Restaurant Review: Carver's Steakhouse

>> Friday, November 20, 2015

Last week we had to opportunity to visit Carver’s Steakhouse at the Sheraton Cavalier to sample their new menu. It’s not often I make it out to the NE and sometimes making it’s easy to forget how many great establishments there are in that area. Well for those of you that are looking for something different or for a special evening out, check out Carver’s!

Atmosphere: Upscale dining in a modern steakhouse setting with lush décor and cozy finishes.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $40+

Food & Wine: We started the evening off with some amazing house made bread. I find a lot of restaurants no longer offer this and it’s a shame because I think it’s a great way to kick start any meal. The bread at Carver’s was so good and had so many options (brioche, pretzel, focaccia, cheese bun) that I couldn’t stop eating it!

Normally we tend to stick to one appetizer; however the people at Carver’s were so generous that they encouraged us to sample various dishes to gain a better feel for their cuisine. Firstly we had the Crab Cake made with chunks of Dungeness crab topped with lots of panko bread crumbs and served with a meyer lemon mayo, black truffle shavings and a fricasse fennel crisp slaw. I really enjoyed that they opted to pan sear and not deep fry the crab cake. This kept the appetizer quite light and makes for a healthier option. With this course we were served the Bellavista Franciacorta Cuvee’ Brut. The sweetness of the sparkling wine really highlighted the flavour of the crab and nothing goes better with seafood then a bit of bubbles.

Next came the Potato Gnocchi elegantly plated with mushrooms, confit tomatoes and crispy prosciutto de parma. There was a lot of flavour on this plate and brilliant textural contrasts. I loved the light crisp on the outside of the gnocchi with it still being tender and soft on the inside. The fact that they served the gnocchi with a light sauce and lots of vegetables really made the dish a standout for me compared to many others I’ve had which are often covered in creamy sauces or heaps of butter.

To round out our appetizers was the Carver’s House Salad made with fresh spring mix, cucumbers, cashews, tomatoes, snow goat cheese and topped with a marmalade vinaigrette. I thoroughly enjoyed the vinaigrette; I need to somehow get my hands on this recipe. The tanginess of the dressing paired perfectly with the bitterness of the greens and crunchy cashews. We were served the Cedar Creek Platinum Series Chardonnay and Meyer Family Pinot Noir to accompany these two dishes due to the nuttiness of the salad and the earthy mushrooms in the gnocchi.

The hubby decided to try the 14 oz Bone in Rib Eye, which was perfectly cooked to a medium rare and the kitchen added in a couple Jumbo Prawns to spice things up in addition to their typical mashed potatoes (which are divine). I was quite impressed with the sear on the steak, perfectly cooked all around with a pink center, just right for medium rare. The recommended wine for this course was the Marques de Murrieta Rioja. The robustness of the wine holds up well again the steak and allows the flavours of the meat to bring out the berry notes in the wine.

I myself tried the Sea Bass, which was a nice contrast to the steak. The fish was served with a trio of cauliflowers, apple wood smoked potato croquettes, baby root vegetables and coconut cream sauce. Similar to the rest of the dishes, it was extremely light. The cook on the fish was perfect, with each layer remaining flaky and moist. I really enjoyed the creaminess of that sauce, made again with a light hand preventing it from overwhelming the fish. I also thought it went very nicely with the Chardonnay from before and it also complimented the Lemon Butter Asparagus side that we had. The sommelier also suggested the Francois Litchtle Gewürztraminer as a pairing. Although sweeter, it plays nicely with the creamy sauce and the flavours of the root vegetables.

Before dessert arrived, we were treated to a Bourbon tasting involving various ages of bourbon along with different flavouring techniques. The first was the Basil Hayden’s flavoured with citrus peel. The second was the Booker’s Kentucky Straight with smoked pecans and the third being the Knob Creek Single Barrel with smoked coffee beans. I’m not a huge fan of bourbon, but since my husband is, I let him take the reins on this one. His favorite was the Knob Creek, which is aged in barrel for 9 years and definitely a lot smoother than the other two. However, for wine drinkers, we might tend to veer towards the Basil Hayden’s due to the fact that it’s less robust and oaky.

To end our amazing meal was the Chocolate soufflé with crème anglaise. It takes 20 minutes to prep but definitely well worth the wait (plus it gave us some time to digest). I don’t often find soufflés on menus anymore and always order them when I get the chance because they truly are a testament to the quality of the kitchen. Being an extremely tough dish to create, the soufflé also needs to be served immediately meaning it’s always made fresh to order. This soufflé was top standard. They were able to achieve a perfect puff on top which held throughout and the flavours were on point. I personally didn’t even need the crème anglaise, but didn’t complain either. You can never go wrong with a creamy custard sauce. Overall, I thought it was a delightful end to an outstanding meal.

My Picks: Potato Gnocchi, Sea Bass, Chocolate Soufflé

Overall: We thoroughly enjoyed our evening at Carver’s. The food was amazing, the wine was heavenly and the service was fantastic. I’ll definitely have to remind myself of all the great establishments up in the NE of our city. Not to mention the hidden gems like Carver’s.

Carver’s Steakhouse
2620 32 Ave NE (located in the Sheraton Cavalier)
Calgary, AB
(403) 250-6327

Carver's Steakhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Restaurant Review: Pigeonhole

>> Thursday, November 5, 2015

Air Canada has recently released their Best New Restaurants list for 2015 and I was excited to hear that Pigeonhole from Calgary made it on the prestigious list. Opening up earlier this year, Pigeonhole is a great new restaurant addition to 17th Ave perfect for those who love tapa styled dishes coupled with some great wine!

Atmosphere: Modern dining area coupled with an old school flare reminiscent of a grand British tea room.

Food & Wine: With so many amazing dishes on the menu it was hard to pick and choose what we wanted to try. Luckily some of my friends had already been and insisted that we order the Nori Crumpets. It looks like a simple dish however the flavours truly blow you away. The butter is the star due to the blast of shrimp flavour when you bite in to it. The dish is decadent without being overwhelming and was probably one of my favorites that night.

We also order the Chicken Liver Mousse served with blueberry and toasted sourdough. The mousse itself was creamy and smooth with a rich depth of flavour. The blueberry was a great accompaniment. It was a really good portion size as well and would be perfect for sharing.

A light and fresh plate was the Sustainable BC Tuna Crudo with lots of whipped yogurt, cucumber and crunchy puffed rice. It was a well-rounded dish, the crunchy puffed rice complimenting the soft tuna and the tangy yogurt with refreshing cucumber. I would highly recommend this to someone looking for a healthier alternative.

Next we also tried the Charred Cabbage and Ricotta Dumplings. Both dishes that sound intriguing but not what you’d expect. The cabbage had a nice smoky flavour from the charring and I really enjoyed the jalapeno cream that was served with it. It’s a simple dish that was definitely elevated. The ricotta dumplings themselves were soft and chewy like little pillows. I the flavours of the chilis and crème fraiche and thought it was a well executed dish.

We couldn’t leave without having dessert and since we couldn’t decide between the Banana Pecan Trifle or the Warm Madelines, decided to order both. The trifle was delightful served in an old English teacup with layers of calvados (), crème fraiche and pecan shortbread with lots of caramel drizzled on top. I didn’t think it was overly too sweet and enjoyed the crunch from the shortbread since most trifles can be more like a pudding in texture. I really enjoyed the combination of the flavours and would definitely order it again. The madelines were brown butter flavoured that day. They were perfect, served fresh and made to order. You really can’t go wrong with fluffy madelines especially when they taste extra buttery.

I suggest you try the dessert with a nice white wine such as the Tantalus Riesling! But if that's not your style, they've also got a nice wine list available if you're looking for something different, be sure to ask the server for their recommendations.

My Picks: Nori Crumpets, Tuna Crudo, Banana Pecan Trifle

Overall: The food served at Pigeonhole makes it one of my new favorites in town and I’m glad I’m not the only one that thinks so. Congrats to them for being one of Air Canada enRoute’s Best New Restaurants and I can’t wait to see what they cook up next, but please never remove the nori crumpets!

306 17th Avenue SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 452.4694

Pigeonhole Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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