soy Chicken Drumsticks Recipe

>> Friday, October 30, 2015

Do you remember growing up and your parents were exasperated trying to figure out what you would eat for dinner? Well for me it was simple. They’d ask me what I wanted and my answer was always the same – chicken. It was easy enough for my parents to whip up a chicken dish or two, they’re fabulous cooks, but the problem laid more in the fact that I literally requested chicken at every meal. So my parent’s tasks weren’t so much as trying to get me to eat but trying to figure out more recipes so they themselves weren’t sick of eating chicken every day of the week.

I’ve found the same problem has carried over to my adult life. I definitely eat a lot more different types of foods now, but my comfort go to is and will always be chicken. Just ask my husband, I think he now fully understands how my parents felt back in the day. In order to keep things interesting for all, I often play around with various recipes especially when it comes to chicken.

I recently tried a new recipe that was worthy of a mention on the blog. This chicken was gooey and sticky, reminding me of eating wings but healthier. I couldn’t help but add in a couple ingredients of my own for the blog. I quite enjoyed it and I really hope you do to. Hmm..maybe I’ll make it again next week. 


2 1/2 pound chicken drumsticks (or other cuts if you aren’t a huge drumstick fan)
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
1/2 cup honey
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp garlic salt
Optional: 2 tbsp Sambal Chili Garlic Sauce (can be found in your local Chinese grocery aisle)


Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl, add in chicken and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Put the chicken back in to the fridge to marinate while preparing the sauce.

In a separate bowl, mix together the soy sauce, ketchup, honey, garlic cloves, garlic salt, chili sauce (if using).

Add the sauce to the chicken, mix thoroughly to ensure all the drumsticks are covered. If you have time, allowing the drumsticks to marinate for at least 30 mins will allow the flavours to penetrate the meat. However, if you’re tight on time, you can prep them for the oven straight away.

Place the chicken on a flat sheet pan and in to the oven for approximately 25-30 mins. Put a fork in to the drumsticks and if the liquid runs clear then they’re ready.

Serve and enjoy.

Makes 3-4 servings.


Restaurant Review: Next Door Wine & Appetizers

>> Wednesday, October 14, 2015

When you think wine bar, the first thing that often comes to mind are places in and around the downtown area. However, for those living outside the core, it might not interest them to travel downtown in order to sample some wine and then have to pay for the pricey taxi ride home. It seems what they were looking for all along was Next Door Appetizers, where the name really does highlight the fact that for those down south, they now no longer need to trek very far in order to enjoy a great meal along with delicious wine.

Atmosphere: Charming contemporary design which highlights their relaxed wine bar theme.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20s

Food & Wine: We were lucky enough to have been invited to spend a wonderful evening at Next Door, trying to explain to my husband where it was located was another story (he kept thinking we were going next door not to the restaurant). We started off with an amazing Chef’s choice Charcuterie Board where 3 cheeses and 3 meats were featured. My favorite mortadella and prosciutto were both on the board so I was elated. The portion size was extremely generous and we had to pace ourselves acoordingly. Especially since there was still a lot more food on the way.

For some greens we had the Multicolored Beet Salad with cherry tomatoes, topped with arugula and feta in a tangy Dijon mustard dressing. I really enjoyed the sweet and sour combo of the beets and tomatoes. It was a nice contrast against the dressing itself. I also loved all the colors on the plate, they do say eating your colors is healthy! Next was the Mussels & Spicy Chorizo in a fresh basil tomato sauce. The tomato sauce itself was divine where the chorizo gave it an added spiciness which really elevated the dish. I would have loved to see bigger juicier mussels, but sadly that’s a problem all of Calgary has due to our landlocked coordinates. We’re at the mercy of a good shipment, but the sauce here was the star.

Everybody probably already knows I love gnocchi, so ordering the Seared Gnocchi with a pork ragout was no surprise. If gnocchi is on the menu, I’m ordering it. I thought the texture of the gnocchi was on point, perfect with a bit of charred exterior from the searing. However, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the ragout. It was a nicely cooked ragout, but I guess I’m more of a gnocchi purest and love it when they’re served in a creamy sauce, so that each gnocchi can be used as a vessel for the sauce. To cap off our delicious meal, we decided to share the Unbaked New York Style Cheesecake. The server mentioned that it’s a fairly decent size and it definitely was; more than enough to share amongst 2 people. Unless you’re a huge dessert fiend, then you may want one all to yourself because it definitely is creamy cheesecake goodness. Light and fluffy due to the fact that it’s unbaked, it was the perfect way to end the meal.

We could not go to a wine bar and not order wine, so to change things up we went with a white that evening, the Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio. For those who haven’t sampled Pinot Grigio before, they’re actually the same grape variety as Pinot Gris. Therefore if you’re a fan of the latter, you’ll love the crispness of Pinot Grigio. The Tiefenbrunner is a great accompaniment to lighter fare with its pear undertones and full bodied round finish. It’s a great wine to sip throughout the evening.

My Picks: Beet Salad, Unbaked Cheesecake

Overall: We quite enjoyed our evening at Next Door. There’s literally nothing better than tapas in my books. The wine and food was both excellent and since it’s quite literally next door to their sister restaurant Toscana Grill (hence the name) they’re wonderful options for those living in the South!

Next Door Wine and Appetizers
1A Macleod Trail SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 255-1222

Next Door Wine & Appetizers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Fest - Calgary Giveaway!

>> Monday, October 5, 2015

It’s autumn time in Calgary again and that means the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival is back!

Again, I have a set of tickets for Saturday October 17th afternoon session (12-4pm) to give away! So message me through twitter or respond to this post and I’ll do a random draw next week for the winner.

For all of you that are interested, here’s a bit more information. Plus there are still additional tickets available for purchase, but they might sell out soon so don’t wait too long! They're bringing back the  afternoon tasting session this year for those that want to avoid the long lines and big crowds. It’s also great for those that already have evening plans!

Experience ultimate indulgence at the 18th Calgary Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival

WHAT: The Calgary Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival, sponsored by Sobeys Liquor and Safeway Wine & Spirits, is back for a weekend of indulgence, offering a unique opportunity to explore new products and flavours. The Grand Tasting Hall will overflow with more exhibitors than ever before! Attendees can expect 140 wineries, featuring a distinguished collection of wines from 16 different countries, more than 150 brands of premium spirits, single malt and blended scotches, port, liqueurs and craft beers. Taste what’s new and hot in the adult beverage scene with approximately 100 new-to-Alberta wines, beers and spirits! Bursting with flavour, nearly 50 local restaurants and food purveyors will cook up a variety of gourmet culinary creations. For an enriched tasting experience, knowledgeable industry experts will be on hand to educate and entice.

The Great Big Taste Awards are back at the Festival, allowing attendees to vote for their favourite samples and sips by “starring” them in the Festival App. Many new-to-the-market products, award-winning wines, beers, spirits and specialty liqueurs, and creative recipes will compete to be the crowd favourites. Attendees can also stop by The Sobeys Liquor and Safeway Wine & Spirits Onsite Store to pick up their most exciting finds.

WHO: Wine, spirit and beer enthusiasts, along with food lovers will enjoy a tasty selection of mouth-watering culinary delights. It’s a weekend of excitement and flavourful fun for all!

WHY: To indulge in the art of food and beverage creations brought to light by talented local restaurants and food purveyors, as well as wine, spirit and beer retailers. The Festival presents Calgarians an exclusive opportunity to sip, sample and savour with friends, family and co-workers.

WHEN: Friday, October 16, 5 - 10 p.m. Friday Evening Session
              Saturday, October 17, 12 - 4 p.m. Saturday Afternoon Session
              Saturday, October 17, 6 - 10 p.m. Saturday Evening Session

WHERE: Stampede Park BMO Centre, Halls D & E

Tickets are available online at Sampling coupons are required for sampling and are available for purchase onsite.

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