Location: 1935 Uxbridge Dr. NW Calgary, Alberta
Website:http://redwatergrille.com/ OR http://stadium.redwatergrille.com/
I remember once, a long time ago, this wasn’t Redwater but a restaurant called Luciano’s. It was one of my first experiences of Italian food and the place I fell in love with bruschetta. Today was not my first time at Redwater, but it was my first time having lunch at Redwater. My first experience had not been a particularly good one. I can’t remember much of it, but what I do remember is that in my seafood risotto, I got a mouthful of sand. It was unpleasant enough for it to stick in my memory for a few years. But menus change and so do chefs, so I decided to give the place another chance.
Today was my graduation. It was the completion of my undergrad. Four years that flew by. I glanced the menu before deciding to have lunch here. My sister, mom and I went with my best friend, her mom, and boyfriend made up the party. We started with soups and salads. Two people had the chipotle clam chowder, two had the roasted tomato and corn soup and a tomato and bocconcini salad (in essence a caprese salad). The chipotle clam chowder was “very good.” When prompted and pressed, my friend’s boyfriend said that it was well balanced with no flavours overpowering the others. However, he also described this clam chowder as being different because it wasn’t “as chunky as clam chowder usually is.” Now I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad, but I personally prefer my soups to be a little less chunky and a little bit more full bodied. The roasted tomato and corn soup on the other hand couldn’t be more perfect. Though I am not a huge fan of tomato soup, this one was very good. The addition of pepper giving it a little kick may have contributed to my like for it. The only complaint was that the chicken chunks in the soup were not uniform and occasionally there was a slice rather than a chunk. When there are chunks in a soup, I usually expect for it to be cubed and this soup did not meet that expectation. The tomato and bocconcini salad was no disappointment. It was absolutely beautiful, but had a taste to match. Though it was mostly beautiful, it was garnished with some rather large parmesan crisps that unfortunately made the dish look rather awkward. The crisps were either rock hard at parts due to the thickness of the cheese or else slightly chewy and hard. Despite this small hiccup, the sweet balsamic vinegar paired with the tomatoes, bocconcini curds, basil pesto and arugula was fantastic. I’m very happy that it was not overdressed as that is a common mistake that restaurants make on their salads.
The main courses ordered included a pan roasted salmon on quinoa, rotisserie chicken club, bison burger, and pear and gorgonzola flatbread. The salmon is typically prepared as a medium, but my mom requested medium well and it came out positively glistening. You could see just by looking how juicy the piece of salmon was and you knew that it wasn’t dry. The quinoa was well seasoned, though was a bit wet because of the vinaigrette. I would have preferred the quinoa a little drier. The first half of the chicken club was delectable. It was moist and enhanced by the avocado and chipotle aioli. The pancetta was phenomenal. Unlike bacon, it doesn’t have an overpowering smoke taste, nor is it over-salted. However, the second half of the chicken club was dry and difficult to swallow. The uneven distribution of avocado and aioli meant that this dry piece of chicken was left scratching its way down my throat. The bison burger was a surprise to me. What I expected of bison meat is a gamey, but it wasn’t. This didn’t mean that it was “just like beef” either. It was moist and well flavoured and I’ll admit, what I got from one bite was that I could definitely eat the whole thing and then some. The flatbread was the most surprising dish for me. Another thing I am not particularly fond of is gorgonzola because it is a very strong cheese, but by paring it with pears, onions and a honey truffle vinaigrette, it was nicely balanced. For the most part, the flatbread was very thin and airy, but some parts of it were doughy and almost pizza like. It was very aromatic and hints of gorgonzola jumped out at you, but didn’t overwhelm the olfactory system. The only complaint from my friend who ordered it was that it was a tad oily, as in the paper underneath and in particular, the middle of the flatbread was soaked clear.
Though everyone was stuffed, we had to have dessert. What’s a celebratory meal without all three courses? We had three desserts among the six of us. My friend and her boyfriend ordered a white chocolate cheesecake to share. My sister, mom and I shared a creme brulee. And my friend’s mom ordered the colossal carrot cake. The white chocolate cheese cake came with a mound of vanilla chantilly cream and a berry compote. She said that the cake was good (everyone was telling me things were good without substantiating with evidence! what good is your English degree if you don’t back up your claims like you’re taught to! LOL) and that the compote helped balance the richness of the cheesecake, but when I tasted the compote it tasted rather sweet. My friend says that she thinks it`s a Saskatoon berry compote. The colossal carrot cake was true to its name. It was towering, like the cakes at true confections in Vancouver, BC (I believe that was the name). It came with a cream cheese mousse and pistachio gelato. Now, having just returned from Italy and having eaten my fair share of pistachio gelatos, this gelato did not taste like a pistachio gelato ought to. It tasted like they added another spice, perhaps cinnamon to it, making it taste slightly bitter and odd. A cream cheese mousse seemed like an odd choice, but I tasted neither that nor the cake and therefore cannot pass judgement on either. The creme de la creme was the creme brulee. It was a true creme brulee garnished with half a strawberry, a small gooseberry, and an almond biscotti. The creme brulee was as it should have been. A nice crust of caramelized sugar graced the top of this delicious dessert. Once through, it revealed the sumptuous vanilla, made with real vanilla bean (thank goodness they didn’t use extract!). It was heaven in my mouth. It is one of the best creme brulees I’ve ever had. The biscotti on the other hand…I’ve had better. The complementary almond biscotti we had in Italy, in the pizza restaurant in Fiumicino where they could barely speak English was truly the best biscotti I’ve ever had.
The norm for me is to have a black tea after my meal with my dessert…this time they gave me a weird mint black tea. AKA put mint tea into my pot of water and a black tea tea bag. I didn’t mind and decided to give it a try. Bad idea. It was a nice mint tea, but at first it overpowered the black tea, but after the tea had some more time to steep it became the other way around. I don’t recommend trying that again and I’m sure it was an innocent mistake. Besides, mint tea isn’t that bad.
The only downside to the place is the cost. Redwater can be rather costly, but it is definitely worth your money. You get what you pay for, but as this price range is on the higher end, not everyone can afford it. At lunch the atmosphere is very casual and may feel that $14 for a salad is grossly disproportionate. But at night, it is most certainly appropriate and for the quality of both food and service I would say that it is spot on.
Now, it’s not a restaurant I can afford to go to everyday, but if given a chance to return I would definitely come back. There are still so many things that I haven’t tried and would like to. I would rate this restaurant 4.5/5.