Calgary Roundup – June 2010
Without significant commentary or respectable photographs to complete more solo posts on establishments visited earlier this month on a trip to Calgary, I thought I’d quickly sum up a few thoughts on a trio of places to wrap up this busy week…
Breakfast, drinks and an unfortunate lunch…
1. Cora’s Breakfast and Lunch
I’d heard of this seemingly popular breakfast chain based out of Montreal through word of mouth only this past year, but had yet to actually visit one. I checked out the location in the northwest of Calgary (understand there is another in southeast as well), buried inside a shopping mall, and it was the only place open this early in the morning. By the time I arrived around 8am, there were a few tables occupied and customers came in afterwards as well, but not to room packing levels. I fell for the sell job on the fresh fruit drink from my Francophone-accented older female server but didn’t end up liking it at all. Too mild, lacking sweetness from the four fruit mixture and had a slight funkiness to it. In speaking with O-toro afterwards, who enlightened me to the fact that its highly possible they use their “expired fruit” for these kinds of drinks to limit waste, it dawned on me that it could have been the reason for my dissatisfaction. As a big fan of french toast in the morning, I opted for the hearty 1990′s Harvest plate. A fairly flat sunny side up egg, some weaker, thin stips of bacon and a pile of cut up fruit on top of some sugary cinnamon brioche. It was this latter element that really threw me as I wasn’t expecting such a sweet base and I ended up only being able to eat half of it. Did it live up to all the hype, for me, not really.
2. The District
This homey location along 11th Ave SW sort of fits out of place among the neighboring trendy shops and designer art and furniture shops. As my drinking buddy noted, it could really transform itself into a pretty cool pizzeria if it so wanted. With their own brewing facilities and in-house premium draughts, I chose one in the Robson St. Heffewizen – perhaps I was home sick? As an unfiltered wheat ale, it fit the bill alright, but was quite bitter on the aftertaste and it soon lost its luster with me. Not sure if the ten sweet-spicy wings I had anything to do with my palate running wild after this quick stopover for a brew. I can’t say I’m a fan of serving beer in basically mason jars, as the lip of it is awkward to handle and I really enjoy my alcohol is high quality glass, beer included if possible. The rustic jar I suppose fits with the overall atmosphere of this place, but cups like that just remind me of college dorm rooms.
The fact that the kitchen claims to source and use ingredients from quality local suppliers (Spragg Pasture for their organic pork, Broxburn Vegetables for their produce, etc.) in their veg and meats deserves some recognition here – and the menu could use extra exploring by me should I find my way here again in the future. And lastly a note about the service, it was really spotty. First getting attention to order and the bill. I noted a few people walked out after seating themselves and being ignored.
3. Bistro Alma
Amid all of the graduation ceremonies taking place at the nearby Olympic Oval, I hopped inside this eatery inside a quasi-hotel/dormitory for something to eat. The place was busier than I remembered the last time I was here, strangely full of more academics and professor-types. Not really having high hopes and just wanting something heartwarming and filling, I ordered the Alma Beef Chili. For $14, it was a slightly undersized portion of Chipotle-spiced beef sirloin cubes and peppers, much drier than I’d normally associate with a chili as it really lacked moisture/soupiness in the bowl. After a few mouthfuls, the flavor seemed to wear on me and I only begrudgingly finished it. The gentlemen at the table next to me saw it arrive to my table, peered over and asked me how it was. I muttered, “just okay”, and I seem to have turned them off from ordering the same dish. I wish someone had done the same for me. Not much choice for food here, as it seems to be more of a heat-up-and-serve location.