Yann Haute Patisserie, Calgary AB

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Yann Haute Patisserie

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Almond Croissant

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Kouign Amann

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Pistachio Cherry Gateau Basque

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Apricot Beignet

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Coffee-Speculoos, Salty Caramel, Pistachio, PB&J Macarons

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Maple Pecan Tart

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Owned by Baker Yann Blanchard and his wife Jeraldine, Calgary’s Yann Haute Patisserie is located in an early 20th Century home on 23 Avenue SW that seems almost too rustic to be found anywhere outside a small town in Europe, the small storefront still located below tenants converting the main floor of the space into a gleaming boutique with nearly fifty different items generated daily from a pastry kitchen in the basement.

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Preaching a concept of scratch-baking, quality and ethics, these ideas covering everything from the avoidance of GMOs to employee relations, those wise enough to seek out the Blanchards’ humble business will quickly find themselves walking up a set of stairs to be greeted by warm smiles and gleaming jewels of Sugar and Flour, the standing room only space tempting at every turn with must-have items.

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Now serving Western Canada for just over seven years, though Yann’s training dates back to childhood in the shop his parents built, early arrival at Yann Haute Patisserie is strongly encouraged for those interested in seeing the greatest availability, the Almond Croissant and Kouign Amann both still warm just past 9:00am with the former slightly flat but beautifully textured and filled with nothing but ground Nuts while the latter is delivered as a tight square that shatters and flakes as teeth crack through buttery layers of caramelized pastry.

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Placing everything out on shelves in organized quantities, the rest stored safely in the kitchen to refill cases throughout the day, an Apricot Beignet continued to speak of quality sourcing and craftsmanship, the wispy Brioche pocket first stuffed with housemade Compote before being glazed while the crumbly Gateau Basque eats like a Financier with stewed Sour Cherries filling the center and just enough sweetness to brighten the otherwise mellow, nutty flavors.

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Selling Macarons individually, or in a variety of boxes including an elegant wooden roll, more than two-dozen flavors are created daily to woo fans of the French Cookie, the bitter-sweet Coffee-Speculoos standing out with the flavor of a dunked Doughnut while PB&J currently uses Huckleberries and varies by season, the Maple Pecan Tart similarly available on a limited-time basis, though it should undoubtedly be added to the permanent collection as it elevates the idea of a typically Southern dish by way of Maple Cream and a buttery lid shaped like a Maple Leaf.

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http://yannboutique.com

Yann Haute Patisserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Alberta, Breakfast, Calgary, Canada, Coffee, Croissant, Dessert, Food, Macaron, Macaroon, Vacation, Yann Haute, Yann Haute Patisserie

Sidewalk Citizen Bakery and Delicatessen, Calgary AB

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Sidewalk Citizen Bakery and Delicatessen

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Chocolate Bread and Banana Nut Bread Samples

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Almond Croissant

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Sticky Bun

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Oatmeal and Mixed Fruit Cookie

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Lychee, Rosewater, Blueberry and Pomegranate Cream Danish

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Located in Kensington, essentially a counter inside the Sunnyside Natural Food Market that opens at 9:00am, it was just as ownership was unlocking doors that myself and three others walked in to a space lined with ingredients and products from some of Alberta’s most prominent artisans, the earthy smell of Organic Produce competing with Yeast and Sugar emanating from Aviv Fried’s Sidewalk Citizen Bakery to its right.

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An interesting story of a self-taught Israeli immigrant and his passion for a craft that spawned something far bigger, the Sidewalk Citizen concept launched in 2010 as a bike-delivery service for hand-crafted Loaves with proceeds donated to charity before traveling as far as Nepal for the sake of enlightenment, the baker’s return to Calgary followed by the opening of an East Village brick and mortar and subsequent Sunnyside offerings.

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Staffed by three people at this early hour, phone orders coming in as local business people arrived to pick up pre -orders, it was after a period of standing back to peruse that a four-item order was selected, samples of Banana Nut and Chocolate Quick Breads foreshadowing good things as both were rich and natural without overwhelming the natural flavors with sweeter tones.

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Taking a bag plus one box to a nearby seating area where a small child and her mother practiced ABCs it was no surprise that both a fresh-from-the pan Sticky Bun as well as the Almond Croissant were still warm, the former a springy Brioche masterpiece loaded with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar while the later unfortunately failed miserably with a center filled to bursting with cloying, gooey Frangipane.

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Immediately throwing away 80% of the Croissant, the description of ‘compost’ on a small can not seeming applicable to something so exaggeratedly sweet, better bites were sought and found amidst the flexible Oatmeal Cookie dotted in dried Fruit while the Lychee Danish spoke well of Aviv’s lamination skills with crisp layers rich in Butter surrounding a smooth filling that was fragrant but not overpowering in its floral notes.

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Sidewalk Citizen Bakery Deli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Alberta, Breakfast, Calgary, Canada, Croissant, Dessert, Food, Sidewalk Citizen, Sidewalk Citizen Bakery and Deli, Sidewalk Citizen Bakery and Delicatessen, Sidewalk Citizen Bakery and Delicatessen Kensington, Sidewalk Citizen Bakery and Delicatessen Sunnyside, Vacation

OEB Breakfast Co., Calgary AB

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OEB Breakfast Co.

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OEB Blend Coffee by Caffe Umbria

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Boxd Confit de Canard – Poached Eggs, Sous Vide Duck Confit, Lingonberry Jam, Asiago, Brown Butter Hollandaise

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French Toast Trifle – Meyer Lemon Curd, Seasonal Berries, Sicilian Pistachio, Fresh Whipped Cream

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Located just down the way from Diner Deluxe, a veritable “restaurant row” for breakfast in Northeast Calgary. OEB Breakfast Co. shrinks its competition’s footprint into a cheerful rectangle decorated in Chickens, orange and yellow, a team of teenage blonds serving a throng of patrons plates from the kitchen in back; delicious plates featuring the sort of ingredients typically reserved for dinner in more refined environs.

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Awarded best Brunch nods by numerous publications, their Instagram-ready BOXD items including everything from Lobster to Black Truffles, it was at the center of a communal high-top that seating was offered on a cold Wednesday morning just minutes after opening, a house-blend from Caffe Umbria warming the bones and exceedingly smooth even without Cream or Sugar due to a very low amount of acid.

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Using the word ‘foodies’ in their advertising, but better described as Chef-driven and Farm-focused, OEB takes a slightly different approach from the local-seasonal ideas common throughout Western Canada, instead making coast-to-coast connections that allow for the very best organic greens and the sort of diversity inclusive of Chorizo Meatballs or Rabbit Mortadella.

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Without a doubt an experience best taken by way of group sharing, but unfortunately limited to just myself with a full-day of driving and eating to follow, it was with a dine-in Bowl of Duck Confit that the morning got underway, the Cheese Curds of other BOXD selections eschewed in favor of housemade Jam and Creamy Hollandaise that meld with soft-poached Egg Yolks and the funky Leg Meat over crunchy, fried Fingerlings.

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Left to a difficult decision for my sweet selection, the Banana Cream Pie and Cheesecake items from a section titled “My Mom Can’t Make This……” both tempting, it was on the suggestion of a server who impressively kept Coffee brimming that the French Toast Trifle won out, the thick-cut slabs of Golden Brioche stacked beneath housemade Lemon Curd and Whipped Cream plus Berries and Pistachios – the sort of French Toast that doesn’t even need Maple Syrup, though the addition of it most certainly did not hurt.

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https://www.eatoeb.com/

OEB Breakfast Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Alberta, Breakfast, Caffe Umbria, Calgary, Canada, Coffee, Food, French Toast, OEB, OEB Breakfast, OEB Breakfast Co., OEB Breakfast Company, Vacation

Village Ice Cream, Calgary AB

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Village Ice Cream

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Samples – Melted Chocolate, Cardamom, Toasted Coconut, Spiced Banana

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Double on a Waffle Cone – Phil & Sebastian Coffee with Coconut Milk, Maple Pecan

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Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwich

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Not particularly Ice Cream season, a Tuesday in January with temperatures hovering around 3⁰C at ten o’clock at night, there was nonetheless a short line when I arrived at Billy Friley’s Village Ice Cream on 10 Avenue SE, the small-batch scoop-shop continuing to impress villagers and visitors with the sort of creamy base and all-natural flavors that are rarely seen.

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Truly a locally grown enterprise, the owner’s commitment to local dairies, bakers, farmers, importers and Coffee roasters featured prominently in stories available to read on the walls as patrons wait, it is with big spoonfuls that the curious are invited to taste several flavors before committing to a decision, the Melted Chocolate and Toasted Coconut both exceedingly smooth, yet full flavored, while the Spiced Banana and Cardamom deliver a hefty hit of spice that is felt deep from the tongue to the nostrils.

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Tucked into a wooded space at the edge of a park, the outdoors perfect for sitting or standing during warmer months, it was after a few more tastes that two big scoops were loaded into a still-warm Waffle Cone, the Maple Pecan a perfect balance of sweet and savory with just a hint of smoke on the finish while local roasters Phil & Sebastian lightly roasted Beans blend beautifully with velvety Coconut Milk.

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Unable to pass up Friley’s famous Salted Caramel, the housemade combination of Butter, Salt and Cream optioned as an inch-thick layer between two Chocolate-Fudge Cookies, those who think they’ve seen everything that can be done with this flavor are encouraged to reconsider that position as this one comes across with an almost torched-sugar tinge that remains sweet despite a touch of bitterness.

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Village Ice Cream Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Alberta, Calgary, Canada, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Phil & Sebastian, Phil & Sebastian Coffee, Phil and Sebastian, Phil and Sebastian Coffee, Vacation, Village Ice Cream

Pigeonhole, Calgary AB

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Pigeonhole

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Red Kuri Squash – Burrata, Honey

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Oyster Mushroom – Scallion, Crispy Rice Gremolata

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Ember Roasted Sweet Potato – Huckleberry, Sheep’s Milk Feta

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Grilled Meatballs – Sake & Pork Gravy, Chili, Parmesan

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Potato ‘Risotto’ – Candy Cap, Pine Nut, Burgundy Truffle

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Pork Neck – BBQ, Apples, Cabbage, Spicy Nuts

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Confit Duck Leg – Parsnip, Sea Buckthorn

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Aerated Cheesecake – Caramelized Apple, Hazelnut

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Meyer Lemon Cream – Olive Oil Crumble, Cucumber

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Leaving Model Milk on Saturday night it was difficult to shake the feeling that I’d be missing out by not also visiting Pigeonhole next door, Justin Leboe’s Wine and Snack Bar which was said to be just as good as his acclaimed first Restaurant subsequently welcoming me back for an early dinner on Tuesday thanks to a Social Media conversation plus a mutual friend.

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Arriving just after four o’clock, the space empty then but near-full by 5:30, it was with greetings from the hostess that I was led to a windowside table where Leboe would later greet me, the Chef speaking passionately about dining in Western Canada with a keen eye for goings-on elsewhere as he described his restaurant concepts and the staff with proud, fatherly words.

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Spread laterally across two levels, a significant departure from Model Milk which runs long from door to back, diners at Pigeonhole are presented with a varied but well-culled menu created by Leboe and chef de cuisine Garrett Martin, the general idea based on natural flavors honed during a stage in Copenhagen with a focus on Canadian ingredients.

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Every bit as trendy as Model Milk, though servers here seem better trained in the art of casual courtesy, it was with seven plates selected plus two offered from the kitchen that the meal progressed fluidly, opening bites of skewered Mushrooms balancing brine with bright acidity and pungent Scallions while the brilliant orange Squash seemed almost too bright to be real amidst creamy housemade Burrata and just a touch of Honey.

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Happy to see Sweet Potato on this menu, the version next door a stunner, Chef Martin’s version sees the Tuber softened over embers from a wood grill with amidst Huckleberries and Sheep Feta, that same wood Grill responsible for the smoke-imbued slab of Pork Neck that harkens a backyard Barbecue while three pool-ball sized orbs of Meat bathed in a thin yet complex sauce that featured both booze and a bit of heat.

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Anticipating the makeshift Risotto from the moment I first looked at the online menu, Candy Cap Mushrooms used to lightly sweeten thinly diced Potatoes perfumed in Truffles, Pigeonhole’s Confit Duck fell just short of the dry-aged version seen just three nights prior, though that speaks more to the quality of that version than of any issues with this one as the tender chunks of Turnip were a fancy counterpoint to the sour Berries of Sea Buckthorn.

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Happy to see a few desserts offered, the online menu devoid of that information, both the Aerated Cheesecake and Meyer Lemon Cream are presented as exploitations of expectations with a focus on texture, the former putting a base of caramelized Apples beneath a cloud dusted in Hazelnuts while the latter is a dense Pudding a la Pot de Crème with sweet Meyer Lemons finding balance in grassy Olive Oil Crumble and Cucumber Cream.

www.pigeonholeyyc.ca/

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

Posted in Alberta, Calgary, Canada, Dessert, Food, Pigeonhole, Pork, Truffle, Truffles, Vacation

Native Tongues Taqueria, Calgary CA

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Native Tongues Taqueria

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Zanahorias – Grilled Alberta Carrots, Agave Butter Crema, Queso, Cilantro

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Calabaza Tostada – Shaved Zucchini, Sesame, Whipped Queso, Salsa Macha, Tomatoes

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Tacos de Guisado – Suadero, Chorizo Rojo con Papas, Pollo Adobo, Hongos con Kale with White Onion and Cilantro, Salsa Verde, Salsa Roja

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Donas – Glazed and Made In-House Daily

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Alfajores – Shortbread Cookie, Dulce de Leche, Coconut

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Finding Canada oddly intrigued by the cuisine of Mexico, the two nations separated by nearly 2,300 miles of United States, one could not help but be curious about the strongly positive reviews of Native Tongues Taqueria, the open kitchen looking quite Caucasian during an afternoon visit but the owners doing an admirable job of replicating the feel of similar modern concepts in Los Angeles and elsewhere.

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Focusing squarely on Mexican Street Food and a lively atmosphere, the space still packed by a lingering lunch crowd at 1:30pm, it was from a hurried middle-age woman that the menu was explained with a focus on portion sizes, a daily special of Mole Chicken Thighs that sounded excellent only heard of later when it was described to a neighboring table, long after I’d already received the bulk of my plates.

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Divided into Antojitos, individual Tacos and family-style Al Carbon presentations along with Tostadas, Desserts, Cocktails and Beer, it was after considerable perusal that tough choices were made to focus on variety, a total of eight items requested as the kitchen worked with quiet fervor.

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Served in three courses, though one and two did overlap some, first bites from Native Tongues came by way of Vegetarian-friendly plates of grilled Carrots lightly topped in sweet butter and fresh Cheese alongside an elegant fried Tortilla topped in razor-thin Zucchini slices with an airy Cheese not unlike Mascarpone that helped to balance the smoke and fire from a thick salsa made almost entirely of dried Chiles.

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Drinking plenty of water with this meal, though no heartburn or adverse effects were noted later, it was as I was enjoying the Carrots that a silver tray of Tacos and Salsa was presented, the tortillas unfortunately brought in from elsewhere and thus accounting for the low cost of just $2CAD each on Tuesdays, with the braised Meats highlighted by spicy Adobo Chicken while the combination of fibrous Mushrooms and crispy Kale was also well-balanced and tasty.

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Disappointed that Tres Leches has been struck from the menu, especially as Native Tongues’ famous $5CAD Doughnut is really no better than what can be had at most mom n’ pop shops for a buck anywhere in North America, the sizable Alfajore was a far more fanciful finish, the buttery Shortbread Sandwich filled to overflowing with smooth Dulce de Leche before a dusting of Powdered Sugar and a roll in flaked Coconut.

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http://www.nativetongues.ca/

Native Tongues Taqueria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Alberta, Calgary, Canada, Dessert, Food, Native Tongues, Native Tongues Taqueria, Pork, Vacation

Brasserie Kensington, Calgary AB

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Brasserie Kensington

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Foie Gras Torchon – Toasted Brioche, British Columbia Peach Preserves, Sea Salt

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Cassoulet – Duck, Pork, White Beans, Grilled Bread

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Dark Chocolate & Coconut Bread Pudding – Almond and Coconut Ice Cream, Chocolate Tuille, Pomegranate Seeds

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Defining themselves as a “Canadian Brasserie inspired by local ingredients,” the menu quite French while the design and high Tea service on weekends lean British, Brasserie Kensington has achieved notoriety by way of its focus on simple, honest cooking and bold flavors, lunch at eleven o’clock on a Tuesday finding the frequently-packed space far less buzzy than usual, the first twenty-minutes spent dining in exclusivity.

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Open from Lunch through Late-night, a short flight of stairs placing the heavily wooded dining room above a bar beneath, it was with greetings from a youthful gentleman in buttoned flannel featuring wild animals that ‘any seat you like’ was offered, the front window looking out on the street from which the restaurant takes its name providing a bit of people watching throughout the course of the meal.

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Playing music ranging from White Stripes to The Tragically Hip, a television behind the bar showing American football, it was not long after ordering that a two-ounces of creamy Duck Liver arrived on grilled Brioche, the individualized squares from Rougie perfectly portioned and ideal for sharing with a spoonful of Peach Jam, though fans of Foie Gras will no doubt be compelled to eat the whole thing.

Tempted by plats du jour, an absolute bargain for those looking for a substantial-yet-expedited business lunch, any thoughts of braised local Beef were cast aside the moment Cassoulet entered my line of vision, the small-ish bowl without much Broth still packing quite a wallop with Duck and Pork plus the unmistakable flavor of Offal mixed with soft White Beans stewed with Herbs and Tomatoes.

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Making the obvious choice for dessert, the Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake in January producing a chuckle while Earl Grey Crème Brulee is simply not my style, it was with greedy eyes that I starred at the lump of Bread Pudding before diving in, melted Dark Chocolate richly infusing every centimeter of the springy Brioche topped in a slowly melting ball of Coconut Ice Cream with the added bonus of Hot Fudge and Pomegranate Seeds.

www.brasseriekensington.com

Brasserie Kensington Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Alberta, Brasserie Kensington, Bread Pudding, Calgary, Canada, Dessert, Foie, Foie Gras, Food, Ice Cream, Pork, Vacation

Vendôme Café, Calgary AB

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Vendôme Café

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Apple Oatmeal Muffin

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Breakfast Poutine with Ham, Hollandaise, Quebec Cheese Curds and Hashbrowns

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French Toast Bread Pudding with Bananas Foster, Whipped Mascarpone, Nutella

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Carrot Walnut Cake with Cream Cheese Icing and Spiced Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Icing

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Located in a part of Calgary known as Sunnyside, the demeanor of its mixed staff of youthful baristas and clerks fitting that name well, Vendôme Café is so-called for the building in which it is situated with a touch of flare imported from the town in Central France, an all-day sort of eatery ready to please patrons whenever they choose to stop by.

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Filling two adjoining rooms with seating for perhaps sixty, the long bar, coffee counter and kitchen occupying the majority of one half with an overhead menu plus a display of pastries, it was just after 7:30am that I trekked through snow to enter the front doors, a pleasant fellow happy to offer his opinion when asked which led to a five-part order.

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Taking pastries to the table while items from the kitchen were prepared by another young man, the white walls and bright lights casting off slate and wood with flowers softening the feel, it was with bites of a dense yet moist Oatmeal Muffin chock-full of Apples and Cinnamon that the meal got underway, the Carrot and Apple Cakes tasted later equally well-crafted with each featuring a good bit of added sweetness by way of their respective icings.

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Covering a wider variety of menu options than one might expect based on kitchen size, each item prepared with great care and expedited speed, it was perhaps ten minutes after sitting down that two substantial plates were presented, the piping-hot porcelain filled with crispy Potatoes, squeaky Curds and creamy Hollandaise pairing well to sliced Ham while the ‘French Toast’ was decadence defined as day-old Bread soaked in Custard was sliced thick and presented as a leaning tower with layers separated by boozy Bananas and Nutella beneath a snowcap of fluffy Mascarpone Cream.

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http://www.vendomecafe.com/

Vendome Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Alberta, Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Calgary, Canada, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Pork, Vacation, Vendôme Café

Rouge, Calgary AB

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Rouge Restaurant

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Sliced Beet – Foie Gras, Diced Pear

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Cured Trout – Pickled Chard, Garlic Scape Aioli, Rye Crumbs

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Red Fife Sourdough – House-churned Salted Butter

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Cheese & Charcuterie – Peppered Elk Sausage, Air Dried Lonza, Foie Gras Torchon, Bresaola, 4-year Aged Grizzly Gouda, Tiger Blue Cheese, Ipedon, Pickled Blood Orange, Candied Walnut, Olives, Pickled Yellowfoot Mushrooms, Cornichons, Apple Moustarda, Baguette Crisps

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Spicy Greens – Sweetbreads, Black Garlic Vinaigrette, Goat Yogurt, Pumpkin Seeds, Pickled Chanterelles

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Rougie Duck Breast – Sunflower Seed Butter, Bok Choy, Charred Eggplant, Sunflower Shoots

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Caffe Umbria Double Espresso – Ice and Brown Sugar

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Roasted Apple Mille Feuille – Puff Pastry, Crème Diplomat

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Pumpkin Sticky Toffee Pudding – Walnut Nougatine, Toffee, Garden Squash Ice Cream

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Blueberry Mousse – Pistachio, Lemon Balm, Blood Orange Jam

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Considered by many to be Alberta’s best fine-dining restaurant since opening in 2003, the 19th Century Cross House reimagined as Rouge by Chef Paul Rogalski and Olivier Reynaud, it was less than thirty minutes after exiting their sister-Bistro that I was seated in a sizable corner two-top, the server not even walking my way until nearly fifteen minutes later.

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Suggesting a strong focus on Alberta in their online description, the words “regional” and “local” liberally sprinkled with adjectives of self-praise to define their “Philosophy of Fine Dining,” Rouge is located in a residential neighborhood with ample parking along the streets, the building itself appropriately painted a deep shade of red with the interior pleasant, if not a bit stuffy, as heavy curtains and linens are flanked by vivid oil paintings.

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Apologizing profusely for ‘ignoring’ me, a large table in the adjoining room commanding a lot of attention combined with my location and the Hostess not alerting him to my presence offered as an excuse, it was with Water and Menu in hand that choices were made, the tasting menu passed due to an odd Asian theme in a place whose style very clearly references France.

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Offered two Amuses to begin the night, the second plus a later Salad presented gratis as further apology, both the Beet and Duck Liver as well as the cured Trout proved tasty and complex while a half-slice of Red Fife Sourdough was served as though it was some sort of luxury ingredient alongside grassy House-churned Butter that instead stole the spotlight.

Disappointed by Bistro Rouge’s outsourced cured Meats, and again here where Elk Sausage and Bresaola are brought in with Canadian Cheeses to pair with housemade Lonza and a compact Foie Gras Torchon that proved impossible to spread on razor-thin Crostini, accoutrements including Pickled Blood Orange and Yellowfoot Mushrooms thankfully propped up the $36CAD Board, the aforementioned Salad a far better value with featuring the complex interplay of seared Sweetbreads, bright acid, tangy Yogurt and toasted Pumpkin Seeds.

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Featuring the same exquisite Rougie Duck as Model Milk, but eschewing aging in favor of a plump Breast pan-Seared over ground Sunflower Seeds, Bok Choy and charred Eggplant under a tangle of Sunflower Shoots, dessert at Rouge showed similar to that at the Bistro by way of two choices, the Roasted Apple Mille-Feuille texturally compromised by ‘leather’ akin to a Fruit Roll-Up while the Sticky Toffee Pudding tasted like moist Spice Cake next to crumbles of Walnut and lightly-sweetened Garden Squash Ice Cream.

www.rougecalgary.com/

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

Posted in Alberta, Bread Basket, Calgary, Canada, Coffee, Dessert, Foie, Foie Gras, Food, Ice Cream, Rouge, Rouge Restaurant, Sweetbreads, Vacation

Bistro Rouge, Calgary AB

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Bistro Rouge

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Housemade Bread and Herb Butter

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Ricotta Gnocchi – Sauteed Mushrooms, Crispy Potatoes & Parmesan Cream

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Croque Madame – House Smoked Ham, Homemade Brioche, Raclette, Mornay Sauce, 63° Egg & Simple Salad

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Baked Alaska – Graham Cracker Cake, Chocolate Pecan Ganache, Vanilla Bourbon Ice Cream & Meringue

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Salted Caramel Bread Pudding – Housemade Brioche & Salted Butter Caramel

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Shifting reservations to afford one additional dinner, the choice to visit both Rouge Restaurant and its casual cousin back-to-back, it was a bit surprising just how far apart the two spaces are located; a nearly twenty-minute drive in snowy conditions separating two meals that began by literally interrupting ‘family meal’ at the latter as the restaurant manager was seated at a four-top with his wife, child and a friend when I arrived nearly fifteen minutes after Bistro Rouge’s opening.

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Following in the footsteps of several French masters by capitalizing on his popularity with a more accessible space, the 2014 opening coming almost a dozen years after Chef Paul Rogalski and Olivier Reynaud debuted Rouge at The Cross House, Bistro Rouge inhabits a sizable footprint in the back of a shopping center also featuring groceries and pet supplies, the interior pretty plain aside from several televisions playing NHL Centre Ice.

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Admittedly expecting a more bustling environment, the concept seemingly ideal for Happy Hour unfortunately empty throughout a seventy-minute stay, it was expectedly with perfect service that the night progressed from the moment I was seated, the youthful male server happy to engage in conversation with myself as well as the bartender and bored appearing hostess.

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Rounding out a menu of expected dishes with a few Plats du Jour, though the additions were not enough to alter a plan made based on an internet search, it was with a small loaf of house-baked Bread and Herb Butter that the meal got started, a follow-up of Ricotta Dumplings smooth and soft amidst seared Mushrooms and Cheese Sauce beneath finely sliced Potatoes fried crispy.

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Unfortunately informed that the bulk of Bistro Rouge’s Charcuterie is brought in, and not from the more formal Restaurant as one may expect, taste-buds instead turned to the house-smoked Ham Croque Madame on toasted Brioche with Raclette, Mornay and a 63° Egg that tasted every bit as good as it looks and sounds, the blend of superior ingredients making this perhaps the best rendition of the classic I have found yet.

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Cleansing the palate with a simple Green Salad before moving on to dessert, two of the five choices appealing to my sensibilities, it was with some disappointment that the “Baked Alaska” was served as a simple bar with toasted Meringue but no tableside fire and only faint hints of Booze, the piping-hot Bread Pudding far more pleasing as day-old Housemade Brioche was served thoroughly saturated with Custard in a pool of Salted Caramel with crumbled Brittle underneath a quenelle of slowly melting Vanilla Ice Cream.

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www.bistrorougeyyc.com/

Bistro Rouge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Alberta, Bistro Rouge, Bread Basket, Bread Pudding, Calgary, Canada, Dessert, Food, Gnocchi, Ice Cream, Pork, Vacation

The Beltliner, Calgary AB

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The Beltliner

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Space Jam & Ricotta 2.0 French Toast – Blueberry Jam, Lemon Ricotta, Powdered Sugar, St. Leon Maple Syrup

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Perogy Poutine – Potato Cheddar Perogy, Gravy, Hutterite Bacon, Quebec Cheese Curds, Green Onions

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Saskatoon Berry Pie – Whipped Cream and Vanilla Bean Gelato from Fiasco Gelato

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Essentially a hotel restaurant, its attachment to Fairfield Inn & Suites next to Central Memorial Park infusing the space with an everything-to-everyone feel from the kitchen forward, The Beltliner fails where many of Calgary’s ‘reimagined diners’ succeed by way of taking itself too seriously, the focus on a theme getting in the way of good, honest cooking as the menu attempts to veer interesting before getting the basics straight.

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Visited just after noon, the combination breakfast and lunch menu offering everything from Eggs to Salads or Meatloaf, it was having already perused the online options that a patient wait preceded service, the middle-aged woman not near as pleasant as the folks at Diner Deluxe, OEB or Belmont as she perfunctorily jotted down an order before moving on to the next table where she repearted the same routine without even looking up.

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Trying hard to be hip, the menu running a gamut of gastropub ideas with some more typical options for those desiring something simple, it was with both appetizer and entrée delivered simultaneously that the meal got underway as The Black Keys played overhead, the “Perogy Poutine” a new spelling with a good concept set back by too much Gravy despite great Dumplings and gooey Curds melted to Cast Iron while the “Space Jam & Ricotta 2.0 French Toast” was not soaked enough for its thickness and still dougy even after adding St. Leon Maple Syrup.

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Annoyed that the Monte Cristo originally entertained was not only un-fried but served with a Mustard Sauce, dessert consisted of tender Saskatoon Berries baked in an all-Butter Crust, the decision to add a scoop of locally-made Vanilla Bean Gelato enough to dissuade a planned visit to their flagship as the texture was icy and granular on the tongue.

www.thebeltliner.com

The Beltliner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Alberta, Calgary, Canada, Dessert, Fiasco Gelato, Food, French Toast, Ice Cream, Pork, The Beltliner, Vacation

Manuel Latruwe Belgian Patisserie & Bread Shop, Calgary AB

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Manuel Latruwe Belgian Patisserie & Bread Shop

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Almond Croissant

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Sour Cherry Turnover

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Apricot Almond Danish

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Mille Feuille

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Still amazed that there are eateries in 2017 that scorn pictures, but finding just that as I casually snapped a photo of Manuel Latruwe’s pastry cases, it was after a brief moment browsing the shelves that the urge to leave was set aside, a good choice as the Belgian Patisserie’s Viennoiserie are some of the finest in Calgary.

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Told that the warning was given due to the Chef’s policy of hiring a photographer to take promotional shots, but that I was welcome to take pictures of anything I purchased for ‘personal use,’ it was with a curtailed order of four items that I seated myself at a small table towards the back of the café, the four item spread clearly the work of someone with talent, a quick perusal of the website indicating that the Chef had enrolled in culinary school at age twelve and had thus been pursuing his craft for nearly four decades.

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Now offering his confections in Calgary for over eighteen years, the season and region continuing to inspire innovation to this day, it was with a loud crack and shower of crumbs that a knife cut into an Croissant topped and filled with lightly sweetened ground-Almonds, not one drop of Frangipane to be found here or in the Apricot and Almond Danish that spoke volumes about the benefit of an early arrival as the layers were still crunchy and the filling still warm-to-touch.

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Told that the Sour Cherry Turnover was a new item, the separation providing an almost a Cruller-like effect to the pastry itself, suffice it to say that those favoring tart over sweet would be well-advised to investigate this option further while traditionalist will be pleased to see a textbook Mille-feuille that would only be better if made a la minute.

www.manuellatruwe.com

Manuel Latruwe Belgian Patisserie & Bread Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Alberta, Breakfast, Calgary, Canada, Croissant, Food, Manuel Latruwe, Manuel Latruwe Belgian Patisserie, Manuel Latruwe Belgian Patisserie & Bread Shop, Manuel Latruwe Belgian Patisserie and Bread Shop, Vacation

Diner Deluxe, Calgary AB

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Diner Deluxe

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Phil & Sebastian Coffee

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Maple Fried Oatmeal – Lemon Curd, Vanilla Bean Cream, Maple Syrup

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Stuffed French Toast – Egg dipped thick cut Sourdough, Brie, Canadian Bacon, Apple Relish, Rosemary Syrup

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Breakfast Poutine – Rosemary Hash Browns, Quebec Cheese Curds, Basil Hollandaise

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Apple Pie Wedge – Bourbon-Cinnamon poached Apples, Caramel Sauce, Streusel Topping

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Located just down Edmonton Trail from OEB Breakfast Co, a veritable Restaurant Row during the day’s early hours, Diner Deluxe is an all-day eatery focused on local, seasonal ingredients and scratch-cooking, the kitschy retro interior in no way indicative of the sort of place serving up your Grandpa’s plate of Bacon and Eggs.

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Now with two locations, the rumor of hour-long waits on weekends mitigated by an early Monday meal, entry to Diner Deluxe finds patrons in a Soda Fountain styled area featuring Gelato, Pac-Man, the brightly lit room beyond full of old-school signage and smiling servers plus two men working the oven and griddles.

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Proudly promoting local purveyors and farms, prices slightly higher than the typical diner as a result, long perusal finds the menu filled with options for diners of all-styles, the challenge of accommodating allergies and limitations taken quite seriously as the young woman acting as waitress went out of her way to inquire at the time of order, something far more typical of fine-dining environs.

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Seated at a cozy two-top next to an elderly widower in the mood for conversation, clearly a regular judged by his interaction with staff, Breakfast began with an elegantly presented square of pan-seared Oats thoroughly soaked in Custard and Maple Syrup, the pool of Crème Anglaise in which it rested acting to further soften the wedge beneath a scoop of zesty Lemon Curd.

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Offering bottomless Coffee from Phil & Sebastian, a local producer featuring great light roasts at many restaurants visited during the days in Alberta, course two featured egg-dredged Sourdough wrapped around melted Brie, Canadian Bacon and Apple Relish, the sidecar of Rosemary Syrup proving downright inspired as an addition to the sandwich, while also proving complimentary to the $3CAD upgraded side of well-seasoned Hash Browns that remained crispy even with the addition of housemade Hollandaise and stretchy Cheese Curds.

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Half-joking when inquiring about dessert, but more than happy to indulge when the kitchen said they would be willing to oblige, it was after a quick warming on the grill that an “Apple Pie Wedge” arrived bathed in hot Caramel Sauce, the light hints of booze mingling with Cinnamon and Fruit topped in buttery Streusel.

www.dinerdeluxe.com/

Diner Deluxe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Alberta, Breakfast, Calgary, Canada, Coffee, Dessert, Diner Deluxe, Food, French Toast, Phil & Sebastian, Phil & Sebastian Coffee, Phil and Sebastian, Phil and Sebastian Coffee, Pork, Vacation

Anju, Calgary AB

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Anju

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Mushroom Tempura – King Oyster, Shimeji, Truffle Ponzu, Green Onion, Nori

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Maple Hill Chicken Wings – Sablefish Kabayaki, Sesame

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Foie Gras & Tofu – Smoked Bone Marrow, Steam Bun, Plum, Pistachio, Sesame

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Short Rib & Rice Gnocchi – Soy Marinade, Cabbage, Mushroom, Onion, Green Onion

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Roasted Kobacha Squash – Brown Butter Soy, Cashews, Ginger, Yuzu

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Potstickers – Pork, Prawn, Tofu, Glass Noodles, Black Vinegar, Chili Garlic Oil

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Double Espresso – Ice

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Sweet Potato Trifle – Coconut Sponge Cake, Sweet Potato Custard, Corn Pop Ice Cream

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Fuyu Persimmon Cheesecake – Preserved Dates, White Chocolate Curry Crumble, Kaenip, Lemon

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Dark Chocolate White Truffle Pate – Black Vinegar, Orange Compote, Chocolate Gochujang Ice Cream

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Located just up the street from Model Milk, an area passed through frequently both for dining and en route to downtown Calgary, Chef Roy Oh’s Anju played host to a Sunday dinner that will go down as one of the most memorable in Western Canada, the modern Korean concept based on “food consumed with Alcohol” requiring none of the latter to be as delicious as it was intriguing.

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Open now for dinner and late-nights seven days a week, Brunch on weekends also a popular event, Anju was originally placed on my agenda thanks to a story about Chef Oh’s roundabout path to a career in the kitchen, a non-traditional route that includes no formal culinary education, but rather the influence of his Mother plus a whole lot of tenacity and good fortune.

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Furthering my interest reading the accolades achieved since opening, a perennial slot on several “Best of” lists suggesting that the combination of boldly flavored cuisine and an upscale space has continued to evolve and impress over time, it was just after 6:45 that I was sat between two groups of four, their orders at first giving me pause considering the portion sizes, the server also offering warning that “two-to-four” plates per person was reasonable, though a total of nine including Dessert proved well-worth testing my stomach’s resolve.

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Well designed with mixed-woods, white walls, upward shining lights and an open kitchen, those born prior to 1996 also likely to appreciate a soundtrack featuring the likes of TLC and Blackstreet playing overhead, it was in five well-paced courses that the evening progressed over the course of approximately 130 minutes, an opening plate of mixed Mushrooms lightly battered and exceedingly flavorful even before dipping in Ponzu, a rare occasion where Truffle Oil was well-utilized to accentuate the flavor rather than masquerade as something justifying a substantial price-hike.

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More than a little well-known for their Korean Fried Chicken, available as a large sharable plate but far more accessible for solo diners as Wings, Anju’s product from Maple Hill Farms covers all the bases for what a great Bird should be by coming across plump with a thick and crispy coating lacquered in Sauce, a total of four available with the housemade smoked Sablefish Kabayaki and Sesame outperforming David Chang’s Octo-Vinaigrette as relates to both sticky-thickness and umami.

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Impressed to this point, but happy to have expectations exceeded, Anju’s “Foie Gras & Tofu” arrived next to achieve the rare feat of redefining a luxury ingredient, the Mousse thick yet light with Plums draped over and ready to be smeared on seared Steam Buns with a bit of smoke and salinity added by shaved Marrow and Soy.

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Pressing onward to two completely different types of ‘Noodles,’ the springy nuggets of glutinous Rice an adept backdrop for tender Short Rib and Cabbage while the Potstickers came connected by a delicate lattice with a lot of funk and medium heat, it was actually Anju’s seasonal Kobacha Squash that made quite an impact by way of Soy-infused-Butter, Cashews and bright top-notes of Citrus and Ginger.

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Taking a strong Double Espresso to refresh the palate and invigorate, all three desserts proving as irresistible as reviews suggest, one would be hard-pressed to decide which to omit if forced to do so, the Sweet Potato Trifle without a doubt the lightest and sweetest thanks to Cereal Milk Ice Cream and an airy Sponge Cake while the Fuyu Persimmon Cheesecake ate like one made with Ricotta amidst well-balanced Citrus and minty notes, the “Dark Chocolate White Truffle Pate” another undeniable umami-bomb that may not suit everyone’s palate, but proved defiantly delectable with the acidity playing off sweetness and a lingering bit of heat from the Red Chili paste.

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www.anju.ca/

Anju Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Alberta, Anju, Calgary, Canada, Coffee, Dessert, Foie, Foie Gras, Food, Gnocchi, Ice Cream, Pork, Truffle, Truffles, Vacation

The Lake House, Calgary AB

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The Lake House

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Rocky Mountain Charcuterie Board – Air dried Alberta Beef, Cured Duck Breast, Wild Boar Mortadella, Elk Sausage, Bison Soparasatta, Aged Ham, Mustard Melon, Ram Ram, Mustard, Pumpernickel Bread

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Sous Vide Macintosh Apples Compote – Chewy Breakfast Cookies, Chinook Honey Yoghurt

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Banana Bread French Toast Peanut Butter Mousse, Strawberry Jam, Peanut Brittle

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Warm Apple Ginger Cake Sweet Potato Ice Cream, Salted Caramel Sauce

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Located on beautiful Lake Bonavista, in mid-January a pond hockey dream with more leisurely skaters making a path around the perimeter, The Lake House has long been considered one of the most picturesque dining rooms in all of Alberta, their Sunday Brunch a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.

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Managed by Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts, a space previously titled “The Ranche” rebranded to focus more on the scenery visible through large windows around the back, those visiting The Lake House will immediately be stuck by the grand dining room featuring a large stone mantle and chandeliers made of elk antlers, the all-glass Wine cellar near the bar a curiosity to oenophiles while the menu features no shortage of local, seasonal ingredients.

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Built on the idea of “Rocky Mountain cuisine,” Chef Thomas Neukom changing the menu frequently to feature the best of Western Canada’s ranches and farms, it is after pleasant greeting from the hostess and a youthful server that guests are led to wood tables, the Brunch menu following a formula of Benedicts, Omelets and Hash with more lunch-like options including fried Chicken, Oysters and even a smoked Fish tray.

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Taking an extensive dining agenda into account, a total of four plates selected and coursed out one at a time, brunch got started with a Bamboo tray of housemade and locally sourced Charcuterie, the cold-cured Duck, Wild Boar Mortadella and warm Elk Sausage all outperforming the Meats at highly-regarded Rouge or RGE RD in Edmonton with a portion far more appropriate to the portions as well as the quality.

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Intrigued by the Sous-Vide Apple dish, essentially a DIY Granola Parfait with local Yogurt and a great balance of flavor, Chef Neukom’s French Toast set a high standard for creativity by quickly searing both sides of Banana Quick-Bread before pairing it with light Mousse and a slick of housemade Strawberry Preserves plus Peanut Brittle for textural variability.

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Not realizing that the full Dessert menu is offered at Brunch, a fact that *may* have swayed the rest of the order more savory – though probably not – it was on the recommendation of the server that a Saskatoon Berry Tart was set aside in favor of the warm Spice-Cake topped in stewed Apples beside crumbled Streusel forming a bed for a ball of Sweet Potato Ice Cream.

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The Lake House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Alberta, Breakfast, Calgary, Canada, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Ice Cream, Lake House, Pork, The Lake House, Vacation

Jelly Modern Doughnuts, Calgary AB

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Jelly Modern Doughnuts

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Coconut – Coconut Milk Glaze, Coconut Pastry Cream, Sweetened White Coconut

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Carrot Cake – Cinnamon Mascarpone Glaze

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Tangerine Dream – Orange Blossom Honey Glaze, Tangerine Curd, Mandarin Orange Segment

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Maple Bacon – Brown Maple Glaze and Valbella Bacon

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Peanut Butter Cup – Peanut Butter Ganache, Peanut Cream Filling, Salted Peanuts

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S’mores – Chocolate Ganache, Marshmallow Cream, Housemade Marshmallow, Graham Cracker Crumble

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Modern Cinnamon Roll – Saigon Cinnamon Sugar, Mascarpone Icing

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Finding the country known for Tim Horton’s surprisingly lacking for fried-Dough alternatives, even oldschool mom n’ pop spots seemingly unable to compete with Canada’s love for a Maple Dip, it was with high hopes that I visited downtown’s Jelly Modern Doughnuts, the results unfortunately quite underwhelming even in an undersaturated market.

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Located on the corner of 8 Street and 14 Avenue SW, the décor of white and wood laminate with splashes of pink clearly done on a tight budget, it was just past 11am that I entered the lengthy space with a glass window next to the counter, a bevy of options that rotate daily offered in two sizes, a total of six $2.25CAD ‘smalls’ charged a la carte joined by one sizable Cinnamon Roll.

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Tossing about terms like ‘artisan’ and hand-filled, though in reality none of Jelly Modern’s choices are recognizable as the latter since all they do is remove the ‘hole’ and replace it with Glaze or Cream, it was much to the disappointment of this diner that all but the under-spiced Carrot Cake featured the same doughy base, first bites of Coconut far sweeter than anticipated with a sickeningly-sweet, almost artificial aftertaste.

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Moving on to better things, the monthly special “Tangerine Dream” a complex balance of sweet and sour with light bitter notes from ‘Curd’ that tasted more like Marmalade, the Maple Bacon was also quite good though certainly not ‘filled’ as suggested on the menu, a ring described as “Peanut Butter Cup” equally deceitful as a hole straight-through was fairly obvious, though the salty roasted Peanuts did play well off the heavily sweetened Cream.

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Not particularly impressed by S’mores, that same cloying sweetness found in the Coconut overwhelming both the Chocolate and any flavor attempted by way of Graham Cracker dust, the ‘Modern’ Cinnamon Roll was probably the only reason to consider a visit to Jelly once Tangerine Dream is retired at the end of January, the dense coil richly imbued with Cinnamon beneath smooth Mascarpone Icing.

http://jellymoderndoughnuts.com/

Jelly Modern Doughnuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Alberta, Breakfast, Calgary, Canada, Dessert, Food, Jelly Modern, Jelly Modern Doughnuts, Pork, Vacation

Alforno Bakery & Café, Calgary AB

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Alforno Bakery & Café

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Gluten Free Vanilla Rum Raisin Cake

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Almond Croissant

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Banana Cornflake Muffin

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Blueberry Clafoutis

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Pear Frangipane Tart

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Snickerdoodle

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Quinoa Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

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Recently opened by a longstanding local Restaurant Group, the highly polished space greeting wealthy Eau Claire residents with a fireplace for lounging and table service for breakfast, lunch, dinner or pastries, Alforno Bakery & Café purports a focus on nothing but the finest ingredients, though the actual execution reminisces more of the “Quick Casual” Panera with a touch more refinement, plus a license to serve Beer and Wine.

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No doubt a spacious and pleasant environment, a small market of locally produced goods and grab n’ go options located right when facing glass cases filled with temptation, those arriving at Alforno early are greeted by shelves yet to be fully stocked plus a brief menu, the Ricotta Pancakes apparently quite popular, though the focus of this visit was entirely on the bakery.

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Finding service to be low on enthusiasm…or Coffee…the young lady behind the counter’s flattened affect a rarity in the forty Alberta eateries visited during my stay, it was after some perusal that a total of seven items were selected, some of them already bagged and prepackaged including a kitchen sponge-reminiscent Vanilla Rum Raisin Cake that reaffirmed fears of gluten-free baking.

Surprising finding not a single option still warm, the overly-firm Clafoutis actually still icebox cold, better bites were found in the flaky Pear Tart with sweet Almond Paste, thought the twice-baked Croissant lightly smeared with the same came across flaccid, the exterior nicely baked but the inside neither springy nor open.

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Next turning attention to a Muffin followed by two Cookies, the former well-conceived with a small stump and the top shellacked with crunchy Cornflakes over moist Banana Bread, the Cookies were a bit more hit and miss as the sugary Snickerdoodle was light in Cinnamon and a bit drier than expected while the Quinoa Oatmeal Raisin round was thankfully not over sweetened, but chewy in a way that is ‘interesting’ rather than pleasant.

www.alforno.ca/

Alforno Bakery & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Alberta, Alforno, Alforno Bakery, Alforno Bakery & Café, Breakfast, Calgary, Canada, Croissant, Dessert, Food, Vacation

Belmont Diner, Calgary AB

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Belmont Diner

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Monte Cristo – Grilled Chicken Breast and Montreal Smoked Meat with Cheddar on Egg-Dipped Bread w/ Breakfast Potatoes

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Pancake Art – Blueberry R2D2 with Pure Maple Syrup

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Located on 33 Avenue SW, as ‘neighnborhoody’ a spot as any in Alberta, Belmont Diner has been charming locals since the year 2000, though much of the décor and charm date back almost ninety years prior.

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Temporary closed by a fire in 2013, but since reopened and greeting regulars as well as new faces from 7a-3p on weekdays, and until four o’clock on the weekend, those hoping to experience the family-run space without a wait are encouraged to arrive early, 7:25 on a cold Sunday finding just a dozen patrons present, four local Police Officers enjoying big plates of Eggs, Toast and Meat just a few feet from my counter seating.

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Staffed by just two so early, a young female server in a tuque assisting the grill man in an open kitchen, it was with conversation about the restaurant and local area that time was passed after selecting two plates, the menu a laminated two-side job with a focus on diner staples and the occasional clever idea here or there.

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Doing diligence in reviewing the menu prior to arrival, the clever “pancake art” undeniably a draw, it was with deference to the kitchen that an oblong shaped disc of golden Buttermilk Batter studded with Blueberries was presented, the idea immediately identifiable as R2-D2 and just as quickly devoured with a light smear of chilled Butter plus pure Maple Syrup added to taste.

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Given the option of Ham or Smoked Meat for the griddled Monte Cristo, unfortunately no deep-frying to be found, it was just as the Pancake was nearing completion that the Sandwich stacked with Cheddar and a Chicken Breast was served, the flavors good on their own and even better with seeded Raspberry Jam from Kraft, though the cubed Potatoes were unfortunately undercooked and thus left on the plate with stomach capacity saved for the day’s additional dining stops.

www.belmontdiner.ca

Belmont Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Alberta, Belmont Diner, Breakfast, Calgary, Canada, Food, French Toast, pancake, Pancakes, Vacation

Model Milk, Calgary AB

 

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Model Milk

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CAREFUL YOU – Apple Puree, Sweet Tea, Lemon, Simple Syrup, Bitters

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RED FIFE SOURDOUGH – Cultured Butter

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CHEDDAR DOUGHNUTS – Black Pepper

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ROASTED HEIRLOOM CARROTS – Savoury Hazelnut Praline, Carrot Harissa

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SALT BAKED SWEET POTATO – Taleggio Cream, Crispy Chicken, Chicken Broth

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21-DAY DRY AGED DUCK – Confit Leg, Roasted Breast, Sultana Mole, Black Garlic, Parsnip

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DOUBLE ESPRESSO – Ice, Brown Sugar Cube

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TWICE BAKED BRIOCHE – Rum, Orange Marmalade, Almond, Spiced Chantilly

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M.M. APPLE PIE – Cheddar Crust, Milk Ice Cream

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Currently felt by many to be Alberta’s most important restaurant, British Columbia native and Chef/Owner Justin Leboe’s training taking him from Napa Valley to New York to Copenhagen throughout the years, Model Milk was booked for dinner during my first day in Calgary, an early Saturday seat at the counter providing full-view of the kitchen run by Executive Chef Eric Hendry.

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Housed in an old dairy, a quadruple-tiered space with a bar at bottom, seats along a loft as well as the main floor and kitchen built into a former loading dock, Model Milk is best described as modern Canadian cooking with an ingredient-driven focus, the menu changing frequently save for a few signatures and divided into Bar Snacks, Small Plates, Large Plates and Large Format (for two.)

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Without doubt a going concern, every seat filled save for a lone walk-in barstool by 7:30pm, it is with pleasantries that patrons are greeted at a hostess podium up a short flight of steps, the white walls decorated in old signage lightly reverberating overhead music often drowned out by the din of clinking cutlery and conversing voices.

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Served by a young man with a British accent who proudly proclaimed himself a Sommelier between jokey rehearsed lines, a pleasant shtick that only wore thin when it led to him later omitting part of the order, it was after some perusal and questions bout portion-sizes that a four-course meal was crafted of seven plates, the non-alcoholic “Careful You” an absolute steal at $6CAD for sour Apple Puree thickening brewed Tea, Lemon and mellow Bitters.

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Told up front that the assemblage of plates would be “a lot” of food, a truthful statement to some degree but certainly no more volume that most fine-dining tasting menus, it was with a plate of tangy Sourdough alongside a knob of house-cultured butter that the meal got underway, the decision to charge for Bread justified by the Loaf’s robust Crust and springy Crumb while four savory Doughnuts registered somewhere between Gougeres and Cheez-Its beneath an avalanche of finely-grated Cheddar slowly melting over the warm Dough.

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Intrigued by the produce-focused small-plates, an expected emphasis on Root Vegetables and Tubers given sub-zero temperatures outside, two roasted Carrots beneath a dusting of crumbled nuts was soon presented in a pool of vibrant orange ‘Harissa,’ the follow-up of charred Sweet Potato topped in shaved Chicken Cracklins’ made equally complex by way of airy Taleggio Cream and savory broth added at the tableside.

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Always happy to see Rougie Duck, the Quebec-based purveyor repeatedly outperforming Hudson Valley’s best in the past, it is without hesitation that I can say Chef Hendry’s dry-aged Breast not only out-portions, but also outshines that at Michelin 3* Eleven Madison Park in Manhattan, the crisp Skin and a ribbon of fat around a rosy Breast well paired to sweet Mole while the confit Leg found even more umami in a smear of Black Garlic.

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Partaking in an $8CAD Double Espresso before dessert, the combination of a small pastry station and a plate forgotten due to too much chatter seeing the bold brew long-gone before either plate arrived, suffice it say that no meal at Model Milk should end without at least a slice of the signature sweet n’ savory Apple Pie served warm and sloppy, the Baba au Rhum-Gateau Basque hybrid entitled ‘Twice Baked Brioche’ no less delicious with gooey pudding center rich in Booze and Almond paste with Orange Zest playing well off the aromatic Whipped Cream topping.

www.modelmilk.ca

Model Milk Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Alberta, Bread Basket, Calgary, Canada, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Model Milk, Vacation

Cluck n’ Cleaver, Calgary AB

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Cluck n’ Cleaver

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Two Piece Fried Chicken

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Rotisserie Chicken Poutine

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Buttermilk Biscuit

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Chocolate Chip Cookie and Skor Cookie

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Following an American trend of fried Chicken as far as the eye can see, journey(wo)man Chef Nicole Gomes bringing her regionally-famous Bird to a brick and mortar home after years of wowing fans at local food events, Cluck n’ Cleaver on 14 Street SW proved a fortuitous midday find during my first day in Calgary, an off-hour visit featuring no wait and a menu full of tempting choices that outperform the chains by miles without too great a price-hike.

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Touting environmentalist beliefs and a focus on sustainability, the Chickens all Organic and never frozen while packaging is either recyclable or compost-ready, it was from a somewhat sleepy clerk that greetings were offered on arrival, the menu a well-culled affair of fried versus rotisserie, though both can readily be sampled for just $9.75CAD by way of a Golden two-piece combo with a side of roasted Chicken Poutine.

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Waiting perhaps ten minutes for fresh-fried Potatoes, a few more patrons entering the standing room only space or taking orders to-go, it was with two clamshells plus two bags in hand that items were unpacked on the wood counter, first bites of the fries and gravy succeeding where so many others fail by way of squeaky Curds from Quebec alongside juicy cubes of dark Meat, the Biscuit unfortunately not as impressive despite good Butter content since it ate more like a Muffin than something layered and flaky.

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Moving onward to the fried Bird, a Wing and Thigh each piping hot and crisp without a hint of grease, Gomes’ success appears to be derived largely by a rich spice profile awash in Pepper, Sage and something faintly sweet with a crunchiness that almost seems double-battered, the Poultry itself also well-brined and the sort of thing that would go great with a housemade Shake or locally crafted Soda before finishing up with a fresh-baked cookie…or two…on this day featuring Dark Chocolate Chip or one based on Skor Candy Bars with rich Toffee.

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www.cluckncleaver.com/

Cluck 'n' Cleaver Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Alberta, Calgary, Canada, Cluck and Cleaver, Cluck n’ Cleaver, Dessert, Food, Vacation