Restaurant Review: The Derrick Gin Mill & Kitchen

>> Thursday, July 28, 2016

I remember a time when we would be out with friends and I would order my gin and soda and all my friends would give me the look of bewilderment. Why would I drink gin? They’d ask as they’re all sipping on their vodka drinks and other mixes. They didn’t know what they were missing and I’m glad to see that there are pubs and restaurants out there that now utilize gin as their main source of inspiration. One of those being The Derrick Gin Mill and Kitchen, where gin is prominently part of their name.

Atmosphere: Pub style eatery, great for happy hour get togethers and more.

Price Range: Mid $10s

Food & Drinks: To start we decided on the Smoked Beef Tartare made with gherkins, cognac and served with house made chips. The presentation of this dish is quite dramatic. When it arrived at the table the lid is lifted off to showcase a smoke infused beef tartare dish (which you can taste). The tartare itself has a nice balance of salty, tart and smoky, a great way to start our meal.

The Mushrooms on Toast also caught my eye and I’m really glad we decided to try it. It was heaven, the mushrooms were tender and juicy, perfect in the demi glaze with lots of truffle oil. Everything in this dish just made sense. I couldn’t stop eating it and didn’t want to waste a drop of the sauce so I was scooping it all up with the toast!

For our main we ordered the Lamb Pot Au Feu which is slow cooked lamb shoulder with potatoes, carrots and parsnips. The lamb was fall off the bone tender and the accompaniments were soft and cooked through. It’s definitely elevated comfort food and reminds me of delicious home cooking. Our second main was the Fish Stew with Stewed Tomato and Fennel. This dish was extremely light and a nice contrast to the lamb dish. It came with mussels, clams, Atlantic grey cod and topped with a spicy aioli to give it some richness. All of the seafood was cooked well which is important since overcooked seafood can often be chewy and dry. The broth was flavourful but didn’t overpower the delicate flavours overall. It’s a great dish for those who love their shellfish.

We had to try some of their cocktails to accompany our meal starting with the Newly Fashioned, an update on a classic, with bourbon, raisins, rosemary syrup and bitters. It has similar flavours to the original but with a twist due to the use of rosemary syrup. I really enjoyed the herbaciousness and would order it again. I was surprised at how well the rosemary complimented the bourbon. We also tried the Apricot Sour made with cognac, apricot brandy, lemon juice, mint syrup and bitters. The closest I would compare this drink to would be the whiskey sour but with a hint of sweetness coming from the apricot syrup. It’s a nice change if you’re looking for something different without going too far from the norm.

My Picks: Mushrooms on Toast

Overall: Come for the gin but stay for the food! Since their menu’s always changing, be sure to check out what’s the latest for each season. There are many different dishes on their current menu that I can’t wait to try, possibly along side some more delicious cocktails.

The Derrick Gin Mill & Kitchen
620 8 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 475-7226

The Derrick Gin Mill & Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Restaurant Review: Big T's BBQ

>> Thursday, July 14, 2016

Stampede is in full swing and what’s better than a bit of BBQ to satisfy your stampede cravings. Yes you can make your way over to the grounds to get your fill or you can avoid the line up frustrations and get some delicious BBQ at Big T’s. I’ve been meaning to visit Big T’s for as long as I can remember but for some reason never made my way there. Luckily for me I did earlier this year because boy have I been missing out.

Atmosphere: Family style restaurant serving big portions in a boisterous surrounding.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $30+

Food & Drinks: Knowing that we were going to have a pretty meat heavy meal, we decided to start with some greens. Both the Mixed Green Salad or the Caesar are classic and safe choices. They’re exactly what you expect the salads to be so you don’t have to worry about ordering something you’re not expecting.

As our starters we had the T’s Smoked Chicken Wings, that’s correct, smoked chicken wings! They were cooked in their signature wing rub and served with a spicy ranch dip. It was nice to see wings being served differently opposed to the normal fried version. They were tasty and full of flavour indicating that you can still get a great wing without the use of the deep fryer. We also had a side of the Shack Fries, which is a basket of fries covered with spicy homemade chili and cheddar cheese. I’m normally not a fan of toppings on my fries, but I really did enjoy the chili so it was a nice change. Essentially you’re looking at elevated chili cheese fries.

Now on to the mains, if you’re here for lunch I recommend their Brisket Sandwich. It’s nothing fancy, sliced brisket piled high on a bun, but the brisket truly is the star. You can mix and match the different flavour of BBQ sauces that they offer (sweet, mild and spicy) to see which one suits your taste buds best. The brisket itself is tender, full of smoky flavour, not to mention the seasoning they use here matches it perfectly. Needless to say it didn’t take long to inhale the entire thing.

If you’re looking for something more substantial, they also offer various platters that are made up of each of their signature meat dishes. We ordered the Priscilla Platter which was perfect for 2 (or even 3 people). It came with that delicious sliced brisket, pulled pork, their famous St.Louis ribs, half a chicken, coleslaw, beans and cornbread. The portion size is more than generous and it’s a great way to sample a bit of each type of meat. My favorite was the brisket and the ribs. I did find the pulled pork and chicken a bit on the drier side but that’s because I love dark meat chicken and a bit of fattier pork. They were still delicious when doused in their housemade BBQ sauces.

To end the meal, you have to try the Wild Turkey Bourbon Pecan Pie. Not just a pecan pie, but made with added bourbon to provide that extra depth of flavour and topped with chocolate sauce. They also serve it with a side of vanilla ice cream, which is just the proverbial icing on the cake. The pie is chewy and crunchy at the same time. Its nicely sweetened and the flavours just all go very well together. Truly a classic and more!

Big T’s offers lots of different beverage choices, but if you’re not looking for something alcoholic then I highly recommend their Housemade Iced T. Brewed to perfection with just the right amount of sweetness, nothing like the store bought iced teas that we’re used to, this is classic stuff and made just the way I like it!

My Picks: The Brisket with Spicy BBQ Sauce, Wild Turkey Bourbon Pecan Pie

Overall: Since my initial visit I’ve already been back more times than I can count, helps that it’s just around the corner from my neighbourhood! So stampede or not I know I’ll be there again and again for some of their amazing BBQ eats.

Big T’s BBQ & Smokehouse – Banff Trail Location
2138 Crowchild Trail NW
Calgary, AB
(403) 284-5959

Big T's BBQ and Smokehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Red Racer Beer Pairings at Local on 8th

>> Friday, July 1, 2016

When you think of food pairings, the first thing that comes to mind is what type of wine you would like to drink with the meal. However, recently there’s been a growing trend in the food industry that’s making waves. We’re talking about food and beer pairings. It’s not necessarily a new concept, when you go to the pub you’re eating pub food and drinking a beer, but it could be any beer and whatever food craving at the moment. More recently beer enthusiasts are bringing the pairings to a different level and recently I was able to attend an event that featured Red Racer Beer, a local Canadian beer pairing with specially selected dishes at Local on 8th.

Before we got started we were educated on the different types of beers they were serving that evening and how each of the beers were selected to pair with the certain types of dishes. Lighter dishes were served with more balanced – well rounded beers, whereas spicier foods were chosen to accompany the bolder stronger beers. This seems pretty straight forward, however listening to the representatives from Central City (Canadian brewery out of Surrey BC and the maker of Red Racer beers) talk about how each was chosen, you definitely get the sense that it is an art form in itself and without understanding the background of each beer, you might not get the pairing outcome that you anticipated.

When it came time to order, I immediately knew I wanted to have the Baja Fish Tacos, one of my favorite fish tacos in the city. It was specially paired with the Red Racer beer. The sweetness of the Hopping Mad Cider Radler was a nice compliment to the beer and the spiciness of the tacos. The apple and grapefruit flavours from the beer was perfectly paired to the cabbage slaw and the beer battered goodness of the fish adding that extra kick, it was definitely a great combination.

The hubby ordered the Local Burger made with spicy hot sauce, topped with jalapenos, both cheddar and jack cheeses was paired with the Super Stellar IPA. The IPA is hop forward beer with intense citrus notes which stands up well to the big bold flavours of the jalapenos in the spicy burger. The carbonation of the beer provides a palate cleanser after each bite, refreshing the senses before the next mouthful. The hubby enjoyed the pairing of the two, stating that he normally wouldn’t order an IPA otherwise since it can be quite hopping and intense, not something he would choose to sip on. However when paired with the burger, the flavours really melded together well.

To finish off our meal, we had Churros with the Copper Ale. The churros themselves were to die for, fluffy and crunchy all at the same time. Served with a side of hazelnut cocoa for dipping it was perfect the way it is, but sipping the copper ale brought out caramel flavours with a slight malty aftertaste.

We didn’t get to try the Veggie Burger or the Chicken Sandwich with the suggested pairing of the PILS. The Red Racer PILS is a very easy drinking beer, think of a lager with light well rounded flavours. It’s the perfect beer for sipping and will not over power the delicate flavours of vegetarian or chicken dishes. We did get a sample of th
e PILS and I would highly recommend starting the evening off with this beer since the other Red Racer beers would be more robust and overtake the flavours of the PILS.

After the meal and chatting with the reps, I definitely grew to have an appreciation for beer and food pairings. I want to thank the people at both Central City and Local for educating me about the slight nuances of each beer varieties and I can’t wait to try some new beer and food combinations myself!

Local on 8th
310 8th Avenue SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 264-7808

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

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