Restaurant Review: Hayden Block Smoke & Whiskey

>> Thursday, March 23, 2017

It feels like BBQ season is just around the corner and I can’t wait! After being cooped up inside all winter long, I’m extremely excited to break out the grill and whip up some favorite BBQ recipes of mine. Although we’re not quite there yet…almost. For the time being, to satisfy my BBQ cravings I’ve been heading down to Hayden Block to get my fill!

Atmosphere: Pub style interior with long benches perfect for larger groups or chatting up your neighbour!

Price Range: Mid $10s


Food & Drinks: The menu at Hayden Block is split between either 1/2 lb orders for specific cuts of meat versus single orders of their chicken, short rib or hot link aka sausage. It’s a great way to sample all the items on the menu if you’re not sure what to order. Their items are all smoked for 14 hours using a dry rub. If you like your BBQ ‘wet’, they offer different BBQ sauces to mix and match for all your dipping needs.

We decided to start with the Brisket (you can’t go to a BBQ place and not get the brisket!), the Pork Spare Ribs, and the Hot Link with sides of Cornbread, Coleslaw and Green Beans. The brisket came in nice thick slices and had wonderful flavour. I liked that it was tender but had a nice texture to it. It was delicious on its own but would probably be equally wonderful in a sandwich. The ribs also used their signature dry rub, although I’m personally enjoy ribs that are smothered in sauce, I didn’t mind these because you could taste the smokiness of them.


Surprisingly one of my faves for the evening was the hot link, which had a perfect ratio of fat and spices to the meat. Often sausages can be salty and overwhelming after a couple bites, but these were different. They were tasty without being heavy. We contemplated ordering another link however there was still more on the menu to taste!

The sides are a must to put a bit of a breather between all the meat heavy components of our meal. Coleslaw and cornbread is quintessential, being as much a BBQ necessity as ribs and brisket. The green beans were crunchy and sweet. All in all good accompaniments which lots of other selection available as well.

We decided to add an order of the Smoked Wings as well and they were delicious! They brine them for 24 hours which really packs in the flavour. They’re also on special every Wednesday for half off which makes them an even better deal!


To top off the evening, we had to try their Pecan Pie. It’s the proverbial icing on the cake. Nothing better than finishing the meal off with something sweet and sugary. The chewy center was perfectly balanced with the crunchy pecans and the sweet whipped cream on the side.

My Picks: Smoked Wings, Hot Link

Overall: With different daily specials, you can always count on Hayden Block to satisfy your BBQ needs. I’m looking forward to heading back for their wings and also try out other items on their BBQ menu such as the pulled pork and the short ribs! Also while you’re there don’t forget to check out their whiskey menu such as the smokey old fashioned, lovely twist on the original. They do have whiskey in their name for a reason.

Hayden Block Smoke & Whiskey
1136 Kensington Road NW
Calgary, AB
(403) 283-3021
Website: haydenblockyyc.com

Hayden Block Smoke & Whisky Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Read more...

Big Taste Calgary 2017

>> Monday, March 6, 2017

Wow, it feels like I blinked and its already March! Although here in Calgary snow is still on the ground making it feel more like winter so it’ll probably be a while before it actually feels like spring. Luckily for us the Big Taste Festival - Calgary's dining week is currently on making it a great time to get out and try a new restaurant! Even amongst this cold weather.

The Big Taste festival runs from March 3-12 this year and has many of Calgary's downtown restaurants showcasing some of their delicious cuisines through specialized set lunch and dinner menus or through special Big Taste events! For a full listing of the restaurants involved check out the Downtown Calgary website.

I'm always excited to try out the menus each year and have a couple reservations made for the upcoming week (reservations are highly recommended!). To kick start our dining journey we stopped by Buchanan's Chophouse for their delicious 3 course menu.


Buchanan's offered 2 options for each course, which allows you to pick and choose the dish to satisfy your cravings. For the first course it was a choice of either a Cajun Seafood Chowder or Sweet Chili Glazed Pork Belly with Mixed Green Salad. I opted for the latter because who doesn’t love a good pork belly dish? The sauce was sweet and tangy which helped cut through the fattiness of the pork. The lightly dressed greens were also refreshing. I did wish that the pork belly was a bit more tender but aside from that thought it was a great start to the meal.

Next was a choice between the New York Steak with red wine balsamic peppercorn reduction, fresh seasonal vegetables, Yukon gold mashed potatoes or Charbroiled Spring Salmon Filet with wasabi cilantro vinaigrette, curried rice and fresh seasonal vegetables. Since we were at a chophouse, I decided on the NY strip and was not disappointed. The steak was cooked perfectly to order with a good amount of seasoning. I enjoyed all the accompaniments, especially the creamy mashed potatoes. Sometimes you just can’t beat a good meat and potatoes dish especially when paired with a glass of Bordeaux.


Finally for dessert it was either the Sticky Toffee Pudding or Apple Crumble with vanilla ice cream. I went with a combo of the two choosing the sticky toffee pudding with an extra scoop of ice cream on the side. The pudding was covered with a lovely caramel sauce which I couldn’t stop swooning over. I was extremely happy that I added the ice cream because it did help balance out the pudding itself which was quite sweet due to all the chunky dates. Although the sweetness did go quite nicely with a cup of coffee to end the evening.

Overall we were quite satisfied with our selection and was happy that we made it out to kick start the first day of the Big Taste! I’m looking forward to our other meals this week and am debating whether I should check out more places before I blink again and it’s all over. Be sure to make your reservations if you’re interested because the Big Taste ends soon and the reservations are already booking up quick!

Read more...

Restaurant Review: Bridgette Bar

>> Thursday, March 2, 2017



People who know me well know that I love family style eating. Being Chinese, family style dining has been what I was brought up on. So I’m so happy to hear more and more restaurants offering dishes that allow sharing of different plates and features. When we visited Bridgette Bar, I noticed they had a whole section of small plates and I knew right away what I was going to order

Atmosphere: Upscale retro decor surrounding a beautifully designed interior reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour and style a la Mad Men.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $30s



Food & Drinks: Starting with the Oysters off their snacks menu, we figured it would be a nice way to start our meal that evening especially when paired with a bit of Varichon & Clerc bubbles! The oysters came with a unique dill pickle granita (think tiny ice chunks), where the salty and sour dill brought out the brininess of the oysters that I love.

It was hard not to order all the small plates since it was just the hubby and I (well..and baby but unfortunately he can’t contribute just yet). To start we had the Grilled Octopus which was nicely charred from the grilling process, while the orange and fennel provided a nice citrus and textural component. I love octopus and wish it was served more often!



Next was the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio dressed with a mushroom vinaigrette and topped with a mushroom salad. Steak and mushrooms go well and its no different here. The mushrooms were perfectly paired on this plate while the vinaigrette added the extra zing, which I find is much needed for carpaccio to really bring out the sweetness in the rare beef.

Another light dish we had was the Smoked Tuna Crudo, the fish benefitted from the crunch and freshness of the cucumbers as well as the creamy avocado. None of the flavours overwhelmed each other and it was definitely light on the palate overall. Similarly the Endive Salad was also refreshing! Reading mozzarella dressing on the menu made me a bit hesitant and I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was not heavy what so ever nor did it overpower all the delicate flavours. The orange slices along with the pecans made for a wonderful dish. I could eat this salad every day and not surprisingly it was one of my faves for the evening!


We decided to also try the Italian Pork Sausage with conchiglie pasta and I’m so glad we did. The pasta was perfectly al dente and the chili added an extra kick to the salty Italian pork sausage. It reads as such a simple dish but the flavours were literally exploding off the plate.

To end our evening we tried the Chocolate Hazelnut Bread Pudding with pickled red wine grapes and topped with hazelnut ice cream. The bread pudding was quite sweet, but that was mellowed with a lovely French press coffee on the side. I think the highlight was definitely the hazelnut ice cream, but I do have a thing for ice cream so I may be biased. =)


My Picks: Endive Salad, Italian Pork Sausage

Overall: Sitting in the surroundings of Bridgette Bar it just felt right to order a Manhattan and how could one resist, it felt like a place where Don Draper from Mad Men would be found after a long day at the office, especially if he enjoyed family style dining like I do. We had a blast that evening and even the baby enjoyed his night out (super happy that they’re family friendly)! Can’t wait to check it out again maybe when I’m hankering for another Manhattan or maybe a Old Fashioned.

Bridgette Bar
739 10 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB
Website: bridgettebar.com

Bridgette Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Read more...

YYC Hot Chocolate Fest!

>> Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Boy was it cold out earlier this month! I found it really hard to muster up the strength to want to leave the house everyday so am I ever glad that we’re getting a bit of a break with the chinook lately. Hopefully it keeps up for a bit but seeing that it’s Calgary I’m not going to be surprised when we get hit by our next big chill. Luckily for us, February is also YYC Hot Chocolate Fest!

Celebrating their 6th year, the YYC Hot Chocolate Fest is supporting Calgary Meals on Wheels with proceeds from each of the hot chocolates benefitting their Home Meal Delivery Program. Various cafes, restaurants and chocolatiers are supporting the cause by creating a signature hot chocolate (some even spirited) for the competition. Calgarians are encouraged to try as many hot chocolates as they can and then go online to review each. It is highly encouraged to review all the ones you’ve sampled because the winners will be selected based on the overall rating of the hot chocolate!

I’ve been lucky enough to try a couple and here are my thoughts on them…


Seasons of Bowness - S'mores Twist

An update on the traditional hot chocolate with Smirnoff Marshmallow Vodka. The hints of cinnamon and graham crackers are delicious and playful on the tongue. A warming drink perfect for a cool winter day especially when skating in Bowness Park.



CafĂ© Rosso – Marble Coconut

I really enjoyed this creation with both dark and white chocolate mixed together and topped with lots of whipped cream and toasted coconut that they made in house. I preferred it because it wasn’t too sweet and the toasted coconut on top added a nice textural crunch. I could probably have one of these everyday.


Analog – Corbeaux Hot Chocolate

Their version showcased basil and lemon infused in to white chocolate and topped with Corbeaux’s own marshmallows and a white chocolate chip cookie. The basil was definitely interesting, this one would be perfect for those looking for a blend of sweet and savoury. The cookie was a lovely bonus.



The Deane House – Bergamot Sea Salt

Hinted with flavours of sea salt and earl grey tea then topped with roasted marshmallows. This was a delicious combo! The subtle flavour of the tea really added an extra layer of flavour to this hot chocolate. I also enjoyed that it wasn’t cloyingly sweet. The roasted marshmallow on top also reminded me of nights out camping and smores. Amazing!

Even though it has warmed up, now is an even better time to get out there to sample all those delicious hot chocolates for a cause! Grab one and chill or grab one to go! I'm off to sample a couple more myself and will continue to update as I try more! Check back for new reviews. Yum!

Read more...

Restaurant Review: Jinya Ramen Bar

>> Friday, February 3, 2017


Vacation and food are almost synonymous in our family. It isn’t truly a vacation unless we’re in local areas trying specialize dishes and unique cuisines of that location. On our most recent trip as we were looking for a place to eat we ran in to a couple different Jinya restaurants! They reminded me of our visit to their newest location in Calgary. We were told that they had locations all over the world but who would have thought that we would run in to them on our trip! We were lucky enough to try out their ramen bowls amongst other goodies before we left and here’s some of our highlights.

Atmosphere: Contemporary interior and a hip vibe makes this place unique amongst current ramen restaurants in town.

Price Range: mid $10s+


Food & Drinks: We were advised that we could try two appetizers, two ramen bowls and a dessert. So after looking at the menu we decided on the Jinya Bun which is a steam bun stuffed with slow braised pork chashu, cucumber, baby greens, kewpie mayo and jinya sauce and the Brussels Sprouts Tempura, crispy tempura with truffle oil. I really liked the Jinya Bun. There are many different version of this, some with only the pork and a bit of sauce and some with all the fixings. I particularly enjoyed this because it was a good ratio of bun to pork to sauce along with some greens. It was a great start to the meal. The Brussels Sprouts Tempura were crunchy but they needed a sauce or a dip. A spicy mayo would have elevated the dish or even better, a truffle oil mayo since I couldn’t really taste the truffle oil on the brussels sprouts themselves.


I ordered the Jinya Tonkotsu Black made with pork broth and served with chashu, garlic oil and chips, thin noodles and topped with a spicy sauce and this amazing egg which is cooked to perfection. When I go back I am definitely going to order an extra egg. It’s cooked just so that the yolk inside is still gloriously runny! Overall I enjoyed the bowl, the noodles were well cooked and the broth wasn’t overly salty which I find happens with tonkotsu. I would order it again, but next time I have my eye on the Cha Cha Cha for Garlic Lover’s!

The hubby tried the Premium Tonkotsu White (funny how the name was exactly opposite of the “Black”). This bowl was made with pork and chicken broth served with chashu, a half egg, kikurage (mushrooms) and thin noodles. My husband prefers thin noodles and thought they were well cooked. The broth wasn’t as heavy since it was a nice combination of both chicken and pork. As part of his meal he also ordered the set, which comes with Gyozas. The dumplings had a nice char to them and the filling was quite flavourful. We both enjoyed them and would order them again.


For dessert we ordered the Mochi Ice Cream, one green tea and and one chocolate. For those who haven’t had mochis before, they are soft rice balls made from glutinous rice flour and these ones in particular are stuffed with ice cream where traditionally they would be stuffed with red bean or sesame paste. I liked the green tea one and my husband liked the chocolate so one of each was perfect for sharing. Although I probably could have eaten more of just green tea myself. =)

My Picks: Jinya Bun, Mochi Ice Cream


Overall: It is definitely nice to see more ramen options in Calgary. Especially global establishments such as Jinya recognizing that Calgary is a city that has a food scene that they would like to be a part of. After speaking to the manager, I was informed that Jinya has very specific requirements for their stores and I’m glad they were able to find something that suited them here in the city. Here’s looking forward to seeing new items being introduced on their menu and opening up our palates to new global cuisine!

Jinya Ramen Bar
Unit 180, 1800 4 St SW
Calgary, AB
(587) 356-0721
Website: http://jinya-ramenbar.com/locations/detail/calgary

Jinya Ramen Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Read more...
Related Posts with Thumbnails

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP