We can’t believe how many restaurants we ate at this year. Between handling our mortgage business and eating, it seemed like we just ran out of time to write about all the fabulous places we ate. Below is the second in a series of posts that will touch on restaurants that we enjoyed this year, but didn’t have time to blog about in 2010… ENJOY!
Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Five guys took first place in my heart this year among fast food burger joints. With no freezer on site, it forces everything to be fresh. All the toppings are free, except for bacon and cheese, and include fresh jalapenos, hot sauce, sautéed onions and mushrooms, to name a few. A “little burger” is a single, a “burger” is a double, and when you order a regular size fries, expect them to dump another scoop into the top of the bag for good measure.
In my opinion, Ruth’s is one of the best steakhouses in Calgary, even though it originated in New Orleans in 1927, long before it ever established its home at the base of the Calgary Tower. That is saying a lot considering how snobbish Albertans are when it comes to their beef. The dining experience is especially unique if you find yourself dining in one of the opulent private dining rooms as I did at the Henry Singer / Armani client appreciation dinner. The steaks are cooked to perfections at 1800 degrees and are standardized across the chain so that you can walk into any Ruth’s in the world and get the same great fine dining experience.
Purple Perk is one of those cute little coffee shops that also serves food. As cute and little as they are, their food packs big flavor. Their chili has this sweet and spicy thing going on, their paninis are inspiring works of art, and their coffee is great as well. Don’t be surprised if you have trouble finding a seat during the lunch hour as trendy marketing geniuses set up shop to take advantage of the free wifi and fairly priced lunch items.
Fergus & Bix Restaurant and Beer Market
Fergus & Bix brings 17th Ave to the suburbs. When you walk in to this little pub that is sandwiched between a Starbucks and a Shoppers Drug Mart, the last thing you expect to find is the trendiness of downtown. Their hip atmosphere attracts a huge crowd most nights, and with 17 micro-brew beers on tap, is a favorite place of many to watch the big game, whatever it happens to be.
Oh how we love the concept of Farm. We love the menu. We love the story. However, we never made it to ordering the day we went. The waiter, quite frankly offended us, not once, not twice, but three times. We have never walked out of a restaurant any other time, but it was just that bad. Likely we got them on a bad day, and the bad attitude wasn’t a true representation of Farm. Thus, we will be back, and hopefully we will enjoy.
When Farm disappointed, Anju picked up the slack. This cool little restaurant/lounge is trendy as hell. They have $5 mussels on Wednesday, have a money back guarantee that their yam fries are the best in the city (we gladly paid for ours), and they have these cool little rice dishes served in stone bowls, where the rice at the bottom crisps up just right.
With two locations, Globe Fish is Calgary’s leader in new age sushi. With in house creations like the Iginla role, they have no reservations about deviating away from traditional style sushi. Their restaurants are more like an earl’s than a hole in the wall sushi joint, but we have to give them credit, their new age ideas lead to some pretty tasty treats in a pretty cool atmosphere.
One of my favorite little Greek restaurants, Santorini is run by the Nicolaides family and serves authentic cuisine. Given that it is a family business the passion for the food and culture shines through. The service is great, because the servers are family, and the food is great, because the chefs are family. Best of all, when you enter the world of Santorini, you feel as though you just stepped of a boat and onto the actual island of Cypress.
I’ll preface by saying that I think there are better places to spend a lot of money on food than Social, which is located in Aspen. However, you just can’t beat their $1 oysters on Tuesday. Served up professionally by Eric Giesbrecht, who is the former oyster bar chef at the Catch, these oysters are about as well prepared as any you will ever find. You can also buy oysters by the case from Eric by calling him at (403) 616-6164.
Speaking of the Catch. In all likelihood this is probably most of Calgary’s favorite seafood restaurant. With the dining room upstairs and the bar downstairs, Catch serves up Calgary’s finest seafood. We love nothing more than heading down on a Friday afternoon, scarfing down some oysters, having some muscles and frites, and topping it of with a great gerutrstrmeiner. Oh, and their seafood tower is amazing as well!
Both of the Yardhouse locations are simply awesome. The 17th ave location is in the heart of the Red Mile. It is the ultimate social atmosphere with a center bar that allows patrons to mingle without having to go to far to get a drink. The Kensington location is a little bit lower key, but is still full almost all the time. The food, as far as pub food goes, is the best you will find outside of district. Try the yam fries, and the burgers. Their Wednesday Wing Special is by far the best in the city, even better if there is a hockey game on.
For authentic Thai food there is only one place in the city that will do, Thai Nongkhai. Another family run establishment, the menu here is not just a menu, it is leather bound binder, with no less than 30 pages of menu items. Their lunch menu though is substantially smaller, and is a good go to if the pages and pages seem confusing. Just flip to the back to find it. Their Tuesday lunch buffet at $14.95 is about as good as lunch gets, with authentic Pad Thai among other things, gracing the menu. The service, well it is about as fast as you will find. I have had meals arrive astonishingly in less than five minutes, they are that fast.