Location: 501 8th Ave SW
It seems like such a long time ago that I was here. And indeed that is so. I actually visited this place on October 8, which is nearly two months ago, but things got busy (read: NaNoWriMo happened) and this completely slipped my mind.
Alex and I came here before the hockey game – the Calgary Flames vs. the LA Kings. Since we worked next door, we were constantly passing this place. I had booked my lawyer in at this restaurant a couple times and actually, a lot of the restaurants on my list are places I’ve booked him into. Alex’s boyfriend had the chance to come here and he had liked it. Alex, herself came and was pretty impressed, so we decided on this night that this would be a good place to go to before the game.
As it was so long ago, I forget if we had to make a reservation or not. It wasn’t super busy when we were there as it was still pretty early. However, despite that, it was still quite noisy, which is the same feedback that Alex had given me when she had gone for lunch. Comparatively speaking, I don’t think this place reached the volume levels of Paper St. but it was still somewhat noisy.
We were seated and our orders taken. I decided to go with two appies rather than a main, though those looked really good too. I ordered the calamari and the burrata (the latter doesn’t appear to be on the menu anymore). Alex had the truffled mushroom “pizza”/”flatbread.” The last time Alex came, she had the calamari and loved it.
The calamari were Monterey Bay baby squid paired with a duo of sauces: an avocado salsa verde and a roasted red pepper almond romesco sauce. I can go either way with salsa verdes as every restaurant prepares it a little differently. So sometimes I absolutely love it, while other times it’s just all right. This time was the latter. I mean, it wasn’t bad, but when there are two choices, we naturally gravitate towards one over the other and we often have the tendency to compare them, voluntarily or not. Up against the romesco, this salsa verde just couldn’t compare. The romesco provided the perfect balance that this dish needed. I found myself near the end practically wiping every last bit off the plate. While this is not the best calamari/sauce pairing I’ve had, it was pretty good. I really like it when they’re not just rings or tentacles. Having the whole squid is such an experience. Plus, being baby squid, they were bite size, which is even better. The burrata was really something else. I had never had anything like it. Sure, I have had burrata once or twice, but never the entire thing. It looked like a giant mozzarella ball until you cut into it. The interior practically just oozed out. It was perfect for spreading on the crostinis. However, despite that, the crostinis were sliced very thinly and were quite long so that made for quite the challenge to spread anything across it as it would snap whenever I tried. Additionally, the corn relish and tomato “jam” were somewhat wet and further weakened the integrity of the crostini. Unfortunately, because it’s been a while, I can’t remember which of the two side “sauces” were better. I know both were good, but one of them just inched the other out by the slightest of margins. Presentation wise, I thought it was a bit not good having the knife pointing directly at me.
I’m going to start by saying I love truffle anything. I know that white truffle oil is super overpowering and can be a bit much for some people, but I absolutely love it and as such, Alex’s truffled mushroom was a dish I had also considered getting. It had three kinds of mushrooms on it: portobello, oyster, and shiitake. I’ve always thought of shiitake as an Asian mushroom and always find it strange when it’s been featured in a very Western style dish. I guess also that I associate specific flavours and textures with the shiitake that I personally don’t think fit the use of these mushrooms in Western style cooking. However, in this flatbread/pizza, I hardly even noticed them. Again, this was pretty decent and had the flavour profile I had expected of a truffled mushroom pizza. It was an interesting choice to include chili oil as a pairing for this pizza. I would’ve thought chili flakes would’ve been a better fit. It was good, but not the best I have had. I still give the pizza at Scopa (now it’s a Cibo I believe) the honour of being called the best truffled mushroom pizza I’ve ever had. That fried rosemary on top of the pizza is what did it for me.
We finished off the meal with a white chocolate creme brulee. While it was pretty good, I know something about it disappointed me, but now I can’t remember what it was. It’s so frustrating to write a review when there are things you could say, but time has erased them all. I did find it a little weird that the raspberries got torched or baked into it and turn a weird brownish colour.
Overall, it was good food and good service. I’m just sad that I waited so long before writing this and have since forgotten a lot of the experience. I suppose that means I have to come back again soon to try have something else off their menu.
Based on this experience, I’d give this place a 3/5.