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Posts tagged ‘chicken’

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

Restaurant Review: Edgemont City

Location: 45 Edenwold Dr NW

So like I said, it’s a bit harder to do reviews for Chinese restaurants, but I think it would be good to start doing them since we go so much. It’s usually cheaper than most of the other stuff I go out for and there’s always leftovers, like enough to have another complete meal for the whole family (but maybe that’s because my dad orders so much food all the time). Unfortunately, when I go out with my family, it’s a little harder to take photos, but I will try to snap at least one.

Edgemont City is one of the few Chinese restaurants in my family’s rotational repertoires. The other two being Shanghai Palace and Signature Palace. I like Snow Palace too, but some of the food there is overpriced for the portion size they give (look for reviews to come on all three of these places). Edgemont City is still one of the best places for Peking Duck, which is a favourite of mine, despite the mess that it makes. For those who don’t know what Peking Duck is, it’s essentially a whole duck, carved served with about 20 pancakes, green onions, cucumber, and hoisin sauce. The duck is quite fatty, so we often scrape off the fat before wrapping the duck meat and crispy skin with the onion, cucumber, hoisin sauce in the pancake. When wrapping, I always leave one end open, the end I’ll be eating from since there’s no point to wrap it closed if I’m just going to eat it right away. Depending on how much hoisin sauce, how runny it is (sometimes they add too much water and it’s too diluted and watery), and how well the end of the roll is closed off will determine how messy it will be. Most of the time I’m pretty good, getting just a bit of oiliness on my fingers from the pancakes, but last night was a serious mess. My plate was covered in sauce and my napkin was just short of being completely disintegrated. We only got the one course, which, I think is all they have available. Other places that offer Peking Duck have a choice of one, two or three courses. One course is always just the duck and pancakes, two courses adds a duck-soy milk soup and three courses adds either a fried rice or fried noodle. Even though I’m a noodle person, I prefer the duck fried rice because it doesn’t leave a greasy feeling in your mouth afterwards. I mean there are exceptions, of course, but in the majority of situations, I’ve found the rice much better than the noodles. Edgemont City is one of the last few places that have really good Peking Duck. We used to always go to Ginger Beef, but since that location that served it closed, we haven’t been able to get Peking Duck from there anymore.

Last night, we also ordered four additional dishes: pea shoots in soup, fried chicken with a red fermented tofu sauce, a fish (I don’t know what it’s called in English, but in Chinese it’s called wanyu 皖鱼?I think that’s a grass carp?), and an assorted hot pot. Normally, when we order pea shoots, it’s simply stir-fried with garlic, but we decided to try something different. The pea shoots were topped with carrots, pork strips, and these chewy vermicelli like coils that are made to kinda look like shrimps and often used in hot pot (I don’t know what they are called either, another reason I don’t really like doing reviews for Chinese restaurants is that I don’t know what anything is called in English). The soup was so sweet and flavourful and the pea shoots themselves weren’t too fibrous meaning they weren’t too “old.” I would have loved just to drink nothing but the soup, it was that good. However, at Chinese restaurants, I don’t find it worth it to order a soup because they always give a starter soup and that’s just too much soup for me, otherwise, this would be a good choice (and in my experience, only when it’s a bunch of Chinese speaking Asians dining together). The fried chicken is rather dry and flavourless on it’s own, hence the red fermented tofu sauce (or also called red fermented bean curd or 紅腐乳) which is different from the regular variety because it’s sweet. It’s often eaten with congee, and seeing as I don’t really like plain congee and fermented foods, I’ve never liked this stuff in my life. Life is about giving things a chance, so last night, I thought why not? I gave it another try and the fermented taste wasn’t too strong, so I was able to eat a little bit more than I normally did. I still don’t like it, but I don’t abhor it now. The grass carp was served with in light soy sauce and topped wood ear fungi and goji berries (or wolfberries as they are sometimes called). In the past, I couldn’t handle any seafood except for shrimp, scallops and lobster, but recently, I’ve been getting better. However, this grass carp is just scary. Not only are the bones like fans, there are so many of them that choking is a very real concern. That’s the other thing with Chinese restaurants, if you order a steamed fish (with the exception of basa fillets), they just chop the fish up into segments without removing the bones and steam it and serve it. I love wood ear fungi, but too many of them aren’t good for you as they act as a blood thinner and prevent blood from clotting. I also don’t like goji berries (I’m beginning to sound like a picky eater) because they are used in Chinese medicine and I’ve had so much of that stuff that I never want to go near it again. Goji berries are good for improving eyesight and aid in other eye related ailments. My favourite dish of the evening was the assorted hot pot. It literally has everything: fish, shrimp, bean curd, tofu, beef, pork, and shitake mushrooms (from what I can remember). There is so much variety that there’s no way that any two spoonfuls would yield you the same combination, that is if you can get more than one item per spoonful 😛

Since we eat four to eight dishes when we go for Chinese food, I hardly ever remember what I eat each and every time unless it is so good it leaves a lasting impression on me. The sweet short ribs are one of them. Yes, short ribs can be quite chewy and hard to eat, but it is so worth it. Besides, using regular or even plastic chopsticks to eat them is way easier than using weird flat metal ones like the ones in Korean BBQ. The only thing that was bad about this dish is the food colouring in it. When we had it in the restaurant, it was a nice reddish brown. When we brought it home and had it the next day, it turned a yucky poop brown. Still tasted fine, obviously, but it was then we knew it didn’t get the colouring from the flavouring agents. Although, bit weird for the colour to just fade like that.

Every Chinese restaurant I go to with my parents (probably because of my dad) consists of a hot pot and a chicken dish. There’s never been an occasion in my living memory that either of them have ever been omitted. I don’t mind either since they’ve become part of what I’ve come to expect when we have Chinese food. Usually we have crispy skinned chicken when we order chicken because that’s me and my sister’s favourite. Other times we order things like poached chicken with ginger and onion, soy sauce chicken, and drunken chicken.

The service here is a bit lacking. I do understand that they are really busy, but that doesn’t mean that you have to yell/flag down a waitress for every little thing because they don’t come by your table to see if anything is lacking (i.e. tea, napkins, empty dishes that need to be taken away). Also, due to an altercation elsewhere with one of the waitresses, it’s always awkward to go there now. I would rate this restaurant 2.5/5. The food is okay, but the service sucks.

Peking Duck (one course) with Pea shoot soup in the top left corner

Peking Duck (one course) with Pea shoot soup in the top left corner

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