>> Friday, April 22, 2011
Why is it that Calgarians tend to eat dinner at 6 or 7 pm? Actually I find that most North Americans eat dinner early, unlike our European counterparts that eat at 8, 9 or even 10 pm. I remember when I was in Paris last year and a couple asked us for the time while we were eating because they had dinner reservations at 9:30 pm and so started my curiosity as to why North Americans need their dinner so much earlier. I’m not going to lie, I usually eat early too, but after a long day of work and working out, I need my fuel and the evening to relax. So it was nice to take advantage of a Friday and arriving a bit later for dinner at Brasserie Kensington. A new hot French restaurant, where better then to adopt a later dinner hour!
Atmosphere: A upscale trendy pub style restaurant with an authentic French brasserie feel along with an amazing vibe. It does get a little boisterous, so caution if it’s the first date.
Prices: Mid $10s – $20s
Food and Wine: Once we were seated and started browsing the menu, I realized how many different combinations of food we can actually create with the menu. My eyes kept wandering and I found it hard to look at one particular area in the menu (but it could also be because I wanted to try a bit of everything that I read!). There were appies, entrees, sides, dessert (whose eye doesn’t land on dessert first?). Finally the group of us decided to try a bunch of appetizers and then move on to a bigger entrée to share (we did get enough willpower to leave the dessert till later).
First up was the Escargot with a porcini mushroom cream sauce and toasted baguettes. The sauce was lovely and we all found ourselves scooping it up with the bread. The combination of mushrooms and escargot is classic, definitely something not to mess with and in this case it worked very well.
Our Mussels in saffron cream were cooked to perfection. Saffron is a remarkable spice and can brighten up any dish and this one was not any different. The mussels were sweet, working nicely with the creaminess of the sauce. The pomme frites that were served along the side came with a house made tomato ketchup, which was much appreciated by the table (went well with the potatoes we had later as well).
The Foie Gras Torchon came with a nice fig compote to offset the gaminess of the foie. You could really taste the creaminess of the liver contrasting with the sweet figs and the crispy baguette. I did find the foie a little more gamey then usual, but I am personally more sensitive to gamey meats then others.
I really enjoyed the Duck Confit from Noble Farms. It was very flavourful and well seasoned. The drumstick was cooked to perfection and fell off the bone. The mushrooms were a nice touch as well.
For our main we decided to share the Smoked Alberta Pork Hock. If you’ve never had pork hock, I highly recommend it and definitely here at Brasserie Kensington. I would align the meat to a nicely braised short rib. If done correctly, it should fall off the bone and have soaked up all the amazing flavours of the cooking liquid, which is exactly what this dish at the Brasserie did. Served with a thick and I mean “thick” cut of pork belly (aka bacon...mmm), weisswurst sausages, sauerkraut and mini roasted potatoes. This dish is meant to feed a really hungry twosome. I don’t often rave about how big certain dishes are because often I get told how big a dish is going to be and am underwhelmed by the actual size of it. Not this time, we were warned and I was surprised.
After our all our lovely savoury dishes, we were ready for a sweet ending to the evening. We started with a very French dessert of Banana and Chocolate Crepes and a second dessert of the Brasserie Strudel which was served a la mode. The desserts were a nice ending. Thinking back to the dinner they wouldn’t be the first thing that pops to my mind, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t devoured quickly that night.
Everything ended up pairing extremely well with the Pinot Noir that we chose that evening. Brasserie Kensington's wine list is short and sweet. It's easy to select a wine and if you need any assistance the servers are more than willing to give you a few good suggestions!
My Pick: Escargot, Smoked Pork Hock for 2
Overall: An amazing non typical North American meal full of different parts of the duck, pork and even snails. What better way to enjoy a unique dinner then at Brasserie Kensington and while you’re at it, try a different dining time, since the restaurant stays energetic well in to the night!
100, 1131 Kensington Rd NW