Location: 340 13 Ave SW Calgary, AB (Central Memorial Park)
After putting it off three times, I finally got a chance to try out this amazing cafe. Originally when my cousin suggested that we go I was reluctant after perusing the menu as there really wasn’t much choice in terms of food. However, I decided that I should at least give it a chance and I’m glad I did because it exceeded my expectations.
Today we started with the Sweet Onion and Agria Potato Pakoras served with a tamarind chutney. The presentation was a bit messy: five pakoras laid out on a mess of mixed greens with some sort of spicy creamy sauce drizzled on them. This was the first time I’ve had a pakora, but I looked up the origins of the dish and deduced that they’d be similar to samosas in terms of flavour profile. In terms of the spices and considering the choice of chutney, I turned out to be generally on the right track. The price on the other hand was a little out of hand; it cost the same as the main version and as much as the sandwiches that we order. But all in all, they were delicious and the tartness of the chutney left me wanting more. I couldn’t wait for the mains to arrive.
We got three mains: the Heritage Greens Salad with seared tuna, the Mountain View Rotisserie Chicken Sandwich, and the Spragg Farm Porchetta Sandwich. The Heritage Greens Salad was the smallest of the three. It looked about the size of a side salad at most other restaurants. As I am used to seeing Ahi Tuna garnish salads, the seared tuna looked a little pale, but it was in fact supposed to be like that. The salad was well dressed with a hint of sweetness that wasn’t overbearing. My only complain about this dish was how expensive it was to add the tuna to the salad. The Mountain View Rotisserie Chicken and Spragg Farm Porchetta Sandwiches were a decent size for their respective prices. The presence of the thyme aioli in the Chicken Sandwich helped offset the dryness of the chicken and due to an uneven distribution, one half tasted less dry than the other. I’m not sure what kind of bread they used, but I loved the slightly chewy texture it had. The Porchetta Sandwich tasted a lot like Chinese Crispy Skinned Pork Belly, in other words REALLY FANTASTICALLY DELICIOUS! However, the decision to cut them into cubes and put them into the sandwich was a bad idea. Each bite resulted in an avalanche of meat chunks everywhere. Apples and pork are a classic combination and the apple mostarda was the perfect choice to highlight the savoury heavenly taste of the pork.
In terms of drinks, we ordered a wild berry iced tea, a black French pressed coffee, and flowery Earl Grey. The thing is, is that the options we were offered for the tea and coffee were cream or milk. I’m used to waiters asking if I want cream and sugar so I said both without realizing that one of those options was not sugar. I realized after the fact and felt really stupid about it. The coffee was particularly acidic. Normally coffee is more bitter than sour, but not in this case and for that reason I didn’t like it as much. The Earl Grey was really fragrant, but I couldn’t really find the “flowery” in the tea. And the wild berry iced tea was made with real tea and no added sugar.
The thing I really love about this place is how healthy all the food options are. Drinks do not have added sugar and there aren’t the typical things like fries; it’s mostly salads, which is great since I’m currently trying to watch my weight and caloric consumption. Another thing that is both good and bad are the portion sizes and its correlation to the price. From a health perspective, the small portion sizes are good for keeping my weight in check while allowing me to try many different dishes, but for my wallet, the portion sizes are much too small for the price I’m paying for them.
Unless this restaurant has an ever changing menu, it is unlikely that I will be returning any time soon. As good and healthy as the food is, the limited options don’t give me much choice in terms of things to try out for the next time I go. I must say though that our waiter had to put up with my inability to speak and he was super quick to attend to our needs which I really appreciated. The restaurant interior is really unique and has a kinda indie restaurant feel to it and it’s really cool (sorry I have no idea how else to describe it). It wasn’t too busy, which I like because I hate having to wait for hours to get into a restaurant and to have to yell to be heard by the person next to me. I also like the open concept: we can see the chefs cooking and putting up food in the pass. I just had great timing when I took a picture of the place, everyone ducked.
Taking everything into consideration, I would rate this restaurant 3/5.