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Posts tagged ‘Espresso’

Restaurant Review: Prego

Location: 200 Barclay Parade SW
Website: http://www.pregocalgary.com/

Another delightful evening catching up with Carmen over a delicious meal. For those like me, who had no idea, this restaurant is located on the second floor of the Eau Claire mall.

Carmen prefaced the meal (on our walk over) with a comment to the effect that this restaurant used to be so much better in the past. Even with that, I went in with a critical mind, as I often do for these meals.

We started with the Gamberi Agrodolce – jumbo shrimp sautéed with cherry tomatoes and spinach, dressed in a balsamic reduction. My biggest concern with cooked spinach is that it will get overcooked and become chewy and develop this taste/texture that I can’t describe in English (I know the word in Chinese, but that doesn’t help me here). I generally don’t like cooked tomatoes because they become quite mushy when warm, but I don’t mind eating them when they are featured in dishes such as this. The dish was well seasoned and the olive oil and balsamic reduction was great for dipping the bread into.

For our mains, I ordered the Spaghetti Carbonara and Carmen had the Vitello Piccatta. I think I’ve only ever had Spaghetti Carbonara like once or twice before, so while I knew what ingredients went into making one, I didn’t really know what to expect from one. Based on knowing the ingredients, I was able to imagine the flavour profile and this dish met all my expectations. The sauce was creamy and there was a good ratio of bacon to noodles. The sauce was a little more runny than I’m used to, but it’s great for dipping bread into, which I love to do with my pasta. The veal was very thinly pounded (scallopini), topped with sautéed mushrooms and dressed with a lovely light lemon and white wine sauce. This was my first time having veal prepared this way and it was really good. The mains come with seasonal vegetables and a choice of either pasta with a tomato basil sauce or roasted potatoes. Carmen opted for the potatoes since I had offered to share my carbonara.

For dessert, Carmen ordered the dessert of the day: a lemon white chocolate cheesecake and I had the chocolate pâté. Due to Carmen’s allergies, the cheesecake came without the berry compote, but regardless, Carmen expressed that she really enjoyed the dessert. The chocolate pâté was nothing like I’ve ever had before. The best way I could describe it is a slightly heavier version of frozen mousse. It was everything the menu promised. It was heavenly, but to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever had a dessert as luxurious as the ones that I had at Famoso. I still dream about that panna cotta. Of course, I had to get an espresso with my dessert. Coffee and dessert have kinda become my thing. The espresso came with a piece of biscotti, almond, I believe it was. The biscotti was delicious, both by itself and dipped into the espresso. This is one of the things I would certainly order again.

Service was excellent. Our server had a quality I expect from a fine dining establishment and it certainly felt like we were at a higher end place despite its location and the view from our window seat. The view left much to be desired and the food was good, but not excellent. I’m not sure that I would return here again, but I might stop by for lunch as I’ve been told that they do a fast lunch service.

Based on this experience, I’d give this place a 2.5/5.

Restaurant Interior
Gamberi Agrodolce
Vitello Piccatta
Spaghetti Carbonara
Lemon White Chocolate Cheesecake
Chocolate Pâté
Espresso with Almond Biscotti

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Restaurant Review: Smuggler’s Inn

Location: 6920 Macleod Trail S, Calgary, AB T2H 0L3
Website: http://www.smugglers.ca

After a long day at work, it was nice to return to the comforting familiarity of Smuggler’s Inn. Smuggler’s has been one of the more affordable steakhouses that I’ve been too repeatedly. I hadn’t actually been back for a few years and usually the wait is about an hour without reservations so when we got in immediately last night, I would say I was delighted. However, that may in part be due to the weather.

The best thing about Smuggler’s that makes it so economical as a steakhouse is that it has an all you can eat soup and salad bar. The price of the soup and salad bar have already been calculated into the price of the entree, so it’s not worth your while to just skip out on it, unless you really hate salad or something or are allergic. I personally am not a huge fan of the salad bar as there isn’t much choice for me. I’m not denying they have a huge selection of items to build a salad, but I generally prefer to have mine already made for me, so I usually go for the pre-made salads available near the end of the counter. Some staples that I’ve seen available there time after time include a noodle salad with bell peppers, coleslaw with horseradish, and a potato salad. I enjoy their soups much more, in particular their Portuguese Sausage Soup. It has just the right amount of heat with a touch of sweetness. And because of the sausage and kidney beans, it could fill me up as much as a main.

Unfortunately, as I went with my family I didn’t have chance to take photos, but also, it’s way too dark in Smuggler’s to get a decent picture. For our mains, I ordered the Chicken Neptune, my sister had the Prime Rib Sandwich, my mom had the Halibut Tarragon, and my dad had what I’m supposing was the Smuggler’s Cut sized Prime Rib. The Chicken Neptune was fantastic. It was served with a rice pilaf. There were two “giant” pieces of chicken that were topped with lump crabmeat and shoelace thin buttered aspargus and of course a bernaise sauce. The chicken was seasoned with some sort of cajun rub that didn’t overpower the rest of the dish, there was just enough bernaise sauce so that you knew it was there and could taste it without the entire dish being drenched in a thick cream sauce. The portion size is perfect for the price and because of the soup and salad bar, I’m never able to finish. My sister’s Prime Rib Sandwich wasn’t exactly what we expected. In fact, the garlic toast it was served with was probably about the size of a crostini and comparable to the size of the Yorkshire pudding if it had been flattened and condensed. But the dish isn’t about its sides, the important thing was that the prime rib was done right. I don’t understand how difficult it is to get the temperature just right because I’ve never cooked a steak or prime rib myself before and I’m sure I’d be more sympathetic if I knew how difficult it is, but I don’t, so judging from a purely taste and temperature perspective. Taking into consideration that they are a steakhouse and are supposedly the experts on it, they should be able to get it right unlike other places where I’ve ordered a well done steak and gotten a six ounce piece of charcoal or conversely when my sister ordered a medium rare t-bone steak and got it blue…My dad’s prime rib came with mashed potatoes on the side…it came in a giant skillet! It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. The prime rib wasn’t actually seasoned that much, the seasoning was probably in the horseradish aioli that it came with, but I didn’t want any of that. But at least it was tender. Both my sister and dad’s dishes came with a side of broccolini. My mom’s halibut looked really appetizing. Though I’m not a huge fan of seafood, I would order that. Her halibut was topped with shrimps and scallops served on a bed of rice seasoned with a tarragon orange cream. My mom said that there was a hint of sweetness, but she would have liked to have tasted a bit more tarragon.
I enjoyed the coffee’s rich and full-bodied flavour. Recently I’ve been drinking a lot more macchiatos and espressos, so I can’t stand a weak coffee. After dinner I had an espresso with my dessert: the black and white brownie. It featured two large triangular pieces of brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, cream, hot fudge sauce, garnished with mint leaves, and served in a skillet. The bitterness of the espresso complimented the sweetness of the brownies perfectly.

The only downside of my experience there last night was the service. I’m not sure if they were understaffed, but there really weren’t that many diners last night, again due to the weather, but our waiter still took forever to bring the menu, get drinks, bring the bill, etc. Normally they are very efficient because of how much money they’d lose if they weren’t, so I was wondering if the weather was yet another factor in the slow service. Whatever their reasons I was slightly disappointed. Despite the disappointing service, I would still return because the food is amazing. I sincerely hope that it was a one time thing and not that their standards are slipping. Everyone has a bad day, so I hope that’s all it was.
With all that to consider I would definitely bring friends back here for a nice evening out and rate it 4/5.

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