Join us as we take a year long journey from coast to coast exploring some of the best food Canada's cities have to offer. We started on Vancouver Island and are heading east bit by bit. Today, Calgary with Dan Clapson. And be sure to check out all our Restaurant Roundup posts to follow our virtual tour!
There are a lot of things I could write about when it comes to eating in Calgary. We have no shortage of great Vietnamese restaurants, our brunching culture is truly top notch and then there’s spots like Charcut and Model Milk that have garnered national attention in recent years. Needless to say, there’s a lot going on in the restaurant scene here, so you best watch your backs Vancouver and Toronto (joking...sort of)!
As nice as it is to put a face to a name, I thought I’d pick a few of my city’s top notch restaurants and here are just a few eateries and the chef/owners behind them that you should try out the next time you find yourself in Calgary.
downtownfood and Chef Darren MacLean
Chef MacLean does right by Asian cuisine at downtownfood on 8th Avenue SW (just a couple blocks west of the ‘Stephen Avenue’ area of the street), making his own tofu in-house, while maintaining a balance of utilizing quality Canadian ingredients like fresh wasabi grown in British Columbia and Ocean Wise-approved seafood proteins.
He has a massive rooftop garden - downtownfood grows food downtown, get it? - that houses beehives, a ton of produce, herbs and more. To enjoy the most of this hyperlocal bounty, make a trip to town in the late summer to reap the rooftop harvest benefits on your dinner plate.
Muse and Chef JP Pedhirney
This fine dining eatery in the Kensington area of the city as been around for years, but Muse refreshed itself in late 2012 with new owners, a new chef and a refocusing of the menu. Chef Pedhirney worked previously under Paul Rogalski at Rouge restaurant and has now carved out his own niche with his tasting menus here at Muse.
Working with modern techniques, the chef’s aim is to make chef’s tasting menus approachable to all food lovers. The restaurant also introduced a purely vegetarian tasting menu, which has become very popular, so this is a great spot for all of you vegheads out there.
Not that Instagram is the be-all-end-all in life, but a shot of one of Pedhirney’s dishes was featured on @theartofplating’s feed, so you know he’s working hard to make his food as goodlookin’ as it is tasty.
Notable and Chef Michael Noble
No stranger to the Canadian food scene, Notable's Chef Michael Noble worked for many years in Vancouver as the executive chef for Diva at The Met, was the first Canadian chef to compete on Iron Chef (the original Japanese series) as well as the Bocuse d’Or World Culinary Competition. When he came as the executive chef to open Catch restaurant, he fostered a new generation of talented chefs like Matt Batey, Nicole Gomes and Duncan Ly (below).
His restaurant, Notable, is just outside of the city’s core in the Montgomery neighborhood. Heavy on the rotisserie, you can find an array of meats here, as well as his signature dessert, a stilton cheesecake, bruleed on top and served with a fruit compote.
Raw Bar and Chef Duncan Ly
As the executive chef for the Hotel Arts group, this chef oversees both restaurants in Hotel Arts (Yellow Door Bistro and Raw Bar), as well as The Chef’s Table inside the Kensington Riverside Inn, just a half block down the street from the aforementioned Muse. Just this winter, Ly placed second in the Gold Medal Plates national competition in Kelowna.
Ly’s food is favoured at all of the establishments he looks after, but really hits his stride with Raw Bar. This spot has been around for quite some time, but revamped in fall, 2013, now offering modern Vietnamese cuisine; something that’s a first for Calgary.
On the menu here, you’ll find the Vietnamese flavours that we all know and love, but incorporated into plates that are vibrant and bright-tasting. In particular, the carpaccio is almost too beautiful to eat. You always need something to wash down your meal with, so it’s an added bonus the barkeeps here mix up some of the best craft cocktails in the city. Stay thirst-quenched, folks!
Restaurant Roundup: Four Calgary Chefs to Watch was written by Dan Clapson. Dan is a food writer and columnist based out of Calgary, Alberta who writes for a number of media sources including Avenue, Flavours, up! Magazine and Food Network Canada Online. He is the founder of the Western Canadian culinary initiative, Start From Scratch, which teaches university students how to cook dishes other than frozen pizzas. When he’s not traveling, Dan is enjoys a pint of beer with friends at The Ship and Anchor on 17th Avenue, hanging out at home with his parrot, Baub, or watching Dawson’s Creek reruns. You can follow Dan on twitter: @dansgoodside or instagram: @dansgoodside