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Posts tagged ‘butternut squash soup’

Restaurant Review: Pie Cloud

Location:  314 D 10th Street NW
Website: http://www.piecloud.ca/

Though I’ve categorized it as a restaurant, I’d say it’s more like a cross between a cafe and a restaurant. Maybe a bistro? I’m not sure exactly what the right word for it would be. As with most of the restaurants and cafes I’ve been to in the Kensington area, this place is quaint and cute.

The first thing that struck me when I walked into the place was how empty it was. I had heard that it was on the pricier side, but if the food was good, I expected it to be packed regardless. We were promptly seated and given a chance to peruse the menus. Me being me of course, I had already looked at the menu before coming because one I take forever to decide on what I want and two because if the food doesn’t sound appealing to me, I don’t want to go. While the atmosphere of the place is quaint and cute, the food can only be described as comfort. The menu consists primarily of pies, hence the name, but they also have a variety of food that aren’t pies (cleverly headed as “not pies” on the menu). Our waitress started us off with drinks almost immediately. Julia ordered a coffee and I had a winter gold tea. Both came from local business in the area, mine from The Naked Leaf and Julia’s from The Roasterie (which was right next door). The Winter Gold tea was magnificent and fragrant. Not only were the colours beautiful, the sweetness of the tea was not overwhelming. With that out of the way, it was time to focus on entrees. My initial reaction to seeing a Mac and Cheese Pie was disgust and confusion. I couldn’t imagine something so starchy ever being enjoyable, but putting that aside I decided to give this a try (also, bacon lattice, like come on, even though I don’t like bacon that much, a bacon lattice sounds so awesome!). It was a strange combination and I didn’t end up eating much of the pie crust, but it was something worth trying. My friend Julia ordered the Boston Chowder Pie. That was one of the pies I had considered trying, but was concerned that the pie filling would be more like a clam chowder and be very runny, but I was wrong. It was thick and creamy and filled with a hearty helping of clams, bacon, and assorted vegetables all wrapped in a wonderful, flaky potato crust. Each pie comes with a choice of sides, I had the coleslaw and Julia had the butternut squash soup. The coleslaw was more acidic that I had expected, but it was a good counter for the richness of the mac and cheese. The butternut squash soup was served in a cup and in no way measured up to Vendome’s butternut squash veloute. For dessert, we decided to share a slice of pecan pie. I had been craving pecan pie for a while and unfortunately I was about to be disappointed. I had thought if the entree pies were any indication as to the size of their portions, there was no way that we could each get a slice of pie and finish it after having had the entrees. The pie itself was actually quite nice. Very butter and flaky crust and overall, it wasn’t too sweet. However, for $8, the size of the pie didn’t measure up. Next time I think I’ll give their mermaid pie a try.

I like this place for the fact that they help support some of the local business in the area and that there’s a place in Calgary where I can find comfort food for those days when you need it most. What’s also interesting is its address: 314. On the “About Us” section of their webpage, they point this out. The significance. 3.14 is of course Pi. Their menu is quite extensive and any of their savoury pies sound so delicious that I intend to return to try them all. It would be interesting to try out their breakfast ideas one day as well. Our waitress was very attentive and I can find little to complain about. However, as mentioned earlier, the prices can be a bit steep for some and the size of the pecan pie was disappointing. Other than that, I’d have to say everything else was perfect. 4/5

pie cloud exterior

Pie Cloud Exterior

Pie Cloud interior 2

Pie Cloud Interior

Pie cloud interior

Pie Cloud Interior

Decoration

Decoration

Winter Gold Tea

Winter Gold Tea

Mac and Cheese Pie

Mac and Cheese Pie with Coleslaw

Boston Chowder Pie alone

Boston Chowder Pie with Butternut Squash Soup

Pecan pie

Pecan Pie

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Cafe Review: Higher Ground

Location: 1126 Kensington Rd NW
Website: http://highergroundcafe.ca/

The first time I went to Higher Ground I was drawn in by their atmosphere and extensive menu. Though I didn’t order any food, the pot of lucky dragon green tea was cheap and great for sharing, but I can’t say that it was my one of my favourite teas. This cafe is very cozy and makes me feel right at home as a writer. I could spend hours just sitting there drinking tea and coffee and working away at my novel. And that is what I did today.

Today I returned there with my sister and cousin for lunch. I’ve, for some reason, taken it upon myself to try every caprese panini in the world. Although it isn’t called a caprese panini here, the mozzarella panini is essentially that: ball mozzarella, thick cut tomatoes, basil pesto and a balsamic dressing. This is one of the better paninis I’ve had and I think it’s absolutely brilliant that they decided to use pesto rather than whole basil leaves because the most frustrating thing is biting into the sandwich and having the entire leaf of basil come out into your mouth. It sounded so good that my sister ordered the exact same thing. The only thing that differed was our sides. Mine came with a butternut squash soup and hers came with a B.L.A.T. salad. Now you may think B.L.A.T., what’s that? Or what the heck is a B.L.A.T.?! But it is honest to goodness the best tasting salad ever! I would go back just to have that salad. Now everyone knows what a B.L.T. is, just add avocado to that. It is heaven paired with the lemon black pepper aioli. On the flip side, the butternut squash soup was a bit of a disappointment for me. I’ve had butternut squash soup at Vendome’s and that one is amazing. I enjoy that at Vendome’s there is a bit of cream added to increase the smoothness and richness of the soup, where as at Higher Ground there is a bit more acidity and unfortunately I had lumps of squash floating around in my soup. After the sandwiches we got two desserts. The first was a strawberry rhubarb pie. The piece was fairly large, but we had to ask them to warm it up twice and even then the pie wasn’t even warm. The second dessert looked somewhat like a tuxedo cake, but I’m not entirely sure, since I wasn’t the one who ordered it. That one was much better, though there really was a lot of cream. It was rich as chocolate cake should be and it left me wanting more.

In terms of drinks, we went through a lot in the five hours we were there (or at least that’s how it felt). We started with a Kyoto Cherry Green Tea. It was more fragrant than it tasted. Though it was very mild, it was a very good tea. Perhaps I’m not seasoned enough to discern the subtle notes of the tea, but it was hard to taste the cherry, in fact it was even hard to taste the green tea. After that we got an Irish Breakfast. I don’t know what I expected, but I didn’t expect it to taste so much like English Breakfast. We had about three pots of that before the tea became to diluted. My cousin got a cappuccino after that. It was pretty bitter and had a lot of foam. After she added in some honey I found it to be just right, while she thought it was way too sweet and my sister still found it too bitter.

I will definitely be returning here with friends or even just with my cousin again to work on my novel. It is just the perfect environment to get my creativity flowing.

The drinks are cheap as we can constantly get the teapot refilled, but food, especially the desserts are a bit on the expensive side. However, taking everything into consideration, I would not consider it a turn off.

I would rate it 4.5/5, vying for the top position of my favourite cafe with Vendome.

soup and sandwich

Mozzarella Panini with Butternut Squash Soup

sandwich and salad

Mozzarella Panini with B.L.A.T. Salad and Lemon Pepper Aioli on the side

Cake

Tuxedo cake?

Cafe Review: Vendome Cafe

Location: 940 2 Ave NW, Sunnyside/Kensington, Calgary, Alberta

Website: http://vendomecafe.com/

I was first introduced to this cafe back in 2011 and immediately fell in love with the small town coziness of the place. The cafe itself is small and in peak times, it’s hard to find a seat, but every visit is worth it. The decor of the cafe makes me think that I’m in a whole different city, maybe even a city in Europe, if one doesn’t look outside, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine it was summer in a Paris cafe…well okay, maybe that is a stretch…I like that this cafe gives me a vacation from the busyness of life. It provides a quick retreat from the mind-numbing turmoil of the working and academic world and isn’t outrageously unaffordable. Keep in mind that this is Kensington and in my biased opinion, one of the best places to eat.

Over the years I’ve brought many friends and family members to share in the joy of this treasure nestled in the quiet community of Kensington. Their amazing food has brought be back again and again and today I was back enjoying a lovely breakfast with my sister for her birthday. In the past, their Duck Confit paired with their creamy, yet sweet butternut squash soup have been my usual, but today I decided to try something new, their sumptuous whole wheat blueberry waffles (see picture below). Considering their portion sizes for their paninis I was a little underwhelmed by the smallness of the portion; I had expected two waffles at the very least, but no…one waffle, cut into quarters, topped with vanilla bean whip cream that was sorta watery and deflated, blueberry jam was concealed under the waffles and there was an odd drizzle of what I expect to be maple syrup (as the menu specified only syrup, maybe it was an unrealistic expectation to think it might be maple syrup), but tasted more like table syrup (coloured glucose water). As delicious as the waffles were, it was not worth $12.

Below are a few pictures highlighting some of the dishes I have enjoyed at this cafe over the years. Besides the Duck Confit, the Mushroom Eggs Benedict is another favourite of mine, unfortunately it is a bit on the salty side. The dish that caught me off guard was the open faced tuna melt sandwich. Typically, I’m not a tuna kind of girl, but this tuna melt has converted me. I have to say, it is one of the best ways I have seen a tuna melt prepared (unfortunately too yummy for any pictures). Perhaps the most memorable dish I had was for Mother’s Day in 2011. It was the first time my mom had been out and about in Calgary and I was pretty new to it myself, so I decided to treat myself and mom to the most decadent Chocolate Ganache, which, to this day I still dream about. One bite and I was in heaven. The chocolate was not overpowering sweet and was perfectly balanced against the acidity of the strawberry coulis. I could have eaten ten of them if I wasn’t worried about gaining 200 pounds.

My final complaint is the way I smell after I leave the place, saturated with oil and as though I had been dipped in butter and confited. Occasionally I smell so good that I want to eat myself, but most of the time the lingering smell of oil is off-putting and difficult to get out of my clothes.

However, despite these minor issues, I still highly recommend this cafe and would give it 4.5/5 stars in taste and atmosphere.

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Duck Confit

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Butternut squash soup with caesar salad

 

Half Chicken Club, Half Duck Confit with Apple Sauce and Coleslaw; Mocha; and a Mushroom Eggs Benedict with Hash Browns

Half Chicken Club, Half Duck Confit with Apple Sauce and Coleslaw; Mocha; and a Mushroom Eggs Benedict with Hash Browns

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Butternut squash soup with marinated beet salad

 

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Chocolate Ganache Cake with Strawberry Coulis

Half duck confit, half chicken club at top of image with a chai tea latte. Bottom half of image is the whole wheat blueberry waffles and a cappuccino.

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