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Our weather is typical, and a quickie review

 

 

 

 

This was my hood yesterday morning.  We got our typical April dump that comes right after the first few days of sunshine and spring, just to give us that kick in the pants that says don’t get too comfortable – this is Calgary.

 

 

Right before I left my last job, (the one that was moving to the States), I had the chance to grab lunch with a couple of my co-workers, and we walked over to Trader’s Grill at the Mariott Hotel.

 

The Grill is past its glory days – it used to occupy a bigger space on the second floor, with large windows overlooking the city, and served a good lunch buffet. Now it’s on the main floor, and is little more than a cafe with a bar.  It was mostly empty the entire lunch, perhaps a quarter of the tables were occupied. 

 

The menu is simple but very well thought out. There is a decent selection among all the main food groups, and the dishes are not boring. I am sick to death of the usual assortment of salads, sandwiches and steaks that comprise many lunch menus, and was glad to see something like an omelet, or short rib pasta, or baguette with boursin, or the chicken schnitzel which I incidentally ended up having.  Apparently they have excellent daily specials as well, which happened to be grilled cheese on the day we visited, and it would have to be a heck of a grilled cheese to beat my homemade one.

 

 

The food took a while to arrive given the lack of patrons, but when it arrived, it did not disappoint.  Just look at it!

 

 

The schnitzel was piping hot, with a crunchy, well seasoned breading, and the chicken inside was fork tender. The roasted taters were very good, the salad was lovely if a bit simple, and the grilled lemon was simply genius.  It was a superb meal on a chilly Calgary day.

 

It seems like more hotels are expanding their restaurants, and trumpeting about them on Twitter and blogs. The Mariott on the other hand seems to be heading in the opposite direction, which is a shame, as the food at Trader’s Grill is as good as some, and better than many lunch options in downtown Calgary.  I should also mention that I can see the appeal of the large windows in the summer, it would be great to people watch while lunching.

 

4/5

Trader’s Grill

Stephen Avenue
110 9 Ave SE
(403) 231-4503
Trader's Grill on Urbanspoon

A NOtaBLE Lunch

 

 

 

This Sunday I my mother and I were running around doing some errands, and I persuaded her to stop at NOtabLE. It took a fair bit of persuading because she’s on a perpetual diet, and considers restaurants to be the height of frivolous spending and caloric damage.

 

But I had hunger on my side – the most potent ally, as well as the fact that it’s been a long time since our last foray, so we snagged a lovely table by the window at Notable, which I’d been wanting to check out since they opened.  We arrived shortly after brunch was over, and chose our selections from the lunch menu, starting with the excellent Phil and Sebastian Coffee.

 

 

My mother gave in to a carb craving with their pasta pappardelle with lamb bolognaise, and I sort of mixed and matched. I normally try not to do that in restaurants for many excellent reasons, but I really wanted to try the salmon belly with no desire to eat greens with it. So I got a side tomato salad, and a side of fries, because I heard they’re excellent fries.

 

The pappardelle was pretty darn good. The warm, slippery noodles were coated with a sheen of butter and just the right hint of salt and parsley that makes even plain noodles comforting. The bolognaise was well seasoned, redolent of lamb and garlic and the asiago gently tied everything together. A starter bowl is a perfect sized lunch.

 

 

My teriyaki glazed salmon belly was less well done. The teriyaki sauce was so thick that the salmon flavor really had to fight to shine through. Teriyaki is a pretty potent flavor and while salmon is strong enough to stand up to it, there is a limit to how much should be used. If the dish had half the sauce, or even a third, it would have been sublime instead of nearly overpowered.

 

 

The tomato salad had flavor due to locally grown tomatoes and a good balsamic dressing, of which again there was a tiny bit too much of.

 

 

The fries were great – crispy, salty, potato-ey, and I can see how they’d be amazing with roast chicken and its juices.

 

 

The highlight of the meal came with their unusual Stilton cheesecake.  I’m not the worlds biggest fan of blue cheese, but I do like the right one in small quantities, and it was intriguing enough to make me want to try it.  It’s served with rhubarb compote and raspberry coulis.

 

 

 

The first bite I didn’t get. The unexpectedness of Stilton on the palate is shocking, and for some reason the cold texture with the salt did not hit my tastebuds as expected. The second bite is when something connected between my tongue and brain, and suddenly it was a perfect combo – the gentle tang of Stilton, the mild sweetness of the cheesecake, the fruity hit of rhubarb and raspberry.  The unexpected but delicious combination was unique and pleasurable in ways I’d hoped for, but wasn’t sure I’d receive.  Fantastic ending to a good meal.

 

A couple of notes on the menu – I’m looking at the pdf menu online as I type this, and a couple of selections are no longer there. No mussels, no veal liver, no brisket sandwich. So it’s been simplified quite a bit to a soup, a couple of salads, sandwiches, burger, pasta, pizza, and two rotisserie items – chicken and steak. Where I’m going with this, is that with the exception of the odd unique item, the lunch menu is kind of boring.  Unless you specifically go out to eat and aim to get a burger, sandwich or salad, you’re not really broadening your horizons or getting something you can’t get anywhere else.  The quality may be higher, but so is the price, so it’s sad to see the more unusual items disappear already.  

 

 

So, I’d go back there for dinner in a heartbeat, I did have a chance earlier to sample, and vouch for,  their excellent rotisserie chicken, and I’m dying to try the Sunday special of porchetta, and the chicken confit ravioli.  Their portions are very decent and a fair value. And I hope that none of their dinner menu choices have devolved to Calgary’s status quo by the time I get there.

 

4/5

NOtabLE

4611 Bowness Road NW
Calgary, Alberta
403.288.4372

NOtaBLE on Urbanspoon