Restaurant Review: Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant

>> Tuesday, May 15, 2018


Seems like the weather has finally turned around in the city and the roads have cleared and I can confidently say that summer is just around the corner! It has been a crazy winter, one that didn’t seem like it was ever going to end. Luckily for me, there was lots of yummy eats that really got me through the season including this amazing meal we shared at Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant earlier this year. Although it was quite chilly when we made our way down, it was like stepping out in to a winter wonderland and enjoying some quiet time outside the hustle and bustle of the city.

Atmosphere: Cozy and intimate, a great location for that special night out with your significant other or a lovely brunch.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $30+


Food & Wine: We started our evening with a lovely flatbread amuse bouche that was provided by the Chef to really get our taste buds going. Shortly afterwards we got our appetizers, the Confit Rougie Duck Leg Croquette served with cornichon, shaved fennel and cranberry mustard aioli. The croquette was super flavourful and had a really lovely crunch on the outside providing the perfect amount of texture to the dish. We also shared the Canadian East Coast Oysters on the half shell with freshly grated horseradish and lemon mignonette, which were sweet and fresh. A great way to start our meal.

Next we decided on the Suft & Turf for Two as our main. You can’t go wrong with the best of both worlds, the platter came with Alberta Beef Tenderloin, roasted vegetables, Herb crusted bone marrow, scallops, shrimp, mussels and salmon. Everything on the platter was treated with care and cooked to perfection. I really enjoyed being able to sample the various items that were served plus people who know me knows that I like variety and this is exactly what I got! For those that are looking to try different items on the menu without having to make the tough choices, Bow Valley Ranch offers a Chef’s tasting available for Sunday night dinner where the chef has chosen to highlight certain items on their menu each week.


We couldn’t not have dessert since they all sounded so amazing! So we ordered the Coconut Carrot Cake with salted caramel, coconut icing and carrot sorbet. The cake itself wasn’t overly sweet, which is perfect for me and the coconut icing was a nice twist on the traditional cream cheese icing. The standout was the carrot sorbet, I wouldn’t normally think carrot and in this manner, but it worked really well with the rest of the items on the dish. It was a perfect ending to a lovely meal.

My Pick(s): Surf & Turf


Overall: We really enjoyed ourselves that evening and it was nice to leave the city lights behind and feel like we were transported to another place entirely. There were many different items on the menu that I can’t wait to try and now that the weather has warmed up I’m looking to making our way down there more often.

Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant
15979 Bow Bottom Trail SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 476-1310
Website: bvrrestaurant.com

Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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The Launch of Noble Fare Catering

>> Monday, April 23, 2018

As a soon to be mom of two, it’s hard to find the time to have an evening out with the hubby without missing our son or being too tired. However, we’re super fortune that we have family in the city that loves taking our son for the evening so that we can get a date night here and there. I was really excited that the event for the launch of Noble Fare Catering landed on one of those days and we were able to attend. What a better way to get new inspiration for party planning and upcoming events…baby showers and birthday parties anyone?

Hosted in the incredible new studio theatre of the C-Space King Edward building. A huge 1,750 sq ft. event hub perfect for anything from weddings to stand up receptions. The space was a perfect blend of historical and modern-day architecture with the King Edward building as it’s backdrop. Throughout the room we were treated with different stations offering a sampling of the various dishes available from Noble Fare Catering.


After our welcome cocktail, mine was the Crushable made with Eau Claire gin, pineapple, lemon, flora kola and Happy Belly mint kombucha. It was very refreshing and not overly sweet, which was perfect. Our first stop was the Charcuterie & Cheese table which featured house made crostinis, buttermilk crackers, prosciutto, pâté, sausages, cheeses, dried fruit, candied nuts, mustard and pickled vegetables. It was literally a charcuterie lover’s dream. There was simply everything you needed to go with a glass or two of your favorite wine. If you’re curious about the different options available, it’s definitely customizable and they have a listing of the different variety of nibbles available on their website.


Next we moved over to the small bites table which showcased a variety of their culinary one biters. Some of my favorites were the Thai Marinated Squid and Pineapple with panang curry, the Italian Style Wood Grilled Prawns with piri piri butter and the Ahi Tuna Poke with avocado and grilled pineapples. We also had the opportunity to try the Pork Meatballs, Carrot Tartare, Asian Chicken Thigh, Nash Beef Sliders, which were also very tasty.


It was hard not to want to stay here for the rest of the evening but the fresh made risotto was calling our name. The risotto isn’t just any old risotto from a pan, it gets mixed in to a lovely Parmesan Wheel which then provides it the added richness and creaminess elevating the taste of the entire risotto itself. It was definitely a decadent dish, which I think would be perfect addition to any reception or event.


Next was the Chill Bar showcasing freshly shucked East Coast Oysters, Beef Tartare, Tuna Tartare and Shrimp with bloody mary cocktail sauce. Everything looked amazing, especially to someone who loves all things raw! This would definitely be a hit amongst any party since who doesn’t love themselves some oysters and tartare? Plus, the homemade chips were to die for, a perfect pairing to the tartares.


Last but not least was the Dessert table with sweets ranging from Assorted Mini Milkshakes, Panna Cotta, Milk Chocolate Mousse, Boston Cream Doughnuts to their famous Stilton Cheesecake Bites and Brown Butter Lemon Tarts. I thought everything looked amazing and since they were bite sized it was perfect for sampling a little bit of each. I really enjoyed the appearance of everything, the mini milkshakes were delightful and the stilton cheesecakes were a hit as usual.
 


There were so many amazing dishes all evening long that I was hard pressed to pick a favorite. Everything tasted amazing and we were in such a beautiful venue – almost made me want to redo our vows. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and I couldn’t wait to share all my new-found catering info with my friends and readers that have upcoming events. Noble Fare offers a refreshing take on catering and their dishes are perfect for anything ranging from a corporate event to a custom wedding. I definitely picked up some ideas along the way!


Noble Fare Catering
Website: noblefarecatering.com

cSPACE King Edward
Website: cspacekingedward.com

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Celebrating Cilantro's 30th Anniversary!

>> Friday, April 6, 2018

Lately I’ve found that I’ve been heading back to my favorite tried and true restaurants even though there has been so many great new openings in town. Sometimes nothing beats the tried, tested and true, which can definitely be said for Cliantro on 17th Ave. They recently just celebrated their 30th year anniversary with an amazing new revamp of their dining space. I’ve always enjoyed Cilantro for their tasty pizzas and pasta dishes. Luckily for me, I got to join in on their 30th year celebrations and tasted a number of their new dishes along with some favorites.


The evening started with a light reception of canapes featuring their Beef Striploin Meatballs, flavourful CRMR Bison Tartare (for those that don’t know, Cilantro is part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts which serve their own farm raised meats) and Forno Baked Pizzas such as the crowd favorite pear and gorgonzola, wild boar sausage, fire roated tomato, elk salami and chicken & pancetta. Cilantro also offers a wide selection of wines and we were lucky enough to sample each course with a different type of wine. Here we were provided with a light Riesling from Wagner Stempel. Not overly too sweet as Rieslings are concerned marked with peach and pear notes with nice hint of acidity.


The guests were all then seated for a lovely 4 course meal starting with appetizers of Forno Roasted Olives, Pork Fried Almonds, Brown Butter Carrots and Parsnips with sumac, almond powder, parmesan, dill and a Charcuterie platter made with a Chef’s selection of three locally sourced cured meats. The charcuterie served is also available at Urban Butcher locations in and around the city. I particularly enjoyed the brown butter carrots and parnsips since it’s rare to see them roasted and served in such a manner. It helped retain their sweetness and the brown butter sauce provided an extra level of complexity. With this course we were served the Testalonga Chenin Blanc Cortez magnum bottle from South Africa. It played quite nicely with all the smoky flavours of the food and had a grapefruit aroma with a good kick of acid.


Our next course featured Cilantro’s different pasta styles and we even got to try a bit of the gluten free pasta, which I thought tasted amazing for gluten free! I couldn’t even tell the difference! We had the Penne Bolognese made with 6hr slow braised beef tenderloin, pancetta, basil, the Elk Gnocchi served with braised CRMR elk rib, tomato ragu, kale, parmesan, salt cured egg yolk and the Lemon Conchigliette with chorizo, scallops, prawns, snap peas, poblano where the peas paired perfectly with the Radikon Ribolla Gialla wine. This was probably my favorite wine of the evening! Its definitely unconventional due to the high amount of solids in the wine which you normally don’t expect. It’s a very complex wine with hints of cloudy pale copper and pinkish hues. It was truly spectacular with the snap peas. I could not stop drinking it! As for the pasta itself, all the dishes were cooked perfectly and the flavours of each dish were unique that it never felt overly heavy or one noted.


For the primi or the main, we were served CRMR Braised Bison Short Rib with a brown cola braise, Kale and Romaine Ceasar with herb crouton, soft poached quail egg, parmigiano Reggiano. The short ribs were so tender and soft that you didn’t need a knife to cut through the meat. The jus wasn’t overly sweet even though it uses a cola braise and the dish goes quite nicely with the kale and romaine Caesar. I’m a huge fan of both the traditional and kale Caesar salads so mixing the two greens together was pure genius. It’s perfect for someone who’s never tried a kale salad before and wanting to venture a bit. We were served a red from Greece, The Birds and Bats Three Years Down, which really surprised me because I remember none of the wines in Greece were all that great. However, this one was a nicely rounded medium bodied wine with hints of cocoa and anise, which it complimented the ribs nicely.


Sadly, my evening had to end a bit early while the rest of the guests were treated to a Cheese Course with lovely house made preserves to wrap up the evening. It was definitely unique since we tend to think of something sweet in the form of dessert. I guess you could say it came in the form of wine which was the Reichsgraf Von Kesselstatt Riesling. Although this one again was a Riesling, it is definitely in the sweet dessert wine category. With notes of apricot and tropical fruit, it was a great way to end a delicious meal.


As part of their reopening Cilantro is now also offering daily special Tuesday through Friday. Check out their website for more information: cilantrocalgary.com. What a great way to celebrate mid-week if you’re looking for something different or if you’re looking for something special to celebrate just like how Cilantro is celebrating their 30th year!

Cilantro
338 17 Ave SW
(403) 229-1177
Website: cilantrocalgary.com

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Restaurant Review: Cardinale

>> Thursday, March 15, 2018

Dinner reservations has taken on a whole new meaning in the last year or two. All of a sudden instead of just 6 people the number has doubled…mainly due to everybody having kids. I guess we’re at that age and it’s amazing how many restaurants in Calgary are accommodating to kids! I understand that often times when people dine out they would rather leave the kids at home, but we enjoy brining ours because for the most part, they’re well behaved and we typically try not to bring them to a 5 star establishment. Let’s be honest those are best enjoyed between my husband and I. As I was saying, there are so many great restaurants out there are will accommodate kids and one of them is Cardinale, which was perfect because I’ve been wanting to try it out since they changed over from La Vita e Bella.

Atmosphere: Cozy warm setting where the dining area is split in to several intimate rooms perfect if you have a larger group or just want to be hidden away.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20+


Food & Cocktails: We are a larger group that evening which gave us an opportunity to share a bunch of appetizers to start. I’m really glad that we decided on the shared plates because all the appetizers were incredible! The Polpette, meatballs made with a combination of brisket and shortrib were succulent served with a chunky Sunday gravy and topped with parmesan. They were a good size and there were about 5 to the plate making them great for sharing. The Bocconcini, which are deep fried fresh mozzarella balls with a gremolata crust served with an arrabiata (spicy tomato sauce) and yogurt sauce. I enjoyed the crust on the bocconcini, it’s like grown up cheese sticks.

Another fried favorite that night was the Suppli aka fried risotto balls with veal Bolognese, mozzarella, marinara sauce. They were light and didn’t feel greasy or heavy even though they were deep fried, overall a nice take on the arancini. Our favorite appetizer of the night was definitely the Gamberi. The salt baked prawns with jalapeno, pickled fennel, basil and garlic aioli were divine. Even though they were salt baked, that actually brought out the sweetness of the shrimp even more and I really enjoyed the accompaniment of the garlic aioli. It was so good, we ordered another one.

We were craving pasta so I ordered the Gnocchi which came in with a combination of spicy fennel chicken sausage, Tuscan kale, cannellini beans and topped with parmesan. The gnocchi was pillowy soft and the perfect vessel for all the chunky toppings. The hubby, who loves anything seafood, gravitated towards the Linguine which comes with prawns, scallops, mussels, squid with anchovies and Calabrian chile. All of the seafood was treated extremely well and the pasta was nicely al dente. Needless to say he was pleased with his pasta of choice.

For dessert I was looking for something a bit lighter and the Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with blueberry compote was exactly what I needed. The use of the greek yogurt instead of traditional cream lifted what could have been a heavier dessert. Plus, the added tang from the yogurt was a nice palette cleanser. One of the kids loved it so much after having a taste that he wanted one for himself!


We had the opportunity to sample a few different cocktails that night throughout our meal. The Organ Grinder made with Maker’s Mark bourbon, amaro nonino, dates, aromatic bitters and orange peel was sort of a play on old fashioned. It wasn’t too sweet and would definitely be perfect for someone who loves their bourbon cocktails. The complete opposite was the Wait Until Spring Bandini. A combination of red wine, Campari, lemon, carpano vermouth and orange peel reminded me of a more concentrated sangria, which would be perfect for a wine lover looking to try something different.

My Pick(s): Gamberi, Suppli


Overall: We had a lovely evening and really enjoyed the fact that they put us in a separate room (since their dining area is segregated), which worked well for the kiddos. It allowed them to get out of their seat for a bit and walk around after dinner within the room. One thing to note is they don’t have high chairs at Cardinale but if your kids are good with a booth then it’s perfect. Couple that with some delicious Italian fare and I feel like the new Cardinale is a great choice for anybody who does or doesn’t have kids. You’re guaranteed to have an amazing Italian meal!

Cardinale
401 12 Ave SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 264-6046
Website: cardinale.ca

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Celebrating Shokunin's 2nd Year Anniversary

>> Friday, March 2, 2018

Voted one of Canada’s Top 50 restaurants and one of Calgary’s Top 25 Restaurants in Avenue Magazine, Shokunin recently celebrated their second anniversary and I couldn’t believe they’ve been open for 2 years already! Coinciding with this momentous event, they’ve decided to launch a new menu that incorporates a bit of Calgary in to the mix with dishes like Bison Tataki, Brandt Lake Wagyu Beef Tendon and all day Ramen (which used to only be available after 9pm).




To celebrate we were lucky enough to be invited to attend their special event where so many amazing dishes were highlighted, it was hard to pick one favorite dish. Some of the definite highlights of the evening included the fresh Sushi and Sashimi that was flown straight from Osaka that day. I haven’t tasted sushi that fresh since Japan.




Talking about sushi, they were also serving their Aburi sushi, which is sushi that has been lightly seared with a torch to give it that charred flavor without cooking the fish. Aburi sushi is one of my favorite ways of eating nigiri sushi and I’m so glad that it’s available at Shokunin!


Some of the appetizers that were served included a few of their new menu items and their key favorites. The Bison Tataki with yuzu kosho pickled onions, garlic chips and radish sprouts was a hit amongst everyone. All the flavours worked very well together and the bison itself was tender and was a great choice for a tataki preparation. The Spicy Fried Tofu made with garlic miso marinated tofu and served with a black vinegar ginger sauce was an interesting play on the traditional agadashi tofu, which is one of my favorite izakaya dishes. The tofu was crispy and because it wasn’t sitting in the sauce as it’s typically served, the tofu held on to the crunch which creates a nice texture.




Other dishes we tried were the Okonomiyaki, a traditional Japanese savory style pancake which originated in Hiroshima, but you can now find them throughout Japan since they’re so popular. It’s a unique dish made with various toppings that change depending on the region but typically you can find egg, meat and veggies cooked to look like a pancake. There was Chicken Karaage, deep fried marinated chicken dark meat with a side of yuzu mayo for dipping. The infamous Squid Tempura served with a spicy mayo, lime and nori powder. Those who dined at DTF (Downtownfood) will remember this offering!



Shokunin is also known for their used of traditional binchotan charcoal in preparing their Yakitori and Kushiyaki skewers. Binchotan charcoal is the purest charcoal available and gives the skewers an amazing charred grilled flavor. I was estatic when I found out that they were serving Beef Tendon skewers. For those who haven’t had tendon before, it’s a must! The chew coupled with the charred outer layer makes this super addictive. Forget beer and wings, go for beer and tendon! Talking about beer, Shokunin serves their own house beer which is similar to a light lager, perfect accompaniment to the items on their menu without overpowering any of the dishes.



The main stars of the evening was the Wagyu Beef that was seared over binchotan charcoal and served with some shaved green onions and just enough salt to bring out the sweetness in the beef itself. Chef Darren gave everyone a preview of the beef and how it’s cooked over the charcoal just enough to get a bit of char without losing the unctuous fattiness of the wagyu, which is what it’s known for. A bit of the grill melted just enough of the fat to really set your tastebuds on fire. They were already aging more wagyu beef as we speak so be sure to look for it on your next visit.

 

With some of cutting edge items on their menu (chicken butt anyone?), it’s no wonder that Shokunin is noted among some of the top restaurants in both the city and country. Chef Darren constantly pushes the envelope to bring new exciting flavours and plates to his restaurant and isn’t afraid to try new approaches. Calgarians are responding by requesting for more and most recently Shokunin started offering their ramen all day opposed to just at nights like before. Keep asking Calgary and they’ll keep delivering, constantly reminding us why they deserve to be in the top!

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