>> Thursday, December 22, 2011
I remember when the Calgary Tower used to house a Chinese restaurant when I was younger. It was my family’s favourite go to place because of how quiet it was. Chinese restaurants and quiet don’t normally go together, but this place was and it was perfect in my mind (as a 7 year old). I enjoyed going to the Calgary tower every weekend, although I didn’t necessarily get to ride to the top of the tower I still got to walk around the base and look at the souvenir shops. It really doesn’t require much to occupy a kid’s attention. However, as quiet Chinese restaurants go, it’s quiet for a reason and unfortunately didn’t last very long. I was sadden by this and over time the space has been occupied by many different restaurants, which I haven’t really visited until Ruth’s Chris took over the location and again made it a place where I wanted to return to.
Atmosphere: Mahogany wood interior, high glass windows and plush surroundings with a great view of Center Street due to its location at the base of the Calgary tower.
Price Range: Mid $20 - $50
Food and Wine: It was a fairly large group of us heading to dinner that night and it took us a bit to get settled (I didn’t help the situation). However, it didn’t really take us that long to order our food. Most of us were there for the steaks of course. Ruth’s Chris normally carries USDA beef, however since Calgary is the heart of steak central, our Calgary Ruth’s Chris does have a selection of Alberta AAA beef on their menu, in case you were concerned.
Unfortunately we didn’t realize that we forget to order our appies at the same time (like I said, took us a while to get in to the groove of the evening, too focused on steaks). After calling our waiter back, he was able to suggest a few sharing options. We settled on the Calamari, which is fried and then coated in a light sweet chili sauce; and the Lemon Thai Chicken, crispy pieces of chicken breasts with a similar but citrusier honey ginger sauce. I found the chicken itself to be a bit dry and preferred the calamari. The table all enjoyed both of the appetizers. Although next time I probably wouldn’t order them both at the same time seeing how they were very similar in taste.
It took a bit for our entrees to arrive due to the size of our group, but in the interim we were served some Garlic and Cheesy Bread. I wasn’t a huge fan of the cheese bread, but couldn’t stop eating the garlic ones. Nothing beats butter and garlic on toast in my opinion. With my order also came a Harvest Salad to start, with pecans, bacon, dried cherries, corn and crispy onions all over wild greens. The lemon basil vinaigrette was pleasantly tangy and didn’t overwhelm the delicate greens. It was definitely a nice way to lightly start in to my meal.
My Petite Filet Steak arrived with my choice of side, which was the Chef’s special that night, green beans sautéed with garlic. There are many other options available as sides also including mashed potatoes, fries, etc. I enjoyed the side of green beans because it helped cut through the heaviness of the butter on the steak. Aside from that though, the beans didn’t really have much flavour to them. My steak was seared perfectly rare and came with their signature butter garnish on top (actually more all over as seen in the picture). I’ve never really been a huge fan of the butter since I find it overwhelms the taste of the steak, seeing as how salty it is (my husband disagrees). I purely forgot to ask them to taper down the amount used. Since I decided to go with the set menu that evening, my steak was not Alberta beef (I know, I do prefer Alberta myself on a normal basis, but I rolled with it). I am glad to report that it was very tender, still succulent and juicy.
It didn’t take me long to decide that I needed dessert to end the evening. A quick browse through the menu landed me with the Banana Cream Pie a la mode (which cost $4 more but was well worth it). The pie does come cold, so should you decide not to order the ice cream, it’s still quite refreshing. The custard, actually the whole pie overall, wasn’t overly sweet. It had a nice balance between the crust and bruleed bananas on top. The size was also good for sharing. I found it hard to finish the whole pie all by myself, guess the ice cream didn’t help in that regard.
My dining companions decided on the Pennys Hill Shiraz to compliment our red meat heavy meal, but to my surprise it was a much milder, fruitier shiraz then I expected. Lots of berry notes with a gentle tannic finish.
My Picks: House Salad, Petite Filet
Overall: Even though now I’m eating steak and not dim sum, I find the food definitely defines Calgary more so then Chinese food at the tower (but that also includes an increase in the price point). The location itself still holds fond memories for me and I’m glad that I can once again visit it and enjoy the quiet in a different sense. I just need to keep in mind not to order the steak with all the butter next time, totally a personal preference though (husband continues to disagree)!
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
294, 115 9 Ave SE