Reader. Writer. Romantic.

Location: 308B 11245 Valley Ridge Dr. NW Calgary, Alberta

Website: http://www.vangoghgrillbar.ca/en/

I lived in this community for seven years before I even stepped foot into this restaurant. It was the best decision of my life. When I first came here, the portion sizes were enormous. So large that it was impossible for me to finish, so I’m partially glad that they’ve cut down portion sizes instead of wasting so much food.

Usually when I go, I have the lunch special: beef souvlaki wrap with fries and caesar salad. This time I had a steak sandwich.

The beef souvlaki pita wrap is often hard to eat because the beef is so chewy and when you bite into it, everything comes out into your mouth and all over your clothes. Honestly the messiest, but most delicious thing ever! These wraps only have four things in them: onions, tomatoes, tzatziki sauce and meat, in this case beef. The tzatziki sauce is a bit on the garlicky side, but I love garlic and onions, so, I thought it was fine, although I wouldn’t suggest eating if you’re about to go into a meeting or having lunch with your boss.

Then there’s the steak sandwich. The garlic bread was fine, the caesar salad was fine (my only complaint is that it looks like they douse it in oil before serving it to us), the fries were fine, the ketchup wouldn’t come out of the bottle and the there was the actual piece of steak. Steak…seriously what is wrong with people and getting the temperature on steaks wrong all the time. I like mine more well done than rare, so I usually ask for medium or medium well because it will come out perfectly well done. I did this this and what do I get? A piece of wood. Mmm, I love eating charred wood.  I am very disappointed. Not only that, it was chewy and hard to swallow. I won’t be getting this again. Going back to my souvlaki wraps.

In terms of appetizers, I’ve sampled the lounge platter, tempura shrimp, calamari, platter appetizer for 2, and the sweet potato fries. The lounge platter consists of cafe ribs, battered zucchini sticks and mushrooms, and wings. I found the cafe ribs hard to bite through and the meat was completely dry and kept getting stuck in my teeth, which was annoying. The mushrooms were a bit soggy since they released all the water in them while cooking and it wasn’t so crunch after that. The zucchini sticks were the highlight of the platter as I found the honey garlic overwhelmed with the amount of sauce spread on them. The tempura shrimp were average. It was pretty standard, like the kind all restaurants buy frozen and in bulk. The calamari by far is my favourite appetizer. It too is served with tzatziki sauce and is pretty filling on its own. I like that the batter is light and that you don’t taste a piece of squid saturated with batter and oil. However, a friend of mine has mentioned that she dislikes the powdery consistency of the batter and prefers it to be a bit more crunchy. The platter for two is by far one of the worst things I’ve had here, I’m sorry to say, worse than charred wooden steak. It has calamari, which is the only edible thing to me, dolmades, marinated onions, tomatoes and feta cheese, and pita bread. Maybe it’s just me, but the taste of dolmades is off putting and it is because of these I avoid ordering this platter. Even though the name of this dish indicates it is for two people, there is seriously enough food for four. Well, at least if you intend on eating your main course. And lastly, the sweet potato fries, like the tempura shrimp, are average. I mean, they’re sweet potato fries, what more do you expect? They are pretty much going to be the same no matter where you go.

For Mother’s Day one year, my mom had the Spinach Salmon Salad. Actually, now that I think about it, that’s all she has when she goes. I can understand because it’s actually not bad. The salmon is really moist and flaky and the dressing isn’t overwhelming. Other entrees I’ve had from here are the chicken parmesan, platter classic for two, Van Gogh cheeseburger, and spinach tortellini. The chicken parmesan was decent, but the spaghetti it came with wasn’t so good. I really like my pasta al dente, so I was a bit annoyed at really tender pasta drenched in sauce, but it is what it is. This isn’t an Italian restaurant, so I wasn’t expecting much anyways. The sauce itself wasn’t very flavourful, mostly just tomato taste, barely any seasoning. The platter classic for two is like the souvlaki lunch special for dinner with a few additions. This dish unfortunately also has dolmades, which I just avoided, but it also has spanakopita, meatballs, rice and a psilocomeni salad. The meatballs were weird. I can’t explain exactly what was weird about it, but when I put it in my mouth there was just this weird flavour/texture, not to mention they were like giant meatballs. Anyways, I have no recollection of eating the salad, probably because I didn’t and only ate the pita wrap, leaving everything for the other person I was sharing it with to eat. Well, I did they the spanakopita, it was the first time having it and I haven’t had any since, so I don’t really have anything to compare it to, but I’m assuming that the pastry ought to be flaky and that’s all I know. I have no idea how the inside is supposed to taste, but I don’t like spinach that much, so I found it edible, but not my favourite thing (at least more edible than those dolmades).  My experience of the Van Gogh cheeseburger and spinach tortellini isn’t very extensive; I only sampled a bite of each. From what I got from my friend who ordered the cheeseburger: “I don’t like it. I don’t remember much about eating it, but I know it didn’t taste good. Also, who puts iceberg lettuce in a burger!” The spinach tortellini sauce was nice, creamy. Didn’t actually get to eat the tortellini and when asked, the friend who ordered merely said, “It’s good.”

All in all, I really enjoy this place. The service is good, though sometimes they forget to bring you the bill and you have to walk up to the counter to pay. The prices aren’t bad, especially for the lunch specials. And considering how much food they give you for the appetizers, I’d say the price was reasonable (let me give you a hint, I could pack it away and have it for my lunch for the next day and it filled me up until dinner). Taking into account everything, I would give this restaurant a 4.25/5.

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Calamari Appetizer

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Back: Beef Souvlaki Pita Wrap with Lemon Potatoes and House Salad Front: Steak Sandwich with Caesar Salad and Fries

 

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Steak Sandwich with House Salad*

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Van Gogh Cheeseburger*

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Spinach Tortellini*

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Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti*

*(starred photos) Photo credit goes to Yulin Fong

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