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Posts tagged ‘creme brulee’

Restaurant Review: Open Sesame

Location: 6920 Macleod Trail South
Website: http://www.open-sesame.ca/

Open Sesame, like Smuggler’s Inn and Tango Bistro, are part of the Smuggler’s Group of restaurants ( the last one is Bolero and all four of these restaurants are clustered together in one building). Open Sesame is their Pan-Asian cuisine which is best known for their do it yourself stir-fries. As described on their website’s menu, customers “[c]hoose [their] own selections from our fresh Asian Market brimming 
with crisp vegetables, spices and condiments. Season with [Open Sesame’s] authentic 
sauces created from scratch for every taste. [After the completion of the compilation, customers] [t]ake [their] selection to [the] 
Wok Chef.” The market features only sauces and vegetables, the orders for the carbs and protein are placed with the waitress and marked down on cards which will be placed with the veggies for stir-frying.

We started with drinks and I’d have to say, Open Sesame has one of the best strawberry lemonades I’ve ever had. The addition of mint is brilliant and adds a fresh bite to the drink that would otherwise be sweet with nothing else to offer.

We started with an appetizer, the Pu pu platter. A name that kept making people at our table laugh. The platter consisted of teriyaki riblings, calamari, satay, crisp spiced naan, crab wontons, pickled vegetables, chili mango dip, and raita. When the platter first came out, I thought that it was a decent sized appetizer, however, it proved not to be enough when it came down to sharing it between five people. Overall, despite it not being enough for all five of us, it was at the same time, enough for all five of us. What I mean by that is that there was enough for everyone to sample each of the items, but not enough for us to have any more if we like a particular element. Of the six items on the platter, the riblings were my least favourite. There was very little meat, which is understandable because they were riblings, but also I don’t love teriyaki sauce on my ribs or wings (a little in stir-fry would be good). The raita was reminiscent of tzatziki sauce and in essence it was.

For our mains, three of the five ordered the stir-fry, which made sense, since this is what they are known for. My cousin added the Asian pancake wraps/mu shu wraps, grilled naan, and lettuce wraps to his meal and the maid of honour added the grilled naan to hers. I didn’t have a chance to try out their stir-fry combos, but as everyone cleaned their bowls, I’d say everyone enjoyed them thoroughly. My sister and I, ironically, ordered the same thing: the Hibachi Steak. The temperature was perfect on the steak and well seasoned. The seasoning took into account how salty the dipping sauce was, but at times it still seemed a little too salty for my liking. In regards to the portion size, I’d say that it was pretty good. I was unable to finish it since I had had the appetizer and was saving some space for dessert, but what I had packed up was enough to make a meal for the next day.

What meal is complete without dessert? Of course we went all out on it. I ordered the black and white brownie, while my sister had the ginger creme brulee, and my cousin and his fiancee shared a mango and coconut snowball (the lump of frozenness). I found the brownie to be a bit dry (some parts could almost be passed off as cookie like in its consistency) and the ice cream generic (would’ve been nice if it had been a vanilla bean ice cream). The ginger creme brulee was very strong on the ginger. I mean, there was no question that there was ginger in it and that it was good, but I just don’t think that it’s really for me.

Based on this experience, I would give this place a 4/5 and would most certainly return. Next time I would want to give the stir-fry a try since that is, after all, their specialty.

restaurant-interior-2

Restaurant Interior

restaurant-interior-3

Restaurant Interior

drinks

Aladdin’s Passion and Strawberry Lemonade

pu-pu-plater

Pu Pu Platter

restaurant-interior

food-options-2

Asian Market

food-options

Asian Market

food-options-3

Asian Market

sauce-options-better-pic

Asian Market Sauces

sauce-options

before-stirfried

Beverly and Diana’s veggies for stir-fry

bevs

Beverly stir-fry

dianas

Diana’s Stir-fry

daves-stirfry

David’s Stir-fry

extra-sides

Extra sides: Asian Pancakes/Mu shu wrappers, grilled naan, lettuce wraps

hibachi-steak

Hibachi Steak

black-and-white-brownie

Black and White Brownie

ginger-creme-brulee

Ginger Creme Brulee

mango-and-coconut-snowball

Mango and Coconut Snowball

 

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Restaurant Review: Cilantro

Location: 338 – 17 Ave SW
Website: http://cilantrocalgary.com/

My initial contact with the staff at the restaurant left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I had called to make a reservation and they asked me how to spell my name, halfway through, the lady on the phone interrupted me and said “Okay, I got.” It irritated me that she had asked me to spell my name, but had the gall to just cut me off mid-sentence. After that, on the day I was supposed to go I got a call from them, but missed it, so I called back just to make sure everything was alright and the girl who answered the phone this time was equally rude, asking me “what do you want?” At this point, I hoped that the food would speak for itself and that it would be good enough to erase all the rudeness I had experienced thus far.

We arrived about 20 minutes early for our reservation and decided to try the door. Surprisingly it was open, so we went on in. The lady who greeted us pretty much said, “We’re not open. We don’t open until five. Can you guys just wait outside for 20 minutes?” There really wasn’t much we could say to that other than yes, so we waited until they were officially open before heading back in.

We were seated on the second floor facing a stone pizza oven. The lighting was incredibly dim that at another table, one of the customers had to use the flashlight function on their cellphone to read the menu. Thankfully I looked at the menu before hand and already decided on what it was that I wanted. We decided not to go with an appetizer because based on the descriptions they sounded like single portion dishes and at $9-$18 for an appetizer for one single person, it was a bit pricey. I ordered the Lemon Conchigliette while Julia had the Pulled Elk Pizza Flatbread. The Lemon Conchigliette had chorizo , scallops, lobster, snap peas, poblano in a basil-chèvre parmesan cream. The chorizo was more like Italian sausage, there were two scallops, I needed a microscope to find the lobster, for dish claiming to contain poblano there wasn’t a hint of heat, I couldn’t taste the lemon, and the cheese cream sauce had me reaching for my water more times than I could count. Despite all that, I loved this dish. Though the portion size looked so small, it was more than filling, making me especially glad that we did not order an appetizer. The Pulled Elk Pizza Flatbread was a huge, but pleasant surprise for me. As I expressed in my previous review on Vero, I can’t stand the gaminess of bison, elk, and the like, but like the bison from Vero, the gaminess was undetectable, perhaps masked by the creamy, sweet and savoury taste of caramelized onions. The flatbread consisted of poblanos, caramelized onion, blueberry ancho pesto, red pepper cheddar, and asiago. In the dark, it was very hard to distinguish exactly what everything was and should have heightened our senses, but I eat with my eyes as much as I eat with my nose and mouth, so being able to see what I was eating would have been nice. Plus, in the dark, I feel as though the chef’s plating techniques would have gone to waste as no one could see anyways. The flatbread rivaled some of the pizzas I had in Italy, they were that good. From our table, mostly from Julia’s perspective, we could see them making the flatbread and putting in the stone pizza oven behind us.

For dessert I had the Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée and Julia had the Lemon Rosemary Coffee Cake. The sugar atop my Crème Brulée was well caramelized…in some areas, a little too well, but I didn’t mind. Once I had a taste of that creamy vanilla-y excellence it was like I had died and gone to heaven. I didn’t really care for the garnishes, though I did eat them, they didn’t really do much to complement the Crème Brulée in anyway. The Lemon Rosemary Coffee Cake…not something I would have ever ordered in my wildest imagination. In my mind, weirdest combination ever for a dessert. Rosemary is one of the most savoury herbs I know, to put it in a dessert is just odd. The cake was paired with a raspberry sorbet, not sure if that really did much to help it, but all I know was that it was more like frozen solid fruit juice because watching Julia slice it was painful. The lemon when added to the cake sweetened it, but it still tasted like a specialty bread to be had with a meal rather than a dessert. However, she thoroughly enjoyed it and that’s pretty much all that matters.

I felt that the service here was lacking. The only person who I felt kinda measured up to the level of service I was expecting was our waiter. Everyone else pretty much pretended they didn’t see us or were quite rude (the aforementioned phone incidents). At the prices we were paying, I had expected a little bit better service. For service I’d rate them 1.5/5. For food, I’d give them a 3.5/5. Overall, 2/5 for this restaurant.

*My apologies for the quality of some of the pictures. The restaurant, as I mentioned was very dark and that made it hard to capture good pictures. The pizza turned out black when we took a picture inside the restaurant and since Julia couldn’t finish it, I got her to snap a picture of it after, just so we have a general idea of what it looked like and consisted of.

Cilantro Interior

Cilantro Interior

Lemon Conchigliette

Lemon Conchigliette

Pulled Elk Pizza Flatbread

Pulled Elk Pizza Flatbread

Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée

Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée

Lemon Rosemary Coffee Cake

Lemon Rosemary Coffee Cake

Restaurant Review: The Keg

Location: 130 Crowfoot Terrace NW
Website: https://www.kegsteakhouse.com/

Tonight is a special night. It’s the eve before the Chinese New Year. And fittingly, we decided to have go out for dinner. I made the executive decision not to go for Chinese food as those places will be packed for weeks leading up to and after Chinese New Year’s. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to The Keg and as I have only gone one other time, I have no recollection of it.

The Crowfoot location is fairly new and looks absolutely breathtaking. As it is a newer location, the restaurant looks very modern, but the lights are turned down low to set the mood for a romantic “candlelit” dinner. Conveniently, it is located directly across from the movie theatre. When we first arrived around 5:30, there were already quite a few patrons, which surprised me. I didn’t expect that so many people would be there in the middle of the week, let alone that early in the evening. But as the evening progressed, more and more patrons arrived, until we were about to leave and the volume became so loud that I was no longer feeling the romantic atmospheriness that I felt when I first walked in. Since we arrived early, there wasn’t a wait, we were quickly seated and our waiter came by promptly to fill our glasses and take our drink orders. Almost immediately after he left, another waitress came by and dropped off a plate with the complementary sourdough bread and whipped butter. The sourdough was freshly baked and very aromatic. The butter melted on contact. The inside was fluffy while the “crust” was wonderfully chewy.

As it was a special evening, we indulged a little bit more than we usually do. We started with the calamari, that of course being my choice. I have apparently made it my goal to try out every calamari in every restaurant to compare and find the restaurant that serves the world’s best calamari. The calamari came with a mix of breaded and fried sliced jalapenos and pickled red bell peppers and two sauces: a spicy sweet ginger garlic sauce and a Greek feta sauce. In addition to adding a kick to the dish, the heat of the jalapenos and the pickled red peppers helped to balance the greasiness of the deep fried squid. Between the two sauces, my family and I preferred the spicy sweet ginger garlic sauce because like the pickled peppers and jalapenos, the acidity and heat from the sauce helped mitigate the oiliness even more.

For our mains, I had the Sirloin Oscar, my sister and father had the prime rib, and my mom had the Lobster and Shrimp Dinner Salad. Both my sister and father got the ten ounce and it was huge! Each came with your choice of side; my sister had garlic mash and my dad had mixed vegetables (carrots, broccoli, asparagus, red bell peppers), crispy fried onions, red wine herb jus, and horseradish. The onions were incredibly over-salted. Though I do love fried onions, these were nearly impossible to eat in large quantities without a need for gallons upon gallons of water or something kinda plain to eat alongside it to make the saltiness more bearable (like rice, bread, potatoes). For my Sirloin Oscar, I also chose to have the garlic mash. It was delightful, smooth, garlicky, and oh so buttery. I liked that there were potato skins in the mash, but I can also see that it might be a divisive point as some people would rather their mashed potatoes to be consistently smooth rather than having the random piece of skin in random forkfuls. Ah, but what is life without a few surprises? The Bearnaise sauce, like the red wine herb jus, came in a small creamer like apparatus so that I could control the amount I wanted added onto my shrimps, scallops, and asparagus. In the end, I just dumped the entire thing all over my steak, shrimp, scallops, asparagus and potatoes, wishing there was more and wanting to lick out the inside of the container, but deciding against it as it would be poor etiquette to do so. The shrimps and scallops weren’t over seasoned, with the exception of one piece. That was good because the Bearnaise and seasonings on the beef and the beef jus fulfilled that purpose. My mom’s salad was nothing special really. The salad consisted of Artisan greens, black beans, corn, charred corn, field mushrooms, tomatoes and fresh avocado with a mango sesame dressing, topped with pine nuts and of course lobster and shrimp. I’ll admit that the dressing was pretty good; it was light, but due to the acidity of the mango, sufficiently stimulated my appetite. Ironically, I found it weird to be eating leaves of salad and accidentally stabbing a hidden black bean or field mushroom or avocado and getting a strange, unfamiliar texture in my mouth when I least expected. Clearly, for me, some surprises are better than others.

For a steakhouse of its calibre and reputation, I expected nothing more than the very best and it did not disappoint. More often than not, when I go to a restaurant (claiming to be a steakhouse or just being an ordinary restaurant whose’s specialty is not steak), the steaks always come out so poorly that I’ve given up on ordering them all together. Oftentimes when I order a steak medium, I’ll get either a bloody steak or a well done steak. I don’t mind getting a well done steak because that’s what I actually want most of the time. However, if I order well done, I get to eat flavoured cardboard. I’m happy to say that is not the case here. Tonight I decided to go for a medium and I was pleased that they got the temperature correct.

Finally, for dessert we decided to get “two.” The first was the Billy Miner Pie and the second was a trio of samplers. The Billy Miner Pie, isn’t much of a pie. Essentially it is mocha ice cream on a chocolate crust (which was very crumbly and resembled crushed oreos) with hot fudge, caramel and almonds. It was way larger than I had imagined, but considering what we were paying for it, it was reasonable. The pie wasn’t really anything special. Essentially it was an ice cream cake drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce. The trio of samplers were a fudge brownie, mango creme brulee, and a butter tart. The fudge brownie was my least favourite. It tasted like it had been in the fridge too long and had absorbed all the yucky tastes of fridge. It was served with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. Funny thing was I wasn’t really paying attention when I took my first bite and grabbed a spoonful of cream and ate it instead of the ice cream. Well you can imagine what my face looked like after I had consumed it…The next one I tried was the butter tart. I had difficulty cutting into it with my spoon, but maybe that’s just because I’m gibbled. I have to say, the butter tart was my favourite. It wasn’t too sweet or rich and it was perfectly complemented by the vanilla ice cream. The only bad thing I could say about this sampler was that the vanilla in the vanilla ice cream was far more mild than most other vanilla ice creams I’ve had for dessert. The last one was the mango creme brulee. The caramelized sugar on top make the most beautiful crackling-crunch when the spoon broke through the surface. Inside, the mango filling was cold. Personally, I don’t like mango in my creme brulee, the tartness of the mango just doesn’t seem to go with the creaminess of this dessert. However, this was one of my sister’s favourites. I still prefer the original or maybe even coconut, and I prefer it warm.

Some would say that this restaurant is on the pricey side, but I’d have to disagree. Steak is often more expensive than most other menu items, but considering the portion sizes, I’d say the price is worth it. I was only able to finish half my entree, which was about $32.

All things considered, I would definitely return here if I’m craving a steak. Though there isn’t much else on the menu other than steak (understandably, as this is as STEAKhouse, not a chicken house or fish house or what have you), it has a great selection of steaks. I would rate this restaurant 4.5/5.

Sourdough and Whipped Butter

Sourdough and Whipped Butter

Calamari

Calamari

Lobster and Shrimp Dinner Salad

Lobster and Shrimp Dinner Salad

Prime Rib with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Prime Rib with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Sirloin Oscar with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potato

Sirloin Oscar with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potato

Background (left to right): Fudge Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream, Butter Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream, Mango Creme Brulee Foreground: Billy Miner Pie

Background (left to right): Fudge Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream, Butter Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream, Mango Creme Brulee
Foreground: Billy Miner Pie

Restaurant Review: Redwater Rustic Grille (Stadium Location)

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.

Tomato and Bocconcini Salad

Tomato and Bocconcini Salad

Chipotle Clam Chowder

Chipotle Clam Chowder

Tomato and Corn Soup

Roasted Tomato and Corn Soup

Pan Roasted Quinoa

Pan Roasted Salmon on Quinoa

Rotisserie Chicken Club with Yam Fries

Rotisserie Chicken Club

Bison Burger

Bison Burger

Pear and Gorgonzola Flatbread

Pear and Gorgonzola Flatbread

IMG_2377 IMG_2376

Creme Brulee with Almond Biscotti

Creme Brulee

White Chocolate Cheesecake

White Chocolate Cheesecake

Colossal Carrot Cake

Colossal Carrot Cake

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