Reader. Writer. Romantic.

Posts tagged ‘Kensington’

Restaurant Review: Vero Bistro Moderne

Location: 209 10th street NW
Website: http://www.verobistro.ca/home

When my cousin first broached the subject of having brunch, Vero was not the first place I had thought of. We decided on this place primarily because they were willing to take reservations, unlike many other brunch places (OEB, Diner Deluxe, Monki, to name a few). I had passed it on several occasions, but this was just one of the places that always slipped my mind. When I arrived, my first impression was how cute the place was. Like almost everything in Kensington, there was a small town feel to it, but this one was a little different from a place like Vendome. Since it’s renovation, Vendome has definitely become more modernized, but still retains it’s uniquely antique feel, where as Vero maintains an air of sophistication in its modernity. And this sophistication is reflected in its menu, both in the fare available as well as the prices.

I’ll admit,  I always take a quick look through their menu to see what they offer before trying the place out. The menu was small, but everything on it looked delicious. Though I’m tempted to try out everything, I’m not sure my wallet would be able to handle it in the long run. When I have a meal, I tend to have more of a savoury inclination. so I stay away from the French Toasts though in actuality, I’d really love to try some…just not the whole thing. After some deliberation, I decided to go with the Forest Mushroom Fricassee Organic Egg Benny while my cousin went for the Vero’s Traditional.

When the dishes came out, they certainly lived up to the classiness of the restaurant. The arrangement of the Egg Benny was unlike any other I had seen, it was so well put together I had to take a few moments just to admire it. The Vero’s Traditional was a little more rustic in its appearance and a little less put together. Too many times I’ve been to restaurants that have dressed up their entrees to compensate for their lack of taste. The same cannot be said of Vero. Besides the portion sizes being perfect, the salinity levels in the dishes were perfectly balanced: no need to reach for the salt shaker or gulp down a gallon of water. The eggs being organic were the most vibrant shade of yellow-orange and the decision to serve them on a warm, buttery, crisped croissant was absolutely brilliant. My initial reaction to having the egg, hollandaise, and mushrooms on the croissant would make it soggy, but it wasn’t and I’ll admit, how they managed that I have no idea, but I’m impressed. I had a taste of the bison sausage from the Vero’s Traditional, bracing myself for the gamy taste that I’ve often associated with bison, elk, and the like, but no such taste ever hit me. It was lean, but not dry, well seasoned, and overall very delicious. The salad looked fresh and appetizing, a good pairing to the buttery warmth of the croissant.

This restaurant clearly caters to people who are a little more affluent, however, the price matches the quality of the ingredients used, the quality of the dishes themselves, and the quality of service. There were times when the staff were a bit harried because of the sheer volume of customers (seeing as the brunch craze has finally hit Calgary). The menu options are very healthy and don’t feel heavy, which is a huge problem for me. I’m glad that such a place with these considerations exist. I would certainly return here again and based on this experience would rate it 4.25/5.

Forest Mushroom Fricassee Organic Egg Benny

Forest Mushroom Fricassee Organic Egg Benny

Vero's Traditional

Vero’s Traditional

Cafe Review: Higher Ground

Location: 1126 Kensington Rd NW
Website: http://highergroundcafe.ca/

The first time I went to Higher Ground I was drawn in by their atmosphere and extensive menu. Though I didn’t order any food, the pot of lucky dragon green tea was cheap and great for sharing, but I can’t say that it was my one of my favourite teas. This cafe is very cozy and makes me feel right at home as a writer. I could spend hours just sitting there drinking tea and coffee and working away at my novel. And that is what I did today.

Today I returned there with my sister and cousin for lunch. I’ve, for some reason, taken it upon myself to try every caprese panini in the world. Although it isn’t called a caprese panini here, the mozzarella panini is essentially that: ball mozzarella, thick cut tomatoes, basil pesto and a balsamic dressing. This is one of the better paninis I’ve had and I think it’s absolutely brilliant that they decided to use pesto rather than whole basil leaves because the most frustrating thing is biting into the sandwich and having the entire leaf of basil come out into your mouth. It sounded so good that my sister ordered the exact same thing. The only thing that differed was our sides. Mine came with a butternut squash soup and hers came with a B.L.A.T. salad. Now you may think B.L.A.T., what’s that? Or what the heck is a B.L.A.T.?! But it is honest to goodness the best tasting salad ever! I would go back just to have that salad. Now everyone knows what a B.L.T. is, just add avocado to that. It is heaven paired with the lemon black pepper aioli. On the flip side, the butternut squash soup was a bit of a disappointment for me. I’ve had butternut squash soup at Vendome’s and that one is amazing. I enjoy that at Vendome’s there is a bit of cream added to increase the smoothness and richness of the soup, where as at Higher Ground there is a bit more acidity and unfortunately I had lumps of squash floating around in my soup. After the sandwiches we got two desserts. The first was a strawberry rhubarb pie. The piece was fairly large, but we had to ask them to warm it up twice and even then the pie wasn’t even warm. The second dessert looked somewhat like a tuxedo cake, but I’m not entirely sure, since I wasn’t the one who ordered it. That one was much better, though there really was a lot of cream. It was rich as chocolate cake should be and it left me wanting more.

In terms of drinks, we went through a lot in the five hours we were there (or at least that’s how it felt). We started with a Kyoto Cherry Green Tea. It was more fragrant than it tasted. Though it was very mild, it was a very good tea. Perhaps I’m not seasoned enough to discern the subtle notes of the tea, but it was hard to taste the cherry, in fact it was even hard to taste the green tea. After that we got an Irish Breakfast. I don’t know what I expected, but I didn’t expect it to taste so much like English Breakfast. We had about three pots of that before the tea became to diluted. My cousin got a cappuccino after that. It was pretty bitter and had a lot of foam. After she added in some honey I found it to be just right, while she thought it was way too sweet and my sister still found it too bitter.

I will definitely be returning here with friends or even just with my cousin again to work on my novel. It is just the perfect environment to get my creativity flowing.

The drinks are cheap as we can constantly get the teapot refilled, but food, especially the desserts are a bit on the expensive side. However, taking everything into consideration, I would not consider it a turn off.

I would rate it 4.5/5, vying for the top position of my favourite cafe with Vendome.

soup and sandwich

Mozzarella Panini with Butternut Squash Soup

sandwich and salad

Mozzarella Panini with B.L.A.T. Salad and Lemon Pepper Aioli on the side

Cake

Tuxedo cake?

Restaurant Review: Frogurt

Location: 109b Kensington Rd NW

You’ve seen the ordinary flavours: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, but Frogurt is not your average frozen yogurt joint. They have a range of flavours that change on occasion ranging from the everyday to the exotic. There are flavours like cookies and cream and carrot cake, taro and coconut, passion fruit and raspberry sorbet or some combination of all of them. There is also the choice to have certain flavours swirled together.

Today I got a small portion of coconut frozen yogurt with unsweetened coconut and a variety of fruits (strawberries, maraschino cherries, peaches). In my experience, I’ve learned that pairing frozen yogurt with gummy candies and chocolate have never been a good idea and it cost me a $15 frozen yogurt and an aching tummy to learn that. Though I got quite a variety of fruits, I still feel that I didn’t add enough. I find that the freshness of the fruit always complements the frozen yogurt leaving me feeling light but full whereas the chocolate and gummy candies become hard and sometimes inedible due to the temperature of the yogurt and either break my teeth or leave me feeling bloated.

The frozen yogurt parlour was decorated in cheerful and uplifting colours that really drew me in. It also really helps that I like to laugh at the corny “Fro”ified sayings they’ve decorated some of the wall with. Some of my frovourites would have to be fromiscuous, froddict, have a fromance, stay frocussed, but the best one has got to be wherefore art thou fromeo? What I love most about frogurt is that it is a blend of the words “frozen” and “yogurt” and no one loves blending words together more than me. However, that’s not even the best thing about this place. This place (at least the Kensington location, I’m not sure about he McKnight location) has a wall for suggestions for future yogurt flavours and future toppings. Though they have a wide selection of toppings and flavours that are constantly changing, having a suggestion wall is a great marketing technique. What’s also cool and brings this place into the 21st century is it’s photobooth and connectedness to social media. Yeah, lots of restaurants have websites or facebook pages, but so far I haven’t seen anything as interactive as Frogurt. It is innovative and refreshing.

Unfortunately I have not refined the skill of swirling frozen yogurt or decorating them, but when I do, I will add pictures.

I would rate Frogurt a 4.5/5 for it’s fun and inviting atmosphere. It is a great place to take friends or family and it can be guaranteed that they will find something they like from the wide variety of toppings and flavours. The price isn’t so bad, only $0.58/oz. So stop by if you’re in the neighbourhood and give Frogurt a try.

Restaurant Review: Julio’s Barrio

Location: 1110 Memorial Dr. NW Calgary, Alberta

Website: http://juliosbarrio.com/

This is my second time coming here, The first time I went was for dinner with my family. I can tell you that this restaurant is not meant for family dinners. For dinner with friends? Yes. For a couple of drinks? Yes. For a loud and possibly good time? Yes. Family dinner? Not really. I can’t even remember what I had had the first time I went; I think the noise erased most of my memories of the place. All I remember are the tables, which look like they used bathroom tiles. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, except that it isn’t really my style. Colourful and fun, but still not my style.

This time I had lunch with a friend. It was different coming here with a friend instead of my family and for lunch instead of dinner. It was tranquil and hard to believe that my first experience had been as bad as it was. We were seated in a sunny spot and it was really nice, except that the table wobbled a little. Our waitress started us off with some tortilla chips and salsa in a flower shaped tortilla bowl. Both my friend and I ordered tacos. I had the shrimp tacos while she had the baja fish tacos, both of which made it to the table in record time. I hardly felt like I had waited ten minutes when the food appeared. My shrimp tacos were advertised to be seasoned and diced with avocado dressing and a fresh mango salsa and my friend’s baja fish tacos were corona battered and lightly fried red snapper fillets topped with chipotle aioli. Of course they were also topped with some fresh vegetables like red cabbage, lettuce and so on and instead of fries they came with refried beans, corn salad and rice. I found this to be a nice change since fries aren’t that healthy and this gives it a more Mexican flare. The rice and corn salad were delicious, but I found the refried beans to be a little on the salty side. That’s not to say they didn’t taste good, just a little less salt would have made them that much better. Unfortunately my taco wasn’t as nice as the sides. The shrimp completely lacked seasoning and the avocado dressing was more like a deflated avocado foam. It didn’t help that the salsa released so much water that it mixed with the avocado foam and ran out the back of the taco all over my hand and plate. My friend’s baja fish taco looked much more appetizing and hopefully if I ever return there, I will give those a try.

All in all, great service, okay food, and a fun atmosphere. I would rate this restaurant 3.5/5

Baja Fish Taco

Baja Fish Taco*

Image

Shrimp Taco in the foreground. Baja Fish Taco in the background. Really bright and obscured basket to the side: tortilla chips with salsa

*Picture credit goes to Rhiannon

Cafe Review: Vendome Cafe

Location: 940 2 Ave NW, Sunnyside/Kensington, Calgary, Alberta

Website: http://vendomecafe.com/

I was first introduced to this cafe back in 2011 and immediately fell in love with the small town coziness of the place. The cafe itself is small and in peak times, it’s hard to find a seat, but every visit is worth it. The decor of the cafe makes me think that I’m in a whole different city, maybe even a city in Europe, if one doesn’t look outside, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine it was summer in a Paris cafe…well okay, maybe that is a stretch…I like that this cafe gives me a vacation from the busyness of life. It provides a quick retreat from the mind-numbing turmoil of the working and academic world and isn’t outrageously unaffordable. Keep in mind that this is Kensington and in my biased opinion, one of the best places to eat.

Over the years I’ve brought many friends and family members to share in the joy of this treasure nestled in the quiet community of Kensington. Their amazing food has brought be back again and again and today I was back enjoying a lovely breakfast with my sister for her birthday. In the past, their Duck Confit paired with their creamy, yet sweet butternut squash soup have been my usual, but today I decided to try something new, their sumptuous whole wheat blueberry waffles (see picture below). Considering their portion sizes for their paninis I was a little underwhelmed by the smallness of the portion; I had expected two waffles at the very least, but no…one waffle, cut into quarters, topped with vanilla bean whip cream that was sorta watery and deflated, blueberry jam was concealed under the waffles and there was an odd drizzle of what I expect to be maple syrup (as the menu specified only syrup, maybe it was an unrealistic expectation to think it might be maple syrup), but tasted more like table syrup (coloured glucose water). As delicious as the waffles were, it was not worth $12.

Below are a few pictures highlighting some of the dishes I have enjoyed at this cafe over the years. Besides the Duck Confit, the Mushroom Eggs Benedict is another favourite of mine, unfortunately it is a bit on the salty side. The dish that caught me off guard was the open faced tuna melt sandwich. Typically, I’m not a tuna kind of girl, but this tuna melt has converted me. I have to say, it is one of the best ways I have seen a tuna melt prepared (unfortunately too yummy for any pictures). Perhaps the most memorable dish I had was for Mother’s Day in 2011. It was the first time my mom had been out and about in Calgary and I was pretty new to it myself, so I decided to treat myself and mom to the most decadent Chocolate Ganache, which, to this day I still dream about. One bite and I was in heaven. The chocolate was not overpowering sweet and was perfectly balanced against the acidity of the strawberry coulis. I could have eaten ten of them if I wasn’t worried about gaining 200 pounds.

My final complaint is the way I smell after I leave the place, saturated with oil and as though I had been dipped in butter and confited. Occasionally I smell so good that I want to eat myself, but most of the time the lingering smell of oil is off-putting and difficult to get out of my clothes.

However, despite these minor issues, I still highly recommend this cafe and would give it 4.5/5 stars in taste and atmosphere.

Image

Duck Confit

Image

Butternut squash soup with caesar salad

 

Half Chicken Club, Half Duck Confit with Apple Sauce and Coleslaw; Mocha; and a Mushroom Eggs Benedict with Hash Browns

Half Chicken Club, Half Duck Confit with Apple Sauce and Coleslaw; Mocha; and a Mushroom Eggs Benedict with Hash Browns

Image

Butternut squash soup with marinated beet salad

 

Image

Chocolate Ganache Cake with Strawberry Coulis

Half duck confit, half chicken club at top of image with a chai tea latte. Bottom half of image is the whole wheat blueberry waffles and a cappuccino.

Tag Cloud