Restaurant Review: Anejo Restaurant

>> Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Heading in to fall after just recently coming back from a part of the world that’s preparing for their primavera (aka spring…not the pasta) has made it a little hard for me to adjust. Missing the food in addition to it all really doesn’t help either. Luckily while I was away, the highly anticipated Mexican restaurant Anejo on 4th street opened their doors. Although I was sad to miss their grand opening, I was pretty excited to visit and enjoy a bit of Latin cuisine, hoping that it would take away my autumn blues by easing me back in to reality.

Atmosphere: The boisterous and lively crowds really make this location, which features vibrant Mexican décor including comfy couches for those looking for an easy laid back evening.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20+

Food and Wine and Tequila: It was hard not to get distracted by their Tequila menu right off the bat, but I knew it was going to be a lengthy evening so we decided to pace ourselves by starting off with a few appetizers and entrée items, like the Scallop and Shrimp Ceviche. I got extremely addicted to ceviches while on my travels to South America and was pretty excited to order the dish here in Calgary, knowing of course that I was pretty spoiled there so I tried to remain unbiased. The ceviche was very lightly seasoned and I didn’t taste much of the acid used to cook the seafood. However the bright side is you could taste the shrimp and scallops themselves with the creaminess of the avocado. I really enjoyed the side of jicama salad, adding some texture and acid that was missing in the delicate dish.

Next up we had the Molotes ‘Beggars Purse’, which is slowly braised adobo pork stuffed inside a crispy shell aka purse, served with a sweet and smoky pepper sauce and a refreshing red onion salad on the side. The pork was tender and the adobo had just the right about of spice, when mixed with the sweet peppery sauce and the crispy wonton outer layer, it all just culminated in to a perfect bite. Don’t forget the red onion salad though, which helped to cool the palate between bites.

Our highlight that evening was definitely the Guacamole, which I noticed every table ordering since we got there to when we left. After taking our first bite, I knew why. It’s made fresh table side, where the server mixed together the avocados, spicy Serrano peppers, jalapenos, onions and tomatoes all with a big squeeze of lime. I thought it was a very nice touch to watch it all come together and couldn’t wait to dig in. I could barely stop after the first scoop with their house made tortilla chips and to be honest I didn’t really stop. The guacamole was creamy, sweet, garlicky and to top it all off, had the right amount of spicy kick at the end. We polished it off pretty quick and wanted to order more, wish we had.

Saving the tacos for next time, we decided to share the Molcajete with Seafood (would have been the beef tenderloin if not for the headlines in the news right now, next time!). Molcajete essentially means in a stone mortal, so the stew was served piping hot with fish, grilled cactus, green onions, tomatillo sauce and topped with Oaxaca cheese. I wrapped a bit of everything in the warm tortillas and really enjoyed the combination of flavours. It’s a nice alternative to the traditional fajitas and it’ll be great during the upcoming cold winter months in the city.

Since the serving sizes weren’t overly large we were still able to enjoy a bit of dessert and decided on the Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream. Dark and luscious, creamy and chocolately without being bitter. The best part was the lingering spiciness after each bite. It was definitely a good way to end the meal…but only along side some great tequila.

Anejo carries a great selection of Latin wines from Spain, Chile and Argentina. After looking at the wine list I quickly ordered the Carmenere, a wine varietal only available from Chile, clearly still trying to reminisce about my recent trip. However, they were no longer carrying it (heartbreaking and a complete story in itself about the difficulties of importing SA wines) but the server suggested a Spanish Rioja, which was a great substitute. The Bozeto Tinto Rioja was a very nice drinking wine and since we were eating a seafood heavy meal, it was nice that the red didn’t overpower the dishes. A medium bodied wine with light fruit and cherry flavours helps to cleanse the palate after each bite of food so your taste buds can be amazed over and over again.

The night would not be complete if you go to Anejo and did not try one of their tequila flights, which is what I think truly sets them apart from other restaurants and bars in Calgary. Our server suggested we try the Avion Tequila Flight, so tried we did, each getting a flight consisting of the Blanco, Reposado, and Anejo. It was amazing contrasting the three, sipping each and going back and forth.

The Blanco – young tequila, clear in color when compared with the others, very bold and gives you that zing you’re looking for.

The Reposado – slightly golden in color, much smoother than the blanco but still had quite the kick.

The Anejo – honey to almost amber in color, very smooth definitely the best of the three (also the first one fully consumed)

The manager that evening was also very generous and brought us a sample of the Patron XO Café, which was served chilled in a very neat looking tumbler. This was significantly different from the other tequilas we sampled earlier since its closer to flavoured vodka, it was both creamy and full of nutty coffee flavour, definitely meant to be sipped and savoured. I found that the colder the liquor got the more it tasted like having an iced Vietnamese coffee. I can definitely use some of that in my morning coffee, wouldn’t that kick start the day!

My Picks: Guacamole, Molcajete

Overall: If you’re feeling a bit below the weather, nothing will change that faster then a shot (or flight) of tequila. What better place to do it then at a restaurant that’s gotten its name from a type of tequila? Plus when you’re starting to feel peckish, there’s a full menu waiting for you.

Anejo Restaurant
2, 2116 4th Street SW
Calgary, AB
(587) 353-2656

Anejo Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Anonymous,  December 28, 2012 at 3:46 PM  

My favourite part was the guacamole as well. I was literally spooning guac off the stone mortar at the end.

I am glad you liked it. Not sure why it's gotten a less than stellar rating on urban spoon.

Bonnie Huang February 26, 2013 at 9:01 AM  

I really enjoyed the guacamole and could just eat it all night. Unfortunately there were hits and misses the second time I went back. I hope they fix those little issues because certain items like the pork tacos and molcajete were delish. I would stay away from the ceviche though.

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