Restaurant Review: One18Empire

>> Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cocktails have been making quite the come back the last couple years and it’s starting to define the type of food restaurants are serving on their menus. One18Empire which specializes in whiskey has really taken that concept and ran with it. A hidden gem located in the Marriott hotel in downtown Calgary, One18Empire not only showcases whiskey on their cocktail menu but throughout both their food and dessert menus as well. I couldn’t wait to dig in.

Atmosphere: Casual sophistication with elegant flare, loved the whiskey feature wall in the dining area which really draws the eye, perfect location for both groups large and small.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20+

Food & Wine: I was really glad that there was a big group of us so we can taste quite a few different dishes ranging from appetizers to dessert. To start we ordered the Maple Bacon Wrapped Dates stuffed with gorgonzola and topped with whiskey syrup. You can never go wrong with anything wrapped in bacon and the sweet and salty combination of dates with bacon is always a winner.

Next up was the Seared Calamari. I really enjoyed this dish. It’s refreshing to see calamari prepared in a different way other than the typical battered and fry method. Here the calamari was served over a light tomato sauce and topped with a fresh fricassee salad and olives. The calamari was soft, not chewy and went very nicely with the different flavour profiles going on in the dish.

One of the favorites of the table that evening were the Weathervane Scallops which were cooked to perfection and accompanied by pork belly and a creamy polenta with grainy mustard glaze. I loved the contrast of pork with scallops and the creamy polenta, perfect texture and taste.

After our amazing appetizers it was really hard to pick and choose our mains. The server mentioned the Daily Feature which was the Ossobuco and we couldn’t resist. The veal shank was falling off the bone. I don’t even think we needed a knife to pull the meat apart. The portion size was also very impressive. Served with a bean casserole and fresh greens, it was quite the formidable meal. Everything on this plate was comfort food brought to the next level. I really hope they decide to bring it back again.

My favorite main that evening was the Braised Short Ribs over a bed of risotto and blistered tomatoes. I have a soft spot for short ribs, especially when they’re braised. It must be the melt in your mouth tenderness or the depth of flavour that the braising creates but I can never get enough of it. Couple this with the creamy risotto and tangy tomatoes and you’ve got yourself a winner. I probably could have eaten the whole dish if I didn’t have to share.

The group really enjoyed the Grilled Duck Breast accompanied by a root vegetable hash. The duck was cooked to medium and had flawless crispy skin with all the fat perfectly rendered. It was definitely a good sized portion and the root vegetable hash was a nice compliment to the duck. A huge hit overall.

Choosing dessert was even harder (since they were all such a great deal!) and ended up ordering one of each and I was extremely glad we did when they came. Starting with the rich and decadent One18 Triple Chocolate Bourbon Cake, which was perfect for sharing. I loved the use of dark chocolate here or else it would have been too sweet otherwise. It was velvety and smooth with just a slight hint of bourbon.

Everybody loved the Goat Cheese Cheesecake, creamy and smooth with a perfect amount of goat cheese flavour coming through. It was definitely unique if you’re looking for something a different. My favorite dessert was the Sticky Toffee Pudding with calvados ice cream. Not too sweet but utterly satisfying, the soft gooey cake was perfect with the creamy smooth ice cream, hot and cold all mixed together. Nothing beats a great sticky toffee pudding in my mind. And last but not least, my cousin got her Guinness Float, which she was craving since seeing the menu online. It was a full sized pint of…you guessed it Guinness! Topped with a nice big scoop of ice cream. This would be perfect for summer on the patio!

When you’re here don’t forget to sample some of their signature cocktail creations made with over 100 different types of whiskey they have on stock or if you’re feeling adventurous let the bartender help you decide.

My Picks: Weathervane Scallops, Braised Short Ribs

Overall: The food at One18Empire just blew me away. The portion sizes were more than generous and the flavours really do speak for themselves. I was really glad that I made it out and can’t wait to go back. I can see why it was named as one of Calgary’s Top 10 new restaurants for 2016! I can see this hidden gem no longer being hidden for long!

820 Centre Street SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 269-0299

ONE18 EMPIRE Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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