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Posts tagged ‘17th Ave’

Restaurant Review: Ship and Anchor

Location: 534 17 Ave SW
Website: http://www.shipandanchor.com/

I know Ship and Anchor isn’t exactly a restaurant and I have distinguished restaurants from cafes, so maybe I should create a category called drinking establishments since “bar/pub/tavern/club/lounge review” is just a ridiculously long name to be writing out. I mean some of them can be considered restaurants up until a certain time (like minors are allowed in until 5pm or something like that) or have a division between restaurant and bar within the same establishment.

Having been on 17th Ave more frequently now, I’ve passed by this place on more than one occasion. The establishment always was bustling and I was always curious as to the type of food they served and the atmosphere inside. Today I got to finally try it out with my cousin Yulin. When we first stepped inside, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing, luckily Yulin did and we quickly found a seat near the window. The interior of the restaurant was very dark and I’m sure sitting my the window that illuminated the back of Yulin’s head didn’t help. It didn’t take long for the server to present us with menus. Since I had already looked at the menu I already knew what I wanted.

We ordered honey garlic chicken wings to start, Yulin ordered the grilled cheese with house salad and I had the baked mac and cheese. Honey garlic, I must say is my favourite flavouring on wings. I mean what is there not to love about its sweet, sticky, garlicky deliciousness? Unfortunately, I’d have to say I was slightly disappointed that these wings were mostly honey as opposed to a balance of honey and garlic. This didn’t really make too much of a difference, but I would have preferred if the garlic taste was a little more pronounced. We had barely gotten halfway through the wings when our mains came. It’s commendable how fast food was coming out, but of course there wasn’t much of a lunch crowd. Typically mains should not be served so quickly, but again, not a restaurant, so it’s excusable. Besides, I enjoy a variance of flavours in a meal otherwise I’d get bored.

I was unfortunately very disappointed by the baked mac and cheese. While it’s true that it’s hard to find a mac and cheese in a restaurant that I can confidently say I love (FARM’s mac and cheese was pretty close to being one of the best I’ve had), this was pretty hard to get through (even though I did get through it because I was hungry). The cheese sauce was much too soupy, the jalapenos impossible to find, the bacon was not worth fishing out of the cheese soup, and overall the taste didn’t scream delicious. Though I didn’t try it, Yulin’s grilled cheese looked like any other grilled cheese and she said it tasted like an ordinary grilled cheese so I didn’t think it was necessary to give that a try. The house salad looked just like any other, but I could tell as she got to the bottom of the salad, some of the greens had been soaked in way too much dressing (obviously because the dressing settled at the bottom).

Overall, the server was super nice and checked in with us frequently (but not to frequent), however, the food wasn’t to die for or anything worth raving about. I suppose if you came for the alcohol, the food wouldn’t really be the focus or centre of attention. Based on this experience I’d have to give it a 2.2/5.

*I apologize for the quality of the photos. The lighting and my camera didn’t work well together.

Chicken wings.jpg

Honey Garlic Wings

mac and cheese.jpg

Baked Mac and Cheese

Grilled Cheese.jpg

Grilled Cheese with House Salad

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Restaurant Review: Cilantro

Location: 338 – 17 Ave SW
Website: http://cilantrocalgary.com/

My initial contact with the staff at the restaurant left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I had called to make a reservation and they asked me how to spell my name, halfway through, the lady on the phone interrupted me and said “Okay, I got.” It irritated me that she had asked me to spell my name, but had the gall to just cut me off mid-sentence. After that, on the day I was supposed to go I got a call from them, but missed it, so I called back just to make sure everything was alright and the girl who answered the phone this time was equally rude, asking me “what do you want?” At this point, I hoped that the food would speak for itself and that it would be good enough to erase all the rudeness I had experienced thus far.

We arrived about 20 minutes early for our reservation and decided to try the door. Surprisingly it was open, so we went on in. The lady who greeted us pretty much said, “We’re not open. We don’t open until five. Can you guys just wait outside for 20 minutes?” There really wasn’t much we could say to that other than yes, so we waited until they were officially open before heading back in.

We were seated on the second floor facing a stone pizza oven. The lighting was incredibly dim that at another table, one of the customers had to use the flashlight function on their cellphone to read the menu. Thankfully I looked at the menu before hand and already decided on what it was that I wanted. We decided not to go with an appetizer because based on the descriptions they sounded like single portion dishes and at $9-$18 for an appetizer for one single person, it was a bit pricey. I ordered the Lemon Conchigliette while Julia had the Pulled Elk Pizza Flatbread. The Lemon Conchigliette had chorizo , scallops, lobster, snap peas, poblano in a basil-chèvre parmesan cream. The chorizo was more like Italian sausage, there were two scallops, I needed a microscope to find the lobster, for dish claiming to contain poblano there wasn’t a hint of heat, I couldn’t taste the lemon, and the cheese cream sauce had me reaching for my water more times than I could count. Despite all that, I loved this dish. Though the portion size looked so small, it was more than filling, making me especially glad that we did not order an appetizer. The Pulled Elk Pizza Flatbread was a huge, but pleasant surprise for me. As I expressed in my previous review on Vero, I can’t stand the gaminess of bison, elk, and the like, but like the bison from Vero, the gaminess was undetectable, perhaps masked by the creamy, sweet and savoury taste of caramelized onions. The flatbread consisted of poblanos, caramelized onion, blueberry ancho pesto, red pepper cheddar, and asiago. In the dark, it was very hard to distinguish exactly what everything was and should have heightened our senses, but I eat with my eyes as much as I eat with my nose and mouth, so being able to see what I was eating would have been nice. Plus, in the dark, I feel as though the chef’s plating techniques would have gone to waste as no one could see anyways. The flatbread rivaled some of the pizzas I had in Italy, they were that good. From our table, mostly from Julia’s perspective, we could see them making the flatbread and putting in the stone pizza oven behind us.

For dessert I had the Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée and Julia had the Lemon Rosemary Coffee Cake. The sugar atop my Crème Brulée was well caramelized…in some areas, a little too well, but I didn’t mind. Once I had a taste of that creamy vanilla-y excellence it was like I had died and gone to heaven. I didn’t really care for the garnishes, though I did eat them, they didn’t really do much to complement the Crème Brulée in anyway. The Lemon Rosemary Coffee Cake…not something I would have ever ordered in my wildest imagination. In my mind, weirdest combination ever for a dessert. Rosemary is one of the most savoury herbs I know, to put it in a dessert is just odd. The cake was paired with a raspberry sorbet, not sure if that really did much to help it, but all I know was that it was more like frozen solid fruit juice because watching Julia slice it was painful. The lemon when added to the cake sweetened it, but it still tasted like a specialty bread to be had with a meal rather than a dessert. However, she thoroughly enjoyed it and that’s pretty much all that matters.

I felt that the service here was lacking. The only person who I felt kinda measured up to the level of service I was expecting was our waiter. Everyone else pretty much pretended they didn’t see us or were quite rude (the aforementioned phone incidents). At the prices we were paying, I had expected a little bit better service. For service I’d rate them 1.5/5. For food, I’d give them a 3.5/5. Overall, 2/5 for this restaurant.

*My apologies for the quality of some of the pictures. The restaurant, as I mentioned was very dark and that made it hard to capture good pictures. The pizza turned out black when we took a picture inside the restaurant and since Julia couldn’t finish it, I got her to snap a picture of it after, just so we have a general idea of what it looked like and consisted of.

Cilantro Interior

Cilantro Interior

Lemon Conchigliette

Lemon Conchigliette

Pulled Elk Pizza Flatbread

Pulled Elk Pizza Flatbread

Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée

Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée

Lemon Rosemary Coffee Cake

Lemon Rosemary Coffee Cake

Restaurant Review: Anju

Location: 344 17 Avenue SW
Website: http://www.anju.ca

Another night on the town enjoying great food with great company. Tonight I had dinner here with my best friend, Julia. I’ve wanted to come to Anju for a long time and tonight I wasn’t disappointed. The menu is new and different as fusion food often is.

We ordered four dishes and one side which turned out to be completely unnecessary. The Spicy Buckwheat Noodle Salad was the first to come. When I hear “buckwheat noodles,” my first thought is of soba, but these were not that; they looked more like instant noodles. The dish was chilled, hence the salad served with grilled pork belly. The salad consisted of the noodles, kimchi, cucumber, carrot, daikon, nori, and half an egg served on a bed of shredded romaine lettuce, but the daikon was kind of hard to find in everything. The choice to serve it with grilled pork belly was a good one. The sour spiciness of the kimchi serves to counterbalance the richness of the pork belly. And deciding to simply grill it without the addition of a lot of seasoning was a good contrast to the aggressively seasoned noodles. The next dish that arrived was the Spicy Salmon Tacos which are tacos with salmon mixed with spicy mayo on a sesame slaw topped with avocado mousse and seaweed and lime wedges on the side. The taco shells are made of a wonton wrapper, giving it a much need crunch. I’d have to say this is my favourite dish of the entire evening. Not only is it fresh tasting, there are a variety of textures that make it so much more interesting to eat. Though the menu stated that there’s masago on it, there wasn’t any tonight. It didn’t taste as though anything was missing, but it would have added another level of depth to the dish. The Poutine For Your Seoul came next with the kimchi (the side we ordered). Had I known how many dishes contained kimchi, I wouldn’t have ordered this as a side. The poutine had cheese curds and fresh cubed tofu, drizzled with Kabayaki Gravy, topped with dehydrated Kimchi. This one was primarily chosen because of the punny name. Julia loved the name so much and I thought why the heck not, it made me laugh, so let’s give it a try. It was a good dish, but so heavy. It really could have done with some citrus accompaniments. The last dish to arrive were the KFC sliders. I think this item is a modification of one of their existing menu items (it’s not on their online menu). They are buttermilk fried chicken topped with two sauces: a mayo one and a Gochujang sauce (spicy fermented bean sauce), served with kimchi flavoured chips on the side. After all that kimchi, these chips didn’t taste of much. This one was as heavy as the poutine and by this part of the meal, all the carbs were really getting to me, so much so that I had a hard time getting down my allotted one and a half sliders.

This place, like all tapas bars, are pricey. Now I know that going to a tapas bar with one other person is a no-no. Next time I’m bringing at least two other people as the serving sizes are a better fit for parties of three or four. Next time less kimchi and fewer dishes of carb heavy ingredients.  I don’t think I can eat kimchi for the next few weeks and feel as though I’ll be full for a long time to come. There are still so many things that i’d love to try out on the menu. I would definitely recommend this place and i would most certainly return here. Based on today’s visit, I’d give this place a 4.25/5.

Anju Exterior

Anju Exterior


Anju Exterior

Anju Exterior


Anju Interior

Anju Interior


Open Concept Kitchen

Open Concept Kitchen


Spicy Buckwheat Noodle Salad

Spicy Buckwheat Noodle Salad


Spicy Salmon Tacos

Spicy Salmon Tacos


Poutine For Your Seoul

Poutine For Your Seoul


KFC Sliders with Kimchi Flavoured Chips

KFC Sliders with Kimchi Flavoured Chips

Restaurant Review: Fiore Cantina Italiana

Location: 638 17 Ave SW
Website: http://www.fiore.ca

Tonight after work, I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at Fiore Cantina. I had walked and driven by on several occasions, always wondering if the food was any good. I was happy to finally be trying it out. We arrived at Fiore for an early dinner and found the restaurant to be quite empty with the exception of four or five other tables, so we were quickly seated and presented with a menu. Though the menu was not huge like Chianti’s or Boston Pizza, it didn’t give the feeling that there was no choice. Once we were seated, the waitress came immediately to fill up our glasses, but neglected to ask if we wanted anything else to drink.
We started with a calamari, as we often do because it is one of my favourite appetizers. For our mains, my dad and I had the Combo Italiana, my mom had the Bocconcini Pizza and my sister had the Tortellini Bombay. We didn’t have to wait long for the calamari to arrive at our table. Though the menu specified that we had a choice of marinara or tzatziki sauce, the waitress didn’t ask and just brought us the tzatziki sauce. Personally, I didn’t mind the tzatziki because it was fresh and the cucumbers added a cool refreshing aftertaste in my mouth. My dad would have preferred the marinara because, as he said, it would have provided a bit of acidity to counter the deep fried oiliness of the calamari. The calamari itself was lightly breaded and had a wonderful, audible crunch to it. The only issue I had with it was that it was unevenly seasoned, leaving some pieces saltier than others.
The Combo Italiana, is not unlike Chianti’s Combinazione della Casa. This dish is a trio, in a sense, a sampler of three different pastas. Like Chianti’s, it features a veal stuffed cannelloni, spinach fettuccine alfredo, and chicken parmesan. Unlike the Combinazione della Casa, it was hot, but also unlike the Cominazione della Casa, the spinach fettuccine was very piece, in other words, it was like the pasta had been broken into little bits to fit into the pot to be cooked and served. Firstly, if I order fettuccine, I expect it to be in one strand. Secondly, when I order any kind of pasta at an Italian restaurant, I expect it to be al dente…it was not. The cream sauce was rather bland and not as rich as an alfredo sauce ought to be. Frankly, the fettuccine component of the dish was an utter disappointment, making me glad that I didn’t decide to order the fettuccine alfredo instead of the Combo Italiana. This dish, however, was not a complete disappointment. The cannelloni and chicken parm were done perfectly; they were moist and flavourful and the cheese was so stringy! My sister’s tortellini was another dish I was contemplating ordering, but decided against it when it listed that it would be served with broccoli. The curry cream sauce gave Chianti’s curry cream sauce a run for its money, but Fiore has the upper hand on this one in that the curry cream had a bit more heat than Chianti’s, which is something I expect from curry. The unfortunate thing is that the curry cream was the star of the dish not the tortellini. The tortellini itself was rather dry. We had difficulty discerning what the ground up meat inside was. Upon rechecking the menu, it stated it was chicken, but either way, it was overcooked, while the pasta was a little under. And broccoli is broccoli, there’s nothing good, bad, or exciting I can say about that. I would have to say the best dish of the night was my mom’s bocconcini pizza. She opted to add bacon to it. In the end we all agreed that that had been unnecessary and having the pizza as it was would have been just as good. The pizza was almost as good as the ones that we had in Italy. The crust was perfectly crispy. I’m glad it wasn’t burnt like it was in Italy. There wasn’t too much on the pizza and therefore, the crust didn’t get soggy like the pizza my mom had at Pulcinella’s. The bocconcini pizza was essentially a caprese salad on a pizza minus the balsamic vinegar reduction, which was fine. The only thing was, was that the bacon made the pizza really salty. So again, it really wasn’t necessary to add it.

The restaurant is self-described as being modern Italian and the restaurant’s interior really reflects that. It is different from most Italian restaurants because there aren’t heavy velvet curtains covering the window and there are lots of windows to let in natural light. My only concern was the torch like contraption by our table…it was being held by two thin coils of metal. I was afraid that it would fall on us. It was probably a completely irrational fear, but anyways.

The biggest thing for me for Italian restaurants is how well they prepare their pasta. If they can’t prepare it to perfection, it’s no different from going to a burger joint and ordering a pasta there. For that reason, I’d rate this place 3/5.

Calamari with Tzatziki

Calamari with Tzatziki

Combo Italiana

Combo Italiana

Bocconcini Pizza

Bocconcini Pizza

Tortellini Bombay

Tortellini Bombay

Restaurant Review: Farm

Location: 1006 17 Ave SW
Website: http://www.farm-restaurant.com/

After a long and arduous relay of messages between my best friend, Julia and I, we finally decided on Farm. Originally we were planning to have lunch at The Himalayan, but it turned out to be too far from where we intended to walk and a turn in the weather made us reconsider walking that far for food. Farm was a place that Julia had been to once before and a quick look over of the menu in the morning revealed many menu items to be comfort foods perfectly compatible with the weather today. Farm is not only a farm to table restaurant, but it also has a cheese shop at the back of the restaurant, which we didn’t have a chance to check out, though I didn’t really want to be carrying a chunk of cheese with me around all day.

When we first arrived, the overall impression was that I had stepped into a diner in a small Alberta town. There were paintings and photographs of the prairies and of farms that gave it the ambiance of old fashioned hospitality. We were quickly seated and presented with the brunch and charcuterie & cheese menus on wooden clipboards. Due to the size of the table, we kept hitting the menus against the plates and that got me rather irritated. The brunch menu didn’t have too many options, but there was certainly more than I could handle. I spent a good twenty minutes waffling between three menu items, finally deciding on the Brunch Burger. Julia chose the mac and cheese, which was one of the dishes that i hadn’t been able to decide if I wanted.

I felt as though the wait for my food was pretty long and felt slightly annoyed when a table who had come in after us and ordered after us was served first, but reasoned that they ordered something that took less time to cook and got over my annoyance. But when our dishes came, their presentation fit the image of the homey diner. The Brunch Burger had Silver sage beef on a bed of crispy potato slivers, topped with three year cheddar, onion jam, FARM sauce and a fried egg with a pickle spear and a side muse salad. The beef, when eaten on its own was quite dry, which I hope is because it was fairly lean and therefore dried out more than ground beef laced with fat. However, the beef patty is not meant to be eaten on its own, rather it’s meant to be eaten between two slices of bread that have an amazing FARM sauce spread on them and heavenly onion jam flavouring it. The egg yolk helped to provide some moisture as well, but also made a delicious mess everywhere. The pickle was most certainly not store bought and had been brined in a unique blend of spices. Though I couldn’t discern which spices, it was different with the right balance of acidity to complement the richness of the burger. However, the pickle alone would not have been able to combat the richness of the burger on its own, so I was thankful for the acidity of the vinaigrette on the side muse salad.The side muse salad consisted of a simple mix of refreshing greens, drizzled with a cider vinaigrette and topped with Highwood Crossing Canola seeds that added an additional crunch to the salad. Julia’s mac and cheese was fantastic, beating out the amazing mac and cheese from Good Earth that I had praised so highly. It was not exactly macaroni, more like rigatoni, but the creaminess of the sauce was to die for. I’m not sure if I could have eaten the whole thing on my own, but it’s a possibility since this dish also came with a couple FARM pickle spears. Julia added smoked picnic shoulder to it, but I thought it would have been just as good even without it. Her only complaint about the pork was that the chunks were a bit large and inconvenient to eat. But it cooked enough that the meat easily flaked apart into more manageable bite sized pieces.

Like many places with an open kitchen (like Vendome), every time I come out of the place, I leave with my clothes smelling of oil (and other cooked food smells). It’s a little off-putting, but at the same time I want to eat my clothes. I like to be able to see my food being made, so I guess the trade off is delicious smelling clothes that I want to eat, but wouldn’t be good for if I was going to an interview or meeting afterwards.

In regards to service, the lady who greeted us at the door seemed friendly enough, but something just felt off, like a sense of reluctance. It was almost as though she didn’t want to be there doing what she was doing. Our server on the other hand was an absolute delight. She was quaintly dressed and she made me think of a school mistress, but that’s besides the point. The point is that she didn’t look out of place dressed the way she was dressed. It added to the overall character of the restaurant and I love it. I would definitely come back here, but on a weekday just to try out their lunch menu or later in the evening for their dinner menu. My suggestion if you’d like to try this place out is come for an early brunch (like 11 or 11:30) because a line was beginning to form just as we finished at 12. I would rate this place 4/5 because the food and atmosphere were great, but the greeting at the door was a bit lacking and it affected my whole experience.

Farm Exterior

Farm Exterior

Farm Interior Entrance

Farm Interior Entrance

Farm Interior

Farm Interior

Picture above our table

Picture above our table

Brunch Menu

Brunch Menu

Brunch Burger

Brunch Burger

Mac and Cheese with Smoked Picnic Shoulder

Mac and Cheese with Smoked Picnic Shoulder

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