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Mediocre Fusion

I actually sat on this review for hmmmm…. a couple of months? Simply because now that my words are actually being read, I feel some responsibility to distance myself a bit from the immediacy of the experience in the interest of being as fair as can be, while only visiting a place once. Not much responsibility mind you, but some. Point is, I had a very mediocre dinner with a friend here, and am unlikely to return simply because my budget does not run to revisiting restaurants that don’t rock my world.

Without further ado – there was still snow around when a girlfriend and I drove here one dark night and found a well lit restaurant with an appealing concept – Vietnamese fusion. I love me some Vietnamese food with a loving love, so I was convinced that there’s a way to take those flavors we all know and love and mix them in novel ways for our enjoyment. I also read plenty of innovative chefs doing crazy things with Vietnamese food so I was really excited about the trip.

The restaurant was pretty nice – gorgeous curved ceiling over the bar, very well done lighting, elegant woven mats and upscale place settings. All the staff was beyond friendly and knowledgeable when discussing the menu. I was steered toward the caramelized chicken and my friend was determined to try the savoury crepe (stuffed with prawns, mung beans, hickama(?), bean sprouts and green onion). The first alarm bells went off at the spelling of jicama – while pronounced hickama it’s certainly not spelled that way, and someone should’ve looked at the menu before printing it out.

We started out with two appetizers, the spring rolls (simply because I couldn’t picture giving them up for all the fusion in the world), and coquilles St. Jacques provencale – a French twist on a French dish, I suppose. The spring rolls were on the thin side, and were quite passable, although certainly no better than the spring rolls in our favorite Vietnamese joint. The coquilles St. Jacques rated about a 4/5. The scallops were cooked perfectly, so kudos to the kitchen there, and the sauce was lovely if uninspiring, but it was not the best sauce for the dish. Somehow the basil and the smoky-ness didn’t go with the flavor of the scallops and I hardly cook scallops, so I can’t suggest how I’d do it. Lemony cream sauce probably….

Moving on. We got our entrees and that’s where things derailed for us. My friends crepe was huge and absolutely flavorless. If you look at the list of veggies again, mung beans, jicama, sprouts, you’ll likely guess that they need a pretty strong flavor base somewhere to balance them out. And it was utterly lacking. No salt, garlic, sauce or anything to enliven the bland, watery mess of a dish, whose only hint of a redeeming quality was the crispy outside. The dipping sauce provided was too watery to make any difference, and rolled off the veggies leaving a faint sweet flavor in its path. After picking at all the outside crispy bits, she ate all the prawns and called it a night.

My caramelized chicken was not much better. It was a rather dry breast with a poorly balanced caramelized sauce with too many bitter flavors. It was served on veggies without a hint of seasoning and a mound of plain white rice. Since the only flavors were from the chicken, namely salty, sweet and burnt, the dish was not a satisfying entrée. The meat had too much flavor and the rest had none.

On that note we declined dessert and decided that while fusion cuisine is excellent when done well, it is a poor substitute for the primal satisfaction of a real bowl of hot Vietnamese soup or noodles when done poorly. Given the rather high prices at the restaurant we expected the quality to match. In our experience – it did not.

And if you’re wondering, see my restaurant rating scale here.


Colonial Fusion Cuisine
163 Quarry Park Blvd. SE
(403) 723-6669

Colonial Fusion Cuisine on Urbanspoon

11 comments to Mediocre Fusion

  • I’m such a pub chick!

  • admin

    I don’t mind pubs one bit, but here even the pubs manage to be generic. If I look at another menu with burgers, wings and nachos I’ll barf. Yes there’s a time and a place for those, but not ALL the time, everywhere.

  • That’s too bad; it’s very disappointing when you pay a high price for what should be quality food but don’t get it. Eating out is a luxury for us, something we don’t do too often, so when we do go out, we want the meal (and the service) to be worth it. And when the food is not that good, it leaves you with that heavy feeling in your stomach, all day long.

  • admin

    @WR – exactly! Eating out is a necessary thing for us sometimes, I’d say we cook at home about five days a week, and alternate between going out, take out or leftovers. Sometimes neither of us are done our days until eight or so and by then – no one’s cooking. But eating out is generally really really expensive in Calgary, compared to any other large city, so it doubly sucks to be disappointed.

  • That’s too bad; it’s very disappointing when you pay a high price for what should be quality food but don’t get it. Eating out is a luxury for us, something we don’t do too often, so when we do go out, we want the meal (and the service) to be worth it. And when the food is not that good, it leaves you with that heavy feeling in your stomach, all day long.

  • Jules

    The one thing you should not have skipped was dessert! Their caramel flan is to die for! I’ve eaten there for lunch (lunch menu is cheaper) and dinner and had great food although very pricey. I had the duck for dinner an a bowl of bun for lunch and they were both delicious! My spouse had the steak for dinner and it was pretty good!

  • admin

    I’m glad you liked the dessert, it’s just by the time we got through our dinner that we were both disappointed with, we didn’t want to shell out for dessert. I also visited shortly after they opened, it’s quite possible they’ve revamped their menu a bit since then. I’d be open to trying them again, esp. for lunch, but only if it’s opportune.

  • I thought the place was good, nothing extraordinary special, but a little over priced. 🙁 Thanks for sharing your experience! 🙂

  • admin

    @Elsie – it seems to have gotten better in the kitchen, as the reviews after mine are not as negative. I was there literally the first month they were open, and they may have had some kinks to iron out still. I agree though, for the price it’s nothing grand.

  • Marfty

    We had lunch there and they must be having a hard time hiring staff as the waitress we had, managed the whole restaurant and patio by herself, and she was brand new. The restaurant manager(owner?) helped as much as possible. The waitress messed up the order and received someone Else’s entree before our own, which was ok as it was free.That being said, we had ordered our meal before a larger group to make sure we received ours on time as I had a meeting in 90 minutes, and they ended up cooking ours later, and I had to take my meal to go as apparently 85 minutes was not enough time for them to get our meal and entrees to us at lunch. The scary part was there was only about 15-18 people in the restaurant. Sum up, the food was ok, a bit pricey but overall I would not go back just because of the lack of service.

  • admin

    @Marfty – the food MUST have improved sine their early days, since not too many people have reflected on the taste issues that I had, but you’re totally right – any restaurant should be able to manage a full meal wrapped up in 90 minutes. Otherwise no one would ever go there on their lunch break. Some restaurants downtown don’t really get it either, which loses them customers like nothing else.

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