Whenever I set off to a new destination, I like to do a little word-association test with friends, family and a couple of complete strangers thrown in for good measure. It helps to better orient my piece if I understand the existing landscape. On doing research for my recent fine dining tour of Calgary, it went something like this: “What do you think of Calgary?”
- Meat and potatoes
- Did I already say meat and potatoes?
In fact, one of my friends (who shall remain nameless) even went so far as to say that ‘Calgary fine dining’ was an oxymoron. Well Mary-Alice, you’re just wrong.
Calgary’s culinary scene offers some pretty sophisticated options from the highbrow cuisine at Rouge (placed 60th on the prestigious S. Pellegrino World’s 100 Best Restaurants list) to the dulcet delights of the River Café, Calgary has a lot to offer the discerning diner. Here is just a smattering of the best eateries to enjoy on your next trip:
Briggs Kitchen and Bar
The Briggs kitchen is wholesome homegrown food that your grandma made, but with a twist and a rather daring step ball change. You can enjoy deviled eggs ($9) with a dash of Dijon or lobster mac ‘n cheese ($16). The things that really tickled my fancy were the crispy humbolt calamari ($11) (below) and the rustic flatbread ($13).
Where the Briggs kitchen really hits its stride is with the meat courses. Here the Josper ovens (there are only four in all of Canada and Briggs has the unique distinction of having two) give the meat courses a barbequed smoky flavor that is simply spectacular. My favorite was the bone-in pork belly ($23) (below). The desserts are where Chef Xavier’s talents really shine; the delicate meringues and fried crepes are so sublime, they set my soul singing.
I love the large tables and comfortable chairs, the clatter of dishes and the vibrant bustling from the kitchen. The sharing of dishes gives you a smorgasbord of flavours and a communal connection which lends itself to raucous laughter. When breaking bread together, it brings us closer and makes us merrier and in this Briggs succeeds amiably.
Ox and Angela
Sharing is caring at Ox and Angela and the tapas menu lends itself to a fun, relaxed dinner with friends. The wonderful menu is packed with authentic Spanish delights. Like most Calgarian eateries, Ox and Angela has a great patio. Chefs Steve Smee and Andrew Moore display a touch of the subversive as they explore tastes and push the boundaries of convention with an irreverence which affects both their cuisine and their décor.
Opt for the tapas special which presents 11 dishes for just $45 and whatever you do, don’t forget the churros in chocolate sauce.
Okay, so it’s not strictly a restaurant, but save a little space in your day for a special trip to Choklat — the only chocolate makers in the whole of Alberta. Choklat selects the finest cocoa beans from around the world, roasts them on site and creates real chocolate from scratch. Better still, you can select the kinds of chocolate you want, the centers to your truffles and what you want them rolled in. Scrumptiousness, sumptuousness and downright decadence! Here, life isn’t like this box of chocolates, because at Choklat you know exactly what you’re going to get.
The writer was a guest of Calgary Tourism. The tourism board did not review or approve this article.
Calgary is a foodies’ heaven. There are so many wonderful, innovative restaurants. I definitely hope to read more features on the city.