The Chef's Tasting Experience at Muse

>> Wednesday, March 27, 2013


It’s always a treat to do a Chef’s tasting menu and I’ve been fortunate enough to have enjoyed a few outstanding tastings around the world. Calgary is no exception though. This city has always had hidden gems that showcase amazing tasting menus of their own. One of those places is Muse in Kensington and I was lucky enough to have been a guest at the unveiling of their newly reinvented Chef’s tasting menu earlier this week.

The evening kicked off with glasses of prosecco, freshly shucked oysters served with a zingy minognette and an amazing cheese and crackers (and beet chips) platter in their upstairs bar area. It was nice to reacquaint myself with the different niches within Muse and rediscover the space.

Once dinner service was ready, we were all escorted down to the lower dining area where they gave us a brief explanation of the chef’s tasting menu we would be sampling that evening and so began our journey. Starting with a lovely amuse bouche which consisted of honey marinated pears with crispy chicken skin immersed in a velvety bisque made from concentrated chicken broth finished with a rutabaga cream. A delicious beginning to the evening, which got everyone excited for what was to come.


The first course – Hamachi, a fish often found in sushi restaurants and better known as yellowtail, was served sashimi style after being cured in coriander and lime. The plate was garnished with red and black radishes, red chili’s and togarashi spice to keep with the Japanese theme. The fish was very lightly flavoured and extremely fresh, pretty amazing since we live in land locked Calgary. The wine pairing for the course was the Joie Farm Noble Blend White Wine. Sweet fruit notes reminiscent of a reisling, the light tannins and bright finish was a nice accompaniment to the delicate hamachi.

Our second course – Potato, reminded me of a refined breakfast with diced potatoes, green peas topped with a perfectly sous vide egg, along side bacon and black truffles. Cutting in to the egg and seeing the yolk ooze perfectly over the potatoes made me excited for that first bite and it was spectacular! A bit of bacon, potato, egg, topped off with truffles! It was extremely decadent, comforting and very satisfying. It was definitely my favourite dish that evening. The course was paired with a Querciabella Chianti Classico featuring sweet spices and cherry flavours, chiantis are one of my favorite wine varietals. It provided a nice balance between the smokey bacon and the creamy yolky potatoes.


Third course – Sturgeon, a lovely grilled fish course served with beet ribbons, brussel sprouts and a crunchy squid ink cannoli filled with caviar crème fraiche. If that wasn’t enough, the servers then poured a flavourful borscht consommé over top. I really enjoyed the borscht which helped infuse additional flavours in to the sturgeon and added moistness to the dish, preventing the fish from being dry which can often occur when grilling fish. The sturgeon and caviar were both from Vancouver Island and it was nice to see local Canadian products on the menu. The fish was paired with a brut sparking wine from Antech Heritage Cermant de Limoux, light and crisp, it really let the sturgeon shine through, enhancing the flavours without muting the dish.


The fourth course – Lamb, showcased two ways. First with the saddle of lamb cooked wrapped in a bit of lamb fat to provide additional flavours and second a crispy lamb belly served overtop a farinata (chickpea) cake. I was drawn to the rosemary dust that was plated along side the black olive emulsion, it really ignited the dish since lamb and rosemary are a perfect match. The lamb itself was cooked just right, moist and succulent, you could taste the additional flavours provided by cooking the lamb in the fat but it wasn’t greasy or heavy. For this course, we were treated with two wines where we got to compare and contrast the difference in notes and flavours provided by each. The first being J. Boutin Cote Rotie Bonneveaux Syrah and the second was the New Zealand Te Mata Bull Nose Syrah. I preferred the fruitier, New Zealand Syrah. I thought it brought out the lamb a bit more, playing with the gamey meat flavours and providing a light spice. The J.Boutin Syrah was a bit stronger on the oak, with blackberry and plums it had a stronger bolder finish.


Before our fifth course we were treated to a very whimsical Palate Cleanser, a miniature Crab Apple Soda made from Okanagan apples. It was slightly sweet, a bit tart and the bubbles made it extremely refreshing. I definitely could have ordered it as a drink on its own.

Our final course was Chocolate consisting of a creamaux of chocolate (similar to a flourless chocolate cake or chocolate ganache), toasted meringue, lemon gel, coriander and sweet potato sorbet. I was intrigued by the sorbet, prepared by roasting the sweet potatoes then mashing them and turning them in to a sorbet. It had an interesting texture, thicker than your usual ice cream or sorbet. A bit dense but I enjoyed it, reminding me of Asian sticky rice desserts. The chocolate itself was very decadent and slightly bittersweet the perfect pairing to the intensely sweet Brigaldara recioto della Valpolicella Classico – a reduction of valpolicella grapes to produce a sweet red dessert wine.

This tasting menu was definitely a treat and at the end of the journey we were all extremely satisfied (and full!). The whole meal took a little over 3 hours but they’re not meant to be rushed, instead each course is meant to be savoured. It reminded me of all the great meals I’ve had at Muse in the past and I look forward to going back and sampling another tasting menu in this gem of a place.

Muse Restaurant
107 10a St NW
Calgary, AB
(403) 670-6873

Muse Restaurant and Lounge on Urbanspoon

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