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Posts tagged ‘beltline’

Restaurant Review: The Beltliner

Location: 243 12th Ave SW
Website: http://thebeltliner.com/

I first heard about this restaurant on the CBC Calgary Eyeopener with David Gray and Angela Knight. It sounded interesting so that night I came home and checked out the menu. It looked pretty decent so I made plans to go for a birthday brunch with my sister and cousin. Today, we finally got the chance to go.

When we arrived, the place was already pretty packed and I wasn’t sure that we’d be able to get in. However, the hostess took down our phone number on an iPad and said that it should only be another 15-20 minutes before we could get a table. Now, I’ve been to tonnes of restaurants that tell me 10-15 minutes and it’s more like an hour or longer, so I took that with a grain of salt. But true to her word, about fifteen minutes later, she came to outside to call us in and seat us. She was really cheery and upbeat and made me feel welcome and excited to try out this place. We were seated at a table that was clearly meant for two people, so it was a bit tight. I didn’t mind since where we were seated was in the direct path of a cool breeze coming through the open doors of the patio. We sat, perusing the menu, me still caught between ordering the Chicken and Waffles and the Mushroom Benedict and waited for our waitress. It was a while before she showed up and asked what we wanted to drink. She didn’t seem all that happy or excited like our hostess had been, but that was okay. We ordered our drinks and she headed off for a long time. When she returned, one of our party had gone to wash up and the waitress asked if we knew what she wanted, but when we didn’t know exactly how she wanted the eggs, the waitress seemed rather annoyed. She seemed more interested in helping out her other tables than helping us out, which I found to be a bit rude.

I noticed that the table next to us was seated before us but had their order taken after us. And while their order came out first, she delivered the wrong order to him. She asked him if he’d be okay to take it or if she should take it back and have his actual order made. He chose to keep the mixed up ordered item and I mean I would too. There was no point to waste any food.

I was the only person who ordered a hot drink, a mocha. My sister had a blue raspberry soda and my cousin had a veggie smoothie. The veggie smoothie had kale, apple, cucumber, ginger, pineapple, yogurt, but I kept tasting banana. Not sure why, but I kept thinking it was in there. Nothing else was really noticeable in taste, but my sister insisted she could taste the kale overpowering everything.

We started with an appetizer, the molded yolks and caviar. It was unlike anything I had ever tried. The yolks had been sous vide, molded into mango looking cubes, sprinkled with some salt flakes and served with caraway crackers and a small spoon of Canadian sturgeon caviar. The portion size of the caviar was slightly disappointing. It was clear that the caviar’s salinity was meant to be paired with the sous vide yolk because the  yolks were flavourless. Unlike masago or tobiko, sturgeon caviar is much fishier in its taste, so I wasn’t able to really eat all that much. The caraway crackers were really an interesting pairing to the yolk and caviar. The yolky taste wasn’t all that noticeable, but the texture was creamier than usual. For the price of this appetizer, I expected it to be a little bigger and with a little bit more caviar.

For our mains, my cousin ordered the classic 2x2x2, my sister had the steak and eggs, and I myself finally decided on the chicken and waffles. The classic 2x2x2 is the typical breakfast that one would find at home: two eggs, two sausages (or bacon as it was in this case), and two pieces of toast. A small dipper of berry jam was provided on the side if you wanted some jam to go with your buttered toast. In my cousin’s opinion, the jam was too sweet. In my sister’s opinion, it was just right. And in my opinion, it was a bit tart. My sister’s steak and eggs were a bit of a weird one. She asked for her steak to be done medium rare and for the most part it was, except for one section of it, which was rare. Also, scrambled eggs? Yeah, not something that I’d normally request to have with my steak, but it really didn’t look like three eggs had been used. Her dish also came with toast and hash browns. The hash browns were glazed in sugar, giving it a crunchy exterior and they were triangle shaped, but when you cut into them, you could see the individual layers, like when you pile a bunch of scalloped potatoes on top of one another. Then came mine. The Chicken and Waffles. In my opinion, it was huge. I shared the majority of it with my sister and cousin and still couldn’t finish it off. They give you a full buttermilk waffle covered in white gravy and several pieces of crispy fried chicken thighs. At first I thought the pieces were to big not to contain bones, but they had been deboned prior to battering and frying. My biggest complaint about the chicken was how much of each piece of chicken was batter. And the batter was so heavy that dousing it in hot sauce was the best option since the tartness and heat of the hot sauce really helped to cut through the grease. I would have preferred if they had pounded a chicken breast flat, breaded it, and fried it instead of having these hard to eat, hard to cut chunks. I did like the slight sweetness of the waffle that contrasted with the saltiness of the gravy and chicken, but like many of the other dishes here, there was way too much salt in the batter, in the gravy, and on the steak.

To top it all off, when the bills came, they were separated. I was going to ask for her to do that, but she did that for us already. Only problem was, was that she mixed up everything for everyone. My cousin’s bill ended up with my mocha, her main, and the entire appetizer while my sister’s ended up with her drink, my cousin’s drink, and her main and mine was just my main.

Poor service, order and bill mix ups and over salted food have made me think about ever returning to this restaurant. Maybe I’ll give it a couple years before I come back, but based on today’s experience I’d have to rate it a 1.75/5.

The Beltliner Exterior

The Beltliner Exterior

The Beltliner Interior

The Beltliner Interior

The Beltliner Interior

The Beltliner Interior

The Beltliner Interior

The Beltliner Interior

Molded Yolks and Caviar

Molded Yolks and Caviar

Classic 2x2x2

Classic 2x2x2

Steak and Eggs

Steak and Eggs

Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and Waffles

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Cafe Review: Corbeaux Bakehouse

Location: 730-17th Avenue SW (Beltline)
Website: http://www.corbeaux.com/#about

A few months back, when Corbeaux had only been open for a few months, I wanted to try it out. Firstly, because I love independent coffee shops and the uniqueness they bring and secondly, because the pictures of their food posted on their instagram and on Julie Van Rosendaal’s instagram accounts looked amazing. Typically, I’m a savory person who loves to bake, but coffee and bakehouses are an exception. The only time I can stand eating something sweet is if it paired with a rich, dark roast coffee or espresso. Going in at noon is probably one of the worst ideas in the world. Wait times at noon are roughly an hour. So, in other words, the first time we went, we did not get in because we were starving and didn’t want to wait an hour in the freezing Calgary cold. Today, at the suggestion of my cousin, we went later in the afternoon, which was a good idea. We got there around two and it was pretty empty. By pretty empty it meant about 20 or so patrons, but not packed so we were able to get a seat right away. The first thing I felt when I entered Corbeaux was a sense of intimidation and disorientation. I felt like it was a bit elitist, especially with the price; like it was a place I couldn’t afford to eat at, but also, the setup of the restaurant left me confused as to where I was supposed to go and order. We eventually figured out that some tables were reserved for patrons who wanted to order off their menu while other areas were for people who just wanted to get some pastries from the displays.

By this time in the day, it was so hot outside, like 26 degrees hot, so everyone with the exception of me, had an iced drink. My cousin had an iced chai, my sister had a iced latte, and I had a macchiato. The iced chai was the sweetest and the macchiato the bitterest. The chai was too sweet for my cousin and the latte too bitter for my sister so they switched. After drinking the macchiato, one tasted like water and spices and the other tasted like water and milk :/

The pastries we got to share were Charlotte something or another (sorry I can’t remember the name to save my life, it was French…I think), 2 macarons, a pistachio eclair, and a berry tart. Later I purchased a pistachio eclair and traditional eclair to take home with me to share with my family. The Charlotte something was like a raspberry cake with layers of cake and mousse, topped with 2 raspberries and a blueberry. It was slightly tart, but not exactly to my liking. The two macarons we got were raspberry and rose. The raspberry one suited me fine; the tartness of the filing helped to combat the sweetness of the “cookie” part. Of course, being a heavy handed bull, I crushed the thing by trying to take a bite (kinda squished and cracked it as I tried to bite into it). The rose macaron was good in the first bite, but quickly overwhelmed me with sweetness and the fragrance that is typical to flowers and the perfumes made from them. The pistachio eclair was actually ordered by my cousin and was quite delicious except for the fact that it made quite a mess due to the filling shooting out of the holes made in the eclair to pipe in the filing. The filing was phenomenal! At the time I found it a little too sweet, but again, that’s why it’s being paired with a macchiato, not an iced latte or chai. The final one, the berry tart was by far my favourite. In recent years, fruit tarts have become my favourite dessert because of their lightness. This tart consisted solely of blueberries glazed and accented with small balls of white chocolate on a bed of creamy custard (another favourite thing of mine). The berries were fresh and the glaze was really sticky. I touched it with my fork and the berries stuck, refusing to let go. The tart shell was so incredibly hard I had to stab it with the intent to kill in order to break it. Though I was annoyed that I required that much force to break it, I can understand why I would need to. If it had been softer, it would not have been able to support the weight of the berries and would have become a soggy mess under the custard filling. I have yet to try the traditional eclair, but having tasted the pistachio one, I’m pretty sure I won’t be disappointed. The traditional eclair is topped with gold leaf!

The service was okay. The waitresses/staff didn’t really try to help us out when we were bumbling around like confused idiots, but probably because that’s not their jobs anyway. I did feel bad for the lady who rang through our order the first time because we were so scattered and distracted by everything that was going on that I didn’t really pay too much attention to her when she asked me questions in regards to my order. Also, staying out of people’s way…that can be quite a challenge. Next time I’ll just flatten myself against the wall and stay there until my order is ready.

Though expensive, I would most certainly return to Corbeaux. Of course I could not afford to come back everyday, but  will return in the near future to try out their lemon tart at the suggestion of an acquaintance. Next time I’d also like to try some of the food off their breakfast, lunch, or dinner menu. But for now, I’ll give it a rating of 4.25/5.

Corbeaux Panorama

Corbeaux Panorama

Pastry display

Pastry display

Macchiato

Macchiato

Iced Latte

Iced Latte

Iced Chai

Iced Chai

Charlotte something or another

Charlotte something 

Berry Tart, Raspberry and Rose Macarons

Berry Tart, Raspberry and Rose Macarons

Pistachio Eclair and Raspberry Macaron

Pistachio Eclair and Raspberry Macaron

Pistachio and Tradition Eclair

Pistachio and Tradition Eclair

Restaurant Review: Ox and Angela

Location: 528 17th Ave SW (Beltline)
Website: http://www.oxandangela.com

After months of not getting out due to studying, work, and whatever other excuses I came up with, I finally got a girls’ night out. I hadn’t seen either of these ladies for a very long time and we had so much catching up to do. This was my second time at a tapas bar and even now, I still can’t get over how expensive tapas bars can be. On the one hand, portion sizes are small, so that you can try out everything, but on the other hand, they are so expensive that my wallet literally cries because I’m only a poor student…sorta student…

With tapas I never know how much to order, so it’s always a good idea to start with a few dishes and hold onto the menu and order more if necessary. We started with four dishes: fried artichoke, fried goat cheese, fresh zucchini ribbon salad, a pan roasted duck breast, and an albacore tuna. Now, typically I’m not a fan of artichokes, in particular, pickled artichoke hearts, but deep fried anything is delicious. The fried artichoke was served in a small bowl atop a quince aioli and lemon. The lemon was virtually undetectable and very little of the quince flavour came through in the creaminess of the aioli. For those who don’t know, quince is a pear-like fruit that has a slightly tart taste, often added to fried dishes to counterbalance the greasiness. As an aioli, I felt that it added to the greasiness and the tartness was neutralized by the mayonnaise-like qualities of aiolis. But the artichokes were slightly seasoned and went well with the aioli. This dish makes me like artichokes a little more than I used to. With the fried goat cheese we were given the choice of being served the dish on its own or having bread with it. We chose to have it as it. I don’t know if you’ve ever had deep fried cheese of any kind, but I have to say, deep fried goat cheese is so amazing! Like the fried artichokes, the cheese was served with sauces and garnishes made to counterbalance the richness of the cheese. My first impression of the dish when it came out was that it looked like a giant croquette. The blood orange and date sauce was a beautiful crimson. There was just enough that you could taste a bit of the tartness (again to counter the grease, I don’t know how many times I’m going to have to say that), but not so much that it overpowered the dish or drenched the cheese. The candied walnuts on top added the final touch of perfection. Actually candied anything is delicious. It would have been nice to have it with a slice of baguette or on a crostini, but it’s still fantastic on its own. The next dish to come out was the zucchini ribbon salad. I expected it to be a bit more than it actually was. With lemon and mint, I just expected it to be a fresher tasting salad than it was. It would have been nice if the zucchini had been pickled prior to its addition to the salad. The manchego cheese didn’t really taste of much and neither added nor detracted from the salad; it was kinda just there. The pan roasted duck breast, the most expensive dish of the night at $18. It was by far my favourite. Duck is a typically rich, dark meat, so I wasn’t surprised that it would again be paired with something tart: oranges. The duck was cooked and seasoned beautifully, the centre still being slightly pinkish red. Unfortunately the picture I took was a bit shaky and out of focus and does not do this magnificent dish justice. The last dish was the albacore tuna…and I don’t handle raw fish too well, but tonight I decided to just go for it. It was seared along the edges and served on top of a lemon aioli, sprinkled with fried capers and topped with roasted cherry tomatoes. The citrus aiolis here really don’t work at all. I could not taste the lemon and honestly felt like I was just putting a lot of cream onto my tuna. The tomato and capers did nothing to compliment the tuna at all. Frying capers pretty much destroyed it’s inherently weird, but complementary-to-raw-fish taste. The tuna itself was superb, but I don’t think I could eat it again.

By this point we were getting to be pretty full, but we felt that we could order just a tad bit more. So for our second round we ordered a croquetta and a Mediterranean salad. Due to all the deep fried rich foods we had eaten in the previous round, I started to sound like a frog…then it was a choking, hacking, dying frog…thank goodness I was ignored for that part of the conversation…quite frankly, it was gross. The croquetta was a salt cod and potato croquetta served with some sort of aioli and chili sauce. I was excited to try this one because I really love spicy foods, but nope. I tasted nothing but creamy aioli and the actual croquetta? That was like a mouthful of salt. After all, it was salt cod, so what was I supposed to be expecting? I think it would have been nice with a small glass of some kind of beer, but I know nothing about alcohol and how it complements a meal. But I can’t complain about how nice and crunchy the croquetta was. At one point I expressed my concern that I was afraid that I was going to send it flying off my plate and into the face of the lady at the table next to us. Thank goodness that didn’t happen. The Mediterranean salad was kinda weird to me. It had local tomatoes & cucumbers, roasted onion, goat feta, crispy chorizo, and a kale salsa verde. Like the zucchini ribbon salad, I expected it to be a bit more tart, which it wasn’t. The kale salsa verde was something new and I felt that it just didn’t work. The goat feta would have provided a good contrast if there was any tartness to the dish. And the crispy chorizo…that lived up to its name. Very crunchy…

Lastly, for dessert we shared a basque cake. I have a weakness for anything almond, so this was a must. For a tapas bar I should have expected something small, but somehow I hoped it would be larger, it wasn’t. This basque cake sliver had chunks of fruit in it, I’m not quite sure what kind it was, but I want to say rehydrated apricots and was lightly dusted with confectioners’ sugar. I loved the top and bottom of the cake because it tasted like caramelized sugar. The cake itself wasn’t too sweet, which I liked, but the chunks of fruit didn’t seem to fit.

For the sizes of the dishes I never expected to be full, but I was. It’s funny how something so small can fill you up so much. The staff were friendly enough and you never had to worry about your glass being empty; there was always a waiter or waitress close enough to top up your drink at all times. The place can get a bit noisy, but it’s all part of the atmosphere, so if you don’t mind then it’s great. There were times we were yelling, but I’m always yelling so I didn’t feel like I was out of place. Earlier in the evening it was a bit quieter and I sounded like I was talking way too loud. However I couldn’t believe how much our bill was at the end of the night. We had ordered a total of eight items (and my friends ordered a couple beers) and our bill came to around $110.

I would definitely recommend going to a tapas bar just to try it out, but keep in mind that if you’re looking for a cheap meal, this is not the place to go. This place in particular can get really busy really fast, so if you plan on going, I would recommend making a reservation. For me, this place was underwhelming and I expected a lot more from the dishes, particularly, for some sort of contrast and complement within the dishes. The service was good and all, but it is the food that speaks for the establishment. Based on everything, I would have to rate this place a 3.25/5. However, if I were to go back I would like to try the Spanish Table or Paella.

Ox and Angela Interior

Ox and Angela Interior

Fried Goat Cheese

Fried Goat Cheese

Fried Artichokes

Fried Artichokes

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

Albacore Tuna

Albacore Tuna

Duck Breast

Duck Breast

Croquetta

Croquetta

Mediterranean Salad

Mediterranean Salad

Basque Cake

Basque Cake

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