I Came For The Food - food winning

By: I Came For The Food  09-12-2011
Keywords: Restaurant, Cheese, Beef

Overall rating: 4 out of 5. FOOD: 4 out of 5. VALUE: 5 out of 5. AMBIANCE: 3 out of 5

Do not come here on a hungry stomach or you’ll leave 10 pounds more buttery. As soon as you walk into Eclair de Lune, you experience strong wafts of butter along with memories of daily stops at the local Parisian bakery around the corner of your hostel when you were 23. Moving on…

Read my , or continue for the expanded version…

My companion and I were surprised to see a lunch combo for just $6.50, which includes your choice of a savoury pastry (turnovers, croissant, quiches), dessert (mini fruit tarts, cookies, meringues) and drink (ginger ale, water, tea, coffee). It’s a three-course meal for less than what you’d pay for one sub-par dessert at a restaurant.

My combo included two turnovers; one filled with spinach and feta cheese and the other with mushroom and cream cheese.

I would turn over for these turnovers. I don't even know what that means.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5. FOOD: 4 out of 5. VALUE: 5 out of 5. AMBIANCE: 2.5 out of 5

Just a few minutes off International Avenue (17th Ave. S.E.) is Song Huong, a tucked away restaurant serving specialties from central Vietnam, especially from former imperial city Hue, along with more familiar Vietnamese cuisine like beef noodle soup (pho). Read my , or continue on for the expanded version.

We started with steamed pork and shrimp tapioca dumplings ($6.25).

Pork and shrimp tapioca dumpings with nuoc mam dipping sauce.

The earthy minced pork and shrimp filling was nicely balanced by the gelatinous dough and infused with banana leaf. There are 9, count ‘em, 9 dumplings! For those who eat dim sum, the texture is reminiscent of the a mushier version of har gow, those clear shrimp dumplings you must eat with hot sauce.

We continued with bun bo hue ($6.95), a special noodle soup dish with rounded rice noodles and an orangey broth, typically made with beef bones, lemongrass and chili. The version here is topped with Vietnamese sausage, beef shank and cubes of pig blood jelly (mmm, blood-flavoured jello).

Bun bo hue. Noobs take note, "hue" sounds more like "way" than "Hugh."

Basil Ultimate Pho & Fine Vietnamese Cuisine is a casual and spacious restaurant with  modern decor. Although the shiny interior makes it seem too polished (read: not “real”), the food is quite authentic, as it should be — Basil is the creation of Pho Dau Bo’s (on International Avenue) former owners.

The restaurant was nearly full but we arrived at the tail-end of the lunch hour and were seated right away. Anybody else notice that Calgarians like to eat lunch right at noon? No other city seems so dedicated to eating on the clock, everyday. Knowing this, I always try to time my lunches for right before noon, or 12:45 p.m.

We started with delicious grilled beef summer rolls: vermicelli noodles, lettuce and grilled beef wrapped in rice paper (3 for $6.25). When I was a teenager, we’d go to my friend’s house to roll our own version of these. I always meant to keep track of how many of these I could stuff my face with, but would invariably forget midway through the bliss. Basil’s beef salad rolls remind me of those times.

These kind of look like caterpillars. Delicious, beef-filled "caterpillars" at that.

The Dairy Lane Cafe has been nestled in the community of West Hillhurst since 1950 and sources local and organic ingredients where possible. Admitted burger “junkie” Michael Noble (of NOtaBLE) called Dairy Lane’s burger one of the best things he ate in Calgary last year. “It’s a nice, high burger that looks very appealing—all the juices are running out. It makes you want to eat it,” he said. What an endorsement.

I ate the Dairy Lane Burger ($11) adding smoked bacon ($2), peppered Gouda ($2.50) and gazpacho ($1).

When bacon threatens to poke your eye out, you are on the right track.

The thick burger patty — 28-day aged Angus beef from Crystal Creek — was beefy and juicy without being greasy. The grilled bun was soft and yielding yet held the burger together nicely. The bacon’s thick, crispy slices were appealingly obtrusive. Meanwhile the gazpacho was uber fresh, with the right amount of zing to render it memorable.

My friend Vivian’s turkey and basil burger with basil pesto, sundried tomato jam and roasted red pepper ($15) was well-balanced: savoury and moist with the perfect amount of charred flavour.

As a rule, I don't eat burgers that seem "healthy" no matter how yummy my date claims they are.

Normally she abhors sundried tomatoes because the flavour reminds her of the dried up goo around the neck of a ketchup bottle. In this case, even her tomato nemesis could do no wrong.

Even the single-source bottomless coffee was spot on ($2.95).

The menu also features numerous tempting breakfast items and gluten-free options. This is the type of restaurant where you ogle other diners’ plates while you’re waiting for a table. The other diners will automatically think you’re drooling because they are so gorgeous, or, you are a dog, hunger and perversion-wise. Let them be fooled.

The service is efficient once you are seated, but the cozy and bustling diner (seats 20 inside, 12 on patio) doesn’t take reservations for lunch. If you have time to wait for a table, it’s well worth it.

Monday to Friday: 7:00 am to 3:00 pm; Weekends: 8:00 am to 3:00 pm

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Jughead crowns
Price range: ($8.75 – $15.00)

Double Zero’s basement location is across the street from Holt Renfrew in the downtown core (reservations are recommended). The pizza here is so good that I’m willing to sit in the basement on summer’s day to eat it. Really.

We started off with a refreshing marinated beet salad with goat cheese, grapefruit, basil and pistachio ($12). The appetizers, like Grandma’s meatballs and roasted cauliflower, are tempting and there’s a good selection.

The green onion added a savoury aspect, the artichoke a veggie element, while the sausage sealed the deal.

We tried the “pepperoni” pizza made with spicy Calabrese sausage ($16), and the sausage pizza with house made Italian sausage, green onion and artichoke ($16). Click for my or continue reading for the all-important crust-to-topping ratio and why I’m addicted…

Simply sandwichlicious.

Orders are placed at the deli counter where the sandwich options are gourmet and don’t cost extra. It can be a little bit confusing as there’s no official queue, so make sure you pay attention to your turn, in order to catch any potential “budgers” (it’s a good excuse to do a finger snap and be all “Nuh-uh, I was here FIRST, lady/man/senior citizen”).

Kit Kat, the cheesy version.

Because it’s Friday, I bring you a magical treat all the way from Japan.

If you’re like most people, you love cheese and you love chocolate. If I could only have one for the rest of my life, I’d pick cheese, but only because it’s worse for you calorie-wise. For you, the choice might be as easy as whether you’re in the mood for something savoury or something sweet.

Now you don’t have to make that decision. Cheese and chocolate have coalesced into one, in a brilliant creation called Kit Kat Cheese.

Memorable lattes at deVille.

When I’m travelling for an extended period of time, I’m likely to try and capture a piece of home, via food or drink. It makes sense that many of us have eaten at a McDonald’s all over the world. I’ve visited the golden arches in more cities than I’d like to admit. Part of it is the novelty aspect (Tokyo has a shrimp burger). It’s definitely not about quality. Mostly, McD’s represents a sense of the familiar, a potent reminder of where we came from. It’s about our childhoods, our birthplace, our homes. Powerful stuff.

Lobster falafel from Alloy.

I have always openly envied people who make their living eating food and attending parties where they continue to eat, mingle and make the rest of us remember that our day jobs feel like work and our meals have become a necessary reprieve from the daily rigours of making more money so we can eat better food. Yep.

So I was most giddy to receive a VIP invite to , and the release of its , held at Legacy Kitchens in the NE.


The information in this article was current at 06 Dec 2011

Keywords: Beef, Cheese, Restaurant

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