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Calgary Recommendations


merlin
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I will be heading south to Calgary next week-end and am always open to new dining suggestions.

I'll be staying at a centrally located hotel and for the most part will be without a vehicle so out of town suggestions or places further south like The Ranche will probably not fit the bill.

I like virtually any kind of food but am not interested in asian this trip nor "big honkin' sides of beef" so Snugglers, Caesars, Chicago Chop House and the like do not appeal to me.

Price is not a big issue. I'll be dining alone until family joins the following week-end. Good wine would be a plus.

I have enjoyed Rivers, Wildwood Brewing Co, Teatro and the Owls Nest on past visits. Have tried and was disappoinited in Catch although I might give the Oyster Bar component another go.

Il Sogno has been highly recommended but someone cautioned that it might be closed for a summer break. Anyone know if that is true?

What about a late Sunday nite suggestion? Would prefer not to end up in Joey Tomatoe's or some other Eau Claire Market venue but they are close by and I guess being alone I could always get something to eat up at the lounge bar.

Thanks

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Caveat: I've lived in Calgary for the last ten years and I'm sick to death of it. Also, I think most of the places a lot of people like and recommend are tripe. So, your mileage may vary.

Stay away from the Catch oyster bar. I haven't tried the main dining room at all due to the abhorrent service and food in the oyster bar.

I find most of the fine dining here inconsistent. I've had great meals and then been back a month later for sore disappointment. That said, the River Cafe in Prince's Island Park is probably a good choice. Contemporary, local ingredients. It's been excellent many times.

Teatro has struck out twice in a row (last two months) but was awesome the time before. They do have a good wine list. I'd try The Belvedere (also on 9th) instead. Like Teatro, but French. Awesome cellar. I haven't had a full meal here since they've had their new chef, but what the few plates I have tried have all been pretty good.

Sugo in Inglewood is usually great. Not downtown, but maybe a 5 minute taxi ride. Contemporary Italian. Maybe go here over the River Cafe. Some good wine options by the glass.

I was at Il Sogno a few weeks ago and wasn't impressed. It was once good, but no longer. Small portions (even for 'fine dining'), muddled flavours. I found the menu a lame attempt at trendiness. The plates were somewhat pretty. Service was inexperienced. Good selection of wine by the glass, though. I'm picky, too, so if you must try for yourself: http://www.ilsogno.org/. I haven't heard anything of a closing.

There isn't much for a late Sunday night. Wildwood might be open. Also, if you like Wildwood, you might try Bonterra, same ownership, same chef, Italian instead of regional. I don't go to any of the Creative-owned (Bonterra, Wildwood, Catch) restaurants anymore, but if you liked Wildwood, you'll probably like Bonterra.

Divino is new, on 9th Ave., and could be open Sunday night. Might be worth a try. Miles seems to really like it, so maybe give Divino a go regardless and let us know how it turns out.

I will also mention Truong Khahn. Yes, it's Asian (Vietnamese/Cambodian), but they have an awesome sate soup. If you have a free lunch or something, go here. On Centre Street.

Glory of India is downtown (across from Caesar's, actually), and has decent Indian. Also a lunch buffet. I'm not sure if this qualifies as Asian or not. The papri chat is pretty good too.

Places to stay away from: Murietta's, Ben Venuto, Centini, Brava Bistro. I noticed someone on the Chowhound board recommended Cilantro, but.. I've never, ever had a great or perhaps not even a good meal there. Same goes for the Living Room. In fact, I would not go anywhere on 17th Avenue at all.

Good luck! I hope you enjoy your trip. I think if you hit Belvedere, River Cafe, and Sugo you'll be guaranteed one great meal, and possibly end up with three.

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I too would not reccomend Teatro or catch (oyster bar included) all were pretty average, foodso so and even worse service . However I do agree with River cafe ,been there a couple of times and always been good.Had a pretty decent meal at the living room.For what it is trying to do it was fine for me.Divino was recomended to me recently but as yet have not got there,supposed to have reasonable wine list.

hope you have fun!

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bigbird/dillybravo:

Thanks for the input.

I will try to get to Sugo..too bad about the diminished wine list. Always like the option of being able to try a number of different ones when dining alone rather than a bottle. Barbera/Chianti can both be very good or very mediocre depending uppn what is being offered.

Divino is completely new.

Interesting that you have "panned" a few in the Stephen's Avenue area that were recommended. Chacun a son gout I guess.

Appreciate the help.

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  • 2 months later...

chokaholic:

Almost literally "just got in" from our annual trek to Vancouver Island so did not see your quaere until now.

I did not get to Sugo so cannot comment.

I did go to Divino several times over the space of the week and enjoyed it. Not sure that now that summer is over and winter has descended that the "drop in for a glass of wine" will work anymore.

The food was good. The wine list, especially by the glass very good.

In a different world altogether from its "sister" Cilantro further south which was not particularly pleasing.

I found [unlike some of the comments above] that Teatro was "top notch" [a delicious picece of halibut] and the oyster bar at Catch good but all I had there was wine and several types of oysters. I did not venture upstairs after a fairly disappointing visit in the Spring.

My favourite in Calgary was without a doubt Il Sogno. Across the river in Bridgeland. Had lunch and dinner. Very impressed. Excellent food.

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went to sugo on friday night and at 6 pm, we were by far the earliest patrons to dine. however, it does ensure attentive service and lack of delay in receiving our food. we did the "whole meal deal" starting with antipasti, followed by pasta, the entree and dessert. the antipasti were delicious; we enjoyed crostini with roasted red peppers and bleu cheese. the amount of cheese was perfect; just enough to counter the sweetness of the peppers but not to overwhelm their delicate flavor. the tenderloin was served atop a grilled salad which was dressed with balsamic vinegar and a touch more olive oil than i would have preferred. the weakest appetizer turned out to be the caprese salad mainly because the tomatoes were pretty tasteless and the the water buffalo mozzarella less flavorful than was expected (it was my first time trying "real" mozzarella).

for pasta, we enjoyed the gnocchi with traditional tomato sauce and spaghetti with seafood in a white wine sauce. my parents shared the spaghetti and the chef graciously plated generous individual portions for each of them. my favorite were the gnocchi which were pillowy and satiny. the tart tomato sauce made with sundried tomatoes and artichokes coated each gnocchi and made each mouthful flavorful.

entrees included cod with a butternut squash sauce for me, pheasant with a meat ragu for my mother and lamb tenderloin for my father. my fish was pretty standard; nothing amazing to report. the pheasant was presented with the leg atop the ragu which was made from the meat of the bird. the leg was too well cooked and tended to be tough but the ragu was toothsome and tasty. the lamb tenderloin suffered the same fate as the pheasant leg and was only saved from being leathery due to the cut.

we finished with an amazing, smooth, and luscious chocolate truffle torte and a rather boring rustic fig tart that reminded of me commercial jam and fig newtons. unfortunately, none of us are very good wine appreciators so we didn't order any bottles. however, i did have a very nice glass of velentino 2001 (i think that's how you spell it) as an aperitif and it went very well with the appetizers (nice long finish).

prices were high end as was the service and the food. the portions were very generous and we would probably have been better off ordering just antipasti, and either the pasta or entree and a dessert. however, i didn't become a member of this foodie club due to my small appetite!

it was either a toss up between il sogno or sugo and i had read reviews saying il sogno was prone to inconsistency. however, it sounds like you had a very good experience there; i will make it my next destination.

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  • 1 year later...

I'm taking a client out for dinner in Calgary on Thursday night, and need some suggestions on a great restaurant.

There are a couple of restrictions: it needs to downtown, and since I don't know this client well, I'd like to stick to a "safe" cuisine i.e. Italian, Mediterranean, French, rather than Indian or Japanese.

Price is not a concern (I'm really going to miss my expense account!).

Any suggestions?

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

www.leecarney.com

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I'm taking a client out for dinner in Calgary on Thursday night, and need some suggestions on a great restaurant.

There are a couple of restrictions: it needs to downtown, and since I don't know this client well, I'd like to stick to a "safe" cuisine i.e. Italian, Mediterranean, French, rather than Indian or Japanese. 

Price is not a concern (I'm really going to miss my expense account!).

Any suggestions?

It's been a while, but I went to Catch the last time I was in town. Okay, but somewhat noisy due to the echo chamber that they pass off as an upper dining room.

Teatro has been chatted up by other people I know in the city, and Muse got a thumbs up in en Route's 2003 review of dining.

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Personally, I feel like Teatro and Catch might be a bit big. I've seen a couple biz orientated tables at The Belvedere, which would be my expense account recommendation. They have a French based Alberta fare, and are considered bling for the downtown crew. The service is the best in the city in my opinion.

Belvedere

Divino

Muse

All have the full package - menu, service and wine list.

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Gobstopper, as per usual, has hilighted some of the spots I might otherwise recommend in C-Town.

From personal experience I can heartily recommend Divino as well as Muse.

If you were going Italian I would head just over the river into Bridgeland and enjoy Il Sogno..expensive...extraordinary tastes..some of the best flavours I have had anywhere.

Belvedere is consistently recommended by people in the industry. I dropped in and the staff could not have been more obliging when I indicated all that I wanted was a drink and a look at the menu and "physical plant". Very impressed by their attitude.

An acquaintance who formerly owned his own restaurant in C-Town after obligatory stops in clubs and golf clubs and is now in another aspect of the trade heartily recommended Belvedere as well as La Chaumiere. Another "off the beaten track" recommendation he made was Rouge.

Let us know where you end up.

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Thanks to everyone for making suggestions. I had decided to try The Belvedere, and even had the reservations made, when my client said she wanted to go to Rouge. The customer is always right, :laugh: so we're going to Rouge.

I'll post a mini-review when I get back on Friday.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

www.leecarney.com

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Vancouver Lee:

Too bad about Rouge. Seems surprising that one would advertise the duck as being flavoured with Kaffir lime but then have it come bland without any discernible influence from the lime leaves.

Have to give you a "shot" about going to Hy's. You went to Hy's instead of Caesar's...shame on you! I have a "dinosaur" carnivore broker buddy who eats virtually only beef and he raves about the "old boy's club" fare at the latter. Know what you mean about the dated look of Hy's...the one here in Edmonton close to Sherlock Holmes' Pub and near the Westin is the same...Mitch Klimove has not changed the docor nor the food for years...and it REALLY needs a change in both areas....

I have enjoyed Teatro at lunch [prefer their "sister restaurant" River's] but have never had an impressive dinner but it certainly is a beautiful "physical plant".

Someone else would have to be paying before you could get me back to Catch..at least upstairs in their dining room. Terrible experience from trying to make a reservation through service and wine...saving grace, one of the best appetizers I have ever had, tarte tatin topped with roasted sweetbreads and quail...one of the best courses I have ever had....too bad the bland, overpriced and disappointing Queen Charlottes' halibut did not even come close....

Look forward to reading your review if you get to Belvedere

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Know what you mean about the dated look of Hy's...the one here in Edmonton close to Sherlock Holmes' Pub and near the Westin is the same

Went to Hy's in Ottawa earlier this week on business. It's exactly the same - dark, conservative, very old school. But that's Hy's thing, to look like a private members' club for the expense account crowd. Steaks are good, service is good, drinks are served in proper bottom-heavy glassware, and it's dark and quiet enough to talk privately. The place aims to make you, and more importantly your guest, feel like a big-shot. And by the time you've knocked back a couple drinks, your filet mignon is served and the Bordeaux is poured, you do. Thank you, come again.

I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself. - Johnny Carson
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Have to give you a "shot" about going to Hy's.  You went to Hy's instead of Caesar's...shame on you! 

It wasn't my choice, honest! We were meeting a client who works right across the street, and we were limited for time, so Hy's was the only option that worked.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

www.leecarney.com

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Know what you mean about the dated look of Hy's...the one here in Edmonton close to Sherlock Holmes' Pub and near the Westin is the same

Went to Hy's in Ottawa earlier this week on business. It's exactly the same - dark, conservative, very old school. But that's Hy's thing, to look like a private members' club for the expense account crowd. Steaks are good, service is good, drinks are served in proper bottom-heavy glassware, and it's dark and quiet enough to talk privately. The place aims to make you, and more importantly your guest, feel like a big-shot. And by the time you've knocked back a couple drinks, your filet mignon is served and the Bordeaux is poured, you do. Thank you, come again.

I agree, Hy's/Mortons/Ruth Chris/et al all have the same old boys club look. To my eye, the Calgary Hy's looks more faded and dingy than usual. :biggrin:

BTW, there was some talk at lunch that Calgary is the original Hy's. Any truth to that?

Edited by Vancouver Lee (log)

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

www.leecarney.com

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  • 10 months later...

I re-located to Calgary 4 years ago. (born and raised Vancouverite) - I enjoy this site as it helps me keep in touch with what is happening and when I go home I can almost convince friends left behind that I am not THAT much out of touch!

However, for being a Western Canada group I don't see much representation of Calgary/Edmonton etc.

Anyone else out there who would like to do "due dilegence" on goings on in Calgary/Edmonton...and area?

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I'm not from Calgary, nor do I like their hockey team :raz:

HERE is a BEST OF thread from the Calgary area to get you started. I'm not sure if we have anyone here from Calgary. Definitely a couple of Edmontonians (Oilers suck too! :raz: ) ....

Welcome aboard. I'm looking forward to your dispatches from Calgary.

A.

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Looking forward to getting some reviews from you on what is happening in Calgary. As I have stated before, as much as it pains an Edmontonian to admit, C-Town has a great dining scene.

Edmonton has a pretty good variety but not as dynamic as Calgary or Vancouver. That having been said you can find just about anything you want. Seafood, apart from asian, can be difficult I have to admit.

Vancouver has a hockey team? Oh yes, the one that lost again last nite against the Flames and before that the Oilers and before that LA....

MightyQ, you are going to have to set Daddy-A straight...[smile]

Merry Xmas all

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Vancouver has a hockey team?  Oh yes, the one that lost again last nite against the Flames and before that the Oilers and before that LA....

MightyQ, you are going to have to set Daddy-A straight...[smile]

Just to keep this on-topic ... I'm eating a little Calgary crow today.

Oh yeah ... and Auld is a seive, just like I could pick up at Ming Wo on 4th Ave. :blink:

Merry Christmas!

A,

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