Restaurant Review: River Cafe

>> Friday, February 24, 2012

I can’t believe we’re nearing the end of February already and it’s got me thinking about the year thus far. To sum it all up, it’s been busy, both work and home life. But I’m grateful for it all and I often try to remind myself to take time out of each day to be thankful for the little things. Each special hug, each stress relieving workout, each exceptional meal and distinctive bite all culminates to unique and special experiences that we often forget once it’s over. So today I decided that it felt appropriate to take some time to reminisce about the special meal at River Café to celebrate the ringing in of this exciting New Year.

Atmosphere: Evoking a cozy, comfortable cabin in the woods feeling by taking full advantage of its location in the middle of Price’s Island Park

Price Range: Mid $10s - $40+

Food and Wine: I’ve had the honor of dining at River Café before and it was partially why we decided to head back for our New Year’s Eve dinner (its secluded location was the second reason). Since it was NYE, only the price fixe menu was available that evening and let’s just say there were no complaints all around.

It was a five course meal which started off light (a creamy celeriac amuse bouche) and slowly progressed to a bold finish. The first course was the House Cured Berkshire Prosciutto served with a crisp asian pear and hazelnuts. There was a clear contrast between the sweet pears and salty prosciutto with the added crunch of the hazelnuts, the perfect way to start the meal.

The second course was the Kabocha Squash and Ricotta Raviolo served in a brown butter sauce with mushrooms and a cauliflower puree. It was the perfect bite of creamy, smooth and earthy with a buttery richness. I really enjoyed the brown butter sauce and used it as a dip for the bread we were given.

My husband and I decided to try both of the third course options, so I was fortunate enough to sample both the Scallop and Beef Tartar. The Qualicum Bay Scallop was served along side some crisp honey apple and kohlrabi with a smoked Alaskan sturgeon. The scallop was perfectly seared and the sturgeon was extremely silky. The arugula and egg complimented the Bite Ranch Grass Finished Beef Tartar by cutting through the heaviness of the dish.

For our mains, I ordered the Roasted Pacific Sablefish with smoked clams and purple potato salad. I could barely remember chewing the fish since it just melted in my mouth, it was very well cooked. My husband ordered the Braised Hog Wild Board Shoulder with thyme roasted carrots, parmesan polenta and pomegranate jus. We both agreed that the shoulder was a still a bit tough and could have used a bit more braising time, however the jus was all the sides made it a solid dish.

To end our meal, we were served a Chocolate Ganache Torte with blackberry ice cream, poached pears and a brandy snap. I really enjoyed the ice cream, which wasn’t overly sweet and very refreshing. The chocolate itself was truly decadent and needed the pears and ice cream to mellow out the flavours. Being a vanilla lover myself, it did find it a bit heavy, but that didn’t mean I left any on the plate.

With the price fixe menu we had to option to have the wine pairings but everybody at the table agreed to sample other types of wine and we ended up ordering two different reds that night. The first was the Rosso di Montalcino Pieri Agostina, which is a brighter, medium bodied red with fruity notes and light tannins. The second was a bottle of Massolino Serralunga d’Alba, a bit bolder on both the fruit and tannins, with a slow long finish.

My Picks: Kabocha Squash and Ricotta Raviolo, Qualicum Bay Scallops

Overall: Thinking back, I really hope I did savour and enjoy every single one of those bites. Since it was on a special menu, we might never see those dishes again. Hopefully they might decide to bring some of those dishes back and offer it on their menu again in the next couple seasons, but until then here’s hoping for more amazing dinners, memories with great friends and special moments.

River Café25 Prince’s Island Park SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 261-7670

River Cafe on Urbanspoon


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