>> Monday, January 10, 2011
Lately Calgary has seen an explosion of new restaurants in and around the city and its easy to get hooked up on trying every one of them. Yet we shouldn’t forget that there are definitely some great restaurants that have been around time for a little while and are just as delicious if not more so. Don’t let their longevity fool you in to believing that they’re no longer up to date in their menus. Muse is one of those great restaurants that have been in the Calgary restaurant seen for a while and has maintained the freshness of its menu and can be more than compared to the new jaunts around town.
Atmosphere: The entrance gives little away until you turn the corner and walk down the stairs, which opens up to an elegantly lit dining area with amazing accents which can’t help but catch your eye.
Price Range: Appetizers Mid $10s, Entrees $30+
Food and Wine: I was a little late meeting up with my friend at Muse (winter traffic in Calgary..ugh) and when I finally did arrive, there she was munching on some popcorn and not just any popcorn, but drizzled with truffle oil, giving it a nice smoky salty flavour. Of course I couldn’t let her have all the fun, I ate a fair share myself along side some prosecco. The best part of all this - they were both compliments of the house - what a great way to start off the evening!
Shortly afterwards our waiter approached and was ready to take our wine and food orders and so began our food journey for the evening (journey because it was quite the lengthy and delicious meal). It all began with a house complimentary amuse bouche of sautéed shrimp over tomato brushchetta, which we found a little over salted but the shrimp was still succulent and cooked perfectly. There were dinner features that evening but we both opted to go with the regular menu since there were so many delicious choices. My friend decided on the Cream of Cauliflower Soup since she was a little under the weather, plus she’s heard some great things about it and boy was it delectable. I managed to get my hands on a bit of it and felt that the curried oil was a very nice touch and made the soup less heavy, which can sometimes happen to cream based soups.
Our appetizers (aka seconds) came shortly afterwards, which consisted of the Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna arranged over Foie Gras French Toast and Caramelized Cantaloupe Slices. The Cantaloupe was a nice contrast against the honey and soya glaze which brought out the sweetness in the tuna, the toast which was meant for texture probably wasn’t even required, since my friend and I couldn’t stop eating the cantaloupes themselves. The other appetizer we tried was the French Escargots, served with Enoki and Shemeji Mushrooms over a Tarragon Beurre Blanc sauce. The lovely butter sauce complimented the creaminess of the escargots and mushrooms.
For our mains, I decided on the surf and turf, I’m a sucker for soft shell crab and love spider rolls so when I saw crispy soft shell crab served over AAA Alberta beef tenderloin, Roma tomato chutney and potatoes. The steak was juicy and well seasoned, while the crab was tender inside a nice crunchy coating. My friend enjoyed her Salted BC Sablefish with House Maide Pappardelle (thick noodles) in a Wild Mushroom Saute and Sweet Pea Coulis.
At this point we’ve already been at the restaurant for nearly two hours but we weren’t done yet, there was still dessert and you can’t leave without having dessert. My companion ordered the Pear and Cardamom Crème Brulee (she’d been eyeing it since we got our menus) while I opted for the Muse Apple Pie. My dessert was essentially a deconstructed pie with a Breton shortbread underneath a caramelized apple terrine, served with whiskey ice cream overtop, it reminded me of an anukshuk, which was a neat way to present the dish aside from your usual circular pie crust. I did miss the fluffy puff pastry, but the shortbread did the job in the end.
The wine list is quite extensive at muse, with a focus on Californian wines, but a great selection of old world wines as well. The servers are very helpful with the selection they carry in house and give great advice. We were stumped between my friend and I (she enjoy Pinot Noirs, while I’m more of a Chianti or Bordeaux person) and we got great advice in helping us select the perfect wine for the both of us, we ended up with a bottle of the 414, it was a blended wine with a medium to full body, but tasted a bit spicier and complimented both all of our dishes well.
My Picks: Cream of Cauliflower Soup, Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna
Overall: We both enjoyed our dinner at Muse greatly, with the amazing atmosphere and well sized portions (each dish could have been a meal in itself), it reminded us why Muse has done so well in the Calgary restaurant scene and hopefully will continue to inspire all our palates for a long time to come.
107 10A Street NW