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Posts tagged ‘Vendome Cafe’

Restaurants Revisited

Based on some recent experiences, I thought I’d do something different and review restaurants I’ve already reviewed and gone back to. Sometimes the experience has improved, but more often than not, most of these places have somewhat slipped.

Vendome Cafe
Vendome is still among one of my favourite cafes; however, in recent years, I’ve notice a decline in food quality. What was once flavourful and inspired me to start restaurant and cafe reviews has fallen to the wayside. Their most well-known dish is their duck confit. It used to be the reason I always wanted to spend time in Kensington. The two or three times I’ve gone, the texture of the meat hasn’t been quite right (the only way I can think of describing it is that it’s kind of grainy or has a powder like texture in my mouth). Besides that, the meat was way over-salty, to the point that I had blisters on my tongue and lip.

Van Gogh’s
The tzatziki sauce is still one of the most amazing I’ve ever had, but now service is lacking, prices are incredibly high, and portion sizes have shrunk. Since the restaurant used to be busier, there used to be more servers and as a result, there was a higher standard. Though I know I shouldn’t eat too much and smaller portion sizes and higher prices will help to discourage me from over-eating, I’d still want to get my monies worth.  I will still come here because I love the tzatziki until this place closes down.And I don’t think that this restaurant will last much longer. I mean, considering how “isolated” our community is, I’m not surprised that the only traffic this place usually sees is from its residents. And with no other restaurants around, there isn’t all that much competition which would drive it to maintain better standards.

Empress Palace Restaurant
I go back and forth with this place. When we first visited this place with my family, it had just been open for a few weeks and it was horrible, the second time (when I wrote my review) it wasn’t all that bad. However, just recently I returned there and they served pringles with my chicken. Why? I wanted the shrimp chips that the fried chicken is normally served with, not salt and pepper pringles. They were just so out of place and weird. Other than that slight transgression, this place, for the most part, is getting much better.

Chili’s
It’s hard to believe that I once sang praises of this place. I’m not sure if the time I had affects anything, but the first review was written was during dinner service, while this second visit was during lunch. For one thing, when I recommend a restaurant to someone,  it reflects favourably or negatively on me depending on their experience. When we walked in, it was about 1pm and there was only one family waiting in front of us. Once they seated that large party, I approached the desk where the host typically stands and the host never returns. After about ten minutes I decided to take a seat and wait for someone to come out. It took nearly another twenty minutes before someone acknowledged us and another five before we were seated. Once seated it took fifteen minutes before our waitress came over to take our drink order. The restaurant was empty, I didn’t understand why it would take so long for the waitress to come and do that. It took her another ten minutes to bring the drinks and take our order. Food came out relatively timely, but as we were eating, my boyfriend finished his drink and was looking for our waitress to get another. From his vantage point at our table, he could see her standing in the kitchen just chatting. We tried getting her attention and she either ignored us or just didn’t see us (because she wasn’t paying attention). We finished our meal and took another fifteen minutes. By this point I was furious particularly because I had suggested going here and my boyfriend was pretty hungry. When she finally brought the bill, I didn’t want to go through the hassle of waiting longer because she had to go get the machine. I actually was angry enough that I didn’t want to even tip her. However, my boyfriend made me so I tipped about 10% which I feel was overly generous. This was about two weeks ago and I am still so angry about it. I won’t go as far as saying I’ll never go back because the food’s pretty good, but the likelihood of me returning to that location is fairly low. I might give it another chance, but that will be in a few years.

The Fine Diner
Sometimes restaurants have a rocky start when they first open, so I usually give it a second chance unless my first impression/experience was horrible enough to keep me away for good. I came to here again for brunch with my cousin to introduce my boyfriend to the family, a few people at a time. Although we made reservations and ended up getting there a bit late (maybe 15-30 mins late), my cousin and her boyfriend who arrived on time hadn’t even been brought their drinks. I understand that it was very busy (as I’ve said on numerous occasions, brunch is very quickly becoming the thing to do on weekends) and that they were understaffed, but something as simple as a drink should not take 15-30 minutes. And though in my last review of this place I said I wouldn’t be coming back, I most certainly will not be coming back after this experience. The only good that came out of this visit was that the waitress was cheerful despite being completely overwhelmed and overworked and she didn’t look like she hated everyone there like the last waiter we had here.

Chianti’s
I’ve never had any problems with the Crowfoot location, but on our six month anniversary/boyfriend’s birthday, we discovered an amazing appetizer platter that he’s come to love. I think from now on, every time I go I’ll have to get it. (For reference, it’s called the Antipasto Italian Platter).

Scopa
I returned to this place when my best friend visited from Vancouver back in July, to give it a second chance. I had the calamari to start and I ordered their mushroom pizza. Oh. My. God. Amazing. The mix of chili peppers with the calamari was a very delicious combination. And as I found out later, they’re actually best known for their pizza and honestly, their pizza is to die for. I also found out what a cannoli was. From now on, if I come back to this place, it’ll be for the pizza and the calamari.

 

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.

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Duck Confit

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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

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Butternut squash soup with marinated beet salad

 

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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.

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