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Archive for January, 2020

Restaurant Review: The Nash

Location: 925 11 St SE
Website: https://thenashyyc.com/

I had first heard about this place from one of my cousins who had suggested this place for brunch. Ever since she put the idea in my head, some four years ago, this place has been on my list. I would still love to try their brunch, but this evening, we came for their dinner.

The Nash is built in a historic building that was once a hotel and saloon. Over the years, it evolved into the place it is now. My first impression upon entering was that it was a lovely, cozy place for friends to gather after work for drinks, but it was clearly a place that catered to the more affluent members of society. As we didn’t have a reservation, we were seated under the condition that we would have to leave by 8:30. Given that it was around 5:30 pm, we figured it would be plenty of time. By the time we finished, it was actually a little past 7 pm.

We were quickly seated and handed menus that were bound in what appeared to be soft leather. I couldn’t really tell if it was real or not (probably not). Having not known that we would be coming here, I had no idea what I wanted to get. Some of the items I wanted to order were outrageously expensive. I ended up settling on the entree size of one of the appetizers, the Confit Chicken Ravioli, while my sister settled on the Charcoal-Roasted BC Salmon and my dad had the Braised Alberta Lamb Shank.

Even for the entree size, I thought the ravioli was quite small. I had chosen to have my ravioli with their wood-fired garlic focaccia. There is something about wood-firing that enhances the flavour of the dish for me. It adds a complexity to the dish that would not be present otherwise. Despite its size, I was very happy with the ravioli. It’s probably one of the better ones I’ve had. I enjoyed the pairing with the peas that gave it both a fresh pop of colour and flavour. I strongly believe that everything on the plate should be there for a reason. Its purpose on the plate should not be purely ornamental. The overall flavours of the dish were well balanced, the pasta was not overcooked or too doughy, and in the end, the small portion size was just perfect. The salmon on the other hand got some mixed reviews. The Nash cooks their salmon to medium, which Val was fine with, and it was accompanied by wild rice, swiss chard, and a microgreen salad. Unfortunately, the swiss chard was far too salty for her and prevented her from finishing her meal. My dad’s lamb shank was the biggest surprise. Normally, I shy away from lamb because of its gamey flavour, but it was virtually undetectable. I loved that it had been braised until it was melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. It was well seasoned and not overly salty like a portion of Val’s dish had been. I think if the microgreens had been slightly more acidic, it might’ve helped, but there is nothing more unpleasant than a dish ruined by over-salting one element. The lamb shank came with andouille sausage and smoked cheddar grits. I’m not sure if they made the sausage in house, but it was delicious! The side I had been most excited for were the grits and when it was presented in the form it was in, a giant block, it completely threw me off and I failed to recognize what it was, even when I was eating it. I didn’t clue in until Val had mentioned that that was what the menu had listed as a side. The grits were good, but I had never had it in this way before and I’m not sure if I would again.

A meal is not complete without dessert. For dessert we ordered the Dark Chocolate Pâté. First off, I love dark chocolate. I’ve had chocolate pâtés before and have always loved them. They’re the perfect level of richness and the bitterness of the dark chocolate provides the perfect counterbalance to the richness of the pâté. It was paired with a sour cherry sauce, amaretti, and salted caramel gelato. Let me tell you, that sour cherry sauce is no joke. It certainly lives up to its name. While the sauce does add another level of complexity and balance to the richness of the chocolate, I think it was too much for me. I generally don’t do that well with sour. However, Val absolutely loved it and didn’t find it to be too sour, but then again, Val eats lemons, so what do I know. I honestly think that salted caramel is totally overrated. I love sweet and savoury pairings, but I don’t think that salted caramel is the best thing in the world. I prefer so many other pairings over that one. That is not to say that a well made salted caramel dessert is not delicious, but it doesn’t deserve all the fanfare it’s getting. That said, this is one of the better salted caramel gelatos I’ve had. It isn’t too overpowering which makes it a nice accompaniment to the chocolate. The amaretti tasted a little off to me, but if it hadn’t, I might’ve enjoyed it more as it provided the much needed crunch. Overall, this dessert was very satisfying from both a flavour and texture perspective.

The dinner menu is not cheap. I would definitely still want to come back and try a full three course meal sometime and of course, come back for their brunch, but only on very special occasions. This type of food is definitely my kind of food.

In terms of service, our server was very friendly, if not a little scattered when reading out the specials for the evening. Had I been able to afford it, I probably would’ve wanted to go with the dinner for two (or as he said it, dinner for three as it was a 40 oz bone-in cut of prime rib).

Based on this experience, I would give this restaurant a 4.25/5.

Restaurant Interior
Embossed and debossed newspaper page in the washroom
Washroom
Confit Chicken Ravioli with Wood-fired garlic focaccia
Braised Alberta Lamb Shank with Cheddar Grits and Broccolini
Charcoal-Roasted BC Salmon
Dark Chocolate Pâté

Restaurant Review: Cattle Baron

Location: 3340 26 Street NE (Royal Oak)
Website: http://www.cattlebaroncalgary.com

This restaurant has been around for a while, but the Royal Oak location is new. My dad has been talking about this restaurant for god knows how long so I’m glad to finally have the chance to try this place out.

I must admit, I do love a well cooked steak. Depending on the day, I prefer my steak anywhere from well done (no this does not mean over cooked charcoal) to medium rare.

We were promptly seated and as we perused the menu, I noticed that they had turned the lights down for ambience. Now, I have mixed feelings about this. I get that they need to establish a particular mood, but I don’t appreciate the restaurants who turn the lights down so low that I can no longer read the menu. Thankfully, Cattle Baron did not do that.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I love appetizers and everything on their appetizer portion of their menu looks fantastic. This evening Val chose the appetizer of the evening, the short dry ribs, as it was listed as a house specialty. These dry ribs are like nothing I’ve ever had before. Sure, they were a little tough and messy and hot (burned my fingers a couple times) to eat, but they are absolutely the most delicious dry ribs I’ve had to date. It didn’t take us long to demolish them all. I’m not entirely certain what the seasoning/sauce mix was for them, but I’m pretty sure that it was soy based. The addition of the provided lemon wedge added a lovely overall freshness and acidity to the dish that it would have sorely lacked without.

For our mains, Val and my dad had the prime rib, I had the Steak Neptune, and my mom had the Fresh Salmon Filet. Val chose to have a double baked potato while my dad had the regular baked potato. I chose to go with their Caesar salad. The salmon came with rice and all the mains came with steamed fresh vegetables.  The prime rib was probably the largest of the three dishes (it was a lot of meat, definitely more than enough for me, but would be great for a carnivore).  The double baked potato, a Cattle Baron specialty, was probably one of the best sides I’ve ever had.  I mean, what’s not to love about a potato that has been baked, taken out, its contents mashed and topped with cheese and baked again.  If I have the chance to come back, I would love to have a whole thing to myself instead of just one bite.  That’s not to say I regret my choice in getting the Caesar salad because that was one of the better Caesars I’ve eaten.  It is a bit more garlicky than most other Caesars I’ve had, but that’s what makes it so good.  I come for the garlic!  The salmon came with a plentiful helping of rice.  It wasn’t anything special, but it was well seasoned and not overcooked; the perfect accompaniment to the salmon.  I think any of the other sides they have on their menu would’ve overpowered the delicate salmon, which was topped with a lemon butter sauce.  My Steak Neptune consisted of a cut of filet mignon topped with asparagus and shrimp dressed with hollandaise.  This has got to be one of the best Steak Neptunes I’ve ever had.  If I could afford to only eat filet mignons, I would.  All the dishes came with a side of steamed seasonal vegetables.  In the context of this review, where I’m saying that everything was great, sometimes it feels like the meaning of “great” is lost, but honestly, I had little to no complaints about the food or service.

Of course, the end to a perfect meal comes in the form of a crème brûlée.  I have to say, this is the only part of the meal I was disappointed by.  We order the Irish Créme Brûlée which sounded amazing and had the potential to be amazing, but unfortunately, it was ruined by the prevalent bitterness of burnt sugar.  After having that on my palate, it was very hard to taste, let alone enjoy the flavours of the dessert.  I mean, these things happen, so I’m not terribly upset and I do hope that this was just a one off.  Next time I want to try Chocolate Utopia. 

Overall, I was very impressed with this meal.  I would definitely recommend this restaurant and would return without question.  After all, I haven’t tried all their items on their appetizer menu yet! Based on this experience I would give this place a 4.5/5.

Short Dry Ribs
Fresh Salmon Filet
Prime Rib with Double Baked Potato
Steak Neptune
Irish Crème Brûlée

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